Pure Balance Cat Food Review

Pure Balance promises pet store quality at Walmart prices, but is it a safe, healthy choice? Find out in our unbiased Pure Balance cat food review.

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

We’ve analyzed Pure Balance 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.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 5/10
  • Product Variety – 5/10
  • Price – 7/10
  • Customer Experience – 8/10
  • Recall History – 6/10

Overall Score: 6.2/10

We give Pure Balance cat food a 37 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.

About Pure Balance

Walmart introduced Pure Balance cat and dog food in 2012.

Jody Pinson, the vice president of Walmart’s pet division, told Veterinary Practice News that Pure Balance was developed after Walmart’s customers said they “wanted to be able to feed their dogs a dry food made with pure ingredients without having to make a special trip to the pet store”.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Some Pure Balance foods are manufactured by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, a manufacturing company with facilities in the United States.

Ainsworth’s relationship with Walmart began when they developed Ol’ Roy, another successful Walmart store brand. When Ainsworth later developed Rachael Ray Nutrish, Walmart saw the opportunity to fill the specialty food void on their shelves and asked Ainsworth to develop Pure Balance as a Walmart store brand.

While Ainsworth continues to manufacture some varieties, the company partners with other—unnamed—manufacturers to produce other recipes. It’s unclear where these manufacturers are located.

When asked where the food was made, a customer service representative explained that Pure Balance dog food was primarily made in the United States, but couldn’t share any more details. Like the brand’s manufacturing, Pure Balance’s ingredient sourcing practices are opaque.

Has Pure Balance cat food been recalled?

It doesn’t appear that Pure Balance food has ever been recalled.

What kinds of cat food does Pure Balance offer?

Pure Balance offers a modest selection of wet and dry cat food. Some are made with grains and some aren’t, but all are made without corn, soy, and wheat.

The Pure Balance selection includes the grain-free Wild & Free line and a Limited Ingredient line for cats with food sensitivities and allergies.

Pure Balance Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypePrice per OunceOur Grade
Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat FoodDry$0.12C
Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Dry Cat FoodDry$0.12C+
Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Food for CatsWet$0.26B-

Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food Review

Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food

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Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

This popular recipe is one of Pure Balance’s grain-inclusive foods. It features a combination of fresh chicken and rendered chicken meal as the first two ingredients, followed by lamb meal as an additional source of animal protein. Later on the ingredient list, the food contains pea protein, but animal-sourced protein appears to predominate.

In addition to the brown rice mentioned in the name, the food contains chickpeas, ground barley, grain sorghum, and dried peas. These ingredients give the kibble its shape and structure while increasing its carbohydrate content.

The food’s primary fat source is something Pure Balance vaguely refers to as “animal fat”, which is of indeterminate origins. It’s flavored with “natural flavor”, which is a similarly vague ingredient typically made from hydrolyzed animal tissues. It’s an intensely tasty additive that makes the food more palatable.

The food is enhanced with fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with the standard variety of supplemental vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make the food nutritionally complete.

Overall, this food is low in protein with low fat and high carbohydrate content.

Though you have to give this food credit for including animal protein sources as its first three ingredients and relying on animal-sourced fat, this is a plant-heavy, high-carbohydrate dry food and not an ideal choice for your cat.

The food has 354 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Ground Barley, Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Dried Peas, Animal Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Natural Flavors, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Dried Carrots, Fish Oil (Stabilized With Mixed Tocopherols), Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (A Preservative), Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein32% min
Crude Fat15% min
Fiber4.5% max
Moisture10% max
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Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Ground Barley, Chickpeas, Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Pea Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Dried Carrots

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Contains animal-sourced fat
  • Doesn’t contain animal by-products
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • Very high carbohydrate content
  • No dry food delivers the moisture your cat needs

Pure Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food Review

Pure Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food

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Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

Pure Balance calls this a limited ingredient diet, suggesting that it’s appropriate for cats with allergies and food sensitivities. Let’s take a look at what’s in the bag.

The first ingredient, as the name suggests, is turkey. This is a nourishing source of animal protein and a good choice of poultry for cats who can’t tolerate chicken. Ironically, the second ingredient is chicken meal—one of the most common cat food allergens. Fish meal appears later on the ingredient list. Fish is another common allergen.

Like many grain-free products, this food contains dried ground peas as a kibble binder, along with sweet potato, flaxseed, and dried plain beet pulp as a source of fiber.

Chicken fat is the food’s primary fat source, providing carnivore-appropriate fatty acids. It’s flavored with an additive referred to as “natural flavor”, which is typically made from hydrolyzed animal tissue. Since hydrolysis breaks down proteins, it makes them hypoallergenic and appropriate for cats with allergies.

The ingredient list concludes with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids added to make each meal nutritionally complete.

Overall, this dry food has moderate protein content with moderate fat and high carbohydrate content.

With two out of three of its protein sources being common allergens, this kibble doesn’t live up to the promise of limited ingredients and isn’t the best choice for cats with allergies. Still, most reviewers love this food and some say it was great for their cats’ digestion.

This is a relatively high-calorie food containing 483 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Turkey, Chicken Meal, Dried Ground Peas, Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Sweet Potato, Whole Flax Seed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K activity), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Sulfate, Potassium Iodide

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein32% min
Crude Fat18% min
Fiber3.5% max
Moisture10% max
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Pure Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Pure Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Dried Peas, Pea Protein, Dried Sweet Potato, Ground Flaxseed

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Free of animal by-products
  • Made with animal-sourced fat
  • Made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons

  • High carbohydrate content
  • Contains multiple common food allergens
  • No dry food delivers the moisture your cat needs

Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Food for Cats Review

Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Food for Cats

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Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.

