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As a cat parent, you’ve probably heard of Royal Canin. It’s one of the largest pet food manufacturers globally and caters to thousands of our furry friends.
Royal Canin is often at the forefront of criticism and controversy. It’s similar to a particular UK breakfast spread; you either love the brand or hate it.
Since its early days, Royal Canin has used the latest scientific research to formulate its recipes. Instead of doing what its consumers and clients want, they use research to dictate what goes into its formulas.
Despite its controversies, Royal Canin is frequently recommended by veterinarians and pet experts, especially for its Veterinary Diets. And the company offers a product range of breed-specific cat foods that help with genetic health issues suffered by purebred cats like Maine Coons or Persians.
Continue reading this Royal Canin cat food review to learn more about this controversial company’s history, ingredients quality, top three diets, and recall history.
How We Rated Royal Canin
We’ve taken a detailed look at Royal Canin and graded it according to five key criteria. We’ve looked at the brand’s quality, price, product range, recall history, and species suitability.
Overall, we give Royal Canin cat food a score of 6 out of 10. Continue reading this Royal Canin cat food review to learn how we reached this conclusion.
About Royal Canin
While Royal Canin isn’t the oldest pet food manufacturer, it still has quite the history.
The brand started in the small French town of Puy-en-Velay by a veterinarian called Jean Cathary. He firmly believed that diet plays a crucial role in an animal’s health.
In 1968, Cathary launched his first dog food: yellow soup for dogs. And eventually registered the company officially as Royal Canin later that year. Over several years, the company grew in popularity.
In 1972, Royal Canin was sold to the Guyomarc’h Group to broaden its consumer base in Europe. Immediately, the company invested in several subsidiaries located in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.
After heavy expansion, time on the Paris stock exchange, and a bank buyout, Royal Canin was sold to Mars Inc. in 2001 and became the juggernaut pet brand it is today.
The company focuses on investing in pet nutrition research and development. And it’s the publisher of a scientific, well-respected magazine, Veterinary Focus. This veterinary magazine is published in multiple languages globally, giving vets a wealth of scientific up to date knowledge.
Royal Canin’s parent company, Mars Inc., is the largest company for pet food globally.
It owns several other pet food brands, including Eukanuba, Pedigree, Iams, and Nutro. And it operates the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, a respected source of scientific research and product development. 
Royal Canin Controversy
Despite a wealth of history and heavy investment in scientific research and development, Royal Canin is always the subject of controversy. Often you could refer to them as a particular UK breakfast spread; you either love them or hate them.
Excessive Amounts of Vitamin D
Royal Canin faced a Canadian class-action lawsuit against them in late 2004, after several dogs became sick or died.
Allegations suggested that some Royal Canin dog formulas contained elevated vitamin D levels, which were unsafe to consume. However, no substantial link between the fatalities and Royal Canin’s dog foods could be established. 
The company issued a voluntary recall on the suspected products. It issued a statement acknowledging some products may contain over-average vitamin D concentrations.
At the time, the company was using a third-party vitamin premix supplier. Royal Canin has never worked with this supplier again. And the company invested in rigorous safety testing for vitamin D and quality control purposes.
The law firm, Pope McGlamry, argued that these formulas were not FDA approved and didn’t contain the necessary drugs needed to be classed as a prescription diet.
They implied that by labeling these formulas as prescription diets, the accused parties and the veterinary community were unjustly profiting.
Royal Canin was under fire from animal welfare campaigners after one of the company’s subsidiaries had sponsored an illegal bear-hunting competition in Ukraine. 
Footage had emerged publically by Four Paws, showing dogs being chained to a brown bear for over two hours. Over time, they attacked the bear in a “fight area” marked out with a Royal Canin branded tape.
Dr. Amir Khalil, Director of Project Management at Four Paws International, publically condemned Royal Canin. He said, “Royal Canin says it places animals’ wellbeing at the centre of its philosophy.” And continued, “But by sponsoring appalling beat-baiting, Royal Canin is reducing wild animals like the brown bear to the rank of second-class animals.”
The company responded, describing the event as “horrific” and apologized.
Despite saying that it didn’t know anything about it, Royal Canin admitted sponsoring the event. The company reiterated how it was determined to learn from the event and be more diligent in the future.
Royal Canin later held engaging talks with Four Paws to understand how it could help bears suffering similar abuse.
The company also revoked its sponsorship of the illegal event and denounced it.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Royal Canin works with a massive number of suppliers globally. However, unlike other pet brands, the brand doesn’t publicly disclose any information about the specific countries or suppliers it uses.
That being said, on its website, Royal Canin explains its commitment to sourcing quality raw ingredients from accredited suppliers located close to its production plants. The pet brand owns manufacturing factories in several countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the USA.
