Weruva's simple, high-quality ingredients and attention to safety impress many experts -- enough that some say they'd feed it to their own cats without hesitation. However, it isn't recommended as often as some other top-rated canned cat foods, such as Halo Spot's Stew Wholesome Chicken Recipe (Est. $1.60 for a 5.5-oz. can) , and some experts explicitly say that there are better choices.
High-quality and grain-free. "The cat food of your dreams" is what Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the radio show "Cat Chat," calls Weruva canned cat food. Weruva calls it "people food for pets." It uses only high-quality cuts of lean meat -- for example, the boneless, skinless chicken breast is hormone- and antibiotic-free, the company states.
The meat in Weruva cat food is shredded or cut into chunks (not ground), in gravy thickened with potato starch. It's "a favorite among cats who prefer juicy canned food rather than pate," says Franny Syufy, About.com's guide to cats, who lists the Paw Lickin' Chicken as one of the best cat foods you can buy -- and one of her cats' personal favorites. Weruva makes duck, liver, beef and seafood flavors, too.
Weruva cat foods are grain-free. That's important, experts say, because cats are obligate carnivores (they must eat meat to survive) and haven't evolved to digest much grain. In fact, veterinarian Lisa Pierson and other experts say too much grain can cause health problems like feline asthma and inflammatory bowel disease in cats.
But Pierson is one of the few experts who doesn't recommend Weruva. She says all of its foods "are either too high in carbohydrates or are fish-based." She says cats aren't designed to get their calories from carbs, and fish should be fed only occasionally -- if at all -- for several reasons (including allergies and possible contaminants like mercury). Weruva foods are also pretty high in water, she points out, so they give you less actual nutrition for your dollar than other foods.
Some flavors contain the controversial ingredient carrageenan, a seaweed-based thickener that some studies have linked to intestinal problems in animals. Some flavors, including Paw Lickin' Chicken, are carrageenan-free.
Factory and ingredients are thoroughly inspected. Weruva cat food is made in Thailand, in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified factory that also processes human food. When one "Cat Chat" listener said she was "nervous using food made in Thailand," Weruva founder David Forman wrote a very thorough answer.
"Our sister company, started by my father, has been producing human food in this facility for years," Forman said. He added that the factory is not only USDA-certified, but has passed inspections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and earned a grade of "A" from the British Retail Consortium -- "making it not only one of the safest places in the world to make pet food, but making it one of the safest places in the world to make human food!"
The factory is certified halal and orthodox kosher, Weruva's website states. Weruva audits its suppliers' factories, too, and inspects every container of food that arrives at the factory. "The incoming food is tested for pathogens and contaminants, the inspections including an antibiotic, heavy metal and pesticide analysis," according to the website. Weruva uses bisphenol A (BPA)-free cans for its 3- and 5.5-ounce sizes (it does not state that the 10-ounce size is BPA-free), avoiding a chemical that studies have linked to reproductive problems, cancers and other diseases.
A search of the FDA's website, which lists pet food recalls back to 2007, shows that Weruva has not been recalled in that time. Weruva was founded in 2006.
High quality -- but it's not cheap. Grain-free cat foods like Weruva cost more than foods with cheaper ingredients. A 5.5-ounce can of Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken has a "guaranteed analysis" of 84 calories, versus 150 to 200 calories for other brands. (Weruva says the average can actually has about 108 calories, but it guarantees at least 84 calories in every can.) With low-cal foods, you'll have to feed your cat more to maintain its weight, Pierson points out.
You'll get more calories per can with fattier grain-free premium cat foods -- including the otherwise highly rated Wellness Chicken Formula (*Est. $1.50 for a 5.5-oz. can) and Evo Cat and Kitten Food (Est. $1.35 for a 5.5-oz. can) -- or higher-carbohydrate foods like Natural Balance Indoor Cat Formula (Est. $1.20 for a 6-oz. can) , though Pierson's ingredient report on her website shows that even Natural Balance is much lower in carbs than Weruva.
Susan Thixton, author of the blog Truth About Pet Food, rates canned cat foods (including Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken) on a four-point scale. Thixton favors foods with high-quality ingredients and added minerals and no fillers or questionable ingredients. She also considers factors like whether the cans are BPA-free and whether the company sources its ingredients from countries with lax standards. Thixton urges readers to read beyond the ratings, though -- she says they "don't always tell the whole story." Her reviews are extraordinarily detailed and thorough.
Review: Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken Cat Food Can, Susan Thixton, As of January 2014
Lisa Pierson, a veterinarian, advocates feeding cats a raw diet, but she does list a few commercial canned cat foods that she considers high-quality. Weruva is included on the list.
Review: Commercial Foods, Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, Updated February 2013
About.com cat guide Franny Syufy names Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken to her list of the best canned cat foods. Her short write-up lists the ingredients and says cats that like juicy canned food (rather than paté) usually like it.
Review: Top Canned Cat Food, Franny Syufy, Not Dated
Tracie Hotchner, author of "The Cat Bible" and host of the syndicated radio show "Cat Chat," takes a listener's concern about Weruva cat food being made in Thailand and forwards it to the company. She posts the thorough answer here. Weruva owner David Forman explains the tight oversight at the Thai processing plant -- which also produces human food and earned a grade of "A" from the strict British Retail Consortium human food processing standard.
Review: Any Doubts About Weruva's Food Made in Thailand?, Tracie Hotchner, Jan. 21, 2009
This website lists foods suitable for cats suffering from feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) -- including Weruva Paw Lickin' Chicken and other Weruva varieties. To make this extensive list, the food must not include low-quality grains, dairy, or certain bowel-irritating spices and additives.
Review: Wet Food, Editors of IBDKitties.net, Not Dated
With a score of 4.7 out of 5, with more than 75 user reviews posted, Weruva is one of the top-rated canned cat foods on this retail website. In fact, only three reviewers give it low ratings -- two whose cats just didn't like it, and one who finds it too low-calorie.
Review: Weruva Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, Contributors to OnlyNaturalPet.com, As of January 2014