Natural Balance Cat Food Review

Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. To stay objective and avoid biases, we don’t accept free products or write sponsored posts. Instead, our research is supported by you, our readers. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.
We’ve taken a close look at Natural Balance and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, product variety, price, ingredient quality, customer experience, and recall history.

The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Natural Balance on What Matters

We’ve rated the brand on six key criteria for quality. Here’s how it rates in each of these six crucial areas.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 4/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 5/10
  • Product Variety – 8/10
  • Price – 8/10
  • Customer Experience – 5/10
  • Recall History – 4/10

Overall Score: 5.7/10

In total, we give Natural Balance cat food a 34 out of 60 rating or a C grade.

Read on to learn more about Natural Balance and how we reached this conclusion.

About Natural Balance

Natural Balance Pet Foods was created in 1989 by Dick Van Patten and Joey Herrick after a conversation about the two entertainers’ shared love of animals. Herrick, then a drummer for The John Davidson Show, was interested in animal rescue, Van Patten had always wanted to open up a pet shop. By the end of the conversation, they were thinking about starting a pet food company.

The resulting company was called Natural Balance, one of the first to take advantage of the growing demand for organic and filler-free pet food. Their food was marketed as “Food for a Lifetime”.

In 2013, the company merged with Del Monte, a conglomerate behind numerous other pet food brands, including Meow Mix and Milo’s Kitchen. Two years later, J.M. Smucker purchased Natural Balance as part of their Big Heart Pet Brands acquisition.

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Sourcing and Manufacturing

Natural Balance sources ingredients from around the world, with suppliers in the United States, France, India, New Zealand, and Canada. They’re willing to disclose the origins of their protein sources, but will not reveal specific sourcing information for their plant ingredients or additives.

Their foods are made in the United States by multiple manufacturers, including one company-owned facility in Topeka, Kansas.

Recall History

Natural Balance was one of the numerous companies involved in the melamine recalls of 2007.

In April of 2007, the company learned that dogs and cats were getting sick after eating Natural Balance venison-based foods. These reports prompted lab testing, which found that these foods contained trace amounts of melamine. Rice protein concentrate was identified as the probable source of the melamine.

Shortly thereafter, the recall was expanded to include three more canned dog foods and one canned cat food. Again, the foods contained melamine from rice protein concentrate. In all cases, the rice protein concentrate was not listed on the ingredient list, nor did Natural Balance know that it was in the food.

Natural Balance maintains that their manufacturer, American Nutrition Inc., was responsible for adding the tainted rice protein without the company’s knowledge or consent.

All told, the melamine fiasco resulted in recalls of over 60 trucks’ worth of cat and dog food and cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in customers’ medical bills.

The company updated their food safety lab with additional equipment and instituted the “Buy with Confidence” program, which allows customers to read lab results for their pet’s food.

Later in 2007, Natural Balance issued another recall. This time, it wasn’t related to the melamine scandal, but involved a potential botulism outbreak affecting Castleberry’s Food Company, which was one of the company’s manufacturing partners.

The company hasn’t had a recall since 2007.

What kinds of cat food does Natural Balance offer?

Natural Balance has a wide selection of cat food, including wet products in pouches in cans and dry food. These foods are segmented into what Natural Balance calls “special categories”, including grain-free, healthy weight, high protein, indoor, and limited ingredient foods.

A wide variety of protein sources are used in Natural Balance foods. Salmon, chicken, venison, lamb, bison, buffalo, and duck are all protein sources represented in the Natural Balance lineup.

Natural Balance offers a cat food selection calculator, which is designed to help you choose the right Natural Balance food based on your cat’s unique needs. You can select your cat’s life stage, food type preference, and any special needs, and the calculator will serve up a selection of Natural Balance foods that satisfy those needs.

Natural Balance Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypeMain Protein SourceCaloriesPrice per OunceOur Grade
L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat FoodDryDuck, Pea Protein410 calories per cup$0.18C
L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat FoodWetDuck, Pea Protein34.5 calories per ounce$0.29C
Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Cat FoodWetChicken32.7 calories per ounce$0.29B

All nutritional percentages in this table and hereafter are taken from the manufacturer’s guaranteed analysis. Exact nutritional percentages are not available. All calculated values are determined using these minimum and maximum published values and may differ from actual values. Natural Balance is the ultimate authority on their products, so please contact the company for more nutritional information.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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This dry food is a limited-ingredient product, which appeals to cats with food sensitivities and allergies. Instead of commonly allergenic proteins from ingredients such as chicken and beef, the food is made primarily from pea and duck protein.

The company doesn’t declare whether duck or peas are the primary source of protein in the recipe, but considering that green peas are the first ingredient on the list and concentrated pea protein the fourth, it appears that this food is a plant-rich product.

