Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula costs less than other premium dry cat foods, and some experts recommend it. But a recent ingredient switch -- and a recall due to possible salmonella contamination -- has damped some cat owners' enthusiasm for this food.
Food-grade, antibiotic-free meat -- but lots of grain, too. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula recently changed its ingredients -- and some cat owners wish it hadn't. Salmon and whole-grain brown rice used to be high up on the ingredient list, but they've been substituted with barley and chicken fat. One reviewer's cats won't eat it anymore, and another cat started vomiting after meals.
Five of the top nine ingredients are grains or potatoes -- too many for some experts, who note that cats are strict carnivores that can develop health problems from eating too many grains and carbohydrates. In addition, many say that cats shouldn't eat dry food at all, because cats have a low thirst drive and need to get moisture from their food. Still, many veterinarians see no problem with dry food, and plenty of cat owners praise Chicken Soup's Adult Cat Formula.
Chicken Soup states on its website, "All of our meats are purchased from food grade suppliers and are certified hormone and antibiotic free." The veterinarians and nutritionists at 1800PetMeds.com give it points for that, as well as for eschewing byproducts and artificial ingredients. But they wish it used more meat and less meat "meal" (rendered meat and bone).
Another reviewer likes that it includes chelated minerals (although not that they're sourced from China) and probiotics to boost digestion and immunity (although they're not listed in the guaranteed analysis, so there's no assurance that the bacteria are viable). Chicken Soup also includes sodium bisulfate -- an FDA-approved synthetic vitamin K that raises a red flag for this reviewer, who says it can damage organs with prolonged or repeated exposure. Despite these drawbacks, the reviewer gives Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula the highest possible 5-paw rating.
Recalled for possible salmonella contamination. Some lots of Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul were recalled in April 2012 because they could have been contaminated with salmonella. The manufacturer, Diamond Pet Foods (which makes pet food for several brands), said only four bags of Diamond-made dog food -- no cat food -- tested positive for salmonella. However, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Diamond cat food did sicken and kill some cats in Canada, and several people got salmonella poisoning after handling the pet food.
Food and Drug Administration inspectors found "numerous violations" at Diamond's South Carolina factory, The Christian Science Monitor reports. For example, there weren't enough hand-washing stations, and the factory was using damaged equipment with cuts and holes that would be hard to clean properly.
Diamond says it has "taken corrective action" and the factory is making pet food again.
Less expensive than some competing foods, but not as highly recommended. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula costs less than other premium brands -- but it's not rated as highly. Natural Balance Original Ultra (*Est. $16 for a 6-lb. bag) has similar ingredients, and it's also made by Diamond Pet Foods. But Natural Balance has an in-house testing program in place that checks for nine contaminants (including salmonella), and its cat food wasn't recalled.
Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula is less expensive than Natural Balance Original Ultra and has similar ingredients. But for now, safety concerns relegate the cat food to also-ran status.
Excellent Susan Thixton writes detailed reviews of dozens of cat food brands (including Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul) and their individual flavors of food. She comments on their ingredient quality and safety, and she points out ingredients that can be bad for cats.
Review: Chicken Soup Cat Food, Susan Thixton, As of October 2012
2. The Christian Science Monitor
Excellent Diamond pet food has sickened and killed some cats and infected some people with salmonella, The Christian Science Monitor reports. The FDA inspected Diamond's factory and found "numerous violations."
Review: Pet Food Recall That Won't End? Diamond Cat Food Now Risky., Schuyler Velasco, May 20, 2012
Excellent Here, Diamond Pet Foods answers frequently asked questions about its 2012 pet food recall.
Review: Diamond Pet Foods Recall Information, Diamond Pet Foods, Not Dated
Very Good Franny Syufy, About.com's guide to cats, gives Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul 4.5 out of 5 stars and says it has "become a regular part of the feline diet in this household." However, on another page of the site, Syufy says she stopped feeding her cats dry food after she found out it could cause health problems. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul, Franny Syufy, Not Dated
Good A panel of veterinarians, nutritionists and the website's own staff rate pet foods here. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula rates 3.5 out of 5 stars -- a "Good" rating. Panelists like all of the different protein sources, but they prefer whole meats to the meat meals in Chicken Soup, and they deduct points for the Chinese vitamins and minerals.
Review: Comparison Center: Compare Your Pet's Food, Editors of 1800PetMeds.com, Not Dated
Good Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Formula gets high marks from more than half of the 45 cat owners who review it here. But we found more complaints for this food than for other premium cat foods -- some say it triggered allergies or vomiting in their cats, some are wary of the recent recall, some say the new ingredients are inferior, and others say their cats just didn't like it.
Review: Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Dry Cat Food for Adult Cat, Chicken Flavor, 18 Pound Bag, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012