Today, we’re going to review the relative new-comer to the cat food industry, American Journey cat food. I reviewed both the wet and dry food flavors and here’s how American Journey stacks up:
- Product Variety – 6/10
- Species Appropriateness – 8/10
- Ingredient Quality – 8/10
- Price – 8.5/10
- Marketing and Message Match – 7/10
- Recall History 8/10
- Overall rating 8.5/10
About American Journey
Launched in 2017, American Journey is Chewy’s in-house brand of cat food. Chewy is a massive pet product retailer that’s been growing steadily since 2011. But since 2017, Chewy has been owned by PetSmart.
American Journey is new to the market but they’ve come into the industry with a few guiding principles to try and set them apart. Here’s what you can expect from any American Journey cat food:
- Deboned meat as the first ingredient
- No grains
- No corn
- No wheat
- No soy
These kinds of rules are becoming more and more popular in the pet food industry and for good reason. Cat owners what high-quality cat foods!
Overall, Chewy has created a great product that can compete with the best premium cat foods.
Product Variety – 6/10
American Journey feature four main flavors for its dry cat food line: salmon, duck, chicken, and turkey. The only reason they don’t score higher here is the dependence on chicken for most of their recipes.
Why does this matter?
If you’ve got a picky eater or a cat with a sensitive stomach, chicken may be a no-go. With chicken getting mixed into most ingredient lists it’s pretty hard to avoid. That being said, the salmon recipe from American Journey is actually my number one choice for dry cat food without chicken which is why I didn’t deduct too many points here.
Overall, still a solid six for product variety and there’s enough here to please most cats.
Species Appropriateness – 8/10
American Journey does a great job of keeping their wet and dry cat foods species-appropriate. Your cat is what’s called an obligate carnivore which means they must have meat in order to produce all their required nutrients.
With that in mind, the more animal-based proteins we see on the ingredient list the more species-appropriate that particular cat food is. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order prevalence so we really want to look closely at the first few ingredients to see what makes up the most of your cat food.
So how does American Journey cat food stack up?
The first five ingredients for the dry salmon flavor are deboned salmon, salmon meal, tapioca starch, menhaden fish meal, dried egg product.
Four out of the first five ingredients are animal protein-based which is great!
Especially if you compare it to a product like Meow Mix which has the follow ingredients as it’s top five: Whole Ground Corn, Soybean Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Beef Tallow
Not great. Especially when you consider that by-product means things like bones, kidneys, lungs, etc.
So when it comes to species appropriateness, American Journey ranks pretty high with an 8 out of 10. While it naturally blows away the cheapest cat food on the market, we’ve actually ranked American Journey higher in this category than many other premium cat foods.
Ingredient Quality – 8/10
American Journey continues to deliver with a great list of ingredients. Like a few other premium foods on the market, they’ve committed to never using soy, corn, wheat, or anything besides real animal protein as the first ingredient.
Those rules alone will give them a big boost in the quality ingredient rankings!
But I’m going to dig a little deeper and review the first 15 ingredients in American Journey’s Turkey & Chicken recipe. While this might sound like a lot to look at, it’s not only useful for understanding what’s in American Journey’s product but also understanding cat food ingredients overall.
The AAFCO says that when a pet food company lists any kind of poultry on the label it’s required to primarily be the muscle tissue of that specific animal. That means fat, gristle, and other tissues that “normally accompany the muscle” are part of this too.
They go on to say that it’s actually quite similar to what you’d expect to see in the grocery store but with more uncommon or appealing cuts (like the heart) included.
This is about as good as you can get from a commercial pet food product.
Turning again to AAFCO explanations we find that poultry meal is the “dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.”
In other words, it’s duck with almost all the water and fat removed and then ground up into a concentrated meal.
While a step down from the deboned meat, it’s a HUGE step above by-products or carbohydrates. And it’s good to see another animal-based protein on the list.
3- Chicken Meal
Chicken meal has the same definition as above but we’re looking at chicken this time. It’s good to see that we’re at ingredient number 3 still seeing animal-based proteins.
4- Tapioca Starch
We’ve run into our first carbohydrate. Remember, grain-free doesn’t mean carbohydrate-free and tapioca starch is a common addition to cat food. While it’s not great in terms of species appropriateness, every ingredient leading up to this one is an animal-based protein so I’m pretty happy with our list so far.
5- Dried Egg Product
Dried egg product is a relatively low cost, non-perishable but still high-quality protein source for cats. While most American Journey cat foods include this ingredient it’s still pretty uncommon across other cat foods.
As mentioned earlier, this means that animal proteins make up 4 of the top 5 ingredients which is excellent.
6- Pea Protein
Pea protein is the concentrated protein from peas. It doesn’t have the same amino acid profile of an animal-based protein but it’s still not a terrible addition.
We’re at our 7th ingredient but only our second carbohydrate which is again very solid. While peas are a carbohydrate source they’re still much better than something like corn or wheat.