Royal Canin has strict guidelines and protocols in place when working with suppliers. Each supplier is subject to in-depth audits to determine the production quality, sustainability, and nutritional value. 
All its products undergo strict quality and safety checks. Each batch is tested at least ten times for various quality controls during the production process.
In fact, the company claims its laboratories and research centers conduct roughly half a million tests and analyses globally every year.
Finally, each distribution center must comply with Royal Canin’s logistical and safety standards. This ensures the company maintains high-quality standards and prevents future recalls.
Royal Canin is regularly endorsed by industry professionals and canine specialists who regularly use its professional product lines.
Royal Canin is a proud company known for sticking to its values and beliefs. And this is why Royal Canin is somewhat controversial. Because the company will often try new things to give the best available nutrition to their furry customers.
For example, Royal Canin has recently moved away from flavored dog formulas. It’s crafting its recipes based on research where dogs prefer a diet based on macronutrients instead of flavor. The same report suggests cats prefer high concentrations of carbs. 
Its products offer tailored nutrition for the unique needs of cats and dogs. Each recipe is carefully formulated to deliver comprehensive nutrition with precise levels of antioxidants, fiber, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
Most Royal Canin products contain an impressive amino acid profile and nutrients that promote healthy muscles, maintain a healthy immune system, and improve wellbeing.
But, some formulas contain controversial ingredients like hydrolyzed animal protein, by-products, or maize (corn).
Hydrolyzed animal proteins usually contain unnamed parts of animals, similar to by-products. Cats should get protein from whole animal meats, or at best, meat meals.
But, while hydrolyzed animal protein may seem low-quality, it can be ideal for specific food allergies and sensitivities. Food allergies or sensitivities are caused when the body thinks a particular food or protein is harmful. Instead, hydrolyzed protein uses water to chemically break down protein so small it avoids immune response.
Corn simply isn’t needed in a cat’s diet; it contains high concentrations of carbohydrates. Many commercial pet food manufacturers argue that corn is an ideal energy source and provides rich protein levels, natural antioxidants, and fatty acids.
But, some experts suggest that cats struggle to process high carb content. And the ingredient is a common allergen known to trigger adverse reactions caused by food sensitivities and allergies.
Royal Canin Cat Food Ranges
Royal Canin has over 100 varieties of cat food. These diets can range from traditional recipes to products formulated for specific health problems like digestive care or urinary tract health. They also craft breed-specific recipes.
Each of its formulas is balanced and complete and meets the nutritional requirements set out by a specific AAFCO nutrient profile.
That being said, there’s a common pattern throughout the product ranges: nutrients over ingredients.
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition
These formulas are designed to support your cat through the various life stages and health problems they may encounter. Each product is tailored to the unique dietary needs of cats’ various sizes, breeds, and lifestyles.
During the early phases of their lives, kittens need specific nutrients to support their growth and prevent health problems later.
Royal Canin’s Mother & Kitten product range aims to support pregnancy to weaning. Young cats are then put on the brand’s kitten range to help them through the first few weeks of independent life.
These products contain the necessary vitamins and minerals to support skeletal and bone growth.
Each recipe has natural antioxidants that boost and nourish the immune system. Plus, high concentrations of omega fatty acids aid the central nervous system, maintain heart health, and improve skin and coats.
Royal Canin has designed these formulas to cater to the needs of healthy adult cats. These products give comprehensive nutrition to spayed, neutered, indoor, and outdoor cats.
The company focuses on delivering a combination of beneficial nutrients and enhanced taste. Each kibble is adapted in shape, size, and texture to entice fussy eaters and suit the needs of each life stage.
The product range’s wet food contains a suitable protein, carbohydrates, and fat balance that supports long-term palatability.
These cat products contain crucial nutrients needed to support aging cats.
These diets support an older cat’s weak immune system by preventing free radical tissue damage. And Royal Canin considers the specific health challenges senior cats face, like tender joints, digestion problems, or lack of appetite.
They offer diets for indoor cats aged 7 or older or 12+ spayed/neutered cats. You can choose between a selection of dry or canned varieties.
Every recipe contains higher concentrations of vitamin C, DHA, and EPA that’ll keep them active and healthy. Plus, it’ll have high-quality antioxidants for immune health too.
Sensitivities can affect cats in numerous ways. They can experience dry skin, unhealthy coats, digestion problems, or weight gain. This product range offers tailored support to adult cats that suffer from specific health issues.
Currently, you can select from these diets:
- Digestive Care
- Hair & Skin Care
- Hairball Care
- Intense Beauty Care
- Urinary Tract Care
- Oral Care
- Weight Care
Each recipe is formulated by Royal Canin’s team of veterinarians and nutritional experts to ensure it is balanced and complete. Moderate protein, high-quality antioxidants, and healthy doses of fatty acids are usually the basic foundation for each formula.
