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We’ve taken a close look at Royal Canin 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.
Overall, we give Royal Canin a C grade. It receives high marks for product variety and some of its veterinary diets have a reputation for treating specific health conditions, but for regular feeding, you could find much more carnivore-appropriate foods at a lower price.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Royal Canin on What Matters
We’ve rated the brand on six key criteria for quality.
- Species-Appropriateness – 4/10
- Ingredient Quality – 4/10
- Product Variety – 8/10
- Price – 6/10
- Customer Experience – 8/10
- Recall History – 3/10
Overall Score: 5.5/10
In total, we give Royal Canin cat food a 33 out of 60 rating or a C grade.
About Royal Canin
In the 1960’s, veterinary surgeon Jean Cathary was operating a practice in Aimargues, a village in the Gard region of southern France. Troubled by the scourge of skin and coat conditions in local pets, Jean started experimenting with homemade foods as a nutritional solution. After trying out several recipes and baking them in an oven in his garage, Jean found that a cereal-based recipe consistently helped to alleviate the skin and coat issues plaguing the village animals.
It was such a success that Jean trademarked the food “Royal Canin” and shuttered his veterinary practice. It was time to go into the pet food business. Royal Canin imported an extruder from the United States and became one of Europe’s pioneering companies. They were the first manufacturer of dry pet food in France and the first European company to use an extruder.
Following its sale to the Guyomarc’h Group in 1972, Royal Canin blasted through Europe, with subsidiaries popping up in Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and Denmark. After almost three decades of expansion, a bank buyout, and time on the Paris stock exchange, the company was sold to Mars, Incorporated in July of 2001.
Royal Canin is now a global company with distribution and production facilities all over the world. Its worldwide headquarters are still in Aimargues, France.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Royal Canin sources ingredients from around the world and doesn’t release information about countries of origin or specific suppliers. Their products are manufactured in company-owned manufacturing facilities dotting the globe. Royal Canin factory locations include the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina, Poland, and the UK.
All of these manufacturing facilities are owned by Mars, Incorporated.
Royal Canin has been recalled three times.
The most recent recall took place in 2007, when the company announced a voluntary recall of eight Sensible Choice dry dog foods and seven Kasco dry dog and cat food products. That year, Royal Canin learned that their foods contained trace amounts of a melamine derivative from tainted rice protein concentrate. Earlier that year, they recalled several other products due to melamine contamination, including Veterinary Diet feline hypoallergenic.
In 2006, the company issued a recall of several cat and dog food products due to excess levels of vitamin D3.
What kinds of cat food does Royal Canin offer?
Royal Canin currently sells over 100 varieties of cat food. These are formulated, or at least marketed, for specific life stages, body sizes, lifestyles, health conditions, and breeds. They’re available in wet and dry types.
Royal Canin Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Review
All nutritional information in this table and hereafter is 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. Royal Canin is the ultimate authority on their products, so please contact the company for more nutritional information.
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Moderate Calorie||Dry||$0.24||B-|
|Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response||Dry||$0.48||C|
|Feline Health Nutrition Adult Instinctive Thin Slices||Wet||$0.47||B-|
One of Royal Canin’s most popular formulas, the SO Moderate calorie recipe targets two common feline health issues—weight management and urinary tract health. Ironically, it’s a dry food, so it doesn’t contribute the moisture your cat needs to maintain good urinary tract health.
Unlike some foods that contain acidifiers to prevent struvite crystals but fail to address calcium oxalate crystals, this food was developed to increase urine output and reduce both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals. Note that a high-moisture diet would also increase urine output without flooding your cat’s body with carbohydrates.
While it doesn’t tick the boxes you’d usually look for in a cat food, this type of veterinary diet is sometimes the only solution for cats with recurrent urinary tract disease.
The food is available by prescription only, so you’ll need your veterinarian’s approval before purchasing it.
Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn, Powdered Cellulose, Wheat Gluten, Natural Flavors, Chicken Fat, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bisulfate, Vegetable Oil, Dl-Methionine, Egg Product, Fructooligosaccharides, Choline Chloride, Monosodium Phosphate, Taurine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), Biotin, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], L-Carnitine, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Rosemary Extract, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid.
- Protein: 32% min
- Fat: 9% min
- Crude Fiber: 9.30% max
- Moisture: 8% max
- Ash: n/a
- Calories: 275 calories per cup
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO Moderate Calorie Nutritional Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Fish Oil, Chicken Fat, Dl – Methionine
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn, Wheat Gluten
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Cats like the way this food tastes
- May be able to help some cats with urinary tract disease
- Contains concentrated plant protein
- High in carbohydrates
- Dry food can never provide adequate hydration
As a high-fiber diet, this GI food is geared towards cats with constipation.
According to customer reviews, it works. Many customers say the food helped to eliminate their cat’s constipation, encouraging better overall digestive health. One reviewer on Chewy even said their “cat poops mountains now”.
All Royal Canin gastrointestinal diets are supposed to be particularly palatable, which theoretically encourages unwell cats to eat.
Chicken By-Product Meal, Chicken Fat, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors, Egg Product, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Grain Distillers Dried Yeast, Calcium Sulfate, Sodium Bisulfate, Dl-Methionine, Psyllium Seed Husk, Salt, Fructooligosaccharides, Monosodium Phosphate, Vegetable Oil, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Taurine, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Magnesium Oxide, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], Rosemary Extract, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid.
- Protein: 29% min
- Fat: 13% min
- Crude Fiber: 4.7% max
- Moisture: 8% max
- Ash: n/a
- Calories: 361 calories per cup
Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Fat, Fish Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Cats seem to enjoy the flavor of this food
- Can help cats with constipation
- Gets very positive customer reviews
- Very plant-heavy
While it’s not universally one of the most popular Royal Canin foods, I’ve selected this product as an example of one of the company’s non-prescription diets.
