Nutro Cat Food Review | Recalls & Ratings

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Nutro Cat Food Review

Nutro is a popular brand in the pet community. Its primary focus is delivering simple, nutritional high-quality meals without GMOs, by-product meals, and artificial ingredients. 

They have several diets catering to the unique dietary needs of various life stages. Plus, some of their dry product ranges focus on common health problems suffered by cats, like hairballs and food allergies. 

Unfortunately, Nutro has suffered multiple recalls over the years. And, it’s faced several legal problems too. 

But, since its purchase by Mars Inc, the company has implemented rigorous safety and quality protocols to prevent further health risks and recalls in the future.

Continue reading this Nutro cat food review to find out whether this company is all it’s cracked up to be. Plus, we’ll dive into the quality of ingredients they use and explore the brand’s controversial history too. 


6out of 10

Species Suitability5
Quality of Ingredients7
Affordability8
Product Range6
Recall History4

Nutro has a “feed clean” philosophy when formulating their cat foods. This unique philosophy guides how they craft their cat foods, dedicating the use of non-GMO ingredients in these simple, purposeful, and trustworthy recipes. [1]

The company believes that natural foods are the most nutritional and safest options for cats. 

And because they’re dedicated to trustworthiness, they include a complete list of all the ingredients they use in their recipes. They often include real animal meats for protein, whole grains, and nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Unnecessary fillers and GMO ingredients are included in many budget-friendly brands because of how cheap they are. That being said, Nutro still manages to keep its prices low and affordable for consumers.

Nutro offers several non-GMO cat foods for a variety of life stages. Plus, they offer cats several diets made for several health problems too.

Although Nutro has suffered multiple recalls, its updated quality and safety protocols have reassured numerous cat parents and reignited confidence in the brand. 

In fact, Nutro’s safety practices are better than other reputable companies. They oversee every stage of the manufacturing process to ensure quality with rigorous and frequent testing.

What’s more, despite how their formulas include premium ingredients, its recipes still offer fantastic value compared to other pet food brands.

Nutro History

The Nutro Company was founded in 1926, and in 1936, the company became a trademark. But at the same time, three brothers, John, Herman, and Albert Saleen, began their innovative path in the pet food industry. 

The Saleen brothers had a fox farm, so they needed a way to conveniently feed their foxes. They eventually crafted their own commercial food for foxes in 1933 before using this experience to formulate high-quality pet foods.

John Saleen purchased Kal Kan pet foods in 1947, and in the same year, acquired the Nutro Company. This brought steady growth to the brand over several years. But John eventually sold the company in 1975 for $300,000 to a friend, Ed Brown, after realizing his children didn’t want to continue in the pet food industry. 

In 2007, Nutro joined an extensive family of pet food companies owned by Mars Inc. Other brands owned by Mars Inc. include Eukanuba, Iams, and Pedigree. And today, Mars Petcare is the largest pet food company worldwide. 

Compared to other brands in the Mars pet food family, Nutro has much better ingredients included in their recipes. Nutro has a reputation for making clean, premium pet foods that offer excellent value. 

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Nutro was initially based in California. But following the company’s acquisition by Mars, they moved headquarters to Tennessee.

Nutro’s parent company owns the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, a respected and reputable institution of veterinarians, nutritionists, and scientists researching pet nutrition and development. [2]

This extensive research is inevitably passed on to Nutro, where they can apply it to their products and improve their recipes’ nutritional value and safety.

Nutro has two dry pet food manufacturing plants in North Carolina and California. They also have separate facilities for their wet food diets in Arkansas, Ohio, and South Dakota. 

The company claims they source ingredients from trusted farmers and suppliers globally. These ingredients are then prepared in trust facilities and tested rigorously for quality and safety. All Nutro formulas contain non-GMO ingredients. 

Nutro was also the first pet food brand to receive certification for its manufacturing facilities by the American Feed Industry Association. [3

Nutro’s manufacturing facilities would have undergone several audits of its ingredients, areas, equipment, cleanliness, labelings, and equipment to receive this certification. 

Controversies

Despite its glowing reputation, Nutro has suffered several legal controversies over the years. And this includes investigations by the FDA into a number of their products.

Nutro has also faced controversy by conducting its own studies and exposing other competitors’ flaws.

Drug Investigation

Nutro’s worst controversy involved a potential drug contamination in some of their dog food formulas. Samples of specific products manufactured by different companies between 1998 and 2000 had tested positive for the pentobarbital drug. [4]

Its low concentrations didn’t pose an immediate risk, but it still worried consumers. 