These products target the nutritional nuances of purebred cats. Some breeds can suffer from specific genetic diseases.
Tailored diets can sometimes play a crucial role in managing these diseases. And this is where Royal Canin shines best. For example, they offer a diet for Maine Coons.
Because of their large statute, Maine Coons can have problems with their bones and joints. They can also suffer from dry skin and unhealthy coats. Royal Canin’s Maine Coon formula is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that help prevent these problems.
They also offer tailored diets for the following breeds:
- American Shorthairs
- British Shorthairs
- Norwegian Forests
Always do thorough research of your cat’s breed before buying any of these types of formulas. The notion that each breed has specific dietary needs is still valid.
Your purebred cat can live a healthy life with these affordable diets alongside reasonable lifestyle changes. Plus, in the long run, it could save you some expensive vet bills.
Royal Canin’s Veterinary Diets are the company’s staple product range. These prescription diets are why the company heavily invests in scientific research and development.
The product range features everything from intensive care liquid diets to pediatric products. And Royal Canin offers therapeutic wet and dry foods that can be mixed together without compromising the nutritional benefits.
Every diet targets a different health condition. So each contains various ingredients and macronutrients to each other. But the common theme for this product range is the extensive scientific research that goes into them.
Royal Canin regularly updates each formula to match the latest scientific research.
Royal Canin Cat Food: Top Three Products
To better understand the brand, we’ve compiled a list of the best formulas made by Royal Canin.
- First 5 ingredients: Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal
- Guaranteed Analysis: 31% Protein, 11% Fat, 6.5% Fiber, 8% Moisture
- Calories: 317 kcal/cup
- First 5 ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors
- Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Protein, 18% Fat, 5.7% Fiber, 8% Moisture
- Calories: 351 kcal/cup
- First 5 ingredients: Water Sufficient For Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver
- Guaranteed Analysis: 10.5% Protein, 1.9% Fat, 1.8% Fiber, 81.5% Moisture
- Calories: 66 kcal/can
All of the nutritional information used is taken directly from the manufacturer’s guaranteed analysis.
Any calculations made on a dry matter basis are approximate. If you want to learn more about these products, please contact Royal Canin directly.
Here are Royal Canin’s top three dry and wet formulas.
- Precise balanced formula specifically made to improve urinary tract health
- Chicken meal is the primary source of protein
- Fish oil, vegetable oil, and chicken fat contribute healthy fats
- Has a high 31% protein content
- Guar Gum used in the recipe
- Contains a lot of corn which can be unsuitable for certain food allergies
This urinary care diet is part of Royal Canin’s Size Health Nutrition product range.
The recipe is formulated to maintain the mineral balance in your cat’s urine and improve urinary tract health. It’ll reduce pH levels in urine, making it less concentrated.
Unlike other commercial cat foods, animal meat isn’t the first ingredient. But, Royal Canin’s main focus is on combating struvite and calcium oxalate bladder stones.
Three of the first five ingredients aim to give your cat the energy they need. Chicken meal features lower down the list as the primary protein source. And a combination of fish oil, vegetable oil, and chicken fat contributes healthy fat concentrations.
On merit, the recipe list features a lot of plant-based ingredients that aren’t exactly species-appropriate.
But it’s important to remember the sole aim of the diet. The formula is crafted to combat urinary tract disease in cats and alleviate problematic symptoms. Its precise nutrition gives cats the amino acids needed while restricting Struvite and Oxalate concentrations.
Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavors, Rice Hulls, Pea Fiber, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Calcium Sulfate, Grain Distillers Dried Yeast, Egg Product, Vegetable Oil, Fish Oil, Sodium Bisulfate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Rosemary Extract, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid.
- Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil, Vegetable Oil, Taurine
- Corn, Wheat Gluten, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice Hulls
Below is a breakdown of the macronutrient percentages; both Guaranteed Analysis and on a Dry Matter Basis.
Dry Matter Basis
- A highly palatable diet designed for adult cats
- Formulated with hydrolyzed soy protein that prevents immune reaction
- Healthy doses of EPA and DHA that promote skin and coat health
- Contains a unique blend of dietary fibers and prebiotics
- Supplemented vitamins C, E, and B protect against free radical damage
- Brewers rice is the first ingredient, contains high carbohydrates
- Contains high amounts of corn which can trigger some allergies
This veterinarian-prescribed cat food helps prevent triggering immune system reactions. Its primary focus is to help cats with yeast infections caused by food allergies.
Hydrolyzed soy protein is the recipe’s primary source of protein. It’s handled better during digestion because the large protein molecules are much smaller. The immune system is less likely to recognize them, preventing allergic reactions.
