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Today, I’m going to review the limited ingredient diet from Blue Buffalo Basics. Limited ingredient diets (sometimes shortened to LID) are steadily gaining in popularity with more and more brands releasing their own blends and flavors.
I reviewed both the wet and dry food options and here’s how they stack up overall:
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Species Appropriateness – 6/10
- Ingredient Quality – 7/10
- Price – 7/10
- Marketing and Message Match – 6/10
- Recall History 6/10
- Overall Rating 7/10
Let’s get into the details!
About Blue Buffalo
Blue Buffalo was founded in 2002 and sold to General Mills in April of 2018. The name Blue Buffalo was inspired by the founder’s dog, an Airedale terrier named Blue.
Blue Buffalo is all about providing healthy ingredients and isn’t trying to position itself as the cheapest cat food in the market. They stick to some key ingredient commitments which they explain on their about page:
Since we started in 2003, we’ve always used high-quality natural ingredients with real meat first. Never any corn, wheat or soy. And no poultry by-product meals. It’s been that way since day one for every product we’ve ever created. And it always will be.
Blue Buffalo is one of my favorite cat foods and while no cat food is perfect I think it’s a great balance of price and quality.
Does My Cat Need A Limited Ingredient Diet?
A limited ingredient diet can help with mild or more severe allergies. Before diagnosing your cat with allergies you should consult your veterinarian.
But just like humans have some mild sensitives to some foods, cats can also find that some ingredients in cat food lead to smellier poops, an upset stomach, or increased vomiting. Decreasing the number of ingredients (as in a LID product) can help narrow down what’s causing some of the issues and in some cases prevent them.
But your cat doesn’t have to have any issues to enjoy a limited ingredient diet. Some cats just might enjoy the alternative proteins and this food can make a nice treat or your cat’s main meal.
Product Variety – 7/10
Most limited ingredient diets are designed to minimize the chance of allergies in your cat. That means they usually have a pretty short list of flavors. Blue Buffalo does a pretty good job of still getting some variety without using more common protein sources like chicken.
Here are the flavors that Blue Buffalo offers in their limited ingredient line:
- Duck and Potato
- Fish and Potato
- Turkey and Potato
If you’re specifically looking for cat food without chicken, Blue Buffalo has you covered. But if you’re also trying to avoid any kind of poultry you’re left with just the fish-based recipe.
Overall, there are enough flavors to satisfy most cats but it’s nothing too special. That’s why I’m giving them a 7/10 in this category.
Species Appropriateness 6/10
The first thing to look at with any cat food is whether or not it’s species-appropriate. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need to eat meat in order to get all the nutrition they need. That means the first rule of species appropriateness is that an animal-based protein should be the first ingredient. Ideally, the first several ingredients.
Blue Buffalo’s Limited Ingredient cat food does a good job of staying species-appropriate and with animal protein as the first ingredient for all three flavors.
Animal proteins are more expensive and so every cat food manufacturer has to find a balance between quality animal protein price.
Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient cat food (both wet and dry) features animal products as the first two ingredients. For some context let’s look a the first three ingredients for Purina Cat Chow (dry): Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flour.
Now let’s look at the first three ingredients for Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient (dry, duck flavor): Deboned Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein,
Not only does Blue Buffalo skip out the by-products completely, but they also never feature corn.
So when it comes to species appropriateness this product is definitely above average or at least your average store-bought cat food. That’s why I’m giving them 6 for species appropriateness. Overall, I’d like to see fewer carbohydrates in the ingredient list before they could score higher.
Ingredient Quality – 7/10
Overall, the ingredient quality is solid. Remember, has a standard rule that says they won’t use corn, wheat, soy or poultry by-products. That already puts them way ahead of your average cat food.
To dig a little deeper, we’re going to review the first 10 ingredients in the duck flavored Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient dry cat food. Not only do we want to review the ingredients for quality but the goal is also for you to understand what it is and why it’s there. That way you can come to your own conclusions.
Remember, that ingredients on food labels (both human and pet) are listed in the order of prevalence. So ingredients that are higher up on the list make up a bigger portion of the food.
Let’s take a look:
1 – Deboned Duck
According to the AAFCO, when a pet food company defines a specific type of poultry it’s required to be: “primarily the muscle tissue of the animal, but may include the fat, gristle and other tissues normally accompanying the muscle, similar to what you might see in a portion of raw meat sold for human consumption.”
They go on to say that it may also include the less appealing cuts of meat like the heart muscle.
So far so good and this is about the best you can get in commercial cat food.
2 – Duck Meal
Again turning to the AAFCO for definitions, 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.”
Essentially, it’s duck but in a rendered form which means most of the water and fat have been removed leaving behind a concentrated protein.
We’re still steering clear from by-products like heads and feathers so I consider this another good ingredient.
3- Pea Protein
Peas are high in protein compared to other vegetable ingredients and while would love to see more animal-based ingredients here this isn’t a bad addition. Pea protein is the concreted proteins of peas.
4- Tapioca Starch
Even though Blue Buffalo’s Limited Ingredient cat food is grain-free doesn’t mean it’s carbohydrate-free tapioca starch is a common addition to any grain-free diet. It isn’t a great ingredient but we made it to number 5 before we got to our first carbohydrate which is great.
