Of all the big-name supermarket canned cat foods, experts find certain flavors of Fancy Feast OK. It's a lukewarm endorsement, though.
Contains byproducts, but at least it's grain- and vegetable-free. Experts say most supermarket canned cat food -- and most flavors of Fancy Feast -- contains too much low-quality grain and iffy byproducts to be good for cats. But Fancy Feast's Classic Feast flavors are actually free of grains and vegetables -- a good thing, experts say, as cats are strict carnivores that shouldn't eat many carbohydrates.
Still, foods like this are "second best," cautions Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat." The Classic Feast flavors rely heavily on byproducts, contain dyes and use "menadione sodium bisulfite complex" -- an FDA-approved synthetic vitamin K that can damage organs with prolonged or repeated exposure, one top source points out.
No recalls. Fancy Feast has a clean recall history. A search of the FDA's online database -- which goes back to the deadly melamine recalls of 2007 -- shows no recalls for Fancy Feast. One top expert says that the best pet foods get their ingredients from more tightly regulated countries like the United States, Canada and New Zealand. This expert notes that Fancy Feast gets its ingredients from all over the world. On the plus side, Fancy Feast's cans are bisphenol A (BPA)-free, avoiding a chemical that studies have linked to reproductive problems, cancers and other diseases.
You can do better for the price. Fancy Feast isn't cheap. Ounce for ounce, a 3-ounce can of Fancy Feast (the only size available) costs more than Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula (Est. $1.20 for a 6-oz. can) , a premium cat food that uses only ingredients that are fit for humans to eat -- and no byproducts.
Also, for less than a little can of Fancy Feast, you can get a bigger can of Trader Joe's Chicken, Turkey and Rice Dinner (Est. 69 cents for a 5.5-oz. can) . Trader Joe's canned cat food contains some grains, but no byproducts and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, making it by far the best supermarket pick.
Susan Thixton covers nine Fancy Feast classic flavors, including the Classic Chicken Feast. Her reviews are detailed and fact-based, studying ingredient quality, ingredient sources and more before assigning a rating to each cat food.
Review: Fancy Feast Cat Food, Susan Thixton, As of January 2014
Veterinarian Lisa Pierson recommends higher-quality canned cat foods first, but she says she'd "much rather see a cat eat any canned food" -- including Fancy Feast -- than dry food, which she says is usually too high-carb and always too low-moisture to be good for cats.
Review: Commercial Foods, Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, Updated February 2013
Like Pierson, Tracie Hotchner -- author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat" -- prefers higher-quality canned cat foods. But she publishes this "second best" list of acceptable supermarket foods, including some varieties of Fancy Feast.
Review: Cat Crazy -- Cat Food Supermarket Brands, Tracie Hotchner, Not Dated
This website lists cat foods that are suitable for cats with feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). To make the list, foods must be free from low-quality grains, dairy and certain spices, and additives that can irritate cats' bowels. Fancy Feast makes the list, but only the flavors that are wheat gluten-free.
Review: Wet Food, Editors of IBDKitties.net, Not Dated
More than 60 cat owners review Fancy Feast's Classic Feast flavors here, awarding them an average rating of 4.9 out of 5. Some say their cats simply love the flavor and texture (it's a paté-style food, with no chunks or gravy), while others appreciate that it's grain-free for their diabetic cats.
Review: Fancy Feast Gourmet Canned Cat Food, Contributors to Petco.com, As of January 2014