Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food Review: Everything You Need to Know

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Instinct is a pet food brand from Nature’s Variety that has a rather different history and unique line of pet food. The brand is on a mission, their main page reads — “We’re on a mission to transform the lives of pets.”

And they are making this possible by producing pet food involving only raw animal protein along with other ingredients.

The brand emphasizes the importance of raw food in any cat’s diet by adding raw meat from animals such as chicken, rabbit, salmon, and much more. And if you are considering shifting your cat to a natural or raw food diet, Nature’s Variety Instinct may just be the brand for you.

Let’s take a closer look in this Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food review!

nature’s variety instinct cat food review

A Quick Glance at the Winners of 2022

Best Overall

Gold medal by vets winner

Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate

Natures Variety Instinct Cat Food Review
  • Includes Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acid
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Provides enough quantity

Editor’s Pick

Silver medal by vets second place

Instinct Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Instinct Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food
  • Made with real animal ingredients and nutritious oil
  • It doesn’t include grain, potato, soy, preservatives
  • Dry food has high protein

Affordable Pick

Bronze medal by vets third place

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Recipe With Real Duck

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Recipe With Real Duck
  • The recipe includes real duck meat
  • No fillers or artificial colors are added
  • Suitable for cats of all ages

About Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food: A Basic Overview

Nature’s Variety is one of the well-known names in the pet food industry, it’s entirely owned by Barcelona, Spain–based Agrolimen. In the beginning, the company started as a small pet food manufacturer in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. And, as I said before, the brand is owned by a Spain-based firm — Agrolimen, which also owns Affinity Petcare, a leading European pet food supplier. Likewise, the firm also holds a 50% stake in Mogiana, which is a Brazilian pet food company.

The company has its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The brand only focuses on meat-based recipes and showcases the value of fresh, freeze-dried, and raw ingredients, and how they are essential in a cat’s daily diet. Moreover, according to their website, at Instinct, they are on a mission to transform the lives of pets.

Their site list down their objectives, which include leading with raw, keeping it realm making it simple, giving back, and making it better. Overall, their pet food products are made in minimally processed small batches in Lincoln, Nebraska, and ingredients come from the USA when possible.

Where Is the Manufacturing Facility Location of Nature’s Variety Cat Food?

The brand has its manufacturing facilities located in Lincoln, Nebraska. But the headquarters are situated in St. Louis, Missouri. Likewise, Nature’s Variety is the largest raw pet food manufacturer in the US.

manufacturing facility location of nature's variety cat food

Nature’s Variety makes use of a food safety protocol, which is known as high-pressure processing (HPP or pascalization) in its raw pet food. It is a process that eliminates pathogenic bacteria through high-pressure, water-based technology.

Moreover, according to our research, Nature’s Variety sources its ingredients primarily from the United States, with some proteins coming from New Zealand, Australia, France, and Italy. However, the brand never sources any meat, poultry, or any main ingredients from China, but doesn’t mention sourcing other ingredients from the country.

The brand’s cat food products are made in small processed small batches in Lincoln, Nebraska, and ingredients are sourced from the USA whenever possible.

What Sort of Cat Food Does Nature’s Variety Instinct Offers?

Nature’s Variety has a rather unique food lineup compared to other cat food brands. According to research, there are a total of six categories in which cat food has been sorted. The first one is Instinct Original, followed by Instinct Limited Ingredient, Instinct Ultimate Protein, Instinct Raw Boost, The Instinct Raw, and Raw Signature.

The first one, Instinct Original, has both dry and wet cat food. Likewise, the majority of the cat food in this category contains a minimum of 70% animal ingredients, and they are all made without grains.

type of cat food from nature's variety instinct

The next category has been specifically made for cats, Instinct Limited Ingredient, ideal for felines with food sensitivities and allergies. Though this category includes both wet and dry cat food, all recipes include only one animal protein and a single primary vegetable ingredient, since this is a limited-ingredient recipe.

