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IAMS vs PURINA Cat Food: Our 2021 In-Depth Comparison

Picking the perfect food for your feline seems like a pretty easy task. At least until you walk into the local pet store and see how many options there are. Even a walk down the pet aisle at the nearest grocery store will reveal that there are a plethora of choices to pick from and they all seem to offer some awesome benefits. How much of it is real and how much is advertising? How are you supposed to know?

We were wondering the same things, so, we set out to get some answers. After a lot of searching, we found that two of the most popular cat food brands that consumers have a hard time picking between are IAMS and Purina. So, we decided to put both brands to the test and see who would come out on top.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: IAMS1IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor

It was honestly a very close call with both brands bringing forth some impressive offerings. In the end, IAMS won us over with cost-effective products that use more animal-based ingredients. They have a versatile selection of cat foods to choose from, including some of our favorites like the IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor Weight and Hairball Control blend, or the IAMS Proactive High Protein Adult Cat Food.

But don’t let that make you think that was an easy decision. Purina brought a lot to the table as well, with a more versatile selection of products that includes some specialty foods that bring about specific results like reducing the allergens your cat is releasing or achieving and maintaining urinary tract health.

This decision could have gone either way, so you’ll want to take in all this information and make a decision of your own to see if you agree with our consensus.

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About Brand IAMS2Iams Proactive Health High Protein

IAMS is an international company that’s sold in more than 75 countries. They make a wide variety of pet food products for dogs and cats. Their feline foods fit every furball, including kittens, seniors, healthy cats, cats with sensitive stomachs, and more. They offer recipes to maintain a healthy weight, reduce hairballs, and improve your cat’s coat and skin.

Humble Beginnings

Iams was first started by Paul Iams. Paul had sold dog food to get by during the Great Depression. But this experience proved invaluable since it taught him that people will find a way to feed their dogs, no matter how destitute their position. Seeing this inspired Paul to start the IAMS pet food company, founded in 1946. In 1950, their first product was introduced; IAMS 999.

The Mars Acquisition

Since those early beginnings, IAMS has gone through several major transformations. Eventually, this culminated in the 2014 purchase of IAMS by Mars inc., who is the largest pet food brand in the world today. However, that purchase wasn’t complete since the European branch of IAMS was sold to Spectrum Brands, being purchased again in 2020 by United Petfood.

a kitten eats food from a large plastic bowl
Image Credit: Maria Moroz, Shutterstock

From Pet Stores to Big Box Stores

There was a time when IAMS food was only found in specialty pet stores and veterinarians’ offices. But today, you’ll find IAMS in many major retailers, including grocery chains and big-box stores. This change started when IAMS was purchased by Proctor & Gamble, who made some changes to lower costs. Unfortunately, the result was reduced quality and a class-action lawsuit. Luckily, once Mars inc. purchased IAMS, the quality improved, though it’s still conveniently available at big-box chains.

Pros
  • They’ve been around for over 70 years
  • IAMS makes blends for cats of all ages and situations
  • Backed by the largest pet food brand in the world
Cons
  • The quality dropped when the company was first sold
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About Brand PurinaLiveClear with Probiotics

With a wide range of products sold around the globe, Purina is one of the most well-known of all pet food brands. They have offerings for cats and dogs of all life stages, intended to help prolong your pet’s life with optimal nutrition.

Some of the blends they offer include Purina ONE, Purina PRO PLAN, and Purina BEYOND. These blend natural ingredients and health-boosting nutrients to provide your pet with nutrition that will keep them in peak condition. There are even blends for specific purposes, like the sensitive skin and stomach recipe or the adult urinary tract health formula.

A Pure Start

Purina got its start well over 100 years ago as the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. You wouldn’t recognize that name, but you the name they changed the company to in 1902 is more familiar; Ralston Purina. The company’s founder, William H. Danforth, picked the name in hopes that it would signal the purity of the food to potential customers.

Merging with Nestle

Almost exactly 100 years after the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company changed its name to Ralston Purina, the company merged with a subsidiary of Nestle, forming the Nestle Purina PetCare Company. While a lot has changed for the company in that time, one thing remains the same; their push for purity in pet food. And they’ve continued to work towards this by fighting against false advertising in the pet food industry.

Kitten eating food from bowl
Image Credit: Marian Weyo, Shutterstock

The 28-Day Challenge

One of the main staples in the Purina lineup is Purina ONE. But there’s something unique attached to Purina ONE; the 28-day challenge. Purina is so certain that you’ll see a difference in your cat in just 28 days of feeding them Purina ONE that they will refund you the purchase price of the food if you don’t see a healthier, happier cat. They’ll even send you a coupon for a discount on your first batch to make it easier to try the 28-day challenge.

