Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Review

This brand has earned its keep in the cat litter department, but is Dr. Elsey’s cat food worthy of your cat’s bowl? Read our unbiased Dr. Elsey’s cat food review to find out.

The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Dr. Elsey’s on What Matters

We’ve analyzed Dr. Elsey’s and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of these six key areas.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 7/10
  • Product Variety – 6/10
  • Price – 5/10
  • Customer Experience – 9/10
  • Recall History – 10/10

Overall Score: 7.7/10

We give Dr. Elsey’s cat food a 46 out of 60 rating or a B+ grade.

About Dr. Elsey’s

Back in 1989, a feline-only veterinarian named Dr. Bruce Elsey started selling cat litter. The company’s since become a household name, producing a large variety of affordable, effective products for your litter box.

In 2017, the company took its first step outside of the litter box and launched a line of cat food. The line is called cleanprotein™, a name promising highly-digestible, efficient food that fuels your carnivore as nature intended.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Dr. Elsey’s cat food is manufactured in the United States from ingredients sourced around the world. The company sources proteins from the United States and obtains other ingredients from Europe and Canada.

Dr. Elsey’s doesn’t source any primary ingredients from China, but may use China-sourced taurine.

Has Dr. Elsey’s cat food been recalled?

It doesn’t appear that Dr. Elsey’s cat food has ever been recalled.

What kinds of cat food does Dr. Elsey’s offer?

Dr. Elsey’s offers a small selection of wet and dry cat food.

The two dry formulas stand out with exceptionally low carbohydrate content—both formulas are around 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis—and plenty of animal-sourced protein. Unlike most kibble, Dr. Elsey’s dry food is made without any grains or other starchy ingredients and instead relies on gelatin as a binder.

Dr. Elsey’s wet food is less groundbreaking, but sticks to carnivorous dietary principles with high meat inclusions, moderate fat content, and minimal carbohydrate content.

With single source duck and pork recipes along with a selection of mixed-protein foods including ocean whitefish, beef, salmon, rabbit & turkey, chicken, and duck & turkey, the Dr. Elsey’s wet food lineup is small but diverse.

Dr. Elsey’s cat food is never made with by-products and doesn’t use mystery proteins like animal by-products or meat meal. The foods never contain artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, flavors, or chemical preservatives that could harm your cat over time.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypePrice per OunceOur Grade
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free DryDry$0.40A-
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free DryDry$0.40A-
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free CannedWet$0.33A-

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

This Dr. Elsey’s recipe is a chicken-based food loaded with protein from chicken, dried egg product, and pork protein isolate. Instead of the usual grains or legumes used to make dry cat food have the look and feel of crunchy kibble, this food contains gelatin as an agent of structure and shape.

The food contains chicken fat as a species-appropriate source of the fatty acids cats need. It also contains flaxseed, which is minimally beneficial for cats and increases the food’s fiber content. In addition to the primary ingredients, the food contains salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to make the food nutritionally complete.

Overall, this food is high in protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

Though this food is leagues ahead of the average dry food, it takes more than low carbohydrate content to make kibble a good choice for your cat. Regardless of carbohydrate content, dry food increases your cat’s chances of developing lower urinary tract disease.

The food has 554 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Pork Protein Isolate, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharide, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Taurine, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein59% min
Crude Fat18% min
Fiber4.0% max
Moisture12% max
Ash6.52%

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Pork Protein Isolate, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Flaxseed

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • A meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains animal-sourced fats
  • Made without any artificial colors or flavors

Cons

  • Like all dry foods, it’s not hydrating

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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Salmon appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

This kibble is almost identical to the chicken recipe above, except it’s primarily made from salmon. Fresh salmon is the first ingredient, followed by dried chicken as a concentrated source of protein. The food’s third protein source is dried egg product.

In addition to fresh salmon meat, the food contains salmon hydrolysate, an ultra-bioavailable form of salmon protein. The protein has undergone hydrolysis, a process that alters the amino acids and makes them more readily absorbed by the body.

Chicken fat is added as the food’s primary fat source. Unlike the chicken recipe above, the food contains chickpeas, which are both a source of carbohydrates and of protein. It contains natural flavor, which the company describes as a liver-derived palatant for cats.

The food contains flaxseed, presumably as a source of fiber. Just before a series of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, the food contains a concentrated burst of protein from pork protein isolate.

Overall, this dry food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

This food breaks the dry food mold with low carbohydrate content and all the animal protein and fat a cat needs.

Ingredients

Salmon, Dried Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Gelatin, Salmon Hydrolysate, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Chickpeas, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Pork Protein Isolate, Potassium Citrate, Fructooligosaccharide, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein56% min
Crude Fat17% min
Fiber4.0% max
Moisture12% max
Ash6.79%

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Salmon Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Dried Chicken, Chicken Fat, Pork Protein Isolate

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Dried Chickpeas, Flaxseed

Common Allergens: Fish, Chicken, Eggs

Pros

  • A meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains animal-sourced fats
  • Made without any artificial colors or flavors

Cons

  • Like all dry foods, it’s not hydrating
  • Contains chickpeas

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.

