We’ve taken a close look at Nutro 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 Nutro on What Matters
We’ve rated Nutro on six key criteria for quality. Here’s how it rates in each of these six crucial areas.
Overall Score: 5.5/10
- Species-Appropriateness – 4/10
- Ingredient Quality – 5/10
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Price – 8/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 3/10
In total, we give Nutro cat food a 33 out of 60 rating or a D grade.
Read on to learn more about Nutro and how we reached this conclusion.
The Nutro Company started in 1926, when an American named John Saleem purchased a British dog food company and named it Nutro Products.
The company was originally headquartered in Industry, California, where it sold pet food locally until the company was sold in 1976 and expanded its market.
Nine years later, the popular Nutro MAX product line was launched and fueled the company’s expansion. In 2007, Nutro became a subsidiary of Mars, Inc, a massive conglomerate behind brands including Whiskas, Royal Canin, Greenies, Sheba, and Iams.
Nutro is headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, and its products are distributed around the world.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Nutro sources their own ingredients and makes pet food in their own plants.
The company operates facilities in Victorville, California, Lebanon, Tennessee, and North Sioux City, South Dakota. The company’s Kansas City, Missouri facility manufactures the Greenies line of treats.
In 2012, Nutro became the first pet food company to receive the pet food manufacturing facility certification created by the American Feed Industry Association.
In order to receive this certification, the company’s manufacturing facilities were inspected and audited in several areas, including ingredient selection, equipment and grounds cleanliness, and product labeling.
Nutro has been recalled multiple times since its inception in 1926. The following is a brief history of the company’s recalls over the years.
Nutro dog treats were recalled due to potential mold contamination. The recall was limited to apple chewy treats sold at PetSmart.
In May of 2009, several varieties of Nutro cat food were recalled due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium. Lisa Wade McCormick of ConsumerAffairs.com said in the two years prior to the recall, over 800 cat and dog guardians reported that their pets had fallen ill after eating Nutro foods.
While it’s unclear whether or not the reports were related to zinc and potassium imbalances, the sick pets displayed the same symptoms described in the company’s 2009 recall announcement and often got better after switching to a new food.
After they learned that one of their US-based suppliers was giving them imbalanced vitamin premixes, Nutro said that they’d received no customer complaints. The recall, they said, was “issued out of an abundance of caution”.
Later that year, Mars announced a large recall of various Nutro dry dog and cat foods. The recall took place after small pieces of melted plastic were found in the production line. It was limited to products sold at PetSmart and Petco stores.
Nutro foods were involved in the nationwide melamine recalls of 2007. At the time, several Nutro varieties were manufactured by Menu Foods, who imported melamine-contaminated wheat gluten from China.
What kinds of cat food does Nutro offer?
Nutro offers a large selection of dry and wet cat foods. These foods are broken down into two lines—Nutro MAX and Nutro Original.
There are two types of food in the Nutro MAX line. The line includes Nutro MAX Indoor and Nutro MAX Indoor Weight Control.
This line includes formulas for various special needs. Nutro Original includes foods for indoor cats, hairball control, high protein, organ meats, weight management, food sensitivity, and finicky eating. Nutro Original foods are also formulated for different life stages, including kittens, adults, and senior cats.
Nutro always uses meat as the first ingredient in their recipes and never uses animal by-products, artificial flavors, or chemical preservatives.
Nutro Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Nutro Max Adult Chicken Supreme Entree in Sauce||Wet||$0.26||B|
|Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor||Dry||$0.09||C|
|Wholesome Essentials Indoor Adult Farm-Raised Chicken & Brown Rice||Dry||$0.14||D|
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this canned food.
This popular formula is made with chunks of chicken, chicken liver, and beef liver set in a thick sauce. The sauce is thickened with potato starch, guar gum, and xanthan gum, all of which contribute to the food’s approximate 16.6% carbohydrate content on a dry matter basis.
In addition to these plant-based thickeners, the food contains wheat gluten, which is a less-than-ideal source of protein. One ingredient that you don’t see in most cat foods is pork plasma. Blood plasma is extremely nutrient-rich and a natural part of the feline diet.
Overall, the food’s calorie content is 72 calories per can. It’s relatively high in protein with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrates.
Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Beef Liver, Potato Starch, Wheat Gluten, Pork Plasma, Natural Flavors, Salt, Guar Gum, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Taurine, Xanthan Gum, Beta Carotene, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Proteinate, Manganous Sulfate, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid, Biotin.
|Crude Fiber||1.0% max|
Nutro Max Adult Chicken Supreme Entree in Sauce Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Beef Liver, Pork Plasma
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potato Starch, Wheat Gluten
Common Allergens: Chicken, Beef
- Contains several nutrient-rich animal ingredients
- High in protein
- Free of artificial ingredients
- Cats enjoy the taste of this food
- Contains wheat gluten as a source of plant protein
- Relatively high in carbohydrates compared to other canned foods
This dry cat food appears to feature chicken meal as the primary protein source.