Pros
  • Will refund your money if you don’t see a difference in your cat
  • They’ve been in business for over a century
  • Wide range of recipes to suit cats of all breeds, sizes, and lifestyles
Cons
  • The name is advertising to make you think the food is pure

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3 Most Popular IAMS Brand Cat Food Recipes

1. IAMS Proactive Health High Protein Adult Dry Cat Food

2Iams Proactive Health High Protein

One problem with many dry cat foods is that they tend to lack protein. But the IAMS High Protein dry cat food contains a minimum of 32% crude protein. The first ingredient listed is chicken, followed by chicken by-product meal, ensuring that the protein in this blend comes from quality animal sources.

Despite the quality protein sources, there are some ingredients in here we’re not particularly fond of. Namely, all the corn ingredients, which can be difficult for some cats to digest.But this food does offer many other benefits. For instance, it’s got fatty acids to improve your cat’s skin and coat. Vitamin E will boost your cat’s immune system, and since this blend is formulated to reduce urinary pH, it will help maintain a healthy urinary system.

Pros
  • The main ingredient is a whole-food animal-based protein
  • Contains 32% minimum crude protein
  • Fatty acids improve your cat’s coat and skin
  • Vitamin E boosts the immune system
  • Formulated to reduce urinary pH
Cons
  • Uses quite a few corn products
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2. IAMS Proactive Health Weight & Hairball Control Dry Cat Food

1IAMS Proactive Health Adult Indoor

With so many cats today becoming overweight or obese, the IAMS weight and hairball control dry cat food is a great way to ensure that your cat doesn’t. It’s formulated to help maintain an indoor cat’s healthy weight since they’re generally less active than outdoor cats. That’s why you’ll notice L-carnitine on the ingredients list; it’s helping to burn fat and keep your cat trim.

This recipe also contains natural fibers to help reduce hairballs. Even better, because the kibble has a crunchy texture, it will help clean your cat’s teeth and keep them free of tartar. On the downside, there’s still too much corn in this blend for our preferences, though you’re likely to find similar ingredients in most dry cat foods.

Pros
  • Contains natural fibers to reduce hairballs
  • This formula has L-carnitine to help burn fat
  • Cleans teeth while your cat eats
Cons
  • Still too much corn
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3. IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free Wet Cat Food

3Iams Perfect Portions Healthy Grain Free

The IAMS perfect portions wet cat food comes in small, individually packaged servings that are the perfect size for most cats. This ensures that your cat isn’t overeating, helping to avoid them becoming overweight.

Taking a look at the ingredients list reveals that this food is loaded with great animal protein. With just 0.9% carbohydrates, you don’t have to worry about feeding your cat anything that doesn’t sit well with them. On top of that, this blend is completely grain-free, so it’s easy for any cat to digest.

The only downside to this wet cat food is the price. When you look at the portion sizes, there are 1.3 ounces in each portion. Two portions are just 2.6 ounces, compared to the three-ounce servings from many other brands. When you factor that into the price difference, you’ll see that the IAMS wet cat food is more expensive than similar products.

Pros
  • Portions are ideally sized to maintain a healthy weight
  • Very low in carbohydrates
  • Contains multiple sources of animal protein
  • The grain-free formula is easy to digest
Cons
  • More expensive than alternatives

3 cat divider3 Most Popular PURINA Brand Cat Food Recipes

1. Purina Pro Plan LiveClear With Probiotics Allergen Reducing Cat Food

LiveClear with Probiotics

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they get all of their nutrition from eating animals. Because of this, protein is one of the most important nutrients for a cat to consume. The Purina Pro Plan LiveClear food is packed with an impressive 36% crude protein, making it one of the most protein-rich dry cat foods we’ve seen.What makes this food special is how it reduces the allergens your cat gives off, reducing the likelihood of allergic reactions to your cat. It does this by reducing allergens in your cat’s hair and dander and neutralizing common cat allergens in their saliva.

Of course, this type of special blend doesn’t come cheap. Luckily, it’s backed by a money-back guarantee, so you can rest assured it will work or you won’t have to pay for it.

Pros
  • Reduces allergens in your cat’s hair and dander
  • Neutralizes common cat allergens
  • Backed by a money-back satisfaction guarantee
  • Contains an impressive 36% crude protein
Cons
  • It’s quite pricey
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2. Purina ONE True Instinct High Protein Natural Wet Cat Food

2Purina ONE True Instinct High Protein

The Purina ONE True Instinct High Protein Natural Wet Cat Food is advertised as having zero fillers; something that all pet parents would appreciate. Taking a look at the nutritional label, we can see that this food is packed with protein. 11% may not seem high, but remember, 80% of this food is just water.

