Merrick Cat Food was started by Garth Merrick in 1988. What began as a single home made dog treat turned into one of the largest pet food companies in the United States. They currently produce their pet food out of a 95,000 square foot facility located in Hereford, Texas. The main focus of this company is to produce and sell higher end products including grain-free and limited plant based ingredients. They also promote their ingredients as being sourced from the United States and in particular, they pride themselves on never sourcing ingredients from China. After the melamine pet food recalls that killed many pets back in 2007, there are a lot of dog and cat owners who will never purchase food products that use sourcing from China, so this makes Merrick a good option for those pet owners.
In general, Merrick has a good reputation and many other review sites rank both their dog and cat foods very highly. Merrick has experienced some recalls in the recent past in 2010 and 2011. These recalls did not appear to be the result of any deaths, however, it still makes some cat owners a bit nervous. With that said, it’s very rare to find a company without any recall history, as is the case for human foods as well.
Below, you will find our ingredients analysis for this Merrick cat food blend. Please feel free to speak your mind by rating this food by clicking on the corresponding stars above and leave a comment about what you think in the commenting section below this review.
List Of Ingredients In This Cat Food
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Dried Potato, Peas, Potato Protein, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Sweet Potato, Powdered Cellulose, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Dried Whey Protein Concentrate, Chicken Liver, Cranberries, Flax Oil (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), Organic Alfalfa, Phosphoric Acid, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Rosemary Extract, Bacillus Coagulans, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecuim fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product.
An overview of the first five ingredients
Chicken is a very popular ingredient for pet food and in this case, they are referring to whole chicken with the bones removed. This is a very high quality meat source and we are pleased to see it listed. In dry cat foods, whole chicken loses about 80% of its content during the cooking process. This is because chicken consists of about 80% moisture. After the cooking process is complete, the amount of whole chicken remaining is substantially reduced. However, in wet cat foods the cooking process is a bit different so this is much less of a concern.
Chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been carefully dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. Many pet owners feel that chicken is a superior ingredient to chicken meal. It would seem logical that feeding a pet a whole, non-rendered chicken would be good. However, whole chicken still contains its moisture content prior to cooking and since whole chicken consists of about 80% moisture, after the cooking process is over there isn’t much left. With chicken meal, the moisture was removed prior to cooking. That means, chicken meal actually has a much higher protein percentage and provides far more beneficial nutrients to your cats than whole chicken. Meals consist of meat and skin, with or without the bones, but exclusive of feathers/hair, heads, feet, horns, entrails etc. and have the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio required for a balanced diet. It’s also important to note the quality difference between “chicken by-product meal” and “chicken meal.” While we do take exception to chicken by-products, chicken meal is actually a very high quality and nutritious ingredient. We are happy to see this listed.
Turkey is a fantastic source of very healthy animal based proteins. Since this is listed as turkey meal, that means almost all of the moisture was removed prior to the cooking process. This is actually a good thing as it will contain many times more protein than turkey that was cooked without the moisture being removed. As one of the best protein sources for cats, we are very pleased to see this ingredient listed here.
Potatoes provide a lot of carbs and unfortunately, cats do not digest carbs well and it can also lead to weight gain. This ingredient is becoming more popular in “grain-free” cat foods because while potatoes are not grains, they serve much the same purpose by acting as a non-nutritious filler. The good news is potatoes are complex carbs. These complex carbs are easier to digest than whole grains and also don’t spike blood sugar levels like the simple carbs do. But, anyway you cut it… carbs are carbs and cats don’t need them. This is a rather non-nutritious ingredient.
Peas are becoming more and more common in pet foods today, especially those listed as grain-free, holistic, or natural pet foods. While peas are certainly not grains, they serve much the same purpose. It mostly acts as a filler and a cheap way to increase the protein percentage of the food. However, cats receive almost no nutritional value from peas. Since cats are obligate carnivores, they require proteins from meat based ingredients. There is very little research that has been performed on the long term effects of cats consuming peas. We do know that peas can cause runny poop or digestion issues in dogs, but the full effect on cats remains a bit of an unknown. At best, this ingredient will act as a filler and will not provide much nutritional value, if any, to your cat.