But in 2002, the FDA released information on an in-depth investigation into pentobarbital contained in dog foods made by multiple brands over several years. They showed how small traces of this drug had made their way into dog food when it included rendered meat products containing euthanized cattle or horses.

Rendering involves cooking and draining meat by-products to create edible ingredients. You can typically find rendered products like beef tallow, animal fat, and bone meal in pet food. [5]

The FDA highlighted how the exposure of pentobarbital in dog food could severely impact health. Plus, veterinarians reported how this anesthetic was losing effectiveness in dogs and cats.

That being said, this investigation was a long time ago. Nutro has significantly changed its recipes since then. In fact, they never use rendered meats or ingredients in their formulas.

And while the brands involved in the 2002 investigations faced similar accusations in 2018, Nutro did not suffer the same fate.

DCM Investigation by FDA

In 2019, the FDA investigated a potential link between certain pet diets and a specific heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). They identified over 16 pet food brands linked to causing this health risk, Nutro being one of them.

Most of the affected formulas were grain-free, but no recalls have happened to date. And this investigation is still continuing today. [6]

Iams Lawsuit

Before its purchase by the Mars Corporation, Nutro deliberately targeted Iams Pet Food in a series of studies. Their competitor, Iams, had changed several recipes in the early 2000s, reducing the recommended serving sizes to stay competitive with its prices. [7]

So, Nutro commissioned extensive studies into their competitor because they firmly believed Iams was instructing pet parents to give inadequate diets to their pets.

Nutro had to stop its studies early after several subjects quickly lost weight when eating Iams pet foods. And as a result, the FDA instructed Iams to change the affected formulas.

Iams eventually filed a lawsuit against Nutro, and Nutro counter sued. Iams’ case was settled, and they agreed to change their formulas, conceding that Nutro had shown their recipe’s flaws. 

Ingredients

Ingredients Quality

Most of the ingredients found in Nutro’s formulas are better than other brands. All their recipes include real animal meats as the first ingredient, giving high amounts of protein to cats.

Meat meals can occasionally appear in their ingredients list, but they will never include meat by-products. And while meat meals aren’t as good as real animal meats, they still act as highly concentrated protein sources.

Nutro’s product ranges include grain-free and grain-inclusive diets, so you can choose one depending on your preference. 

Their grain-inclusive diets will use nutritious whole grains instead of refined grains for added fiber and nutrients. While Nutro’s grain-free diets include supplemented taurine to protect the heart.

Some product lines feature superfoods to give a boost in nutrients too. But most of the time, they will feature lower down the ingredients list. That being said, they can include premium ingredients like chia seed, spinach, and pumpkin. 

Below is a complete list of all the ingredients featured in Nutro pet foods to date.

Protein
BeefPea Protein
Chicken or Chicken MealPork Meal
Duck or Duck MealPotato Protein
Egg Product (Dried)Salmon or Salmon Meal
Fish MealVenison Meal
Lamb or Lamb MealWhitefish
Carbohydrates & Fiber
BarleyRice Bran
Brewers RiceRolled Oats
Brown RiceWhole Grain Sorghum
Powdered Cellulose
Fats & Oils
Canola OilSoy Oil
Chicken FatSunflower Oil
Fish Oil
Fruits and Vegetables
Carrots (Dried)Potatoes (Dried)
Chia SeedPotato Starch
ChickpeasPumpkin (Dried)
Coconut (Dried)Rosemary Extract
Dehydrated Alfalfa MealSweet Potatoes (Dried)
FlaxseedSplit Peas
Kale (Dried)Tapioca
LentilsThyme
Parsley or Dried ParsleyTomato Pomace
Plain Dried Beet Pulp
Vitamins
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C Supplement)Riboflavin Supplement (Source of Vitamin B2)
Biotin (Vitamin B7)Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1)
Calcium PantothenateVitamin A Supplement
Choline ChlorideVitamin B12 Supplement
Folic AcidVitamin D3 Supplement
NiacinVitamin E Supplement
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6)
Minerals, Amino Acids & Others
Copper SulfateSodium Selenite
Ferrous SulfateZinc Oxide
Manganous OxidePotassium Iodide
Manganous SulfateDL-Methionine
Potassium ChlorideTaurine
SaltMixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (Preservative)

What makes Nutro stand out is the ingredients they don’t include.

Their recipes will never contain cheap fillers, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives. And by eliminating these ingredients, Nutro’s recipes are suitable for cats with allergies or intolerances.


