Today, we’re reviewing the New Zealand cat food brand, Feline Natural. We’re going to review the entire line of canned and freeze-dried dry food across 6 important metrics including a detailed look at the top ingredients, online reviews, species-appropriateness, and more. Just like with all my reviews, this write-up is based on hours of research, real-world experience, and a life-long love all things feline!
Feline Natural is certainly one of the more unique cat food brands on the market and one of the highest quality products you can feed your cat. But before we dive deeper, let’s look at the big picture for score:
- Product Variety – 7.5/10
- Species Appropriateness – 10/10
- Ingredient Quality – 10/10
- Price – 5/10
- Marketing and Message Match – 10/10
- Recall History 6.5/10
- Overall Rating 9.5/10
The Story Behind Feline Naturals
Originally started as a dog food company, Feline Natural is the cat food division of K9 natural which was founded in 2006 by Geoff Bowers.
Geoff Bowers was a police dog handler who became more and more interested in the ideal diet for his dogs. It all culminated in a trip to Alaska where we spent 3 months studying the habits and diet of wild wolves. He went back to the UK with a plan to produce raw-inspired and meat-focused dog food but wasn’t able to find anyone to manufacture the food.
The search for quality ingredients and manufacturing eventually brought him to New Zealand. Today, K9 Natural has expanded this focus on high-quality and raw-inspired foods into the world of cat food.
You can hear Geoff tell his own story in this video:
Product Variety – 7.5/10
Feline Natural may not have a huge range of flavors like some cat food lines, in fact, their freeze-dried foods offer only three types of formulas. But they make up for this in the overall uniqueness of their individual diets. They feature ingredients that you simply won’t see in other foods like lamb heart, hoki, and venison kidney. Of course, there are the more standard chicken flavors too.
Here’s the complete list of canned food varieties that they offer:
- Beef Feast
- Chicken Feast
- Lamb Feast
- Beef & Hoki Feast
- Chicken & Lamb Feast
- Chicken & Venison Feast
- Lamb & King Salmon Feast
Their freeze-dried food flavors are:
- Beef & Hoki
- Chicken & Lamb
- Lamb & King Salmon
While there may not be a huge range of flavor options, Feline Natural earns a solid 7.5 out of 10 for product variety simply because of the unique flavors and ingredients that definitely help it stand out for more traditional cat foods.
Species Appropriateness – 10/10
For a diet to be species-appropriate it needs to closely match what your cat would eat in the wild. The most important thing to remember is that cats are oblgiate carnivores which means that they have to eat meat in order to get all their required nutrients.
So what is a cat’s natural diet?
Veterinarian Claudia Kirk explains that “The natural prey of cats contains around 55% protein, 45% fat, and little carbohydrate (1–2%) on a dry matter basis.” Feline Natural has a big focus on feeding cats a natural and species-appropriate diet. Mark Roberts, one of the researchers and nutritionists behind the brand, says in an interview on their blog that after working with several sled dog champions “it helps solidify to me that a species-appropriate diet is needed for companion animals.”
Most pet food companies, for dogs or cats, aren’t quick to mention the idea of species-appropriateness but Feline Natural openly embraces the idea and it shows in the quality of their cat food! For example, the Beef and Hoki recipe is “98% meat, organs, and New Zealand green mussels” and is completely free of grain, soy, wheat corn, cereals, dairy, rice, potato, and gelling agents.
This really is exceptional in there’s only a handful of brands that can get close to this standard (the recently reviewed Dr. Elsey’s being one of them). As a result, Feline Natural gets a perfect score in the species appropriateness category.
Ingredient Quality – 10/10
While ingredient quality is closely tied to species appropriateness there are a few other factors to consider. One of the biggest is whether or not a cat food includes gelling agents, emulsifiers, and thickening agents. While cat foods contain some type of additive to help in the manufacturing process Feline Natural appears to use dried kelp alone to aid in this process.
That means none of their foods include common ingredients like guar gum, xanthan gum, or tapioca starch all of which are ingredients that many cat owners want to try and avoid.
Ingredient quality is also very high and founder Geoff Bowers explains that “Whatever goes in that bag is the best we can make it. It is human-grade. Every ounce of it, every pound of it. It’s all sources from the same ingredient that me and you would love to eat.”
But there’s something else that I love about this brand that’s very important to point out. You’ll notice that the list of ingredients is really short. In fact, most Feline Natural foods have 20 ingredients or less. Compare that to the 35+ ingredients tath you’ll find in most cat foods and you can see why this is so significant.
In the case of Feline Naturals, less is more!
Now let’s dive a little deeper into the Feline Natural line of pet food by reviewing two of their most popular recipes that I feel represent the overall product.
Beef & Hoki Feast Canned Food Ingredient Review
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With beef as the primary ingredient, this is one of the more unique diets you can feed your cat. It’s high in fats and protein while keeping carbohydrates extremely low. That’s also part of the reason why this diet showed up our number one premium pick on the list of the best cat foods for shedding.
