In this unbiased review, we’ll take a closer look at the food cats ask for by name, determining whether or not Meow Mix cat food is a healthy, safe choice.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Meow Mix on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Meow Mix 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 – 4/10
- Ingredient Quality – 4/10
- Product Variety – 6/10
- Price – 8/10
- Customer Experience – 5/10
- Recall History – 7/10
Overall Score: 5.7/10
We give Meow Mix cat food a 34 out of 60 rating or a C grade.
Also Read: We’re All About Cats Cat Food Rating Index
About Meow Mix
Meow Mix was created in 1974 and was originally owned by the Ralston Purina Company—now Nestlé-Purina. The Meow Mix brand went from owner to owner through the next forty years, first being sold to Del Monte Foods, which was the owner of Big Heart Pet Brands at the time. Meow Mix was acquired by an equity firm called Cypress Group, then returned to Del Monte Foods ownership.
In 2015, the J.M. Smucker company bought Big Heart Pet Brands. As part of the J.M. Smucker Big Heart Pet Brand family, Meow Mix is sold by the same company that owns 9Lives, Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, Rachael Ray Nutrish, and other brands.
Meow Mix is perhaps best known for its tagline—“the food cats ask for by name” and accompanying jingle. The brand is economical, offers a respectable product variety, and is easy to find in stores around the world.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Meow Mix dry food is made in the company’s facility in Decatur, Alabama. This manufacturing facility also makes Alley Cat products. Meow Mix wet cat food is made in Thailand.
The company doesn’t provide information on its sourcing practices.
Has Meow Mix cat food been recalled?
Meow Mix has never been recalled.
In 2015, a consumer advocacy group crowdfunded a study of contaminants in eight pet foods, including Meow Mix Tender Centers cat food. Meow Mix Tender Centers had the highest mycotoxin mold contamination of all the foods tested and these levels were considered “high risk”.
Mycotoxins are created by fungus or mold and commonly grow on grains like wheat and corn. Consumption of mycotoxins can cause acute illness or, if ingested in small amounts over time, may result in chronic suppression of the immune system, cancer, and kidney and liver toxicity.
What kinds of cat food does Meow Mix offer?
The Meow Mix lineup includes both wet and dry food.
Meow Mix dry varieties include Original Choice, Tender Centers, Bistro Recipes®, Hairball Control, Indoor Formula, Kitten Li’l Nibbles®, and Seafood Medley.
The brand’s wet varieties include Tender Favorites®, Simple Servings®, Classic Paté, and Paté Toppers.
The brand also offers a variety of cat treats.
Meow Mix Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.04||D|
|Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & White Meat Chicken Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.05||D-|
|Meow Mix Tender Favorites with Real Tuna & Whole Shrimp in Sauce||Wet||$0.20||C+|
Corn gluten meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
Meow Mix Original Choice is the brand’s top kibble. With no protein sources in the name and a label that mentions the “delicious flavors of” four meats, you wouldn’t be wrong to guess that this food is a far cry from the natural feline diet of fresh, raw prey.
Let’s take a look at the ingredient list to find out what Original Choice is really made of. Ground whole corn is the first ingredient. This high-carbohydrate ingredient gives the food a nice crunch and adds to its calorie content, but it’s far from appropriate for the feline physiology. Cats are optimized for a meat-based diet with virtually zero requirement for carbohydrates.
The second ingredient is corn gluten meal, which is a protein-dense corn product.
The third ingredient is chicken by-product meal. While chicken by-product meal is species-appropriate and can be a highly digestible source of nutrition, it’s a feed-grade ingredient and not subject to the kind of quality regulations that dictate human food processing. The ingredient list alone can’t tell us whether this meat was derived from healthy or sick chickens or if the by-product meal is more flesh, skin, or connective tissue.
Soybean meal is added as another source of plant protein. Soy ingredients have been criticized for their phytoestrogen content, which could cause health problems in cats.
Beef tallow is used as the food’s primary fat source. Cats thrive on animal-sourced fat and this rendered fat is preferable to plant-derived oil.