Nutro Cat Food Products

While Nutro has a vast product range, most of its product ranges are for dogs. That being said, there are still several Nutro formulas you can choose from for your cat. All Nutro recipes are made with “clean” natural ingredients.

Before switching your cat’s food, remember to consult your veterinarian. 

Nutro Perfect Portions

These simple recipes are focused on improving your cat’s well-being. All Nutro Perfect Portions diets contain premium animal proteins like chicken, salmon, white fish, beef, or turkey.

Most of this product range caters specifically to the unique needs of different life stages. But, they also include diets for weight control, indoor cats, and hairballs. 

Like all Nutro products, the entire range is made without GMOs, instead opting for nutritious fruits and vegetables for a balanced and complete meal.

What’s more, Nutro offers both grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes for cat owners. So you can choose based on your personal preference. All grain-free diets include supplemented taurine for heart health and hydration too.  



Nutro Wholesome Essentials

Nutro Wholesome Essentials is the company’s only dry cat food range. It focuses on the unique needs of different life stages. Plus, it caters to indoor cats and has formulas for specific health problems like hairballs and sensitivities.  

Every recipe starts with high-quality animal protein sources like chicken or salmon. These ingredients are usually joined together with powerful antioxidants for immune health and fatty acids for joints, hearts, brains, and skin. 

The entire product range is free of GMO ingredients, by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, and artificial ingredients.



Nutro Recall History

Unfortunately, over the years, Nutro has suffered several recalls. 

Here is a list of Nutro pet food recalls since 2007.

  • March 2007: The FDA issued a recall on several dog and cat foods after identifying a potential Melamine contamination. These products spanned across multiple pet brands, including Nutro. Several dogs and cats died after eating formulas with the contaminated wheat gluten. [8]
  • May 2009: Several Nutro cat food product ranges suffered a recall because of an imbalance of potassium and zinc. ConsumerAffairs.com reported how over 800 cats and dogs had become sick after eating these diets. Nutro dismissed those claims but issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution.” [9]
  • October 2009: Mars Inc. issued a large recall on several dog and cat dry foods after finding melted plastic in the production line. Specifically, the product ranges affected was Nutro Ultra Puppy foods and Nutro Natural Choice. [10]
  • March 2016: Mars Petcare issued a voluntary recall on specific lots of its Nutro Apple chewy dog treats. The company issued the recall because of mold contamination. [11]

You can view an updated list of all pet food recalls here

While Nutro’s recall history is high, its safety and quality protocols have dramatically improved over the years. The company rigorously tests its products and ingredients to ensure it’s safe.

Nutro’s manufacturing facilities are regularly audited and inspected by the FDA. They also adhere to FDA protocols like Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Hygiene Practices, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. 

Our Verdict

Hopefully, in this Nutro cat food review, you can tell that this company prides itself on delivering simple, quality meals for pets with non-GMO ingredients.

We recommend Nutro cat food for parents looking for an affordable, GMO free diet with plenty of protein and premium ingredients.

While the company’s cat range is pretty limited, they cater to the unique needs of various life stages, indoor cats, and health problems. And although they’ve struggled with recalls in the past, Nutro has put in place rigorous quality and safety protocols to limit the risk of future recalls and hazards.

Discuss with your vet today to see whether Nutro is a suitable choice for your furry friend. 

FAQ

Do Vets Recommend Nutro?

Like most things in life, veterinarians have different opinions on Nutro. However, most recommend the company’s grain-free diets because they’re free of common allergens, GMOs, cheap fillers, and artificial ingredients.  

Is Nutro Cat Food Made in the USA?

Yes, Nutro cat food is made in the USA. Nutro has several manufacturing facilities nationwide. They have two dry food plants based in North Carolina and California and wet food facilities in Ohio, Arkansas, and South Dakota. 

How Much Does Nutro Cat Food Cost?

Nutro’s dry cat formulas offer real value for money to cat parents. For example, we calculated that Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials Adult Chicken dry cat food costs roughly $3.10 per pound of kibble. While Nutro Perfect Portions Beef Paté Adult wet cat food costs $0.49 per oz. 

Is Nutro AAFCO Approved?

All of Nutro’s pet foods adhere to the nutritional requirements established by the AAFCO. Each recipe will also meet the minimum levels needed for a specific AAFCO nutrient profile. 

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James Fuller and Mollie

James Fuller

Founder & Chief Content Creator

I’ve owned a pet most of my life. In fact, I currently have both a cat, Milo, and a Jack Russel, Mollie! I’m the founder of Honest Whiskers. And my mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information.

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