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Nutro Cat Food Review 2021: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Nutro Cat food a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. 

Introduction

Founded in the 1920s, Nutro is an American pet food manufacturing company and a subsidiary of Mars Inc., which also manufactures other pet food brands including Whiskas, Royal Canin, and Iams Now headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee. The brand was the first to gain the American Feed Industry Association certification.

Their cat food range includes Nutro MAX, Nutro Original, and Perfect Portions, and their wet food ranks as being well above average, although their dry food is not as good. As well as food designed for adult cats, they also have specialist ranges for kittens and senior cats.

Like most good pet food manufacturers, the company does avoid artificial ingredients and meat by-products. It also fortifies its food with extra vitamins and minerals.

Overall, Nutro cat food is good quality food that we would recommend to cat owners, although they do have a questionable history of recalls that are worth noting and have caused us to rate them a little lower.

cat face divider 2At a Glance: The Best Nutro Cat Food Recipes:

Image Product Details
Our Favorite Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Feature iconNo GMO ingredients
  • Feature iconNo GMO ingredients
  • Feature iconSalmon and chicken are primary ingredients
  • Nutro Wholesome Essentials Hairball Control Chicken & Brown Rice Nutro Wholesome Essentials Hairball Control Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Feature iconReal chicken as the very first ingredient
  • Feature iconNatural fiber blend
  • Feature iconNon-GMO ingredients
  • Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Kitten Food Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Kitten Food
  • Feature icon36% protein
  • Feature iconSuitable for kittens
  • Feature iconNo GMO ingredients
  • Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Paté Multi-Pack Real Salmon & Tuna Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Paté Multi-Pack Real Salmon & Tuna
  • Feature iconNo GMO ingredients
  • Feature iconNo artificial ingredients
  • Feature iconExcellent source of meat protein
  • Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Multi-Pack Real Turkey & Real Chicke Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Multi-Pack Real Turkey & Real Chicke
  • Feature iconGrain-free food
  • Feature iconContains no artificial flavors
  • Feature iconSoft, smooth texture
  • 3 cat face dividerNutro Cat Food Reviewed

    4Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Paté Multi-Pack Real Salmon & TunaWho Makes Nutro Cat Food and Where is it Produced?

    Nutro Cat Food was first formed in 1926 when American businessman John Saleem bought a British pet food manufacturing company and renamed it Nutro Products. The company has undergone several changes in ownership since then but was bought by Mars in 2007. It has remained under their ownership since and joins a long list of other pet food brands including Whiskas, Royal Canin, Sheba, and Iams.

    All Nutro Cat Food is produced in the USA. Their dry food is manufactured in North Carolina and California while their wet food ranges are made in Ohio, Arkansas, and South Dakota.

    Which Types of Pets is Nutro Cat Food Best Suited For?

    Nutro has a broad range of cat foods. They sell adult foods that are suitable for general adult cats. They also sell grain-free recipes, although these are mostly wet foods. They also have many foods that are geared towards kittens or seniors, as well as those for sensitive stomachs and to assist in controlling hairballs. As such, there is likely a range of Nutro cat food to suit your cat’s stage of life and nutritional requirements.

    Discussion of the Primary Ingredients (Good and Bad)

    Nutro produces a varied range of foods. Different lines and different flavors contain different ingredients.

    Some of the primary ingredients include:
    • Fish Oil – Fish oil is a beneficial source of omega fatty acids. It can help alleviate inflammatory conditions like arthritis and will also help maintain a good looking and protective coat and skin.
    • White Fish – White fish offers similar benefits to fish oil, and is also a rich source of protein. It is low in calories so it helps to maintain weight in all cats, but is especially beneficial in cats that are overweight. It is easy to digest.
    • Chicken – Chicken is a species-appropriate meat-based source of protein. It offers amino acids and nutrients that help build and maintain healthy muscles and ensure the ongoing strength of the immune system. It also helps with tissue repair.
    • Brown Rice – Brown rice is a grain but is considered easy to digest and is rarely responsible for food sensitivities in cats. It is only used in a handful of Nutro recipes, and it is a good source of energy for your cats.
    • Chicken Fat – Chicken fat may not sound appetizing but it is a hugely beneficial ingredient found in cat food. It contains omega-6 fatty acids that promote and protect a healthy coat.
    • Flaxseed – Flaxseed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is not considered as beneficial of a source as a meat-based fatty acid, but it is also considered a useful source of dietary fiber, so is good for digestive health.

    Chelated Minerals

    Nutro cat foods, like most pet foods, contain additional vitamins and minerals. These are included for a variety of reasons and in the case of Nutro, they include chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are bound to protein, which means that they are more efficiently digested by the body. They have greater bioavailability than non chelated minerals.

    Non-GMO Ingredients

    Nutro food does not contain any GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism, ingredients. GMO foods are considered potentially dangerous and their side effects are not fully understood yet. Some pet foods are known to contain canola oil, which may be made from genetically modified rapeseed oil, although this is not necessarily true. None of these ingredients are present in Nutro pet foods.

    Contains Some Cheap Fillers

    The ingredients found in Nutro foods are, generally, good quality and serve a purpose. The foods are primarily meat-based, which is also good, and most of the lines are species-appropriate. However, some of the foods do contain inappropriate fillers, such as alfalfa meal. Alfalfa meal is most commonly found in horse feed, and it is only added to food because it is cheap and readily available. It is a source of protein, but meat-protein is considered much higher quality and more beneficial.