Brewers rice is the first ingredient on the list. This isn’t an ideal ingredient for cats and has high amounts of carbohydrates. Plus, carbohydrates can maintain existing yeast infections.
But, Royal Canin includes prebiotic sugars that’ll aid the digestive system. Fructooligosaccharides promote healthy microbiomes and stimulate healthy bacteria in your cat’s tummy.
The recipe also includes supplemented vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin B12, preventing free radical damage and improving unhealthy skin.
Added fish oil contributes therapeutic levels of fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. These healthy fats are known for their inflammatory properties, so they’re ideal for adverse reactions. Plus, they help promote healthy skin and coats in cats.
Each batch adheres to Royal Canin’s strict quality and safety procedures to prevent cross-contamination.
Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Calcium Sulfate, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Monocalcium Phosphate, Vegetable Oil, Dl-Methionine, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Salt, Fructooligosaccharides, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid], Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Magnesium Oxide, Rosemary Extract, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid.
- Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Chicken Fat, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil, Vegetable Oil, Taurine, Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate
- Brewers Rice, Powdered Cellulose
Below is a breakdown of the macronutrient percentages; both Guaranteed Analysis and on a Dry Matter Basis.
Dry Matter Basis
- Specifically crafted for cats aged 1-7 years old
- Maintains optimal health with a precise blend of vitamins and minerals
- Helps keep adults at an ideal weight and supports the digestive system
- Can be served alone or mixed with existing dry kibble
- Contains several protein-dense meats like chicken and pork
- 100% balance and complete for adult cats
- Includes carrageenan, a controversial thickening agent
- Contains multiple wheat and corn ingredients
It’s not a stand-out recipe from Royal Canin, but this is an excellent choice for healthy adult cats with no existing health problems.
This canned cat food provides 100% complete and balanced nutrition that’ll help cats live the best possible life.
Most commercial canned cat foods will include wholesome ingredients and animal meat for protein.
But, Royal Canin includes various by-products from chicken and pork for highly concentrated protein sources. It also features organ meats like pork liver, chicken liver, and whole fish like salmon to round off the recipe’s high 10.5% protein content.
Easily digestible carbohydrates come from ingredients such as wheat gluten and give plenty of energy. What’s more, it acts as a natural fiber source that aids the digestive system. And wheat gluten is low in calories, ideal for an indoor cat’s lifestyle.
The most controversial is in the inclusion of carrageenan. This thickening agent has no nutritional value in cat food. It can be harmful to cats, causing inflammation and certain cancers in large doses.
Royal Canin’s cat food can be mixed with existing dry food or served as a stand-alone meal. And the formula is suitable for cats aged 1-7 years old.
Water Sufficient For Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Salmon, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Gelatin, Pork Plasma, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors, Modified Corn Starch, Calcium Sulfate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Carrageenan, Taurine, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride.
- Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Salmon, Taurine
- Water Sufficient For Processing, Modified Corn Starch, Carrageenan, Powdered Cellulose, Guar Gum
Below is a breakdown of the macronutrient percentages; both Guaranteed Analysis and on a Dry Matter Basis.
Dry Matter Basis
Royal Canin’s recall history isn’t that bad compared to other pet brands. But, it has suffered three recalls in the space of 15 years or so.
- February 2006: Royal Canin issued a recall of several cat and dog veterinary diet varieties. The company believed the affected products had excessive levels of vitamin D. 
- April 2007: The FDA investigated a potential link where certain pet foods made cats and dogs sick or die. Several Royal Canin formulas were investigated. And the company issued a recall on specific Sensible Choice and Veterinary Diets product ranges after a potential melamine contamination. [9,10]
- May 2007: Royal Canin issued a further recall of its Sensible Choice products and recalled some Royal Canin Kasco foods due to potential melamine contamination. The affected products had date codes between July 2007 and April 2008. 
You can view an updated list of all pet food recalls since 2018 here.
As you can probably tell from this Royal Canin cat food review, it’s a controversial pet brand. Who would have thought a pet brand is so divisive?
Some cat owners heavily vouch for Royal Canin’s veterinary prescription diets. While others are vocal over its inclusion of “harmful” ingredients and unconventional recipes.
Despite all this, many veterinarians and pet experts recommend Royal Canin. And this is why we recommend Royal Canin, especially for its veterinary-prescribed formulas.
The company caters to various cats, offering diets for specific ages, breeds, and health problems. And each contains appropriate ingredients and macronutrients for maximum benefit.
Royal Canin does have a history of recalls. It’s suffered recalls in the past for excessive vitamin D levels and melamine contamination.
Yet, when you consider the company’s rich history, it’s not as bad as other pet brands. And whenever they’ve faced a recall, Royal Canin often uses it as an opportunity to refine its processes and safety controls.
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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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