Evolve is described as super premium food at a budget-friendly price. Is it good enough for your cat? Find out in our unbiased Evolve cat food review.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Evolve on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Evolve 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.
- Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
- Ingredient Quality – 6/10
- Product Variety – 5/10
- Price – 9/10
- Customer Experience – 7/10
- Recall History – 4/10
Overall Score: 6.2/10
We give Evolve cat food a 37 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.
Evolve is owned by Sunshine Mills. This Alabama company was founded in 1949 and started manufacturing pet food in the 1960s.
Besides its own brands, Sunshine Mills manufactures food for private label, producing food for brands including Abound, Natural Life, Nature’s Promise, and Orlando. Sunshine Mills’ own brands include Triumph, Hi-Tor, and more. The Evolve brand offers the ingredients and formulations you’d expect from a super-premium brand at an affordable price.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Sunshine Mills manufactures Evolve products in their company-owned US facilities. Their ingredients are sourced primarily from the United States.
Has Evolve cat food been recalled?
Evolve pet food has been recalled multiple times.
In November of 2018, several varieties of Evolve dog food were recalled due to elevated levels of vitamin D. This nutrient imbalance prompted the recall of multiple Sunshine Mills-manufactured products in late 2018.
In March of 2007, the company recalled Evolve kitten food due to melamine contamination.
What kinds of cat food does Evolve offer?
Evolve cat food is available in dry and wet varieties.
Evolve’s dry selection is slim. They offer a handful of grain-free and grain-inclusive varieties. Whether grain-free or made with grains, Evolve dry foods are free of corn, soy, and wheat.
The brand’s wet selection is divided into cans and plastic trays. The foods in trays are described as “Evolve Classic Crafted Meals”. They provide a smaller serving size appropriate for delicate appetites and topping bowls of dry food.
Evolve Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Evolve Classic Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.09||C-|
|Evolve Turkey Formula Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.18||B|
|Evolve Chicken Formula Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.19||B|
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This dry food features chicken as the primary ingredient, followed by chicken meal as a concentrated protein source. In addition to chicken, the food contains turkey meal, fish meal, and dried egg product as sources of protein.
The food contains brown rice flour, peas, and oatmeal as its primary plant ingredients.Later on the list, the recipe contains smidges of dried kelp, cranberries, blueberries, and a hint of dried kelp. It’s enhanced with a hint of probiotics for digestive support.
Overall, this food has moderate protein content, low fat, and high carbohydrate content.
The food is an upgrade from similarly-priced kibble, but it’s not the best food on the market.
The food has 366 calories per cup.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice Flour, Peas, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Fish Meal, Dried Egg Product, Taurine, Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Dried Kelp, Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Thermophilum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Polysaccharide Complex, Iron Polysaccharide Complex, Manganese Polysaccharide Complex And Copper Polysaccharide Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite).
|Crude Protein||32% min|
|Crude Fat||13% min|
Evolve Classic Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Fat, Probiotics
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brown Rice Flour, Peas, Oatmeal
Common Allergens: Chicken, Dairy, Fish
- Primarily made from nourishing poultry ingredients
- Enhanced with probiotics
- Free of artificial colors and potentially harmful preservatives
- Very high in carbohydrates
Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
Turkey is this food’s first ingredient, with turkey liver as an additional source of protein and nutrition. The food also contains chicken, ocean fish, and dried egg product.
Brown rice, carrots, cranberries, and peas drive the carbohydrate content up to approximately 13% on a dry matter basis.
The food contains two unexpected ingredients—cottage cheese and garlic powder. Though milk and cheese can give your cat digestive issues, cottage cheese is low in lactose and a good source of calcium and protein.
Garlic is generally considered toxic to cats and, like other vegetables, isn’t an essential part of the feline diet. The food contains less garlic powder than it does salt, so it should be safe.
Finally, the food is thickened a combination of carrageenan and guar gum. The latter is an acceptable option, but carrageenan has a carcinogenic reputation and is an ingredient to avoid.
Overall, this wet food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.
Though it has some problems—the use of carrageenan, for example—this food is marginally superior to most products at the same price point. With the exception of ocean fish, its ingredients are clearly-named and easy to identify. It’s not particularly high in carbohydrates and is made without any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
The food has 189 calories in each 5.5-ounce can or 34 calories per ounce.
Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Chicken, Ocean Fish, Brown Rice, Cottage Cheese, Carrots, Cranberries, Peas, Dried Egg Product, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Salt, Garlic Powder, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E, A, D3, B12 Supplements, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Chicory Extract, Carrageenan, Brewers Dried Yeast, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
|Crude Protein||10% min|
|Crude Fat||6.0% min|
Evolve Turkey Formula Canned Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Turkey Liver, Chicken
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brown Rice, Carrots, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Flaxseed, Garlic Powder, Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish, Dairy
- Doesn’t contain any low-value animal or plant by-products
- Contains a mix of muscle meat and liver
- One of the most affordable foods on the market
- Contains carrageenan, a potentially carcinogenic thickener
- Slightly higher carbohydrate content than is ideal
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This food is similar to the last one we reviewed. Instead of turkey, the paté emphasizes chicken and chicken liver, with turkey, ocean fish, and dried egg product coming later on the ingredient list.
The food contains the same mix of fruits, vegetables, and brown rice. Like the turkey food, it contains a dash of garlic powder, which the company says “can help support the immune system, liver and cardiovascular system prevents blood clots and reduces cholesterol/fat build up in the blood and heart,” adding that “it aides in the fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections and increases the rate of killing off parasites and is great for palatability.”
It’s thickened with a combination of carrageenan and guar gum, ingredients that are neither species-appropriate or, in the case of carrageenan, generally considered safe.
Overall, this food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.
The food has 189 calories per can or 34 calories per ounce.
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Ocean Fish, Brown Rice, Cranberries, Peas, Cottage Cheese, Carrots, Dried Egg Product, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, Garlic Powder, Salt, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Taurine, Vitamins(Vitamin E, A, D3, B12 Supplements, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Chicory Root Extract, Carrageenan, Brewers Dried Yeast, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
|Crude Protein||10% min|
|Crude Fat||6.0% min|
Evolve Chicken Formula Canned Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brown Rice, Peas, Carrots, Guar Gum, Flaxseed, Garlic Powder, Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish, Dairy
- Contains nourishing chicken muscle meat and liver
- Made without low-quality by-products
- Free of potentially-harmful additives
- Contains carrageenan
- Contains unnecessary high-carbohydrate ingredients
What do customers think of Evolve cat food?
Evolve’s customer reviews are generally positive, but it doesn’t get consistently great palatability scores. A noticeable number of customers say their cats didn’t like Evolve food, particularly their dry recipes.
“I have a very picky cat who is 13 years old. She refuses to eat kibble so I feed her canned foods. She’s lost a bit of weight because I haven’t been able to feed her the expensive brand she likes lately. I am happy I found evolve. I got my order today which shipped fast and my cat Cloud took right to it. Thank Goodness. I’m happy with the ingredients because I’m picky about what I feed her. We are both happy customers and I look forward to ordering this in the future. Hopefully she will love the other flavors.” – Yowler123, reviewing Evolve Turkey Formula Canned Cat Food
“I’m pleased with Evolve dry cat food for my two 9-yr-old cats. They’re indoor cats, and in the last couple of years, have slowed down and gained a little weight. Boy cat was beginning to get too big to be healthy. Likely pre-diabetic. Girl cat is still a healthy weight but somewhat prone to throwing up. On our budget, and after comparing brands, I chose Evolve about six months ago. Both issues have subsided significantly.” – BubbaChloe, reviewing Evolve Classic Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
“While my cats like the taste, there is so much water/liquid in relation to solids it’s not worth the money. And, the amount of liquid is giving my kittens very soft stool. Would be fine for individual cats who need more fluid in their diet.” – RussBlu, reviewing Evolve Chicken Formula Canned Cat Food
“I have never once in the years of running a cat rescue come across a food that my ENTIRE household (30+) doesn’t like, but I found it with this one! I’m sad because personally I like the ingredients and it’s a good quality food, but 3 bags in and they turn their noses up. They’re only reluctantly eating it because it’s the only thing they have. Off to try something else I guess!” – Sckit, reviewing Evolve Classic Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
How much does Evolve cat food cost?
Evolve is a budget brand. If you have a 10-lb cat who needs 200 calories a day, you’ll end up spending about $0.18 per day to feed him Evolve dry food and closer to $1.08 per day to feed him Evolve wet food.
Overall, is Evolve a good choice?
Evolve cat food appears to use better ingredients than most brands in the same price bracket, but it’s not one of the best brands you can buy. Their dry food, for example, skips the harmful synthetics and appears to contain higher-quality meats than the average economy kibble, but its high carbohydrate content makes it a distinctly species-inappropriate option.
Similarly, Evolve’s wet foods are free of artificial ingredients and nameless animal by-products, but they contain rice, carrageenan, and high-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables.
Where to Buy Evolve Cat Food
Evolve cat food is sold in retailers scattered around the United States and Canada. Most of their retailers are concentrated along the coasts. Click here to search for an Evolve retailer near you.
If you can’t find a retailer in your area or prefer to shop online, you can shop for Evolve on Chewy or buy it straight from the Sunshine Mills store.
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.