Other ingredients in this cat food
We find it interesting they listed potato protein here, since cats do not receive much of any benefit from potato protein. It is unlikely to cause any specific health concerns, but this appears to be an inexpensive way to boost the protein percentage of the food. Unfortunately, since cats are obligate carnivores, this added protein will mostly go to waste as cats are unable to properly utilize plant based proteins. Their protein must come from meat based sources.
The term “natural flavor” is extremely vague and can mean just about anything. In human foods, natural flavor is usually MSG or some similar flavor enhancer. When pet food companies are asked what is in their “natural flavor ingredients, they usually refuse to answer. There are a lot of things in the world considered “natural” and they almost all have a flavor. Such generic terms can be indicative of poor quality ingredients. While that’s not always the case, the fact is, we don’t really know what this ingredient consists of and that is worrying.
Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
Chicken fat is a quality source of essential fatty acids and an excellent source of energy. Fat has a positive effect on the immune system and plays a beneficial role in stress response. Essential fatty acids are required for proper growth, reproduction, normal skin structure and a healthy coat. Because chicken fat contains virtually no protein, it’s use does not cause allergic reactions associated with the use of fresh chicken or chicken meal which contain high amounts of protein. Many times, mixed tocopherols, which are a natural source of Vitamin E activity, are used as a natural preservative to maintain freshness. This is considered a higher quality fat source in pet food.
While sweet potatoes boost the protein percentage of the food and add other nutrients, it is mostly used as a filler ingredient. Even though cats are obligate carnivores, there is some evidence to suggest that sweet potatoes actually help aid in proper digestion. Unlike other filler ingredients like grains, this is not a known allergen for cats and the health risks associated with it are very low.
Is this formula likely to cause allergies?
The Merrick Purrfect Bistro Health Adult Chicken (dry) is a cat formula that does not contain any allergens. It is, therefore, suitable for allergic and non-allergic cats.
Harmful ingredients tom look out for in cat foods
Corn, wheat and soy – All three of these ingredients are known allergens for many cats. In addition, many cats have problems digesting these grain based ingredients. Since cats are obligate carnivores, their digestive systems are designed to digest meat and not grains. All of these ingredients will help to boost the protein percentage in cat food, but not all protein is created equally. Cats do not digest plant based proteins in the same way as meat proteins and in fact, gain little to no nutritional value from these grains. Several “grocery store brand” cat foods include these products to keep the price down as it is a cheap filler to help make your cat feel full as well as a cheap way to add protein to the food.
Gluten – This ingredient is associated with causing allergies in cats. It is also known to raise sugar levels in cats. Over time, this can lead to diabetes. Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm which is a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour. Many pet food manufactures will use this ingredient to help boost the protein percentage of the food.
Artificial coloring – We find it quite irresponsible to include artificial coloring in pet food since the health concerns about these added colors are so controversial. Your cat does not care what color their food is and the only reason artificial coloring is added to this product is for marketing purposes. It makes the food look better to you YOU, the human consumer. Of course, many cat food brands are very defensive about their use of food coloring. Here is an example of how the Purina brand defends their use of fool coloring. Notice how even in their explanation, there is no perceived benefit to these ingredients other than changing the color. There is also a growing amount of evidence to suggest food coloring may be linked to cancer in not just dogs and cats, but also humans. Here is an article that explains a bit further. In short, since there is some controversy surrounding this ingredient, we find it a bit strange that cat food companies would spend money adding this ingredient into a product when at best, it has zero nutritional value for your cat and only has marketing value. At worse, it could pose health risks. It just doesn’t seem like the risk of including this ingredient is worth it.
Artificial preservatives – Artificial preservatives are a group of chemical substances added to food, sprayed on the outside of food, or added to certain medications to retard spoilage, discoloration, or contamination by bacteria and other disease organisms. These additives are man-made, though some do exist in some forms in nature. They are generally considered safe despite the fact that some are known to be carcinogenic and toxic. Many side effects and illnesses are related to their consumption. What’s even more unfortunate is that we are not given full information here. The label “artificial preservatives” could include any number of man-made chemical based preservatives. While it doesn’t necessarily mean this ingredient is harmful, it could be. We just don’t know which specific preservatives are being used here. Without adequate labeling and information for cat owners, we remain skeptical.
The Merrick Purrfect Bistro Health Adult Chicken (dry) formula is a quality cat food with healthy ingredients that support the overall health of your feline friend. It contains no allergens and is grain free. It is, therefore, perfect for all cats.