    Cat ball divider 1A Quick Look at Nutro Cat Food

    Pros
    • Species-appropriate foods
    • Natural ingredients
    • Non-GMO ingredients
    • Chelated minerals
    Cons
    • Several recalls since 2007
    • Some foods contain filler ingredients

    Recall History

    Nutro pet food has been recalled several times, especially in the past 15 years. In 2015, their dog treats were recalled due to mold contamination of their apple chewy sweets. However, it isn’t just their dog foods that have been recalled. The following recalls have been initiated for Nutro cat foods:

    In 2007, several Nutro foods were recalled because they used melamine-contaminated ingredients from China. Nutro was one of a large number of suppliers caught up in this particular recall.

    In 2009, Nutro cat food was recalled because of inappropriate and incorrect levels of zinc and potassium. Several pet owners had reported their cats and dogs falling ill after eating Nutro pet foods.

    In the same year, Mars recalled several of its brands of pet food because of reports that there were small pieces of melted plastic found in the food.

    cat + line dividerReviews of the 3 Best Nutro Cat Food Recipes

    Although Nutro does manufacture a number of recipes, we have taken a closer look at three of their most popular:

    1. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food

    nutro wholesome essentials adult

    The Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon and Brown Rice recipe is a dry cat food that lists salmon and chicken meal as its primary ingredients, followed by brewers rice, pea protein, and whole brown rice as its next ingredients.

    Brewer’s rice is a lower quality grain which, itself, is considered lower quality than meat or another ingredient. It is low quality and inexpensive filler. Pea protein is similarly low quality and boosts the food’s protein ratio without really offering benefit to the cat.

    The Nutro Wholesome Salmon and Brown Rice food boasts 33% protein and it does contain additional, chelated minerals, but it also includes alfalfa meal and dried plain beet pulp which are lower quality ingredients that would ideally be replaced by meat ingredients in a premium food.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    nutro wholesome essentials

    Pros
    • No GMO ingredients
    • Salmon and chicken are primary ingredients
    • Includes chelated minerals
    Cons
    • Contains low-quality fillers
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    2. Nutro Perfect Portions Natural Wet Cat Food

    4Nutro Perfect Portions Grain-Free Paté Multi-Pack Real Salmon & Tuna

    The Nutro Perfect Portions Natural Wet Cat food is a wet food designed for adult cats of all ages. The actual ingredients do vary on the flavor you buy, but taking the salmon and tuna recipe as a guide, its primary ingredients are salmon, chicken, chicken liver, pork broth, chicken broth, and tuna.

    This means that the vast majority of the 12% protein in these trays is derived from meat, and means that Nutro Perfect Portions are among some of the best wet foods available. With that said, this food does contain some controversial ingredients, including menadione sodium bisulfite complex. Although this is a known source of vitamin K, it is controversial because it has been linked to a number of health complaints including kidney problems. It is potentially harmful to dogs and cats.

    The food also contains carrageenan, which is another controversial ingredient. This ingredient is controversial because it is believed to cause inflammation and toxicity in animals.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    nutro perfect portions

    Pros
    • Excellent source of meat protein
    • No artificial ingredients
    • No GMO ingredients
    Cons
    • Contains menadione sodium bisulfite complex
    • Contains carrageenan
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    3. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Kitten Food

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Kitten

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Kitten Food is a food designed for kittens under 12 months. The primary ingredients in this food are chicken and chicken meal, followed by pea protein. It also contains chicken fat, brewers rice, whole brown rice, and potato protein.

    The food has 36% protein and does not contain any GMO ingredients. It is also free from any artificial additives and only uses natural ingredients.

    With the primary ingredients being meat-based, the Nutro Kitten Food gets a good majority of its protein and nutrients from healthy sources. However, it does contain a lot of inexpensive and lower quality fillers including alfalfa meal, pea protein, and dried beet. It is considered an average dry food.

    While it shouldn’t cause your kitten harm or lead to illness, there are better quality foods out there.

    Calorie Breakdown:

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Chicken & Whole Brown Rice

    Pros
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
    • No GMO ingredients
    • 36% protein
    • Suitable for kittens
    Cons
    • Contains a lot of fillers
    • Not as high quality as Nutro wet food
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    What Other Users Are Saying

    Here is a sample of what others are saying about Nutro’s cat food range:

    • AllAboutCats – “Some Nutro canned foods stand out as exceptionally species-appropriate, meat-rich foods that meet the nutritional needs of obligate carnivores.”
    • FriendlyClaws – “Nutro’s dry food is solid but unexceptional, and its Wholesome Essential line represents the best choice.”
    • Amazon – See what other genuine cat owners are saying about Nutro cat foods, on Amazon. Click here to read their reviews.

    3 cat divider

    Conclusion

    Nutro, which is part of the Mars parent company, manufactures a wide range of foods. As well as adult dry food, they also supply kitten food and manufacture senior food. You will find Nutro food ranges that are geared towards cats with sensitive stomachs and those that produce a lot of fur balls.

    Although the wet food is considered much higher quality than the dry food, Nutro is known for using natural ingredients and they do not use GMO foods. They incorporate vitamins and minerals into their recipes, ensuring that your cat’s food is fortified and healthy.

    While their dry food would benefit from having fewer filler ingredients, there isn’t anything likely to cause harm or toxicity to your cat, making their full range a good choice for owners and cats alike.

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    Featured image credit: Chewy