It’s surprising (but good) to see another high-quality protein show up on this list! I really like seeing another higher quality protein source showing up in the top 10 ingredients.
9- Natural Flavor
Natural flavor is exactly what it sounds like: it’s non-artificial flavors added to your cat’s food in order to improve the taste. This is a low impact ingredient (nutritionally at least) that improves the taste of your cat’s food.
10- Menhaden Fish Meal
Just like the other meals on this list, this is the meal from the Menhaden fish after it’s been removed from water and fat. Again, it’s good to see another animal-based protein on this list.
11- Chicken Fat
This is exactly what it sounds like and added to your pet’s food to add extra bulk and calories. While fat can mean a lot of things in terms of it’s source, it’s again good to see another animal-based product on the list.
12 – Flaxseed
Flaxseed is a source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is cheaper than something like fish oil but is still a quality ingredient.
13- Pea Fiber
Another form of pea. Again, nothing too great but not nothing too bad either.
14- Choline Chloride
This naturally occurring compound is added to your cat’s food as a nutritional supplement.
15- Potassium Chloride
This added as an additional source of potassium for your cat.
We can that 7 out of the 15 ingredients are sourced from animals. Even better, we have two types of deboned poultry on the list which is unusual for any cat food.
The only possible improvement would be to see a few fewer carbohydrates on the list but overall American Journey cat food absolutely deserves it’s 8/10 rating here.
The price of American Journey cat food is honestly surprising considering the quality of ingredients we just reviewed.
It gets a well deserved 8.5 out of 10 here and you can check today’s price on Chewy.
Marketing and Message Match 7/10
How does the messaging and marketing of American Journey match the reality of this product?
The connection between marketing and the actual product is excellent. American Journey prides itself on using deboned animal protein as the first ingredient and they do exactly that.
Recall History 8/10
American Journey cat food has never been recalled. Which is great!
So why didn’t I give them a perfect 10?
Because American Journey has only been in the market since 2017. Compare that to a product like Blue Buffalo which started in 2002 and you can see that it’s a little unfair to compare the two. There’s so much more history behind older cat food which also means more time for mistakes to happen.
That being said, it’s still great that American Journey has a perfect record when it comes to recalls which is why I’m giving them a well deserved 8.
Dry Vs Wet
The ingredients on the wet and dry varieties of American Journey are similar but it’s worth noting that the wet food includes chicken or turkey liver. The important part to note is that the ingredient is specifically, “Chicken Liver” or “Turkey Liver” so at least it’s clear what we’re getting.
On the other hand, some may consider these to be too far into the category of by-products. While it is technically included in the AAFCO’s definition of poultry by-product, I do feel that the liver almost needs its own category. Especially when you consider that the poultry by-product definition also includes heads and feet. In terms of ingredient quality and nutritional value, chicken liver is much better than chicken feet.
Other than that, wet food includes broth (chicken, turkey, or both) which is to be expected in a wet food variety.
Reviews Of American Journey Cat Food
After reading just about every review I could find across various cat forums, blogs, and vendor websites I put together a snapshot of what I feel are the most relevant criticisms of American Journey cat food.
I’ll point out that there are fewer reviews available because American Journey is exclusive to Chewy. These reviews come from both wet and dry food varieties.
Let’s start with the negative feedback first.
What Customers Don’t Like
Overall, the most common negative feedback from cat owners is that their cats simply didn’t like the food. You’ll find these kinds of reviews on every brand of cat food. Cats have likes and dislikes and just because a cat doesn’t like a particular type of food doesn’t make the food bad.
I’d also point out that if you’re switching your cat’s food suddenly there’s a chance they just won’t go for it. Switching cat food should be done carefully and strategically.
It also appears that wet food varieties have more reports of cats not liking the food than the dry versions.
What Customers Love
On the other side of things, many cat owners are reporting they their cats are loving the food! Here’s one of them (link)
“My cat’s have been strictly on another Grain Free food for the last 4 years, but they seemed to stop enjoy eating it.
American Journey had great reviews so we’d figure we’d switch things up. My cat’s have snubbed their nose at their old food dishes and have cleaned their American Journey dishes clean (they never did that with the other food).
As of right now, we’ll be sticking with American Journey since the cats seem to enjoy it.”
Another reviewer summarized everything great about American Journey in just a few sentences:
“Just read the ingredients. Compare to blue or any other top line cat food.Cats are carnivores the first three ingredients are meat that says it all. The cats love it.Its a Chewy brand. WHY PAY MORE”
As with any cat food (or any food at all for that matter), there’s going to be cats that like it and cats that don’t. Overall, I’d classify the reviews as positive.
My Overall Rating 8.5/10
I’m giving American Journey cat food one of my highest ratings with a solid 8.5 out of 10. This Chewy only brand has zero recalls over its a short history and strikes an excellent balance between price and value.
I’d highly recommend American Journey Cat Food to the majority of cat owners. You can get the latest price from Chewy by clicking here.