At the third spot, Instinct Ultimate Protein comes with high-protein content recipes with at least 90% protein coming from real animal meat. Likewise, these recipes contain up to three times more chicken meat or duck meat in comparison with other natural cat food brands in the market.

Following this, Instinct Raw Boost and The Instinct Raw lines include frozen raw cat food. Instinct Raw Boost comes with kibble of freeze-dried raw meat. Moreover, this line also includes Raw Boost Mixers, which lets you add those freeze-dried chunks to your cat’s choice of kibble. Whereas The Instinct Raw only includes one recipe — a frozen raw product made primarily from chicken.

At last, there’s Raw Signature category, which comprises raw frozen bites and medallions made from chicken meat and rabbit meat.

Which Cats Are Best Suited for Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food?

Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food is best for any cat who likes raw diets. Their recipes only include high-quality raw real animal meat with totally no fillers or preservation or animal by-product ingredients, which are unfavorable to felines.

The nutrition offered by Nature’s Variety cat food diets is significantly above average in comparison with other cat food brands. The content of protein and fat is significant, and the portion of carbohydrates is medium.

Likewise, if you like the idea of feeding a raw diet to your cat, but don’t want to make it yourself or have to keep pre-packaged cat food in the refrigerator, then the cat food products from Nature’s Variety Instinct are the best choice.

which cats are best suited for nature's variety instinct cat food

Moreover, if your cat has allergies, then the Instinct Limited Ingredient category would fit you the best. The recipe uses minimal ingredients, including only one animal protein and a single primary vegetable ingredient.

Overall, Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food is best suited for cats who like raw diets. However, if you prefer something that comes with grains, then your pet would do better with other cat food brands, as Instinct only makes grain-free recipes.

What Others Are Saying About Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food

Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food brand seems to have a good reputation among the cat parents, plus, it also appears to be a reliable choice with high-quality cat food recipes at a decent price range.

According to our research, Instinct is one of the few brands in the cat food market that has largely received positive feedback from pet parents around the world.

what others are saying about nature's variety instinct cat food

Many positive reviews read that their cats love the raw formula of these cat food recipes, and many of the cats had little to no problem at all in transitioning to the Instinct cat diet.

Recall History of Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food

Nature’s Variety had its inception in the year 2002 and ever since then, the brand has seen several recalls. More precisely, there were two recalls in 2015, and two other recalls in different years, 2012 and 2010.

2010

The first recall was in 2010, the company issued a recall on a few raw instinct cat foods that had a chicken meat recipe, due to the anticipations that the food had potential salmonella contamination.

2012

The second recall of the brand was in the year 2012. During this year, the company recalled four sizes of kibble for dogs after finding out that the content had an “off-odor” smell and the food had not yet crossed the expiration date. Further, the manufacturer adds that the food was not contaminated, but they linvoluntarily withdrew the food to ensure a top-grade experience.

2015

And their latest recall was in the year 2015, in fact, there were two recalls during the same year. The brand recalled several varieties of chicken-based pet food following an FDA testing, which uncovered that the food was contaminated with salmonella.

Moreover, earlier in 2015, the brand issued yet another recall due to pieces of plastic in their pet food.

recall history of nature's variety instinct cat food

All in all, some brands have a huge list of recalls, but the majority of them are a significant length of time ago; however, all three of Nature’s Variety’s recalls are within the last decade and therefore, cannot be disregarded so easily.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food: 5 Best Cat Foods Reviewed

Nature’s Variety has around six types of cat food categories. The Instinct Original and Instinct Raw Signature are their categories of frozen raw cat food, whereas the Instinct Raw Freeze-dried offers freeze-dried cat food. The other categories include Instinct Limited Ingredient, Instinct Ultimate Protein, Instinct Raw Boost.

Instinct Raw Boost cat food category mixes freeze-dried raw foods with dry kibbles in just one bag. Instinct Ultimate Protein, Instinct Original, and Limited Ingredient are all dry cat food types, while Instinct Wet is their line of wet canned or pouch wet cat foods.

But in this Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food review, we’ll only look at the best popular and widely available Instinct cat food recipes.

1. Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate

Our favorite pick from Instinct’s cat products is this Wet Cat Food Chicken Pate Recipe. And when it comes to Instinct’s pet food for cats, there are absolutely no fillers; only natural ingredients from real raw meat.

Looking at the ingredients list of this wet cat food, the chicken makes it at the top as the first ingredient of this recipe, followed by turkey and chicken liver, 5% vegetables, fruits, and wholesome ingredients. Overall, this is high-protein cat food with responsibly sourced cage-free chicken as the number one ingredient.

Natures Variety Instinct Cat Food Review

This cat food recipe is free from grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial colors, or preservatives — or any sort of ingredients that are known to trigger food sensitivities in pets. It can be served as a meal or topper; the delicious pate texture is a flavor that even picky cats can’t resist.

Going down the ingredients list, the cat food also includes a small amount of “egg product”, which, like all feed-grade ingredients, may or may not be managed according to human food standards. Moreover, this cat food is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make it nutritionally complete.

Reaching the end of the ingredients list, there are a few more food ingredients. The recipe of this cat food includes menhaden fish oil as a loaded source of omega-3 fatty acids and a pinch of fruits and vegetables, along with artichoke, cranberries, pumpkin, and parsley.

All in all, this food contains a high-protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content, making it a suitable choice for both adult cats and kittens.

Guaranteed Analysis:

guaranteed analysis instinct grain free wet cat food pate

Caloric Content:

1,239 kcal/kg, 193 kcal/5.5 oz can

Feeding Instructions:

Like with most cat food, the feeding amounts will differ by age, weight, and activity level, so the guide below should be used as an initial recommendation. Always feed at room temperature and refrigerate unused portions of cat food.

Likewise, make sure to provide clean and fresh water to your cat throughout the day.

Adults — 3 oz: Feed 2 cans per 6 to 8 lbs of body weight daily.
Adults — 5.5 oz: Feed 1 can per 6 to 8 lbs of body weight daily.
Kittens: Feed up to twice the adult feeding amount daily.
Pregnant/Nursing cats: Feed up to three times the adult amount daily.

2. Instinct Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

At the second spot, we’ve listed the Instinct Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Recipe with real chicken. This cat food recipe has been made with 81% real animal ingredients and nutritious oils, 19% vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious ingredients. Just like the first product, this one also has real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient.

This cat food recipe is high in protein, constituting around 40% of the whole cat food. Though the kibbles have been coated, the animal meat inside always remains raw in all Instinct cat food products.

Instinct Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Looking at the ingredients list, the first five products of this grain-free cat food real chicken recipe are chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal (preserved with mixed tocopherols), and peas. Similar to the first product, this dry cat food recipe is also made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives.

Along with the supplemental vitamins, vital minerals, and essential amino acids, the food includes trace quantities of montmorillonite clay, fruits, vegetables, and freeze-dried organs. And the manufacturer also states that the cat food is intensified with “guaranteed levels of live, natural probiotics, natural Omegas and antioxidants for digestive health, healthy skin & coat, and immune health of cats” — 60 million CFU in each pound, or about 3.5 million CFU in every serving.

All in all, this dry food has a high protein content with a medium amount of fat and relatively low carbohydrate content.

It is available in 11 lb & 5 lb & 2.2 lb bags.

Guaranteed Analysis:

guaranteed analysis instinct grain free dry cat food

Caloric Content:

4,300 kcal/kg, 505 kcal/cup

Feeding Instructions:

The ideal feeding amounts of Instinct Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food will differ by age, weight, and activity level, so use the guide below as an initial recommendation. Split the cups per day by the number of feedings daily. Likewise, make sure to always provide your cat with clean and fresh water.

Moreover, together with dry food, we suggest feeding raw or wet food to help increase the amount of water in your pet’s diet.

