Experts like Evo Cat and Kitten Food's grain-free formula. It's not quite as acclaimed as critics' favorite Halo canned cat food, but Evo costs a bit less and is still a solid pick.
High quality and grain-free -- but it does contain the controversial ingredient carrageenan. Like Halo cat food, Evo is grain-free. That's important for cats, experts say, because they are strict carnivores that didn't evolve to digest significant amounts of grain.
While Halo uses only muscle meat in its food, Evo Cat and Kitten Food uses both muscle meat and "chicken meal," which is rendered to remove moisture. As long as high-grade chicken meat is used to make the meal, it's a fine ingredient, experts say -- a good, concentrated source of protein.
Although Evo uses no byproducts, a class action lawsuit alleged that it was misleading to describe the pet food as "human grade." Evo's parent company, Natura Pet Products (owned by Procter & Gamble), admitted no wrongdoing but settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost of a court case. Now, Evo's website makes no claims about the grade of its meat, but it does state that its meat "meets all USDA/FDA standards for product safety."
Evo canned cat food also contains carrageenan, a thickener made from seaweed. This controversial ingredient has been linked to intestinal problems in some animal studies. One top expert notes this as a "red flag" ingredient, but she still gives Evo canned cat food her highest rating. She praises the company for chelating necessary minerals like iron and zinc before adding them to the food, making them easier to absorb.
Evo is also a favorite cat food of Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat," and About.com guide to cats Franny Syufy names Evo as one of the few foods she feeds her own cats. Veterinarian Lisa Pierson -- a strong proponent of feeding cats a raw diet -- names Evo to her very short list of quality canned cat foods.
A clean recall history. Evo pet food hasn't been involved in any recalls in recent years, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website, which lists pet food recalls back to 2007.
Natura (Evo's parent company) is registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, certifying that "Natura purchases all of our meats from USDA registered suppliers who follow all USDA regulations for safe meat handling," the Evo website states. One top expert notes that Evo's "meats, fruits, and vegetables are sourced domestically -- venison is sourced from New Zealand and the vitamin premix component sourced from Europe," and that Evo's small 5.5-ounce cans (although not the bigger cans) are bisphenol A (BPA)-free, avoiding a chemical that studies have linked to reproductive problems, cancers and other diseases.
Procter & Gamble's purchase of Natura Pet Products in 2010 raised lots of red flags among pet food advocates, but no issues have arisen, and there have been no reports of decreased ingredient quality.
Premium-priced -- but cheaper than Halo. Compared to the top-rated Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken (*Est. $1.60 for a 5.5-oz. can), Evo canned cat food costs slightly less and packs more calories per ounce, so you might not have to feed as much. A 5.5-ounce can of Evo Cat and Kitten Food has 200 calories, versus 136 calories for Halo.
Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula (*Est. $1.20 for a 6-oz. can) is one highly rated cat food that costs significantly less than Evo and Halo foods. However, unlike Halo, Natural Balance contains grains, and it isn't low-carb like Evo.
Some experts wish Evo canned cat food didn't contain carrageenan, but even they say Evo still makes one of the better canned cat foods on the market. It costs less than the top-rated Halo brand, and it's a strong runner-up choice.
Excellent Susan Thixton, author of the blog Truth About Pet Food, rates cat food brands (including Evo) and individual flavors of food, based on ingredient quality, nutritional makeup and more. Her pet food reviews are the most thorough we've found.
Review: Evo Cat Food, Susan Thixton, Updated November 2010
Excellent Veterinarian Lisa Pierson includes Evo on her short list of high-quality commercial cat foods. It's also listed in a recently updated Cat Food Composition chart that provides information on the protein, fat, carbohydrate and phosphorous content of many foods.
Review: Commercial Foods, Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, As of October 2012
3. The Orange County Register
Excellent As this newspaper report explains, in 2011, Natura settled a class action lawsuit alleging that claims its dog and cat foods are "human grade" were misleading. Natura denied any wrongdoing but settled the lawsuit.
Review: Natural Pet Food Buyers Can Claim $200, From Register staff reports, July 19, 2011
Very Good About.com's guide to cats, Franny Syufy, includes Evo on her list of the best canned cat foods (which she has fed to her own cats). She lists the ingredients, but she doesn't explain why they're desirable. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Top Canned Cat Food, Franny Syufy, Not Dated
Very Good Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat," lists her favorite cat food brands here. Evo is one of the brands that makes the cut.
Review: Cat Chat Approved Foods, Tracie Hotchner, Not Dated
Good Evo Cat and Kitten Food is suitable for cats who have feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to this website. The site chooses foods that exclude low-quality grains, dairy and certain spices and additives.
Review: Wet Food, Editors of IBDKitties.net, Not Dated
Fair Canned Evo Cat and Kitten Food hasn't accumulated as many reviews as the top-rated foods here -- only 20 -- but it still maintains a high rating of 4.5 out of 5. Three say their cats don't like it.
Review: Evo Adult & Kitten Canned Cat Food, Contributors to OnlyNaturalPet.com, As of October 2012