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Wellness vs Blue Buffalo Cat Food: Our 2023 In-Depth Comparison

If you’ve spent time wandering around your pet food store, you might’ve noticed two brands that are a bit higher-end than normal: Wellness and Blue Buffalo.

Each of these brands was started fairly recently, and both have cashed in on the natural pet food craze. They offer consumers the opportunity to feed their cat a kibble that’s a step up in quality from the usual commercial stuff you’ll see on shelves, while still keeping prices reasonable.

While the two foods have much in common, we feel that one has the edge over the other. Read on to find out which one earned the nod in this head-to-head battle.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Wellness Cat Food

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula
  • Feature icon Has taurine for heart health
  • Feature icon Filled with omega fatty acids
  • Feature icon Specially designed for indoor cats
  • Runner-up
    Second place
    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe
  • Feature icon High in protein
  • Feature icon Full of internal organs
  • Feature icon Mimics cats’ natural diets
  • Both foods start with a foundation of real meat and use as many high-quality fruits and veggies as possible, but Wellness does a better job of sticking to natural ingredients. It also has a better safety history than Blue Buffalo.

    If you’re thinking about giving Wellness a try, consider starting with one of our favorite recipes:

    We’ve only scratched the surface on all the reasons that we prefer Wellness to Blue Buffalo, so if you’d like to learn more about what sets these two foods apart, the guide below will fill you in on the key details.

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    About Wellness Cat Food

    • Real meat is always first ingredient
    • No cheap fillers
    • Uses high-quality fruits and veggies
    • Grain-free options available
    • Wide selection
    • Some recipes have raw meat
    • Dry food made in U.S.A.
    • Doesn’t divulge where wet food is made
    • Often has less fat and protein than we’d like
    • A bit pricey
    • Some foods have almost as many plants as meats

    Wellness is the largest independent holistic pet food company in the world, and it’s earned that distinction by focusing on natural ingredients whenever possible.

    Who Owns Wellness Cat Food and Where Is It Made?

    Wellness is owned by a Philadelphia-based private investment management company named the Berwind Corporation.

    However, the company makes all of its dry foods in Indiana, while their corporate offices are in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

    The location of their wet food manufacturing plant is a bit of a mystery, as the company doesn’t divulge that information. That likely means that it’s foreign-based, but we can’t tell you where exactly its food comes from.

    What Kind of Food Does Wellness Make?

    Wellness makes kibble, wet food, and treats. Its foods are made with real meat as the first ingredient, and it never uses cheap fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.

    It has a variety of grain-free recipes, as well as a few with high-quality grains. They also have options with raw, freeze-dried chunks of meat inside.

    That being said, its nutritional levels are sometimes lacking. It doesn’t have as much fat or protein as some more expensive brands, although it does have a bit more than most of its lower-priced competition.

    Who Is Wellness’s Target Audience?

    Wellness is aimed at consumers who are willing to pay a little more to give their cat better nutrition than they’d find from bargain-basement cat foods. However, Wellness also tries to stay more accessible than some premium foods, so you can find it in most pet stores.

    Ultimately, the type of person who buys Wellness is someone who gives some thought to their cat’s diet but doesn’t want to spend a ton of time (or money) researching the best possible foods.

    There are certainly better foods out there, but they may not be on the shelves of your local chain pet food store.

    What Kinds of Ingredients Does Wellness Cat Food Use?

    Wellness starts with real cuts of meat; usually, these are typical meats like chicken, fish, or turkey, but sometimes it’ll work in an exotic meat.

    It doesn’t use as many meats as some other higher-end foods, and many of its recipes have some sort of plant as the second ingredient. These plants are almost always high-quality, but still, cats need as much meat as possible.

    It often adds vitamins and minerals to its foods as well. This helps ensure that your cat gets all the nutrients they need, but it’s always better to get those nutrients from actual food rather than supplements.

    The lack of certain ingredients is as impressive as the ingredients that actually made it in. You won’t find cheap fillers, and there aren’t suspect chemicals like artificial colors or flavors inside either.

    Want to see more cat food reviews? Check out our review page here!

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    About Blue Buffalo Cat Food

    • Real meat is first ingredient
    • Many different product lines available
    • No cheap fillers or chemicals inside
    • Most foods have probiotics for digestive health
    • Food is made in the U.S.A.
    • Plenty of grain-free recipes available
    • May use animal by-products
    • Some recipes have less than ideal fat and protein levels
    • On the pricey side

    Blue Buffalo started as a dog food manufacturer in 2003, and the company quickly found so much success that it branched out into cat food as well. Like Wellness, each of its recipes starts with real meat and places an emphasis on using natural ingredients whenever possible.

    Who Owns Blue Buffalo and Where Is It Made?

    While Blue Buffalo started as a family-owned company, it was acquired by the giant General Mills corporation in 2018. Blue Buffalo seems to have retained control over its manufacturing philosophy so far, as the quality of the food hasn’t flagged since its acquisition.

    It has multiple processing plants across the United States that handle its food manufacturing.