This canned recipe is made for generally healthy adult cats and, according to Royal Canin, was created with the “optimal balance between proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to support long-term palatability and work as the perfect nutritional complement to kibble”.
On a dry matter basis, the food is approximately 61% protein, 11.9% fat, and 27.1% carbohydrate. It’s a high-protein, high-carbohydrate, and relatively low-fat product.
Water Sufficient For Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Salmon, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Gelatin, Pork Plasma, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors, Modified Corn Starch, Calcium Sulfate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Carrageenan, Taurine, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride.
- Protein: 10.5% min
- Fat: 1.9% min
- Crude Fiber: 1.8% max
- Moisture: 81.5% max
- Ash: 1.40%
- Calories: 22 calories per ounce
Royal Canin Adult Instinctive Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Liver, Pork Liver, Pork Plasma
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Modified Corn Starch, Carrageenan
Common Allergens: Chicken
- High moisture content promotes hydration
- Cats love the taste of the food
- Contains nourishing meat ingredients
- Relatively high in protein
- Contains wheat gluten as a high-protein plant additive
- High in carbohydrates
What do customers think of Royal Canin cat food?
Royal Canin is one of the world’s most popular and most well-respected pet food brands. Along with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Royal Canin is the food most often recommended by veterinarians. Some say that Royal Canin veterinary diets save lives.
Generally, customers like Royal Canin and their cats like it, too. Royal Canin doesn’t get a lot of negative reviews.
To get an idea of what real customers are saying about Royal Canin, here are a few reviews selected from several popular recipes listed on Amazon and Chewy.
“My vet prescribed this food for my Lucas after he was diagnosed with stones in his urinary track and was very sick. He has been eating this food since and has his issue has been under control. Food is expensive but worth it.” – Fmc008, reviewing Royal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calorie
“…The switch to this food was nothing short of amazing. Sure, my geriatric cat did not suddenly turn into a kitten, but she’s no longer needing eye drops for the glaucoma, supplements for the arthritis, and her urine output is much reduced (better kidney function).We also have a 2 year old cat that also eats the same food. He LOVES it, too. A win all around.” – L.A.H, reviewing Royal Canin Feline Nutrition Indoor Cat Food
“I am absolutely shocked that this food is supposedly manufactured by a veterinarian. I would never take my cats to the person that designed this dry food. I bought the food since my cat is having urinary tract problems only to see that the food only has 6% crude protein and that the rest is pure filler and not even grain free filler but filled with Corn, Corn Meal and rice. So basically this food will take the urinary crystals out of the cats pee but will provide the cat nutrition to the equivalent of a bag of Doritos. Cats CAN NOT DIGEST CORN; a cat eating corn is like a human being eating cardboard so why would a veterinary health formula be made of such garbage. Going to get my money back.” – Alexandra Lebron, reviewing Royal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calorie
“Gave it two stars because my vet confirmed this was a great brand for cats and my guy loved it but it seemed to give him indigestion or gas. He threw up way more than I was comfortable with on this. I took him to the vet in a panic and had x-rays and bloodwork done only to find out he was perfectly healthy. As soon as I changed his food the problems went away.” – Amazon Customer, reviewing Royal Canin Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food
How much does Royal Canin cat food cost?
Royal Canin is expensive. Their foods will likely cost around $2.50 or more every day.
Why is Royal Canin cat food so expensive?
Many Royal Canin foods are considerably higher-priced than other products with similar ingredient lists.
After decades as one of the two brands that is recommended most often by veterinarians, Royal Canin has the reputation to justify the price. It’s one of the few brands that offers condition-specific products, which makes Royal Canin easy to recommend to frustrated patients and has earned it a place in veterinarian offices around the world. This lends the brand status and respect that goes beyond the veterinary line.
Overall, is Royal Canin a good choice?
Some people think that humans don’t fully understand how whole foods nourish the body. It’s impossible to break down food into macronutrients and micronutrients and assume that a synthetic reproduction and reassembly of those components will have the same benefits as the natural composition of a freshly-killed rabbit.
Another school of thought believes that foods are no more than the sum of the parts that humans understand. They are bundles of amino acids, fats, starches, minerals, trace metals. They can be broken down and recreated under controlled conditions. According to this thought system, an ingredient list isn’t where you get the important information about a food. The nutrient analysis is what matters.
Royal Canin appeals to those in the second category, saying that “we need to focus on the nutrients our pets need for optimal health, not on the ingredients.”
So let’s ignore the fact that Royal Canin foods contain bogeyman ingredients like corn gluten meal, wheat gluten, and cornmeal. Let’s focus on the nutrients instead. Royal Canin foods still aren’t ideal nutrition for most cats, who are metabolically adapted for higher metabolism of proteins and lower utilization of starches.
When other foods don’t provide the results you need, Royal Canin foods may be able to help your cat feel better. For general nutrition, however, Royal Canin cat food is overpriced and under-nourishing.
Royal Canin may be able to help sick cats, but it floods their bodies with carbohydrate-heavy plants, low-value proteins, and increases their chances of developing the chronic problems that necessitate Royal Canin’s big-ticket prescription diets. Too much plant protein may contribute to kidney disease. Dry diets may increase a cat’s chance of developing lower urinary tract disease.
In a Royal Canin world, developing these illnesses means that it’s time to switch to another specially-formulated prescription diet. In reality, a simple meat-based, hydrating diet might have prevented the problems in the first place.
Where is Royal Canin cat food sold?
Royal Canin cat food is widely distributed in pet specialty retailers and veterinary hospitals around the world. Use Royal Canin’s store finder to find a retail location near you. You can also purchase it online through retailers like 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.