For some cat owners, Orijen Cat and Kitten Formula is the holy grail of pet foods: all-natural meat, fish and vegetables; raised or caught in Canada; fit for the human table; delivered fresh each day to Orijen's Alberta factory to be crafted into a grain-free food. But it's still a dry cat food -- which some experts say is not the best alternative for cats.
Fresh Canadian meat and fish -- and no grain. Orijen hires Canadian farmers, ranchers and fishers (and names them on its website) to raise free-range, antibiotic-free chickens and fresh eggs, and catch wild Canadian fish and deliver them fresh daily. Orijen also adds cartilage (to simulate whole prey), fruits and vegetables as natural sources of vitamins and minerals, along with botanicals like dandelion and chamomile to satisfy your cat's "instinct to forage for grasses and weeds." Proteinated minerals like iron and zinc are easy for cats to absorb, and probiotics (friendly bacteria) help with digestion and immunity.
Australian recall was due to irradiation. A search of the Food and Drug Administration's online pet food recall database (which goes back to 2007) shows no recalls for Orijen pet food in the United States. In Australia in 2008, several cats were sickened after eating Orijen dry cat food that the Australian government had irradiated upon entry to the country -- but the problem was with the irradiation, not the food itself. Orijen immediately stopped selling its pet foods to Australia, and Australia has stopped irradiating pet food. Orijen itself gets high marks for safety. It makes all of its food in its own Canadian factory, using only Canadian ingredients, and it tests its food for contaminants like salmonella, heavy metals and mercury.
Orijen costs more than other grain-free dry cat foods. Pound for pound, Orijen costs more than other top-rated dry cat foods. However, most other dry cat foods include grain or have less meat. This cuts costs, but experts say cats are true carnivores that require a meat-based diet. Several cat owners also note that their cats actually eat less when they're fed grain-free foods, because the foods are more nutrient-dense. One grain-free dry cat food does cost less, and it gets good reviews: Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Feline Formula. It contains less meat than Orijen, however, and its safety record isn't quite as strong. But it's still a good budget choice, reviewers say.
Orijen Cat and Kitten Formula Reviews
Susan Thixton researches most cat food brands, including Orijen. She rates the brands and their individual varieties of cat food, based on ingredient quality, safety and more. The reviews are only available to subscribers, however.
Review: Orijen Cat Food, Susan Thixton, Not Dated
Orijen makes this list of the best dry cat foods by Franny Syufy, About.com's guide to cats. Elsewhere on the site, though, Syufy says she has switched her cats to canned food to avoid dry-food-related health problems.
Review: Premium Dry Cat Foods for Adult Cats, Franny Syufy, Not Dated
Orijen earns a five-star rating here. "If you take a look at the ingredients, you really can't do any better," the editors say. They also add that despite the cost, the quality and types of ingredients will lead cats to eat less and be healthy.
Review: Orijen (Cat & Kitten), Editors of PetFoodRatings.org, Apr. 16, 2013
Orijen earns a 5-star rating here as well. The editors say that only the best, freshest ingredients are used, and that the company makes the food in its own plant, giving it complete control of the process.
Review: Orijen Cat Food Reviews, As of April 2015
Orijen Cat and Kitten earns a very strong 4.7-star rating here, with about 360 reviews posted. A few owners say their cats don't like it, but most say their cats gobble it up -- and rave about their cats' health as a result. Around 96 percent say they recommend the food.
Review: Orijen Cat and Kitten Grain-Free Dry Cat Food, Contributors to Chewy.com, As of April 2015
There are just over 20 reviews of this flavor and size of Orijen at Amazon.com, but most are extremely pleased with the food. Almost all award it a perfect 5-stars. The lone sub-4-star rating only complains that his cats love it so much that they won't stop pestering him for more. Other sizes of the food, listed elsewhere on the site, rate similarly in general.
Review: Orijen Grain-Free Dry Cat Food 15 lbs, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2015
Australian cats developed health problems -- some were blinded or paralyzed -- after eating Orijen cat food that the Australian government irradiated as it entered the country. Orijen no longer sells its food in Australia, and the Australian government no longer irradiates imported cat food.
Review: Orijen Cat Food, Australian Veterinary Association, Not Dated