    What Kind of Food Does Blue Buffalo Make?

    Blue Buffalo has several product lines, including grain-free options, limited ingredient formulas, and high-protein options. They make both wet and dry food, as well as a variety of treats.

    As with Wellness, Blue Buffalo starts every recipe off with real meat. They use natural ingredients wherever possible and try to include as many high-quality fruits and veggies as they can.

    The company claims to never use any animal by-products, but they were sued for false advertising by Purina in 2014. Blue Buffalo then countersued using the same allegation, and the two sides found a “mutually agreeable” solution in 2016. We’ll never know if those claims were true or not, but it certainly doesn’t seem like Blue Buffalo argued against them that passionately.

    Who Is Blue Buffalo’s Target Audience?

    Blue Buffalo targets the same people that Wellness does. These two brands are competing with each other much more than they are with cheaper foods like Fancy Feast or more premium options like Orijen.

    Their ideal customer is someone who walks into a pet store and asks for the best food they have. In many chain pet stores, both brands will often be in contention.

    However, if you dig a little deeper on the internet or visit higher-end pet stores, you’ll find several foods that are much more nutritious than either Blue Buffalo or Wellness. They’re just harder to find and much more expensive.

    What Kinds of Ingredients Does Blue Buffalo Use?

    Blue Buffalo uses lean cuts of meat in all of their foods. Usually, these meats come from sources like chicken, turkey, fish, or beef, but it has exotic options as well.

    Like Wellness, though, Blue Buffalo often doesn’t have as much protein or fat as cats need, especially in their wet foods. You might need to combine it with another food for the best results.

    None of its foods use ingredients like corn, wheat, or soy, and its grain-free foods use peas, potatoes, and the like in their place. They also have quality fruits and veggies like cranberries, lentils, and kelp.

    Many of their foods have added probiotics, which makes them gentle on your pup’s digestive tract. When they do use grains, it’s usually something like rice, which is easy for dogs to process.

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    The 3 Most Popular Wellness Cat Food Recipes

    1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula

    Wellness CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula

    One of the company’s grain-free options, Wellness CORE is specially designed for indoor cats. It’s loaded with fish, which means it’s also loaded with omega fatty acids.

    The company added important vitamins and minerals like taurine, which is essential for heart health, and they also backloaded the recipe with probiotics.

    However, the formula is heavy on plant-based nutrients. You’ll see peas listed as the second ingredient, and there’s a ton of potatoes in here as well. That takes up a great deal of room that should go to protein, of which this food has a medium 34%.

    • Specially designed for indoor cats
    • Filled with omega fatty acids
    • Has taurine for heart health
    • Plant-based nutrition
    • Mediocre 34% protein levels
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    2. Wellness Complete Health Pâté Chicken Entree

    Wellness Complete Health Pâté Chicken Entree

    If you prefer canned food to dry kibble, Wellness Complete Health Pate is a good choice. It has plenty of moisture, thanks to the chicken broth inside, and that makes it a tantalizing treat for most cats.

    It comes in a huge 12.5 ounce can as well, which makes it easy to customize how much you feed your cat. That’s good because you’ll need to feed them a large amount of this (or pair it with a high-quality kibble) to give your cat all the protein they need.

    This pâté only has 10.5% protein and it’s high in salt as well. Other than that, it’s one of the better dry foods that you’ll find in this price range.

    • Filled with moisture
    • Most cats love taste
    • Comes in a giant can
    • High in salt
    • Low protein content
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    3. Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Shrimp Entree

    Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Shrimp Entree

    Another canned option, Wellness CORE Signature Selects is a grain-free wet food that’s filled with seafood like mackerel and shrimp. That ensures that it’s loaded with omega fatty acids, not to mention being delicious for your cat.

    It’s packed with other nutrients as well, most notably taurine, folic acid, and biotin. Your cat should get plenty of nutrition, even though there’s not much fat or protein inside at just 10% and 3.5%, respectively.

    This is one food that absolutely needs to be paired with dry kibble, but if you find a good one, it will represent a powerful one-two nutritional punch.

    • Grain-free wet food
    • Plenty of omega fatty acids
    • Packed with extra nutrients
    • Low in protein and fat
    • Needs to be paired with a dry kibble

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    The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Cat Food Recipes

    1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness is based around the type of diet that a cat would eat in the wild. It relies heavily on animal proteins, with chicken and chicken meal being the first two ingredients.

    As a result, it’s relatively high in protein at 40%, and the chicken meal is full of internal organs, which gives your cat all the essential amino acids they need to function at their peak.

    It’s a bit low in fat at just 18%, and it has quite a few carbs, due to the heavy plant content. All in all, though, it’s one of the best dry kibbles in its price range.

    • High in protein
    • Mimics cats’ natural diets
    • Full of internal organs
    • Low fat content
    • More carbs than we’d like to see
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    2. Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe

    Designed for cats that have trouble processing other foods, Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Recipe has heavy amounts of rice and oatmeal, both of which are easy for most animals to tolerate.