This wet food is one of Pure Balance’s limited ingredient diets and is marketed as a simple solution for cats with food sensitivities and allergies. In spite of that marketing, the food’s ingredient list could be a lot more limited. Let’s take a closer look at what’s in each can.

The ingredient list starts with turkey, which is a nourishing protein source and not one of the leading food allergens for cats. In addition to the sweet potato mentioned in the product’s name, the food contains dried egg product as a second source of protein. It’s an interesting choice considering that eggs are among the most common food allergens affecting cats.

The food gets a flavor boost from an additive called “natural flavor”, which is typically made from hydrolyzed—and hence hypoallergenic—animal tissues. Ground flaxseed is added as a source of fiber.

The turkey, broth, potatoes, flaxseed, and eggs are all bound and stabilized by a trio of carrageenan, guar gum, and cassia gum. While guar and cassia gum have relatively harmless reputations, carrageenan has a history of inflammation and is potentially carcinogenic, making it a less-than-ideal inclusion in your cat’s food.

Overall, this food has moderate protein content with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.

This food is okay, but not excellent. It’s made without artificial additives and uses named meats rather than vaguely-labeled by-products and meals, both of which are good qualities and rare among foods at this price point. That said, there are plenty of other canned foods with more meat, more organs, lower carbohydrate content, and which are made without carrageenan.

There are 100 calories in each 3-ounce can or roughly 33 calories per ounce.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Sweet Potato, Natural Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein8% min
Crude Fat5.5% min
Fiber1.5% max
Moisture78% max
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Ingredients We Liked: Turkey

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sweet Potato, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum

Common Allergens: Eggs

Pros

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Made without animal by-products
  • Contains only named meats
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • High in carbohydrates compared to other wet foods
  • Contains carrageenan

What do customers think of Pure Balance cat food?

Most customers seem to like Pure Balance cat food. Reviewers, forum users, and blog commenters all have more positive than negative things to say about this brand. Most are price-conscious and say they appreciate having a brand that meets both their price and quality standards.

Here’s what a few Pure Balance customers have to say about their experience.

Positive Reviews

“I’ve been on a mission to find a good quality wet food for my cat. I’m shocked that so many name brands have such horrible ingredients. I didn’t expect to find anything at Walmart, but was in the pet section to buy a de-shedding tool, the Shed Monster (which works great BTY). I saw this “minimal ingredient” food, and checked the label. It looked better than a lot of them, so I got two. When I first put it down, my cat didn’t eat it, even when I put a few bit of dry kibble on top. After awhile when she was perched in her spot to ask for food, I brought it up to her. She ate it all! (I always add a bit of water, since she has constipation issues because of her long fur.) I like that it has sweet potato in it, since my cat needs some fiber since I got her off dry food. I’m going to call the number on the package to find out where the ingredients are sourced and made, since it only says “distributed by Walmart”. I don’t want to feed her anything unless it comes from U.S. although there are a couple of foods made in “human grade” facilities in Thailand.”Shandi, reviewing Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Canned Cat Food

This dry cat food helped save my cat who was suffering from antibiotic induced diarrhea. However, the smell, color, size and shape of the pieces is inconsistent. The pieces in the current bag are dark brown, very small and hard to chew. In prior bags the pieces were more golden, a little larger, easier to chew and smelled much better. She is eating the current ones but not with the same gusto. Obviously, she preferred the golden ones. However, I still think this is a very good food and will continue to feed it and would recommend it. I did call the phone # on the bag and, hopefully, the manufacturer will improve the consistency.”Em2Blue, reviewing Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“I have 4 indoor cats. They hate it but since they are going to have to eat it till I can travel to buy Good Life cat food. Walmart usually carries Good Life but this was the only non g mo that they had. I will tell you it smells horrible! That cats won’t touch it. I had to mix Meow Mix with it before they would even consider and my cats are not finicky. When you pay this much for a 7 pound bag of cat food, you want you cats to eat it. I am VERY disappointed in the nasty smelling cat food! When you buy food for your cats, you have to be trusting because you can’t smell it. This is as bad as Rachael Ray that I bought for my dog and had to throw away.” Melody, reviewing Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food

“My rescued cat is toothless, so he prefers small kibbles of his dry food. This food is good overall, but the quality is very inconsistent. Each batch very different from kibble size to smell. If you really want to feed your cat with this product, make sure you buy a lot at a time.”Nases, reviewing Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dry Cat Food

How much does Pure Balance cat food cost?

If your cat weighs 10 lbs and needs about 200 calories a day, you’d spend about $1.56 per day to feed your cat Pure Balance wet food. If you choose one of the brand’s dry recipes, your daily feeding cost will be lower at around $0.24 per day.

In terms of price, Pure Balance is comparable to budget brands like Fancy Feast, Simply Nourish, and Sheba.

Overall, is Pure Balance a good choice?

Pure Balance cat food has some strengths that set it apart from other brands on the Walmart cat food aisle. For the price of Fancy Feast or Purina Cat Chow, you get food that’s made without artificial colors, flavors, or potentially-harmful chemical preservatives.

But while Pure Balance does a great job of excluding certain unwanted ingredients, it’s stuffed with other things it shouldn’t contain—its limited ingredient diets aren’t as limited as they could be, its wet foods contain carrageenan and unnecessary plant ingredients, and its dry foods are high in carbohydrates.

This brand may be worth taking a closer look at next time you’re at Walmart, but you might be better off checking out Crave, Sheba, Purina ONE, and even some Fancy Feast recipes.

Where to Buy Pure Balance Cat Food

You can buy Pure Balance cat food in Walmart stores and on the Walmart website. It’s also available on Amazon.

Click here to shop for Pure Balance cat food on Amazon.