To get such a high amount of protein in this food, multiple sources of animal protein were used, which will provide your cat with a diverse amino acid profile. But a few ingredients in we noticed wheat gluten. We’ve seen other wet cat foods without it, so we have to ask whether this is really a necessary ingredient or one of the fillers that Purina says is absent from this blend.

Pros
  • Made with zero fillers
  • High in protein
  • Multiple sources of animal protein
Cons
  • Wheat gluten doesn’t belong in a wet cat food
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3. Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food

3Purina Cat Chow Naturals

Any food with naturals in the name tends to cost an arm and a leg, but the Purina Cat Chow Naturals is a different story. This food is affordably priced but still packed with the nutrients your cat needs. For example, it contains a minimum of 34% crude protein, ensuring that your cat will never be deficient.

But this food contains more than just protein. It’s also got vitamin E to keep your cat’s immune system in top condition and omega-6 fatty acid to keep its coat and skin looking and feeling healthier than ever.

We expect to see some sort of filler in any dry cat food, but this recipe lists corn gluten meal as the second ingredient. This is a filler protein that boosts the food’s protein content. However, it’s difficult for cats to digest, so they can’t utilize the protein as well as animal protein.

Pros
  • Affordably priced
  • Contains 34% minimum crude protein
  • Vitamin E helps boost the immune system
Cons
  • Corn gluten meal is the second ingredient

Related Read: Purina Cat Chow Naturals Cat Food Review 2021: Recalls, Pros & Cons

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Recall History of Brand IAMS and PURINA

IAMS

  • August 2013 – Recall for suspected salmonella contamination.
  • March 2013 – Voluntary recall for potential mold.
  • December 2011 – Small batch of food recalled for high aflatoxin levels.
  • 2010 – Three recalls occurred this year for low levels of thiamine and the presence of salmonella.
  • March 2007 – IAMS was heavily affected by the melamine recall, being forced to pull 43 products from store shelves.

Purina

  • March 2019 – Limited recall of one variety of Muse cat food.
  • March 2016 – Several tubs of wet dog food are recalled for low levels of vitamins and minerals.
  • Summer 2013 – A batch of Purina ONE was recalled, suspected of salmonella contamination.
  • 2012 – A single batch of Purina Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management Feline Formula is recalled because it didn’t contain enough thiamine.
  • 2011 – Dry cat foods suspected of salmonella contamination were recalled twice

Brand IAMS VS Purina Comparison

Both of these companies produce wet and dry cat foods for cats of all stages and situations. From kitten food to specific blends that are meant for cats with urinary health issues, there’s a recipe available from one of these brands that’s the ideal fit for every cat. The issue is determining which brand is the right fit for you. So, let’s take a look at the differences that define these companies so you can be more informed about which one is right for you and your feline.

Ingredients

Depending on which product from either company you look at, you’ll see wildly different ingredients lists. While both companies use quality ingredients as well as fillers, we feel that IAMS tends to use better ingredients overall. We noticed that there seemed to be more fillers used in many of the Purina products. Similarly, IAMS seems to use more animal-based ingredients than Purina does. Since cats are obligate carnivores, we always prefer the recipes that prioritize animal-based ingredients rather than plant-based ones.

Nutritional Content

Again, there were drastic differences in the nutritional content of various products, even from the same company. It does appear that Purina often includes more overall protein than IAMS. That said, we think a lot of it is coming from fillers like corn gluten meal since Purina doesn’t use as many animal ingredients.

When it comes to beneficial extras, both companies offer plenty. But to us, it seems like IAMS tends to include more helpful nutrients in each recipe, such as omega fatty acids and additional vitamins.

Price

You have to be very careful to compare similar products when looking at price. For most cat foods, IAMS tends to be the more affordable brand. But there were some incidences where the Purina foods were more cost-effective. For example, the IAMS wet cat foods are a bit expensive for what you get, especially compared to Purina. But if you compare dry cat foods, you’ll get a different story because the IAMS is generally cheaper.

Versatile Offerings

If you’re looking for a special blend to serve a specific purpose, are you more likely to find it with IAMS or Purina? Here, we think Purina is the clear winner. Both brands offer a wide range of versatile recipes, but Purina has more offerings to pick from. They’ve got all the bases covered from urinary tract health, to dietetic management, to special foods that reduce the number of allergens your cat is releasing.

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Conclusion

For us, IAMS is the winner because they use more animal-based ingredients with beneficial additions in each blend. But Purina still makes some excellent products, and we’re certain that many people might prefer Purina for their wider range of specialty products. Either way, you should be informed enough at this point to decide for yourself and your feline. Whatever your choice, we stand behind you 100%.

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Featured image credit: Chewy / Freepik by Terdpongvector