If you'd prefer your cats eat organically, reviews highly recommend Newman's Own canned cat food. It's mostly USDA organic chicken with no artificial ingredients -- and all profits go to animal charities.
Organic, human-grade ingredients. About.com's guide to cats, Franny Syufy, raves about the quality of Newman's Own Organics Chicken and Brown Rice -- one of her cats' favorite foods.
"These chickens are fed a 100% natural all-vegetable diet with NO antibiotics," Syufy writes. Organic brown rice is the fifth ingredient, after organic chicken, water, chicken liver and ocean whitefish. (Newman's Own says all of its pet foods are more than 70 percent organic.)
Some experts say cat food really shouldn't contain any grain, because cats haven't evolved to digest it well. They're strict carnivores. Still, one such critic -- Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat" -- recommends Newman's Own. (Hotchner is the daughter of author A.E. Hotchner, who founded Newman's Own with his friend, actor Paul Newman.)
Another top source also gives Newman's Own Organics canned cat food the highest possible rating. This source wishes it didn't include carrageenan, a seaweed-based thickener that some animal studies have linked to intestinal problems. But the source praises Newman's Own for adding chelated minerals (which are easy for cats to absorb) and using human-grade ingredients.
Newman's Own's website states, "Newman's Own Organics organic pet food uses human grade and fit for human consumption ingredients such as natural chicken and organic grains." The only reason it doesn't say so on the label, the company says, is because "the AAFCO Board (Association of American Feed Control Officials), which is the regulatory agency for animal foods, actually prohibits the printing of 'Human Grade' on pet food packaging."
Most of the 100 cat owners who review Newman's Own Chicken and Brown Rice at Amazon.com say their cats scarfed it down: "They inhaled it like there was no tomorrow," one reports. Most isn't all, however, and some do say that their cats turned up their noses at this organic food.
A spotless recall history. Newman's Own pet food has never been recalled, a search of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recall database shows.
In fact, several cat owners say they started feeding Newman's Own because it was one of the few safe brands during the notorious 2007 pet food recall, in which tainted ingredients from China were added to hundreds of American pet foods, poisoning many pets and killing some.
"I had tried everything after the pet food debacle a few years ago (even tried the frozen meat) and they wouldn't eat anything else," one cat owner writes at Amazon.com. Another says that after switching their cats' food to Newman's Own during the recall scare, "we saw a significant improvement in their coats, weight and overall health. Our vet noticed, too."
One top source points out that Newman's Own Organics gets all of its ingredients from the United States and uses no genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. Its cat food cans are bisphenol A (BPA)-free, avoiding a chemical that studies have linked to reproductive problems, cancers and other diseases.
All profits go to animal charities. Newman's Own Organics canned cat food -- which contains grain -- costs less than grain-free premium cat foods like the top-rated Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken Recipe (*Est. $1.60 for a 5.5-oz. can).
But Newman's Own Organics does cost more than non-organic premium cat foods with grain, such as Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula (*Est. $1.20 for a 6-oz. can) and Felidae Cat and Kitten Formula (*Est. $1.30 for a 5.5-oz. can).
Still, cat owners who like Newman's Own Organics tend to agree with one Amazon.com customer: "Paying a little more for a quality organic diet and not a bunch of by-products is well worth it."
Like all Newman's Own products, Newman's Own Organics pet food donates all after-tax profits to charity -- animal charities, in this case. "I feel good about buying it since proceeds go to charity," one Amazon.com customer writes. Another says, "No profit to me means that this company really does have the cats' welfare at heart."
Organic, human-grade ingredients and a good product safety record make Newman's Own Organics cat food a favorite of both experts and owners. The fact that profits go to support animal charities helps ease the pain of the slightly higher cost compared to other foods that also have some grains.
Excellent Susan Thixton, author of the blog Truth About Pet Food, thoroughly investigates pet food brands and the foods themselves on her subscription website, PetsumerReport.com. She rates canned foods on a scale of 1 to 4, based on ingredient quality, ingredient sources and more. She posts her review of Newman's Own Organics Chicken and Brown Rice here as an example, and it is free to read without a subscription.
Review: Petsumer Report of the Month, Susan Thixton, April 29, 2011
Very Good Newman's Own Organics Chicken and Brown Rice makes this list of the best canned cat foods by Franny Syufy, About.com's guide to cats. Syufy picks the foods based on overall quality, listing them in order of her cats' preference. (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," publishes a short list of cat foods that she considers high-quality. Newman's Own makes the list. It's worth noting, however, that Hotchner's father helped found the Newman's Own brand.
Review: Cat Chat Approved Foods, Tracie Hotchner, Not Dated
Good Over 100 customers here give Newman's Own Organics canned cat food 3.7 out of 5 stars. Most say their cats love it and it has improved their health, but about one in four gives it a low score -- usually because their cats won't eat it.
Review: Newman's Own Organics Canned Cat Food, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012