This canned food is made primarily from turkey and turkey liver. This combination of muscle meat and organs provides a diversity of animal-sourced nutrients, mimicking the nutrient spectrum of whole prey. The food contains dried egg product as a third source of animal protein.

Natural flavor is added to increase the food’s palatability.

The food is thickened with agar-agar, a seaweed derivative with a reputation for safety. After agar-agar, the food contains a small amount of barley grass. This ingredient is unusual in cat food, but it’s not as strange as it initially appears—barley grass is one of the types of grass used as cat grass. It’s a source of insoluble fiber.

The food contains salmon oil as a source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, along with green-lipped mussels. Dried New Zealand green mussels are a source of omega-3s and may help to support joint health.

The ingredient list concludes with a series of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make the food nutritionally complete.

Overall, this food is rich in protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

There are 202 calories in each 5.5-ounce can or 37 calories per ounce.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Agar-Agar, Barley Grass, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Salmon Oil, Turmeric, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein11% min
Crude Fat9% min
Fiber1.5% max
Moisture78% max
Ash1.49%

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Turkey Liver, Salmon Oil, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Common Allergens: Eggs

Pros

  • A meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains animal-sourced fats
  • Made without any artificial colors or flavors
  • Moisture-rich for healthy hydration
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • None

What do customers think of Dr. Elsey’s cat food?

Most customers like Dr. Elsey’s cat food, though a few say their cats didn’t enjoy it or noted that it was out of their price range. Here’s what a few real customers have to say about it:

Positive Reviews

“My cat who is extremely picky when it comes to dry food just loves this one. The ingredients are great & I love that it comes in a 2 lb bag so that my cat can eat the entire bag before it gets stale; he refuses to eat dry food which has been opened too long no matter how tightly it is resealed & usually I wind up with an abundance left over but not with this one. Good to the last bite!” –  Mary55, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

“My 13 year old cat was diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed Glyco Balance by Royal Canine. He would not eat he canned food at all but would eat the dry if I mixed with another food. After some researco`h I found Dr Elseys and he loves the canned and dry food. BONUS: he went into remission in just 2 weeks and is back to his old sassy, demanding self. I will say that 2 weeks is unusual it not unheard of, dependeds on the cats overall health, care and diet.”Sopicky, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“I have 4 cats. All ranging from, “I’ll eat anything ” to “nah, I don’t think so”. I also only feed wet food having researched cat health and proper feeding. I was feeding Wellness cat food with no issues, but when I stumbled upon Dr. Elseys Cleanprotein I was doubly excited! Ingredients are amazing so I gave it a try. I ordered a case of the Turkey. Visually it looks appealing and smells good. Texture wise it’s very mushy. All 4 cats will not eat it! I tried tough love and like a mom I thought, “you’ll eat what I put down”. 2 days later and still no eating but lots of stares and crying, I gave in. I’m sad to have to give 1 star, but the reality is they do not like it, not even my non-picky boy. Back to Wellness.” Daisybd, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

“I love Dr. Elsey’s products; however, this price is really ridiculous for pet lovers who have a multi-cat household. I strive to feed my cats the best possible grain free food, but Dr. Elsey’s cat food prices are super high for a very small bag. Like the food, but too expensive for pet owners who have more than one cat. Dissatisfied and surprised! No thanks!”CatLady, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

How much does Dr. Elsey’s cat food cost?

According to the company’s recommended feeding guidelines of one can for every six to eight pounds of body weight, it would cost between $2.24 and $3.00 each day to feed your cat Dr. Elsey’s canned food. If you opted for Dr. Elsey’s dry food, that number would be closer to $0.80 per day.

Overall, is Dr. Elsey’s a good choice?

Dr. Elsey’s offers some of the best dry cat food on the market. It’s rich in animal protein and made without animal by-products for maximum bioavailability. At less than 5% starch on a dry matter basis, Dr. Elsey’s foods won’t spike blood sugar and may even be appropriate for diabetic cats.

Their wet foods are less extraordinary, but they stand out, too. They’re comparable to Hound & Gatos, Ziwi Peak, and other high-protein paté-style foods. They offer a rich combination of muscle meat and organs along with multiple sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

This brand shines as a starting point for recovering kibble addicts. If you’re transitioning your cat off his high-carbohydrate dry diet, Dr. Elsey’s is a great intermediate stage between traditional kibble and a truly species-appropriate diet.

Where to Buy Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food

You can buy Dr. Elsey’s online through Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart, Petco, Jet, Homes Alive Pets, and PetFlow.com. Use the company’s store locator to find a retailer near you.

Click here to shop for Dr. Elsey’s cat food on Chewy.

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.