Overall, this is a plant-based dry cat food with moderate protein, moderate fat content, and high levels of carbohydrate matter.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet Green Pea & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients

Green Peas, Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

ProteinFatCrude FiberMoistureAsh
30% min12% min4.0% max10% max7.41%
Ingredients We LikedIngredients We Didn’t LikeCommon Allergens
Duck, Salmon OilGreen Peas, Pea ProteinNone

Pros

  • May minimize symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities
  • Contains salmon oil as a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3’s

Cons

  • Contains multiple sources of plant protein
  • High carbohydrate content
  • No dry food provides the hydration your cat requires

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Formula Wet Cat Food

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This limited ingredient canned food is the wet counterpart to the dry food in our first product review. It’s free from common food allergens, relying instead on duck and pea protein. Natural Balance canned foods are made without artificial ingredients, but are thickened with carrageenan, a natural substance that may worsen inflammation.

Overall, this is a plant-rich canned food with moderate protein content, high fat, and moderate carbohydrate content.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients

Duck, Duck Broth, Duck Liver, Pea Protein, Ground Peas, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Duck Meal, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Guar Gum, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Flaxseed Meal, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

ProteinFatCrude FiberMoistureAsh
9% min7.0% min2.0% max78% maxn/a
Ingredients We LikedIngredients We Didn’t LikeCommon Allergens
Duck, Duck Liver, Salmon OilPea Protein, Ground Peas, CarrageenanNone

Pros

  • A good source of the moisture your cat needs
  • Contains fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Free from artificial ingredients

Cons

  • Contains concentrated plant protein
  • Excessive carbohydrate content for carnivores

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Cat Food Review

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Cat Food

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This product from the Ultra Premium line is a canned food made primarily from chicken and chicken liver. The recipe also includes dried egg product as a nourishing source of protein. The food contains two major carbohydrate sources—brown rice and carrots.

Overall, the food has moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content.

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula Canned Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Brown Rice, Natural Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Carrots, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Guar Gum, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Menhaden Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Cranberries, Carrageenan, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

ProteinFatCrude FiberMoistureAsh
9.0% min6.0% min1.5% max78% maxn/a
Ingredients We LikedIngredients We Didn’t LikeCommon Allergens
Chicken Liver, Menhaden OilBrown Rice, Carrots, CarrageenanChicken

Pros

  • Made with nourishing chicken and chicken liver
  • No artificial ingredients
  • High moisture food
  • Contains fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • Excessive carbohydrate content
  • Made with carrageenan

What do customers think of Natural Balance cat food?

Natural Balance Pet Foods primarily positive reviews on its product listings. Because the brand has a large selection of limited ingredient diets, it’s popular among cats with food allergies and sensitivities.

The following is a selection of positive and negative customer reviews from popular Natural Balance cat food listings.

Positive Reviews

“It’s still a little early to declare victory but… One of my cats developed a auto immune disorder. His paws were inflamed and bleeding and he was headed for the rainbow bridge. I have food allergies myself to I started researching food and saw a review about this LID. Long story short, he’s not out of the woods yet but he has improved greatly. I think he’s going to make a full recovery.” Orion, reviewing Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Green Pea and Duck Formula

“I’ve been feeding my cat Natural Balance since I brought her home from the shelter 8 years ago. She absolutely loves the food and her vet gives her glowing check-ups every time. Glossy coat, bright eyes and healthy teeth. Just a happy, healthy kitty. Who could ask for anything more?”Debb, reviewing Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken and Liver Pate

Negative Reviews

“My cat has ate this for years. Change in formula? The green peas are not green and have the consistency of a macadamia nut, same color, some 1/2” long. Anyway, my cat won’t eat it.”Duck, reviewing Natural Balance LID Limited Ingredient Green Pea and Duck Canned Cat Food

“This food seemed OK. It was not terrible. However, my cat acted as if it had a stomach ache after eating, sitting in the bread-loaf posture. Then he threw up shortly after eating it two times. The food was from different cans. So I would not buy it again.”auspiciousbunny, reviewing Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken and Liver Pate

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How much does Natural Balance cat food cost?

Natural Balance is a mid-range food. It will cost about $0.90 per day to feed your cat one of their Limited Ingredient dry diets and $1.68 per day to feed Natural Balance wet food.

Overall, is Natural Balance a good choice?

With its broad selection of limited-ingredient foods, Natural Balance may be a good choice for some cats who struggle to digest almost everything they’re offered. Their Buy With Confidence® promise provides a sense of security for those concerned with food safety, but no number of lab reports can change the fact that Natural Balance foods are plant-laden and not particularly species-appropriate.

The company tends to use large amounts of plant ingredients, which means that their foods are usually excessively high in carbohydrates and less-than-optimal plant protein.

People who want to give their cat a carnivore-oriented diet might opt for a different brand.

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Where is Natural Balance cat food sold?

Natural Balance is sold in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Korea,  Malaysia, Japan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Use their store finder to locate a retailer near you.

Natural Balance products are also available around the web on sites like Amazon, Chewy, and more.

Click here to shop for Natural Balance cat food on Chewy.