Per day Feeding Guidelines (standard 8 oz dry measure cup):

Adult Maintenance (cups daily): 5 lb: ⅜ cup; 10 lb: ½ cup; 15 lb: ¾ cup
Weight Loss (cups daily): 5 lb: ¼ cup; 10 lb: ⅜ cup; 15 lb: ½ cup
Kittens: Feed up to twice the adult maintenance feeding amount.
Pregnant/Nursing Females: Feed up to three times the adult maintenance feeding amount that is shown above.

Transitioning old cat food to Instinct dry cat food: Always introduce a new cat food over a period of 5 to 7 days, mixing increasing amounts of Instinct with the present food every day.

3. Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Recipe With Real Duck

With over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon, this Dry Cat Food Recipe from Instinct is surely one of the favorites of many cat parents. As the name suggests, this duck recipe cat food has duck as the first, main ingredient. Apart from the duck recipe, there is also a similar chicken cat food option available with chicken as the first ingredient.

But in this cat food, the recipe starts with cage-free duck and 90% of the protein comes from duck, turkey liver, and eggs. Same with all the cat food recipes from Instinct, this cat food has been made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives, delivering the best nutrition for felines.

This duck recipe’s first five ingredients include real duck meat, followed by chicken, chicken eggs, tapioca, and ground flaxseed.

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain-Free Recipe With Real Duck

As the Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food brand leads the market with raw pet food research and development, every piece of this kibble is covered in freeze-dried raw for locked-in nutrition and delicious natural flavor that even picky cats can’t resist.

After examining the ingredients of this cat food, we found no trace of any fillers or artificial colors and preservatives. Likewise, the nutritional profile also looks pretty balanced and suitable for cats of all ages, including kittens and adult cats with sensitive stomachs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

guaranteed analysis instinct ultimate protein cage free duck recipe

Caloric Content:

910 kcal/kg, 78 kcal/3 oz pouch

Feeding Instructions:

The brand’s website states that Instinct Ultimate Protein Cage-Free Duck Recipe is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. It is complementary cat food and should be given together with a complete and balanced cat diet.

4. Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Cat Food Toppers

For cat owners who don’t want to change the diet of their cats too quickly or if the cat is having a problem transitioning to new cat food, there are also cat food toppers offered by this brand, which can be an easy solution. This Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Cat Toppers formula allows you to top your cat’s kibble with the nutritious benefits of raw food.

Moreover, the recipe contains a blend of specific ingredients to help promote a healthy digestive system in cats. With the first ingredient as real raw cage-free chicken, the formula also contains other healthy ingredients with a healthy amount of fiber coming from pumpkins and sweet potatoes, as well as apple cider vinegar and natural probiotics.

Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Cat Food Toppers

The overall recipe is grain-free; it is made with nutritious whole food ingredients for gut health — pumpkin seeds, chicory root, apple cider vinegar & probiotics. It is designed without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives.

Likewise, feeding this cat food is super simple, as there is no need to add water or even rehydrate this freeze-dried food, so you can simply feed it as is since it is just a meal topper. This cat food is formulated to be complementary rather than complete food, so you should make sure to feed it alongside a balanced wet food or kibble.

It is available in 5.5 oz & 0.75 oz bags.

Guaranteed Analysis:

guaranteed analysis instinct raw boost mixers grain free cat food toppers

Caloric Content:

4,555 kcal/kg, 18 kcal/tablespoon

Feeding Instructions:

The manufacturer suggests reducing the calorie amount of your current food accordingly to avoid overfeeding your cat.

Per Day Feeding Guidelines: 5 lb: 1 Tbsp — 18 calories; 10 lb: 2 Tbsp — 36 calories; 15 lb: 3 Tbsp — 54 calories

As mentioned before, this product is intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only. As with all food products, you should take care in storing and handling. Keep the package sealed to maintain freshness, and store it in a cool, dry place.

5. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Cat Food — Real Rabbit Recipe

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Cat Food Recipe is followed by limited ingredients, specifically formulated for sensitive cats that have food allergies. The first ingredient of this recipe is a farm-raised rabbit, and it is the sole animal protein content in this cat food. The recipe follows a composition of one type of animal protein and one vegetable, as it is a limited ingredient formula.

