Essence Cat Food Review

Does Essence have what it takes to earn a spot in your cat’s bowl? Keep reading to find out.

We’ve gone deep on this new addition to the cat food market, doing everything from in-depth research to real-world testing. In this review, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this brand—like what makes it different from other brands, where it’s made, and what real cats think of it.

Before we get into the details, let’s talk about what Essence cat food is.

Essence was created by Pets Global, a California-based company that specializes in “holistic wellness pet food”. Other Pets Global brands include Fussie Cat, Zignature, and Inception Pet Foods.

In a press release in Pet Business, Pets Global president Daniel Hereford says that Essence “delivers the highest quality in pet nutrition, while taking into consideration the changing needs pets have.” The brand’s website describes it as “the embodiment of superior pet nutrition”.

What kind of cat food does Essence offer?

Essence foods come in three recipes, each available in a dry and canned variety. Choose from Air & Gamefowl, Ranch & Meadow, and Ocean & Freshwater fish formulas.

Whether wet or dry, all Essence recipes are composed of 85% or more animal protein ingredients. Because addressing food sensitivities is a major part of the Essence offering, their foods feature typically novel proteins like wild boar, duck, and guinea fowl. They don’t contain grains, potatoes, or other ingredients that the company deems likely to cause food sensitivities.

Who makes Essence cat food?

Essence says that all of their recipes are manufactured in the midwestern United States, but the company doesn’t go into any more details about who makes the food. It appears that Essence is made in the same Minnesota and South Dakota facilities that produce Zignature foods.

Their ingredients are sourced from the United States and imported from around the world. If you want more information on the origins of the ingredients used in a given food, visit the product listing on Essence’s website.

Essence Cat Food Review – A Personal Experience

Essence Cat Food Six Varieties

Essence Cat Food Recipes

In order to fully understand what Essence has to offer, I tried out a sampler pack of their recipes.

Over the course of a week, I subjected Essence cat food to hands-on testing. I evaluated every aspect of the experience, including the look and feel of the packaging, the ease of opening and closing the bags, the way the food looked and smelled, and—most importantly—how my cats reacted to each recipe.

At first glance, I liked the way the Essence food was packaged. With their deep, glowing scenes of sunset, prairies, and icy mountains, each package was visually captivating. The bags of kibble were easy to open and close, with convenient pull tabs and resealable Ziploc closures. In contrast to the usual impossible-to-reseal packages, Essence’s bags promise fresher food for a longer amount of time.

We’ll go in depth on our experience with three Essence cat food recipes—Air & Gamefowl kibble, Ocean & Freshwater Recipe canned food, and Essence’s Ranch & Meadow canned food.

Essence Air & Gamefowl Dry Cat Food Review

Essence Air and Gamefowl Side by Side

Essence Air and Gamefowl

In keeping with Essence’s meat-first philosophy, this kibble food is 86% animal protein. Guinea fowl, duck, turkey, chicken, turkey meal, and other poultry ingredients constitute the bulk of the recipe, with a smattering of legumes serving as plant-based protein sources and kibble binders.

The kibble pieces are quite small—just a little bigger than pencil erasers. Kibble size is usually a negligible factor, but it’s worth considering if your cat eats too quickly or has difficulty eating large or small pieces of kibble.

What did my cats think of Essence Air & Gamefowl Recipe dry cat food?

After some initial reluctance, both of my cats dove into the kibble, gradually polishing off a big bowl over the course of the day. We have a maximum-hydration household and the kitties don’t normally eat this much dry food, but they seemed to enjoy it.

With garbanzo beans, coconut flour, and red lentils in the recipe and a carbohydrate content of around 30% on a dry matter basis you couldn’t call this the quintessential obligate carnivore’s meal. But it’s a few meat ingredients ahead of the other kibble on the market and a good stepping stone towards a more species-appropriate diet.

Ingredients

Guinea Fowl, Duck, Turkey, Chicken, Duck Meal, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavors, Guinea Fowl Meal, Red Lentils, Coconut Flour, Potassium Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Pumpkin, Choline Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Fructooligosaccharide, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Chia Seed Oil

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein40% min
Crude Fat20% min
Fiber4.0% max
Moisture10% max
Ashn/a

What We Liked:

  • Features a wide array of nourishing animal protein sources
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives that might harm your cat
  • Contains chicken fat, a species-appropriate source of fatty acids
  • Cats liked the way the food tasted

What We Didn’t Like:

  • High carbohydrate content

Essence Ocean & Freshwater Recipe Canned Cat Food

Essence Ocean and Freshwater Side by Side

Essence Ocean and Freshwater Side by Side

This Essence cat food recipe features a combination of freshwater and ocean fish, including trout, salmon, whitefish, herring, catfish, mackerel, and sardines. It’s refreshing to see a cat food that names every species included in the recipe. Most rely on a nameless mash of “ocean whitefish” or even just “fish”. Divulging the species of fish used implies a higher level of control over the ingredients in the food.

These fish ingredients constitute 96% of each meal. The remainder is composed of agar-agar, a seaweed-derived thickening agent and a safe alternative to carrageenan, supplemental vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and finally, traces of several nutrient-rich additives. Kelp, dandelion greens, fructooligosaccharide, chia seed oil, and a tiny amount of lentils contribute nutrients and round out the recipe.