Compared to “chicken”, chicken meal is a concentrated source of animal protein. It’s also more heavily processed, since it’s dehydrated and pulverized before it goes into your cat’s food.
Chicken meal is followed by corn gluten meal, wheat flour, and chicken fat. The ingredient list also contains other carbohydrate-dense plant ingredients like ground whole wheat and brewer’s rice.
Overall, this is a plant-heavy dry cat food containing generous amounts of high-carbohydrate ingredients. It has moderate protein, moderate fat, and a high percentage of carbohydrate matter. It contains 457 calories per cup.
Chicken Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Flour, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Wheat, Natural Flavors, Yeast Culture, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Salt, L-Lysine, Dehydrated Chicken, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Dl-Methionine, Dried Cranberry, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Magnesium Stearate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Dried Blueberry, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract, Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
|Crude Protein||32.0% min|
|Crude Fat||17.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||3.0% max|
Nutro Max Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Fat, Menhaden Fish Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Flour, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Wheat
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Contains chicken meal as a concentrated source of animal protein
- Uses species-appropriate fat sources
- Contains menhaden fish oil as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Contains concentrated plant protein
- Excessive carbohydrate content for carnivores
- Dry food can never provide adequate hydration
Chicken and chicken meal appear to be the primary protein sources in this recipe.
This food’s ingredient list starts with both chicken and chicken meal as sources of species-appropriate animal protein. Brewers rice, pea protein, whole brown rice, alfalfa meal, and potato protein are also high on the ingredient list. These ingredients contribute to the food’s high carbohydrate content and increase the concentration of plant protein.
Overall, this is a plant-heavy food with moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content. Like most foods marketed for indoor cats, this food is high in fiber and relatively low in calories with 372 calories per cup.
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Brown Rice, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Soybean Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Oat Fiber, Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
|Crude Protein||33% min|
|Crude Fat||14% min|
|Crude Fiber||7% min|
Wholesome Essentials Indoor Adult Farm-Raised Chicken & Brown Rice Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Fat
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brewers Rice, Pea Protein, Whole Brown Rice, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potato Protein
Common Allergens: Chicken
What We Liked
- Contains chicken and chicken meal as species-appropriate protein sources
- Chicken fat is a species-appropriate fat source
- Free of artificial ingredients
What We Didn’t Like
- Excessive carbohydrate content
- High in plant protein
What do customers think of Nutro cat food?
Many people love Nutro. Over more than 40 years in the industry, Nutro has developed a loyal customer base. Their product listings consistently receive four-and-five-star reviews from both new and old customers.
However, not everyone is happy about Nutro. Reviewers on Consumer Affairs frequently state that the company dismissed or ignored their questions. Some say the food made their pets sick, though this is more common among Nutro dog foods than the brand’s food for cats.
To get an idea of what customers are saying about Nutro, here are a few reviews selected from several popular recipes listed on Amazon and Chewy.
“I already knew this was going to be great cat chow b/c rescue cat’s former “mom” provided three bags for future use 🙂 An added bonus is that the product is not too crunchy which is good for this cat with two bad teeth that can’t be removed due to heart murmur (anesthesia might kill him)..” – chippie, reviewing Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Farm-Raised Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food
“I highly recommend this food for male cats in particular as they are prone to stones and getting them treated medically is extremely expensive if they survive at all. I have been feeding Nutro to my many male cats for decades and never had one issue with stones. Not the case with friends cats who fed them other foods. Why mess with perfection I say.” – Jazz, reviewing Nutro Max Adult Roasted Chicken Dry Cat Food
“Cake, the cat, used to love this brand! It had a ton of gravy and meat chunks. Now, the gravy is almost non existent *(the food is still moist but there is not a lot of gravy in the can). Chewy said the formula didnt change so maybe the manufacturer is just doing less gravy? Who knows.” –Tinacolada, reviewing Nutro Max Adult Chicken Supreme Entree
“Cats seem to love. Only complaint is they seem to have twice as much waste in litter since switching to this brand. Wondering if they are retaining enough nutrients before its evacuated???? Not as much waste when using Iams…..” – Tllr, reviewing Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice
How much does Nutro cat food cost?
Nutro is a relatively low-cost cat food brand. Like most cat food brands, Nutro’s dry foods are cheaper than their wet products. You might pay $1.56 per day for one of their wet foods and as little as $0.45 per day for one of Nutro’s grain-inclusive dry diets.
Overall, is Nutro a good choice?
Nutro is a well-regarded company, but it’s not the best in the industry. On the positive side, some Nutro canned foods stand out as exceptionally species-appropriate, meat-rich foods that meet the nutritional needs of obligate carnivores. Nutro’s biggest flaws are customer service and safety. The company has a shaky customer support reputation and a history of recalls that bring its integrity into question.
Where is Nutro cat food sold?
Nutro is sold in pet specialty retailers, big box stores, and more. It’s available in the United States and Canada with distributors in Australia, South Korea, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Taiwan, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, and Portugal.
You can buy it online on Amazon, Chewy, Pet360, Petco, Petflow, PetSmart, PetSupermarket, and Wag.com.
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.