    It boasts a nice variety of animal sources too, as the ingredients list shows chicken, chicken meal, fish meal, and fish oil.

    Despite that, it only has 32% protein, which is likely due to the rice and oatmeal pushing out the opportunity to add more meat. It’s fairly high in salt as well.

    • Good for animals with dodgy digestive systems
    • Nice variety of animal sources
    • Plenty of rice and oatmeal inside
    • Mediocre amount of protein
    • High in salt
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    3. Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Variety Pack

    Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Variety Pack

    You can feed your cat something different every night with the Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Variety Pack. It has three different flavors inside, and regardless of which you choose, you’ll get a pâté that’s soaked in gravy.

    This makes it irresistible to most cats, while also adding plenty of moisture to their diets. In addition to the variety of meats, it includes high-quality plant options, like sweet potatoes.

    However, it has a meager 10% protein, and it uses cassia and guar gum. These are added to the food to make it easier to eat, but they can interfere with protein synthesis.

    • Cats love the gravy
    • Three different flavors to choose from
    • Uses quality vegetables like sweet potatoes
    • Low in protein
    • Gums interfere with protein synthesis

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    Recall History of Blue Buffalo & Wellness Cat Food

    Both Wellness and Blue Buffalo have complicated recall histories, although Blue Buffalo’s is definitely worse.

    Wellness only has two major recall incidents affecting its cat food. The first happened in 2011, when it recalled over 20 million cans of cat food due to low thiamine levels. This can lead to heart problems, so it’s not something to be ignored.

    The second major recall occurred in 2017. They recalled a variety of canned foods because trace amounts of metal were found in a different brand’s food that used the same manufacturing plant. No metal was found in any Wellness food, but it should be a concern that it shares a facility with other companies that might not take safety as seriously as they do.

    Blue Buffalo was part of the Great Melamine Recall of 2007. More than 100 dog and cat foods were recalled due to the presence of a lethal chemical called melamine that entered the food at a Chinese processing plant, and thousands of pets died as a result of eating the tainted food (although we don’t know if any died from eating Blue Buffalo specifically).

    It also recalled some treats in 2015 due to levels of propylene glycol, and in 2019, they were listed by the FDA as one of 16 pet brands that could be linked to heart disease in dogs and cats. Nothing has been proven so far, but it’s obviously not a list that they want to find themselves on.

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    Blue Buffalo vs Wellness Cat Food

    Wellness and Blue Buffalo are similar companies, but they have enough differences to make it possible to compare them head-to-head in several key areas.

    Cat Food Price

    Both foods are on the pricier end, especially if you’re shopping at chain pet food stores. There are certainly more expensive foods out there, but you’ll have to shop at high-end stores to find them.

    It’s hard to give an apples-to-apples comparison here because both brands have a variety of product lines. The price will vary depending on whether you’re comparing one of their basic foods or one of their premium options.

    Typically, though, Wellness might cost a buck or two more.

    Cat Food Ingredients

    Blue Buffalo and Wellness both use natural ingredients as much as possible, they both list meat as their first ingredient, and neither uses any cheap fillers or additives.

    As such, they’re similar in terms of both the type and quality of ingredients. However, given that Blue Buffalo didn’t exactly denounce the claim that it uses animal by-products in its foods, we’re a tad bit suspicious of it. As a result, we’ll give Wellness the edge here.

    Cat Food Selection

    You can find just about any flavor or specialty diet with either brand. They both have extremely comprehensive product lines.

    Blue Buffalo offers a few more foods, so we’ll give it the nod, but it’s unlikely that you’ll come up empty-handed if you peruse through Wellness’s stock.

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    Cat Food Safety

    Although both brands have suffered recalls in the past, Wellness’s safety record is superior.

    However, to Blue Buffalo’s credit, it moved its food manufacturing facilities stateside after the incident with the Chinese plant in 2007. Also, one of their recalls wasn’t its fault, but if it’s sharing facilities with low-grade food companies, that’s still cause for concern.

    Cat Food Overall

    These two brands match up fairly evenly on paper. If you’re already feeding your cat one of these foods and everything is going well, we’d urge you to keep doing what you’re doing.

    If you’re looking to switch to one, though, we’d suggest Wellness. It boasts almost all the selling points that Blue Buffalo can offer, but without a history of potentially shady advertising or deadly product recalls.

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    If you want to upgrade your food from the cheap junk that litters the shelves of most pet stores, both Wellness and Blue Buffalo represent a step up in quality (not to mention price). You can certainly find better foods than either of these brands, but they won’t be cheap or easy to track down.

    The foods are similar in almost every regard, from philosophy to ingredient quality, and you can’t really go wrong with either one. We prefer Wellness by a whisker due to its superior safety history, but Blue Buffalo seems to have learned from the mistakes of its past.

    There’s a good chance that your cat will scarf down either food, and their health should improve if you’re switching from cheaper food as well. Regardless of which brand you end up buying, one thing’s for certain: Your cat won’t be able to go back to the cheap stuff ever again.