Near the end of the ingredient list are animal digest as a flavor additive, turkey by-product meal, salmon meal, and ocean fish meal.
The food is fortified with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make it nutritionally complete. Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2 are added to dye the kibble. These artificial colors may cause behavioral and physical problems when ingested.
Overall, this food is low in protein with low fat and high carbohydrate content.
The food has 308 calories per cup.
Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Beef Tallow (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Animal Digest, Calcium Carbonate, Turkey By-Product Meal, Salmon Meal, Ocean Fish Meal, Phosphoric Acid, Choline Chloride, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Riboflavin Supplement (Source of Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement], Minerals [Ferrous Sulfate (Source of Iron), Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2, Rosemary Extract.
|Crude Protein||31% min|
|Crude Fat||11% min|
Meow Mix Original Choice Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: None
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2
Common Allergens: Fish, Chicken
- Contains animal-sourced fat
- Very high carbohydrate content
- Contains artificial colors
Chicken by-product meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
Meow Mix Tender Centers food is a popular twist on the standard crunchy kibble. The food has soft centers for added textural complexity.
Like Meow Mix Original Choice, this food is made, first and foremost, from corn. Though we don’t know exactly how much corn is in each batch, we do know that whole ground corn is the weightiest inclusion in the recipe. Its weight earned whole ground corn the first spot on the ingredient list, ahead of chicken by-product meal and all the other meat ingredients.
In addition to whole ground corn, the food contains corn gluten meal as a concentrated source of plant protein, soybean meal as another concentrated source of plant protein, and whole wheat.
After this series of grains, the food contains animal fat. That’s right. The first animal ingredient is fat, not a protein source.
Like any other time you see the word “animal” on an ingredient list, this vaguely named fat could have come from a variety of animals. You’ll see it again in the next ingredient, which is “animal digest”. Animal digest is made from hydrolyzed animal tissues and gives the grain-based kibble a pop of concentrated meat flavor.
The food contains corn syrup for a little species-inappropriate sweetness, glycerin as a humectant (it keeps those centers nice and tender), and salmon meal for a extra fishy flavor. It’s the food’s only significant source of animal protein and the last of the main ingredients.
After salmon meal, the ingredient list dives into a long series of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It also contains carrageenan, probably to help stabilize the tender centers. This seaweed-derived ingredient may have carcinogenic and inflammatory properties.
The food contains Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Red 40. Near the very end of the ingredient list is an additive referred to as “natural white meat chicken flavor”.
Overall, this dry food is low in protein and fat with high carbohydrate content.
The food is 328 calories per cup.
Whole Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat, Animal Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Animal Digest, Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Salmon Meal, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Sorbate (Used As A Preservative), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Dicalcium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Yellow 6, Taurine, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Yellow 5, Red 40, Natural White Meat Chicken Flavor, Dl-Methionine, BHA (Used As A Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Celery Extract.
|Crude Protein||31% min|
|Crude Fat||11% min|
Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & White Meat Chicken Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: None
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Whole Ground Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat, Corn Syrup, Carrageenan, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, BHA
Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish
- Cats like this food
- High carbohydrate content
- Contains artificial colors
- Primarily made from plant ingredients
- Contains carrageenan
- Contains corn syrup
Salmon appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This fish-based food is a chunky stew made with tuna in fish broth, mixed up with ocean fish (probably tilefish) and shrimp. The stew contains soybean oil as its primary fat source and gets a flavor boost from both natural and artificial flavors.
The food is stabilized with a combination of guar gum and carrageenan. While neither of these gums is species-appropriate, carrageenan is particularly bad. Though food-grade carrageenan is considered safe, there’s no way of knowing that it’s not contaminated with degraded carrageenan. Degraded carrageenan is a known carcinogen and could worsen inflammation.
After all the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids added to make the food nutritionally complete, the food contains what Meow Mix refers to simply as “color”. It’s unclear whether this color is a natural or artificial dye.
Overall, this food is rich in protein with low fat and low carbohydrate content.
There are 62 calories in each cup of this cat food.
