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Could this Merrick brand be the right choice for your cat? Find out in our Whole Earth Farms cat food review.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Whole Earth Farms on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Whole Earth Farms 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.
- Species-Appropriateness – 7/10
- Ingredient Quality – 8/10
- Product Variety – 8/10
- Price – 8/10
- Customer Experience – 9/10
- Recall History – 6/10
Overall Score: 7.7/10
We give Whole Earth Farms cat food a 46 out of 60 rating or a B+ grade.
About Whole Earth Farms
Whole Earth Farms is owned and manufactured by Merrick Pet Care, which has been under Nestle Purina ownership since 2015.
The company is open about what Whole Earth Farms is—it’s food for people who like the idea of natural ingredients and don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.
The brand is marketed as providing “goodness from the earth at a great value”, but there’s not a lot of meat in that statement. We’re going to evaluate Whole Earth Farms on what matters, like its safety history and real experiences from the people who use it.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Merrick Pet Care promises to partner with local growers in the United States, but the company sources from around the world. All of their recipes, including the Whole Earth Farms foods, are made in the company’s kitchens in Hereford, Texas. These kitchens are Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3-certified and certified by the USDA National Organic Program.
Has Whole Earth Farms cat food been recalled?
Though Whole Earth Farms has never been recalled, other Merrick brands have been pulled off of store shelves several times.
In 2010, Merrick treats were recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. The next year, two additional varieties of treats were recalled, again due to salmonella contamination. In 2018, several Merrick beef-based treats were recalled due to potentially elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone.
What kinds of cat food does Whole Earth Farms offer?
Whole Earth Farms offers five dry recipes and fifteen canned products. Whole Earth Farms kibble and canned food are made from what the company calls all-natural ingredients.
It’s a slippery term, but Whole Earth Farms seems to use it to mean that the food is made without artificial colors or artificial preservatives. Whole Earth Farms makes a few more promises about their food—they don’t contain corn, wheat, soy, or by-products.
Whole Earth Farms Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.16||C+|
|Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Healthy Kitten Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.36||B-|
|Whole Earth Farms Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.36||B-|
Salmon meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This Whole Earth Farms recipe is a grain-free dry food featuring salmon meal as its primary ingredient. Other protein sources include turkey meal, salmon, and pea protein.
Though it features meat and meat meals as its primary ingredients, it’s not a low-plant or low-carbohydrate food. The food contains dried potatoes, peas, and organic dried alfalfa meal, all minimally-nutritious ingredients that bump up the carbohydrate content.
Because the food contains several legumes, including concentrated pea protein, it’s high in plant protein and may have abnormally high levels of phytic acid and lectins, which can interfere with nutrient absorption. Cooking and processing appears to reduce these antinutrients but doesn’t eliminate them.
Salmon oil serves as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support skin and coat health while fighting inflammation.
Overall, this food has moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content.
This is your typical grain-free kibble. It forgoes corn, soy, and wheat in favor of legumes and potatoes, which are equally species-inappropriate and bring their own sets of problems. At over 30% carbohydrates, it’s a starchy, high-glycemic food that spikes your cat’s blood sugar and could increase his chances of developing diabetes.
The food has 346 calories per cup.
Salmon Meal, Turkey Meal, Dried Potatoes, Peas, Salmon, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Dried Yeast Culture, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, 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), Taurine, Salmon Oil, Mixed Tocopherols (a Preservative), 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 Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.
|Crude Protein||35% min|
|Crude Fat||12% min|
Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Salmon Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Salmon, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil, Probiotics
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Dried Potatoes, Peas, Pea Protein, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal
Common Allergens: Fish
- Doesn’t contain low-value animal by-products
- Names all protein sources
- Doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Supplemented with probiotics
- High carbohydrate content
- Dry food isn’t ideal for cats
- Contains several sources of plant protein
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This food is marketed for kittens and, according to AAFCO nutrient profiles, is complete and balanced for all life stages. This means it should have the nutritional might to keep cats healthy, regardless of age.
So they can grow into healthy, strong adults, kittens need more protein, calories, calcium, and phosphorus. They need plenty of fat, particularly the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. This fatty acid helps to support vital brain and eye development.
The food is relatively high in protein with chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver taking center stage on the ingredient list. The food contains dried egg product as an additional source of protein. Salmon oil serves as a source of omega-3s, including vital DHA.
The food is primarily made from animal ingredients, but it contains organic dehydrated alfalfa meal. This ingredient adds some nutrient value, but it’s also a source of carbohydrates and not an ideal addition to your kitten’s diet.
The food contains several thickening gums, including guar gum, agar-agar, locust bean gum, and xanthan gum.
Overall, this wet food has high protein content with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.
It has the qualities you want in a kitten food, but at over 13% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis, this food has more carbohydrate than we’d like.
The food has 133 calories per 5.5-ounce can.
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Salmon Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Agar-Agar, Ground Flaxseed, Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Potassium Iodide).
|Crude Protein||9.0% min|
|Crude Fat||4.0% min|
Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Healthy Kitten Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum
Common Allergens: Chicken, Eggs
- Rich in animal-sourced protein
- Contains salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Formulated for kittens
- Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Higher-than-ideal carbohydrate content
- Contains several thickening gums
Duck appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This food contains several protein sources, including duck, chicken, chicken liver, and dried egg product as protein sources.
