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The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Merrick on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Merrick 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 – 8/10
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Price – 6/10
- Customer Experience – 7/10
- Recall History – 4/10
Overall Score: 6.3/10
We give Merrick cat food a 38 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.
This pet food company started in 1988, when the Merrick family started making dog treats on their ranch in Hereford, Texas. Their first offering was a dog treat called the Flossie. The Flossie’s success inspired the family to start manufacturing all-natural dog food. Twenty-five years after the company started, Merrick introduced its first line of cat food.
In 2015, Nestlé Purina announced its buyout of Merrick Pet Care. The conglomerate explained that they wouldn’t make any changes to Merrick’s management or operations, allowing it to continue operating as an independent business.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Merrick makes “Five Promises” about its ingredients and manufacturing practices.
- Merrick’s first promise is to partner with local growers, theoretically supporting local communities and ensuring the freshness of their ingredients. As an American company, this means that most of Merrick’s ingredients are sourced from the United States. Merrick doesn’t source any ingredients from China.
- Merrick uses what they call “nutritious, whole foods”. According to their nutritional philosophy, this means that they don’t use any artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, or preservatives.
- Merrick promises to provide balanced nutrition by using 30% to 80% protein from meat, poultry, and fish, combined with vegetables, whole grains, and fruit.
- Merrick’s fourth promise is something they refer to as “health you can see.” They say their foods feature “industry-leading” levels of healthy fats, highly digestible meat proteins, and glucosamine and chondroitin.
- All Merrick foods are prepared in company-owned kitchens in Hereford, Texas. Their kitchens are Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3-certified and certified by the USDA National Organic Program.
Has Merrick cat food been recalled?
Merrick food and treats have been recalled several times. Here’s a brief summary of Merrick’s recall history.
In May of 2018, several beef-based dog treats were recalled due to potentially elevated levels of beef thyroid hormones.
In January of 2011, Merrick’s Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats were recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. In the summer of the same year, the company announced a recall of their Doggie Wishbone treats, again due to potential salmonella contamination.
Merrick treats were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.
What kinds of cat food does Merrick offer?
Company founder Garth Merrick says that Merrick is set apart by “the efforts we make to retain the natural goodness and nutritional integrity of the whole food ingredients we use,” explaining that “We use the fewest steps we can. We stay away from artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. We believe this approach keeps our customers — and most importantly, their pets – satisfied that our diets are contributing greatly to their pet’s happiness and well-being. We’ve been doing that since the beginning, and we’ll continue to do that in the future.”
Merrick has a diverse cat food offering, including dry food, wet food, raw mixers, and treats. They’re broken down into three lines—Purrfect Bistro, Limited Ingredient Diet, and Backcountry.
Purrfect Bistro is the brand’s original cat food line. It includes both grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes, all targeting different life stages and needs.
The Limited Ingredient line targets cats with food sensitivities and allergies.
The Backcountry line involves all-natural, grain-free foods, some of which are infused with freeze-dried raw meat.
Merrick Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Paté||Wet||$0.29||B|
|Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Paté||Wet||$0.32||B-|
|Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe||Dry||$0.19||B-|
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This Purrfect Bistro food is a grain-free paté made primarily from chicken and chicken liver with dried egg product as an additional protein source.
In addition to animal ingredients, the food contains a small amount of organic alfalfa and cranberries.
The food contains salmon oil as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve skin and coat health while potentially reducing inflammation.
It’s thickened with both carrageenan and guar gum. Carrageenan is a controversial ingredient for good reason—it may contribute to inflammation and is a potential carcinogen.
Overall, this meat-based canned food is high in protein with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.
The food has 185 calories in each 5.5 oz can or 34 calories per ounce.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Alfalfa, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
|Crude Protein||10% min|
|Crude Fat||5% min|
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken Paté Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Chicken, Egg
- Made with named meats rather than by-products and rendered meals
- A moisture-rich food for optimal hydration
- Primarily made from animal protein sources
- Cats love the way the food tastes
- Free of artificial ingredients
- High carbohydrate content compared to some other wet foods
- Contains potentially inflammatory carrageenan
Deboned chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This food from Merrick’s limited ingredient line is primarily made with deboned chicken, a high-quality source of animal protein. The chicken is mixed with chicken broth and enhanced with chicken liver.
Chicken liver is both highly palatable and nutritious. Instead of the dried egg product found in the Purrfect Bistro food listed above, this allergy-oriented product contains pea protein. It contains organic alfalfa meal as an insignificant source of plant protein and trace nutrients.
Instead of the salmon oil used in other Merrick recipes, the food is made with flaxseed oil. While it’s a source of omega-3 fatty acids, this plant fat contains ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that cats can’t utilize.
The food is thickened with guar gum and, unlike some Merrick recipes, doesn’t contain carrageenan.