Tuna, Fish Broth, Ocean Fish, Shrimp, Soybean Oil, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Tricalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Salt, Calcium Sulphate, Vitamins [Vitamin E, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulphite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity)], Minerals (Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulphate Monohydrate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Sodium Nitrite, Color.
|Crude Protein||12% min|
|Crude Fat||1.8% min|
Meow Mix Tender Favorites with Real Tuna & Whole Shrimp in Sauce Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: None
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Soybean Oil, Artificial Flavors, Carrageenan,
Common Allergens: Fish
- Relatively low carbohydrate content
- Fish-based food isn’t ideal for cats
- Contains carrageenan
What do customers think of Meow Mix cat food?
Meow Mix has been a cat food leader for over 40 years. Their food is affordable, easy to find, and cats like it. Multiple generations of cats have grown up and grown old on Meow Mix.
Like most top-selling cat food brands, Meow Mix’s popularity comes with some serious complaints.
While customer reviews on Meow Mix’s product listings are primarily positive, other platforms paint an uglier picture of the brand. On Consumer Affairs, Meow Mix has an average rating of 2.6 out of 5 stars. It’s no surprise that there are complaints about Meow Mix.
What’s unsettling is that there’s some consistency among those complaints. Multiple people said their cats started vomiting blood or bleeding rectally after eating Meow Mix. Several said their cats recovered after the Meow Mix food was withdrawn.
In 2014, 381 people signed a petition asking Meow Mix to issue a recall in light of multiple reports in 2013 and 2014 of severe vomiting, vomiting blood, and death after eating Meow Mix.
Again, people around the world feed their cats Meow Mix without incident. When your cat gets sick, the last food they ate is an easy potential culprit to blame, but not necessarily the right one. At this point, we don’t know if Meow Mix has made cats seriously ill.
“I’ve tried to feed my cats the highest-quality food I can afford, especially since one of them has had cystitis and the other is elderly and has a poor appetite. I tried this even though it’s not one of the top brands nutritionally, and they both love it. At least it’s chunks of recognizable seafood. They eat their Science Diet along with it, so I’m glad I tried it!” – drelseyfan, reviewing Meow Mix Tender Favorites with Real Tuna & Whole Shrimp in Sauce
“I have fed my cats every fancy, holistic, grain-free, healthy cat food over the last forty years! After a short while, they always turn their noses up, especially the elders, and I resort to Meow Mix and a few other old stand-bys to mix in and get them to eat! American cats!! Junk food lovers to be sure! But actually, in the ‘old days,’ we didn’t have fancy foods, and the cats were all healthy and never got cancer and the weird conditions they succumb to now.” – SluggersMom, reviewing Meow Mix Original Choice Dry Cat Food
“I found a piece of the top wrapping in the food. There is also VERY HARD pieces of dark stuff in there. Little or no shrimp and not good smelling.” – terri, reviewing Meow Mix Tender Favorites with Real Tuna & Whole Shrimp in Sauce
“ALL MY 13 CATS ARE THROWING THIS AND THE TUNA ONE I TRIED. MEOW MIX JUST DOESN’T AGREE WITH MY CATS.” – ANIMALLOVERINPA, reviewing Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & White Meat Chicken
How much does Meow Mix cat food cost?
Meow Mix is one of the cheapest cat food brands on the market.
If your cat weighs about 10 lbs, Meow Mix dry food costs roughly $0.08 to $0.10 per day, making even economy brands like Purina Cat Chow look expensive by comparison. Meow Mix wet food is a little bit pricier and will cost closer to $1.65 per day.
Overall, is Meow Mix cat food a good choice?
Meow Mix isn’t the best cat food you can buy.
Whether wet or dry, Meow Mix cat food contains artificial ingredients, added colors, and other additives that could harm your cat over time. Their dry foods are some of the most grain-laden and carbohydrate-loaded products on the market.
If you choose to buy Meow Mix, opt for their wet varieties, which offer a carnivore-appropriate distribution of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Where to Buy Meow Mix Cat Food
Meow Mix cat food is sold worldwide. It’s available in groceries, big box stores, and other stores that sell pet food. You can buy it online through a host of online retailers, including Chewy and Amazon.
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.