Like the last canned food on the list, it contains organic dehydrated alfalfa meal. This ingredient increases the food’s carbohydrate content without adding much nutritional value. The food contains salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids help to support skin and coat health while reducing inflammation.
The paté is thickened and stabilized with several gums, including guar gum, agar-agar, locust bean gum, and xanthan gum. Together with ground flaxseed, these gums increase the food’s fiber content and bring it up over 6% on a dry matter basis.
While this amount of fiber may help some cats with constipation or hairball problems, it’s likely excessive for most cats.
Overall, this food has high protein content with low fat content and high carbohydrate content.
At under 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis and plenty of protein and fat from animal sources, this food is a relatively carnivore-appropriate product. It’s on the high-fiber side, so it may be a good option for cats with constipation or frequent hairballs.
The food has 133 calories per 5-ounce can.
Duck, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Salmon Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Agar-Agar, Ground Flaxseed, Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Potassium Iodide).
|Crude Protein||9.0% min|
|Crude Fat||4.0% min|
Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Duck Pate Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown
Ingredients We Liked: Duck, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum,
Common Allergens: Chicken, Eggs
- Primarily made animal-sourced ingredients
- Rich in species-appropriate protein and fat
- Low carbohydrate content
- Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that could harm your cat
- High fiber content may not be right for every cat
What do customers think of Whole Earth Farms cat food?
Whole Earth Farms cat food goes over well with most customers. It’s not a good match for everyone. Some turned their backs on Merrick brands after the Nestle buyout in 2015. Others argue that Whole Earth Farms relies too heavily on plant ingredients. Some have noticed inconsistent quality and a few others say their cats don’t like the way the food tastes.
But most agree that Whole Earth Farms is a decent brand at a decent price.
Let’s see what a few real customers have to say about Whole Earth Farms.
“This is one of my favorite cat foods to add to my rotation. So glad Merrick made a more affordable option with stellar ingredients for my furbabies. My cats didn’t like it *quite* as much as some of the other brands, but they ate the whole bag. I really like that it’s grain free as well. I worked at a pet store for a number of years and this was always one of my go-tos for people who wanted quality ingredients without a hefty price tag.” – Mango, reviewing Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food
“One of my cats has early stages of chronic kidney disease and won’t eat the prescription kidney foods, but both cats will eat this. This product has similar numbers to kidney diets in terms of phosphorus, a little higher with protein but not too high, and much healthier ingredients overall. I add water to the bottom of their bowls (they don’t care for it mixed into the food itself… it probably lessons the smell and flavor a bit), so they are getting extra moisture, as it’s a pretty dense food. The only thing I don’t care for is that it’s harder to clean the cans for recycling. Most other foods I can put water in, hold my had on top, and shake loose the food remnants. With this food I have to actually wipe the inside of the can and the can lids and have to be careful not to cut myself while doing so. This is a lifesaver food after trials of dozens of foods and lots of research on kidney friendly diets. I still try out the Rx KD foods on occasion, to see if I can get him interested again, but the most important thing is that he eats!” – Blackcats2, reviewing Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food
“I received my autoship pack of the duck flavor a few weeks ago. The fist two cans have been very dark in color and the cat won’t touch it. I opened up another can and found what can only be described as a hockey puck. Typically the cans are full to the lid and have enough liquid in them that they’re moist. They are easy to cut up into the chunks for my cat. The hockey puck looking food seemed very dry and lacking the amount that should be in the can. I went through and shook the other remaining cans in the pack and found two more hockey pucks. I’m worried what the rest of the cans will look like, if they’ll have enough gravy, and if they’re even safe for my cat.” – Porkchop, reviewing Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Duck Pate Recipe Canned Cat Food
“It had a slight cardboard smell to it? Didn’t really smell like food to me. My kitten has grown up with a variety of wet foods and loves everything I put in front of her. However this food she turned her nose up to. Out of hunger she would eat half a serving, but leave the rest untouched. Maybe some kitties like it, but my kitten seriously eats everything from pita bread to arugula and all kinds of food, and didn’t like this.” – Anna, reviewing Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Real Healthy Kitten Recipe Canned Cat Food
How much does Whole Earth Farms cat food cost?
Though marketed as an economical choice, it’s definitely in a higher price bracket than most of the foods you’ll buy at the grocery. It’s more expensive than Fancy Feast, Friskies, and most Wellness Complete Health foods.
Instead, Whole Earth Farms is at the bottom edge of the premium price range. Their wet foods cost about $2.16 per day to feed a 10-lb cat and their dry foods would cost about $0.32 per day.
Overall, is Whole Earth Farms a good choice?
Whole Earth Farms is an acceptable choice, but it’s not excellent. Consider it a good alternative to Wellness Complete Health, Crave, or Simply Nourish.
Where to Buy Whole Earth Farms Cat Food
You can buy Whole Earth Farms in pet retail chains like Petco and PetSmart along with select feed stores and independent pet specialty stores. Click here to search for a store near you.
If you’d rather shop online, you’ll find Whole Earth Farms on Chewy, Amazon, PetSmart, Petco, and PetFlow.
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.