Overall, this is a meat-based canned food with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content.
The food has 131 calories per 5-ounce can or 26 calories per ounce.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Flaxseed Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract.
|Crude Protein||8% min|
|Crude Fat||4% min|
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Paté Recipe
Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Liver
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Pea Protein
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Ideal for cats with food sensitivities and allergies
- Hydrating, moisture-rich food
- Contains named meats instead of by-products and rendered meals
- Free of carrageenan
- Free of artificial ingredients
- Contains multiple sources of animal protein
- High carbohydrate content
Deboned chicken and chicken meal appear to be the primary protein sources in this dry cat food.
This dry food targets cats with food allergies and sensitivities. It’s a grain-free recipe featuring a single animal protein source and a relatively limited ingredient list. The first ingredient is deboned chicken. Ingredients are listed in order of their pre-cooking weight, so it’s no surprise to see a moisture-rich ingredient leading the list. Deboned chicken is followed by chicken meal, which is dehydrated prior to cooking and therefore a concentrated source of animal protein.
Like many grain-free dry foods, the food is made with chickpeas and peas instead of the grains traditionally used in extruded kibble.
Chicken fat is added as a species-appropriate source of fatty acids.
The food contains traces of organic dried alfalfa meal, dried yeast culture, and ground flaxseed. It’s supplemented with probiotics. Near the bottom of the list is “natural flavor”, an additive typically made from hydrolyzed animal tissue. These tissues give the food a concentrated flavor and make it more palatable.
Overall, this dry cat food has moderate protein content, low fat, and high carbohydrate content.
Each cup of this food contains 395 calories.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Dried Yeast Culture, Ground Flaxseed, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Phosphoric Acid, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.
|Crude Protein||34% min|
|Crude Fat||14% min|
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Fat
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Chickpeas, Peas, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Limited ingredient recipe
- Free of artificial ingredients
- Contains multiple sources of plant protein
- High carbohydrate content
- Lacks adequate moisture content
What do customers think of Merrick cat food?
Merrick cat food receives primarily positive reviews. The brand’s product listings on Amazon and Chewy have, on average, four-to-five-star ratings. Most customers think Merrick is a high-quality brand and say that their cats enjoy eating it.
If you want to hear about negative experiences with Merrick, head to Consumer Affairs.
While reviews are varied, the presence of foreign objects in the food is a recurring complaint. At least two customers found pieces of plastic in cans of Merrick cat food and one found an unidentified brown, hair-covered object. The consumers made these complaints in 2010, 2015, and 2016, respectively.
“I have two diabetic cats – sisters. I needed a grain free food for them. What I like about Merrick pates is that they mix great with water. Whether your cat is diabetic or not, best to get water into their diets. I mix this wet food with warm water and make a slurry. I find that cats would rather lap up their food then chew it. Their diabetes has been managed well on this food. We also buy the beef, salmon, and tuna flavors too.” – SugarKittyMom, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken Paté
“I’ve had a hard time finding a low-carb option that my biggest (and roundest) cat will eat. He likes this one, though! The ingredients list looks good and the kibbles are about half the size of the usual kibbles I see in cat foods. My only complaint is that I wish it came in 20+ pound bags.” – Heatherdera, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
“Something wrong with recent batch. Cats refused to eat it. In past, when fed cats only this, they lost too much weight, and were losing their fur. Some cans in past were punctured and food went rotten. I switched to another brand and cats are eating and doing well.” – unipsycholing, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Chicken Paté
“Missed it and order this food. i do wish carageenan would be listed as an acception, like grain and other bi-products. Off to the store. I must have a better choice for my kitties.” – Maggie95, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken Paté
How much does Merrick cat food cost?
Merrick cat food ranges from moderately-priced to expensive.
If you have a 10-lb cat, canned food from the Purrfect Bistro line costs about $3.19 per day. If you upgrade to the Backcountry line, it would cost $4.51 per day to feed the same cat.
The Merrick Limited Ingredient dry cat food listed above costs roughly $0.50 per day, while Merrick Backcountry dry food costs about $0.65.
Overall, is Merrick a good choice?
Merrick cat food is an acceptable choice. It’s neither one of the best nor one of the worst foods on the market. In terms of price and ingredient quality, Merrick appears to be comparable to Wellness, Fromm, and Wysong.
To get the best out of Merrick, opt for wet foods from the Backcountry line. They’re free of carrageenan and have lower carbohydrate content compared to those in the Purrfect Bistro and Limited Ingredient lines.
Where is Merrick cat food sold?
Merrick is available in pet product retailers and farm and ranch stores. Online, you can buy Merrick cat food through Petco, Chewy, Amazon, PetFlow, and Doctors Foster & Smith.
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.