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The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Friskies on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Friskies 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 those six key areas.
- Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
- Ingredient Quality – 4/10
- Product Variety – 8/10
- Price – 6/10
- Customer Experience – 5/10
- Recall History – 5/10
Overall Score: 5.6/10
We give Friskies cat food a 34 out of 60 rating or a C grade.
The Friskies brand dates back to 1934, just a few decades after the first dog biscuit was sold. The dog food industry was in its infancy and commercial cat food was virtually nonexistent. So when Carnation started the Friskies brand, they focused on dog food.
In the 1950s, the product developers at Carnation introduced a new line of specialty Friskies dog food. Instead of targeting adult dogs only, one of the new specialty recipes was intended for puppies. Not only was this food just right for growing pups, but it was also appropriate for the household cat.
The only problem was that cats didn’t like Friskies puppy food. Friskies sales manager Henry Arnest suggested that the company formulate a food made just for cats and convinced the team to start a market trial of a cat-specific food.
Little Friskies for Cats had a slow start, initially doing well only on the West Coast of the United States. The brand gained a foothold in the growing cat food market and, almost 60 years after its birth, Friskies was the United States’ leading wet cat food, generating almost 586 million dollars in sales.
In 1985, the brand was acquired by Nestlé, now the Nestlé-Purina company. Nestlé-Purina is one of the world’s leading pet food conglomerates. In addition to Friskies, Nestlé-Purina is behind Fancy Feast, Purina Cat Chow, Tidy Cats, and other household names.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Friskies is made in multiple Purina-owned facilities in the United States. The company sources ingredients primarily from the United States. Ingredients including lamb, venison, duck, rabbit, and vitamin packs are sourced from countries outside of the United States.
Has Friskies cat food been recalled?
Friskies cat food has been recalled at least once. In 2011, the brand’s Grillers Blend dry cat food was recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.
What kinds of cat food does Friskies offer?
Friskies offers a huge variety of wet food, a small selection of dry food, and treats.
The Friskies wet food lineup includes over 60 varieties, with lines including Lil’ Soups™, Extra Gravy Paté, Extra Gravy Chunky, Classic Paté, Shreds, Prime Filets, Tasty Treasures®, Meaty Bits, Indoor, Cat Concoctions®, Gravy Sensations™, and Flaked cat food.
Alongside its world of wet food, the brand offers six varieties of kibble and four lines of treats.
Friskies Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Friskies Classic Paté Turkey & Giblets Dinner||Wet||$0.07||C-|
|Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ Favorites Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.05||D|
|Friskies Classic Paté Poultry Platter||Wet||$0.08||C|
Meat by-products appear to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
Though this food is called “Turkey & Giblets Dinner”, it’s primarily made from meat by-products, a vague name for any combination of AAFCO-approved tissues from cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats.
If that seems odd, remember that the word “dinner” in this food’s title has an important job. It tells you, roughly, how much turkey and giblets are in the food. According to FDA labeling requirements, the word “dinner” after “turkey & giblets” indicates that turkey and giblets, combined, constitute no less than 25% of the food on a dry matter basis. To lose the “dinner” qualifier, turkey & giblets would have to comprise at least 95% of the food on a dry matter basis.
Turkey is the second meat ingredient, followed by poultry by-products, vaguely-specified fish, and poultry giblets. Aside from a small amount of rice, the food is virtually free of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Rice is followed by a series of additives, including artificial and natural flavors and added color. The food is thickened with both guar gum and carrageenan. While neither of these gums is species-appropriate or nutritious, carrageenan is particularly questionable due to its potentially carcinogenic properties.
Overall, this is a meat-based wet cat food with high protein, moderate fat, and moderate carbohydrate content.
There are 416 calories in each 13 oz can or 32 calories per ounce.
Meat By-Products, Water Sufficient for Processing, Turkey, Poultry By-Products, Fish, Poultry Giblets, Rice, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Salt, Guar Gum, Calcium Phosphate, Added Color, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Magnesium Sulfate, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide.
|Crude Protein||10% min|
|Crude Fat||5% min|
Friskies Turkey & Giblets Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Turkey
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Meat By-Products, Poultry By-Products, Fish, Rice, Artificial Flavors, Added Color, Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Poultry, Fish, Meat By-Products
- Relatively low in carbohydrates
- Primarily made with animal-sourced protein
- Highly palatable
- Contains multiple artificial ingredients
- Contains carrageenan
- By-products constitute most of the food’s meat content
Corn gluten meal and chicken by-product meal appear to be the primary protein sources in this dry cat food.
Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ appears to be the most popular of the brand’s six dry cat foods. The recipe is decidedly plant-heavy with ground yellow corn and corn gluten meal leading the ingredient list. Later on the ingredient list, soybean meal rounds out the food’s range of plant protein concentrates.
In addition to plant protein, the kibble contains a few sources of animal protein. Chicken by-product meal is the third ingredient, followed by meat and bone meal. Salmon meal is a final source of animal protein.
The food contains beef tallow as a fat source. Instead of liver from a named animal, it contains “animal liver flavor”. Dried cheese powder is also added as for an additional flavor boost.
At the bottom of the ingredient list, you’ll notice that the food contains several dyes, including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2. All of these artificial colors are associated with negative health effects for both humans and animals.
Overall, this food has moderate protein content, low fat content, and is high in carbohydrates.
The food contains 393 calories per cup.
Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Meat And Bone Meal, Soybean Meal, Beef Tallow Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Powdered Cellulose, Animal Liver Flavor, Soybean Hulls, Phosphoric Acid, Salmon Meal, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Dried Cheese Powder, Parsley Flakes, Taurine, MINERALS [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)], Vitamin E Supplement, Yellow 6, L-Tryptophan, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2.
|Crude Protein||30% min|
|Crude Fat||11% min|
Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Beef Tallow
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Liver Flavor, Soybean Hulls, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2
Common Allergens: Chicken, Beef, Fish, Dairy
- Cats seem to like the food’s flavor
- Primarily made from plant ingredients
- Almost all meat ingredients are vaguely-named by-products
- Contains artificial colors
Turkey and poultry by-products appear to be the primary protein sources in this wet cat food.
The first ingredient in this food is turkey, followed by vaguely-named poultry by-products, liver, and fish.
In additional to animal protein sources, the food contains a trace amount of rice and is flavored with both artificial and natural flavors. It’s thickened with guar gum and carrageenan. Unlike many other Friskies foods, this recipe doesn’t contain any added colors.
Overall, this is a meat-based food with high protein content, moderate fat, and low carbohydrate content.
Friskies Poultry Platter contains 190 calories in each 5.5 oz can or 35 calories per ounce.
Turkey, Poultry By-Products, Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Liver, Fish, Rice, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Phosphate, Taurine, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide.
|Crude Protein||10% min|
|Crude Fat||5% min|
Friskies Poultry Platter Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Turkey
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Poultry By-Products, Meat By-Products, Liver, Fish, Rice, Artificial Flavors, Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Poultry, Fish, Meat By-Products
- This Friskies formula is free of artificial colors
- The first ingredient is a named meat
- Cats like the food’s flavor
- Primarily made from meat and poultry by-products
- Contains artificial flavor
- Contains rice
- Made with carrageenan
What do customers think of Friskies cat food?
Customers are, for the most part, happy with Friskies. People spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it every year. As one of the oldest cat food brands still on the market, Friskies has become a cat food staple. Many have been feeding it to their cats for decades—a tradition passed down from their parents and grandparents.
Not everyone is happy with Friskies cat food, however. On Consumer Affairs, for example, the brand has an overall satisfaction rating of just over 1 out of 5 stars. Complaints range from texture concerns to non-food objects found in cans to reports of illness.
Multiple customers have found pieces of plastic in cans of Friskies food. Between October and December of 2018, numerous reviewers said their cats started to refuse their Friskies food. Friskies says there were no reformulations around the time these reports started popping up. It’s unclear whether or not the incidents were connected.
“I have 13 indoor cats that all love this stuff. I just switched from Wellness Canned chicken cat food – which costs 3 times as much, and so far, the cats are all chowing down on it and don’t seem to know the difference. After trying many pricier brands that only come in small cans, I decided to give Friskies a try and it seems to me that the ingredients in the expensive stuff probably aren’t any better. Cats don’t care as long as it smells and tastes good to them.” – Fergusboy, reviewing Friskies Classic Paté Turkey & Giblets recipe
“Feeding a feral group of 12 cats and 8 kittens does get expensive. Even so we have been feeding them a much more costly dry food to help the kittens, especially to get healthy start. They ate it. It was suggested to try this food. My daughter told me that when she put the bowls down, they not only dove right into them, she said they all started purring. So how can I give any less than 5 stars since they are so happy with it and we hope for their continued good health too. Quite a help toward not breaking the bank also as we work toward getting all spayed and neutered. Just when we were more than halfway to that, 3 litters totaling 8 kittens arrived. That’s another story.” – Pato13, reviewing Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ Dry Cat Food
“Friskies in their “wisdom” have made all labels the same color – with a little splotch listing the variety. The reality of this stupidity is all cans in the closet now look identical. Making opening the “right can” (yes, we all have picky cats) a nightmare. I now hate Friskies for making my mornings miserable. Emailing Friskies was useless!! (oh but it is the same wonderful product). And will no longer be ordering Friskies. And I have used their products for over 40 years in 2 different countries. This has nothing much to do with Chewy but you may carry more weight than a ‘mere customer’” – Finnian, reviewing Friskies Classic Paté Poultry Platter Recipe
“The Friskies T&G pate is probably the most widely accepted flavor of all the Friskies foods. It does, however, contain fish, so make sure you read the ingredients if you have a cat with food sensitivities. There are other “hidden” flavors in the mix.” – RNforCats, reviewing Friskies Classic Paté Turkey & Giblets Recipe
How much does Friskies cat food cost?
Friskies is one of the lowest-priced cat food brands you can buy. According to the brand’s feeding guidelines, it would cost roughly $0.70 per day to feed a 10-lb cat one of Friskies’ canned products. Like most brands, Friskies’ dry food is cheaper than their wet offerings. One of Friskies’ dry foods would cost closer to $0.13 per day.
Overall, is Friskies a good choice?
Friskies isn’t a brand we’d recommend. Its selling points are not ingredient quality or nutritional integrity. It is, however, one of the most affordable brands available.
If you choose to buy Friskies, avoid their dry recipes. Friskies dry cat food is packed with low-value plant ingredients like corn gluten meal and soybean meal and rely on vaguely-named animal by-products instead of named meats.
Instead, opt for Friskies wet cat food. Their wet recipes contain some undesirable additives, including carrageenan, artificial colors, and artificial flavors, but are meat-rich with minimal carbohydrate content.
Stick to the patés to avoid starchy thickeners. Read the ingredient lists carefully to minimize harmful additives—some Friskies foods contain artificial colors and others don’t.
Where is Friskies cat food sold?
Friskies is available at discount stores, big box stores, and groceries. It’s similarly widespread online. You can buy it from Walmart, Target, Amazon, Chewy, and other stores where cat food is sold.
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.