Our second carbohydrate on the list but it’s way better than a typical grain or corn product.
6- Canola Oil
On the label, this ingredient is listed as Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids) which is clearly trying to explain why this ingredient is on the list.
Canola oil does contain both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids and there’s a lot of debate out there as to the safety of this oil. And it finds its way into a lot of pet food since it’s low cost while still containing some healthy fatty acids.
7- Pea Fiber
Another form of pea, refer to previous pea entries.
“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional”
When it comes to your cat’s food, it’s typically meat flavored and simply designed to make your cat’s food smell and taste good.
Again, this is a common ingredient in grain-free cat food formulas. While your cat doesn’t have a nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, cats can digest them and they help bring the overall cost of pet food down.
10- Fish Oil
Fish oil is high in Omega 3 fatty acids which has tons of health benefits for both people and cats.
11- Calcium Carbonate
Calcium Carbonate is a low-cost source of calcium which is a required nutrient for cats. It has the added benefit of being preservative to keep food fresh. Overall, this is a common ingredient in cat foods and doesn’t pose much risk.
Salt is also an essential nutrient for your cat. While too much overtime could be a bad thing, this ingredient is pretty safe at number 12.
13- Choline Chloride
Is a naturally occurring vitamin that is found in many animal products. It’s found in cat food as a supplement and is generally considered safe. However, in high amounts, it can be unhealthy and there was a recent recall of Natural Balance products due to a high amount of Choline Chloride suspected to be present.
DL-Methionine is one of the essential amino acids required by cats (and dogs).
This ingredient is a source of potassium for your cat.
We can see that 4 out of the first 10 ingredients are carbohydrates. While that’s not mind-blowing, it is pretty darn good and a HUGE upgrade from many cat foods on the market.
I also like that we aren’t seeing any by-products and that the carbohydrate sources have a favorable glycemic index.
Overall, the ingredients are above average, which is why I’m giving Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient cat food a 7 out of 10 for this category.
Blue Buffalo is a premium cat food and while it’s not the least expensive on the market the prices are competitive. Overall, I feel that the value matches up with the typical price.
Marketing and Message Match 6/10
How does Blue Buffalo’s marketing message match their limited ingredient product? The whole idea of a limited ingredient diet isn’t necessarily to only include a couple ingredients (although that would be great) but instead to limit the variety of proteins and carbohydrates present.
I’d say Blue Buffalo does a solid job of that and they keep the animal protein limited to only one species per flavor.
However, if I had to take points away it would be for the inclusion of peas along with potatoes. In a more stringent limited ingredient diet I’d expect to see only one type of carbohydrate. For that reason, I’m giving a 6/10 in this category.
Recall History 6/10
Blue Buffalo hasn’t issued a recall since March 2017 when they’re line of dog food was recalled due to elevated thyroid hormone. Sadly, Blue Buffalo was part of the 2007 melamine recall which affected many pet food supplies across multiple species.
Overall, Blue Buffalo has a solid track record and I like the fact that we haven’t seen a recall issued from them since 2017.
Dry Vs Wet
Overall, there’s little difference between the dry and wet versions of Blue Buffalos LID products. The main difference is that the wet food features duck, fish or turkey broth as the second ingredient. Other than some mind differences, the ingredients are otherwise very similar and quite comparable.
Reviews Of Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Diet
I’ve read hundreds of reviews across forums, Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart and others to bring you what I believe are the most relevant criticisms of both wet and dry versions of Blue Buffalo’s Limited Ingredient Diet.
Let’s start with the negative reviews first.
What Customers Don’t Like
One common complaint that I see is a suspicion that the formula has changed in some way. One reviewer claims, “Lately have noticed a difference with each bag we get in the appearance of the food… sometimes it is smaller darker pieces (which my cats love), sometimes a bag comes & the pieces are much bigger & lighter in color (I can’t get my picky eaters to eat this).”
Does this hold weight? I suppose it’s possible but I could only find less than 10 reviews across all platforms that claimed the food had changed in some way.
While the most common (and to be expected) compliant is cat owners with cats who just don’t like the food. While many cat owners will jump to conclusions that this makes the food bad, that’s not always the case.
Cats have food preferences just like us and anyone with kids has certainly cooked a perfectly good meal only to disappoint their kid!
What Customers Love
There’s a long list of customers who are very happy with the results of this limited ingredient diet.
Here’s one reviewer from Chewy, “I have a Bengal kitten that is allergic to EVERYTHING. He eats predominantly raw food, but still breaks into the other animal’s food if it does not have something out and available at all times. We leave this kibble out so he can graze between meals and he loves it.”
As with any cat food, there will be cats that just don’t like it. Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Diet has certainly helped a long list of picky, sensitive, or intolerant cats. But there’s also a handful of cats who just don’t like the taste.
The biggest pattern of concern would be the accusations of an inconsistent product. However, if it is actually happening, it seems to be few and far between.
My Overall Rating 7/10
I really like the Blue Buffalo brand and believe that they offer a quality cat food at a great price. Their limited ingredient diet product is a high-quality cat food featuring better ingredients than most brands on the market.
Overall, I’d confidently recommend Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient Diet to most cat owners. If you’re interested, you can click here to get the latest price from Amazon.