What did my cats think of Essence Ocean & Freshwater Recipe canned food?

This canned food was my cats’ favorite from the Essence selection. Compared to the other wet recipes, it had a softer, creamer texture and apparently, a flavor that tickled their tastebuds in the right way. They dove into it without hesitation. With its protein-rich ingredient list, abundance of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and low carbohydrate content, this is the kind of food I would consider buying again and again.

Ingredients

Trout, Salmon, Whitefish, Fish Broth, Herring, Catfish, Mackerel, Sardines, Natural Fish Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-agar, Choline Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Dandelion Greens, Fructooligosaccharide, Lentils, Taurine, Salt, Kelp*(Marine Microalgae), Chia Seed Oil, Minerals (Magnesium Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate)

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein10.5% min
Crude Fat7.0% min
Fiber1.2% max
Moisture78% max
Ashn/a

What We Liked:

  • Great macronutrient distribution with plenty of protein, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate content
  • Cats loved the way the food tasted
  • Primarily made from nourishing animal ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain carrageenan, artificial dyes, or other ingredients that might irritate your cat
  • Soft texture makes this food appetizing and easy to eat

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fish-based foods aren’t usually the best option for long-term feeding

Essence Ranch & Meadow Recipe Review

Essence Ranch and Meadow Side by Side

Essence Ranch and Meadow Side by Side

Essence’s Ranch & Meadow canned food is primarily made of lamb and pork meat, lamb broth, and pork liver. The paté is held together with agar-agar, a seaweed-derived thickener that’s one of the safest binding gums on the market. It’s supplemented with an array of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Like all Essence canned foods, the recipe is rounded out with trace amounts of supplemental ingredients. It contains the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide, kelp as a source of trace minerals, chia seed oil as a minor source of vitamin B3 and zinc, and nutrient-rich dandelion greens.

What did my cats think of Essence Ranch & Meadow Recipe canned food?

Neither Wessie nor Forest seemed to love Ranch & Meadow. I’m not sure if it was the texture—relatively firm and dry—or the fact that it was made from ingredients they don’t normally eat.

Although my cats weren’t fans of Ranch & Meadow, it looks like a good option for anyone seeking a low-carbohydrate, meat-rich canned cat food. Particularly if your cat is sensitive to traditional proteins like chicken, turkey, and beef, this food is a promising and species-appropriate option.

Ingredients

Lamb, Lamb Broth, Pork Liver, Pork, Natural Lamb Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Dandelion Greens, Fructooligosaccharide, Kelp*(Marine Microalgae), Chia Seed Oil, Taurine, Minerals (Magnesium Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate).

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein10% min
Crude Fat7.0% min
Fiber1.0% max
Moisture78% max
Ashn/a

What We Liked:

  • Primarily made from nourishing animal ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Free of common irritating ingredients like carrageenan, artificial colors, and preservatives

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Cats didn’t like this recipe

How much does Essence cat food cost?

That depends on where you buy and how much your cat eats.

Essence dry cat food costs, on average, around $20 per 4-lb bag or roughly $0.64 per day. The canned recipes are more expensive at about $2 per can or $2.25 per day.

This places Essence at the lower end of the premium price range. It shares that territory with brands like Merrick and Nature’s Variety Instinct.

Overall, is Essence a good choice?

Essence cat food recipes are brimming with the things cats need most—identifiable cuts of muscle meat and organs. Their canned recipes, in particular, come close to embodying species-appropriate nutrition.

They skip both the potentially-harmful additives found in the worst foods and the unnecessary fruits and vegetables found in so-called premium products.

Their dry foods aren’t the best thing you could give your cat, but as far as dry foods are concerned, they’re some of the better products you can buy.

Animal protein takes precedence in every formula and you won’t find any of the artificial colors, artificial flavors, or potentially-harmful preservatives that appear in so many other foods.

Considering that Essence and other Pets Global brands have never been recalled, this brand looks like an option worth trying.

Where to Buy Essence Cat Food

Essence cat food is sold through independent brick-and-mortar pet specialty stores. The company doesn’t authorize sales on Amazon, Chewy, or other online retailers.

Click here to find a retailer near you. 

*FTC Disclosure: We received this sample box for review at no charge. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves. All of our reviews are unbiased, regardless of payment received, and always reflect our honest opinion or the opinion of our cats.

4 thoughts on “Essence Cat Food Review

  1. AvatarPam

    I agree Essence makes good cat food products. One issue I have however is their choice of using agar-agar as a thickening agent as a replacement. Yes, they don’t use carrageenan but agar-agar can cause the same issues, especially for cats with IBD. We feed our indoor-only cats a competitor’s canned food because they use no thickening agent. I have contacted Essence and they said they would look into agar-agar issues.

    Reply
    1. AvatarMallory Crusta

      Hi Pam,

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      I understand your decision to opt for a thickener-free alternative. According to my research, agar isn’t as well-understood as carrageenan. So while it doesn’t currently appear to have any harmful effects, it is possible that it could irritate some cats—including those with IBD. That said, it’s all speculation at this point. I’ve not seen any research concluding that it is carcinogenic or inflammatory like carrageenan. In fact, it appears to be among the safest thickeners on the market.

      We’re always interested in learning and sharing which ingredients are and are not safe for our cats, so your input is very valuable. Thanks again for commenting.

      Best,

      Mallory

      Reply

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