Let’s take a deeper look at the first 5 ingredients.
1. Beef Heart
While your cat’s wild ancestors probably didn’t spend much time hunting down herds of cows, beef heart is still very much a species-appropriate ingredient. A study from the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis also found that beef heart is a great source of taurine for cats. Taurine has long been established as a critical amino acid for cats.
Hoki is a large fish primarily found in New Zealand and Australia so it’s an obvious choice for this New Zealand based company. Most fish, including hoki, are great sources of healthy fatty acids and protein. Even better, according to the Marine Stewardship Council, New Zealand Hoki is a sustainable fish.
Beef is another excellent ingredient is another great source of animal-based proteins and fats that are perfect for your little carnivore.
4. Beef Kidney
You probably aren’t used to seeing beef kidneys on a list of ingredients (or any kidney for that matter) but it does make for a great addition to this recipe. Organs are most certainly species-appropriate and as Dr. Jennifer Coates explains, “When you think about it, organ meats, including the kidneys, liver, heart, etc., are a normal part of the feline diet.”
Dr. Coates goes on to say that organ meats serve as a “natural way to provide cats with many essential nutrients that might otherwise have to be added as supplements to a balanced feline diet.”
5. Beef Liver
As we just discussed, organ meat can be very nutritious for cats, and liver in particular is a great source of vitamin A.
Complete Ingredients and Guaranteed Analysis
Here’s the complete list of ingredients in the beef and hoki recipe, remember there are ONLY 20 ingredient in the entire recipe!
Beef Heart, Hoki, Beef, Beef Kidney, Beef Liver, Beef Blood, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed Flakes, New Zealand Green Mussel, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Water added for processing.
Here’s the guaranteed analysis with moisture removed (AKA a dry matter basis):
- 47.8% Protein
- 33% Fat
- 1% Fiber
Recipe Rating: 10/10
With a unique combination of muscle and organ meats, this highly species-appropriate canned food is one of my favorite cat foods on the market! As I’ve already mentioned, I love that the entire recipe only features 20 ingredients. You can check the latest price for this flavor on Amazon by clicking here.
Chicken & Lamb Feast Freeze-Dried Ingredient ReviewBuy On Amazon
Freeze-dried diets are quickly gaining in popularity and Feline Natural doesn’t actually offer any kind of traditional dry kibble but this recipe can still function similar to dry food. In fact, we even picked it as one of the best dry cat foods on the market. Here’s how they explain the process on their website:
The idea is simple: to deliver a dry, raw, high-meat diet that retains the nutritional goodness of natural whole foods. Freeze-drying – a method of drying food using pressure – gives us just that. It’s a brilliantly simple technique, and the result has tails wagging all over the world.
Firstly, the meat recipe is quickly frozen to lock in its nutrients. We then put that meat recipe in a vacuum seal and reduce the pressure. This evaporates the frozen water (ice!) in the meat directly into vapour during a process called sublimation. What’s left is the same raw meat recipe that we started with, except it’s completely dry.
One of the big questions with freeze-dried foods is how do you actually serve it?
You can service freeze-dried food as is or you can rehydrate it with warm water. That means that freeze-dried diets can give you the benefits of both dry kibble AND wet food. That makes this kind of diet one of my favorites not only in terms of nutritional value but also convenience.
It also helps that my cat Debbie doesn’t actually like wet food very much and much prefers dry kibble but she’ll still go for some freeze-dried food with a little hydration.
With the introduction to the world of freeze-dried foods out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the first 5 ingredients inside the Chicken & Lamb Feast recipe.
Chicken is an ingredient we’re used to seeing in many cat foods and it’s a great ingredient overall. Feline Natural is compliant with the American Association of Feed Control Officer’s guidelines and the AAFCO tells us that named poultry is “the parts of the bird as you would find if you purchased a whole chicken or turkey at the grocery store. Frankly, it often consists of the less profitable parts of the bird, such as backs and necks.”
That certainly sounds species appropriate for our carnivorous kitties!
2. Lamb Heart
Lamb heart, similar to the beef heart in the previous recipe, can provide a unique source of nutrition for cats that’s different from traditional muscle meat.
3. Lamb Kidney
Another of the more unique ingredients on this list, Dr. Coates points out that “kidneys can provide high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and sodium.”
4. Lamb Liver
Sticking with the write up on organ meats vs muscle meats from Dr. Coates, she points out that “liver excels at providing vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and phosphorus.” Having a wide range of organ meats helps this food reduce the overall ingredient list as fewer supplements are needed to achieve a balanced nutritional profile.
5. Lamb Blood
Another ingredient and another item you’re unlikely to see in most cat food brands. Blood can be an excellent source of nutrition for cats and is certainly species appropriate.
Complete Ingredients and Guaranteed Analysis
Here’s the complete list of ingredients in the Chicken & Lamb Feast recipe. Notice that this recipe has ONLY 17 ingredients which I still can’t get over!
Chicken, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Liver, Lamb Blood, Flaxseed Flakes, New Zealand Green Mussel, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
Here’s the guaranteed analysis converted to a dry matter basis:
- 52.2% Protein
- 33.7% Fat
- 1% Fiber
Recipe Rating: 10/10
I’m a big fan of freeze-dried foods since they have so many benefits including:
- Convenience of dry food by serving dry
- Benefits of high-moisture wet foods by rehydrating
- Nutrient-dense recipes that are much closer to a raw diet than any traditional kibble ever could be
When you combine that with the excellent and limited list of ingredients from Feline Natural you get an excellent cat food! If you’re interested in picking up a bag, you can check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
When it comes to cat food, or really just about anything for that matter, you can’t look at price alone- it always has to be viewed from the perspective of quality, too. And up to this point, we’ve spent most of this review covering just how great the ingredients inside Feline Natural cat food really are.
So it should come as no surprise that to get truly premium ingredients you have to pay a premium price which means that Feline Naturals will run on the higher end of most budgets. The complicating factor here is that the cat food has to be shipped from New Zealand which doesn’t exactly bring the price down.
So is it worth it?
In my opinion, it is worth every penny. A healthier (and happier cat) is worth the price and while there other good options on the market if you’re looking for one of the best this is a top contender.
Marketing and Message Match 10/10
Another category and another 10 out of 10 for Feline Natural.
The brand really delivers on what they say and the core message for Feline Natural is both specific and simple:
We believe that your cat deserves the best. And that’s why we only put the best in our pet food. Our entire range is:
- Made from all-natural, sustainable, free-range, and grass-fed ingredients
- Grain-free, gluten-free and filler-free
- Low in carbohydrate
- 100% balanced nutrition
- Great tasting
While I’d typically take issue with the inclusion of the word “filler” since it has a somewhat vague and subjective definition, Feline Natural does such a good job at minimizing ingredients that I think they can get away with it. Especially when you consider they don’t use any gelling agents or traditional thickening agents like guar gum.
Recall History 6.5/10
While Feline Natural has been around since 2006 which is plenty of time for them have to their ingredient quality tested and potential problems show up in the form of recalls. While the Feline Natural line has never had a recall, it also had a shorter history behind it since the brand originally started as a dog food-only brand.
In April of 2018, the dog food line was recalled due to possible contamination of listeria and you can read the official press release from the FDA here.
Overall, the recall history is solid but with a somewhat limited timeline (at least compared to other brands) I can’t give them more than 6.5 in this category.
Online Reviews Of Feline Natural
I reviewed every feline forum, cat blog, and pet food website I could find to get a feel for what cat owners across the web have to say about Feline Natural cat food. Overall, cat owners are happy with the high-quality ingredients but as you can expect the price comes up with some frequency.
Let’s dive a little deeper starting with what people love about Feline Natural.
What Customers Love
There’s a lot of cat owners who are happy to find a food that their finicky feline will eat. One reviewer on Amazon talks about how their picky cat approves of Feline Natural:
Bear loves it! Mr. Dry Food Only says yum. I like it because it doesn’t smell and I can portion out the amount he will eat at one time. No waste. And it is high in protein and good for him, but don’t tell him. We have been feeding this for about a month. We notice an increase in his energy level.
As expected, it’s also very common for happy cat owners to mention the high-quality of ingredients found in the recipe. Here’s another Amazon customer reviewing the Chicken & Lamb Feast recipe:
There is no other brand of cat food as CLEAN, (no garbage ingredients) and healthy as Feline Natural! I spent the last 4 years researching cat food ingredients and the companies that make the foods…my opinion is that there is none better. Of course, buying a grinder and making your own is the best, IF it is made properly with all the supplements your cat requires. But it is very time consuming.
What Customers Don’t Like
As with just about any cat food on the market, there’s also cats who don’t like the food. Whether it’s because the owner didn’t properly transition to the new diet or because the cat just doesn’t like the food these types of reviews make the majority of the one-star ratings for Feline Natural.
I also find that the more premium the cat food, the more people are upset when their cat rejects it.
This honestly makes sense and I can’t blame them for being frustrated.
I think this type of review is perfectly summarized by this Amazon customer:
My cats hated it. I gave it to my brother. His cats loved it.
My Overall Rating 9.5/10
Feline Natural is one of my top recommendations for cat owners looking for truly premium quality cat food. With a combination of human-grade ingredients and species-appropriate recipe choices, Feline Natural delivers an amazing cat food whether you prefer wet or freeze-dried raw.
The only reason I can’t give this brand a full 10 out of 10 is that that price just might not make sense for everyone and while I love the New Zealand based ingredients it’s unfortunate that the food has to ship from a mostly remote island.
But if it’s premium cat food is within your budget, I can’t recommend Feline Natural enough. You check the latest price for all recipes on Amazon by clicking here.