Like the other recipes, this one is also free from grains, wheat, soy, corn, and potatoes. And peas are the only vegetable ingredient in this cat food. This makes up the top five ingredients of this limited ingredient cat food recipe, which are rabbit meat, water, pea protein, peas, and rabbit liver.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Cat Food — Real Rabbit Recipe

The recipe can be especially beneficial for cats with or who were previously suffering from digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and upset stomachs. They can do quite well on this rabbit paté. Likewise, young cats with skin allergies have also been known to thrive on this Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food — Rabbit Recipe.

Overall, if you have a cat with food-related sensitivities such as allergies to things like fish, poultry, or grains, then this recipe can be the perfect one for her. Many cats who had sensitive tummies and food allergies have thrived well on this rabbit paté.

This cat food is available in 5.5 oz & 3 oz cans.

Guaranteed Analysis:

guaranteed analysis instinct limited ingredient wet cat food rabbit recipe

Caloric Content:

1,266 kcal/kg, 197 kcal/5.5 oz can

Feeding Instructions:

Same with all the different types of cat foods, ideal feeding amounts will vary by age, weight, and activity level, so you will have to feed your pet accordingly. Always feed at room temperature and refrigerate the unused portion.

Likewise, be sure to always provide clean, fresh water to your pet cats.

Adults — 3 oz: Feed 2 cans per 6 to 8 lbs of body weight daily.
Adults — 5.5 oz: Feed 1 can per 6 to 8 lbs of body weight daily.
Kittens: Feed up to twice the adult feeding amount daily.
Pregnant/Nursing Females: Feed up to three times the adult amount daily.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food: Nutrition in Wet & Dry Food

So, how does Nature’s Variety Instinct stack up as a cat food brand in comparison with other brands in the market? Let’s take a brief look at the nutritional value of Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food and the industry average of dry cat food and wet cat food.

Instinct Dry FoodInstinct Dry Food (avg)Industry (avg)Instinct Wet FoodInstinct Wet Food (avg)Industry (avg)
Protein40.534Protein10.110
Fat19.414Fat54
Fiber3.44.5Fiber21.25
Avg Rating Out Of 54.54.3Avg Rating Out Of 54.04.1

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the Nature’s Variety Instinct pet food brand.

How much does Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food cost?

On average, Nature’s Variety Instinct wet cat food costs around $2.00 and $3.00 per day, however, this also depends on the type of cat food you choose from the brand.

On the other hand, Nature’s Variety Instinct dry cat food is cheaper and can averagely cost about $0.50 per day to feed one cat. All recipes from this brand, including their raw frozen formulas, are fairly-priced and easy to find in stores and on online pet food sites.

Where can I buy Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food?

Nature’s Variety Instinct brand is well renowned and also has its own online presence. You can order Instinct cat food online from their official website, but there are chances that you can save more money on the same product on websites such as Amazon or Chewy.

If your cat likes the cat food, and you want to set up a monthly subscription for Instinct cat food products, then you can save even more by making a monthly subscription plan on Amazon or Chewy.

Is Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food good for indoor cats?

Nature’s Variety Instinct is surely one of the most reliable and nutritious brands available in the pet food market today. The brand has divided its cat food supplies into six different categories — Instinct Original, followed by Instinct Limited Ingredient, Instinct Ultimate Protein, Instinct Raw Boost, The Instinct Raw, and Raw Signature.

Their recipes include real raw meat in all types of cat food, so if your indoor cat likes a raw diet, then Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food is a great choice.

Who is the Instinct cat food brand owned by?

Instinct is a brand from Nature’s Variety, and it is entirely owned by Barcelona, Spain–based Agrolimen. However, the manufacturing facilities are located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and headquarters are situated in St. Louis, Missouri.

The brand not only makes cat food products but specializes in making dog food products as well.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Cat Food: Our Verdict

So, in this Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food review, we talked about the recall history of the brand, the location of their manufacturing facilities, the brand’s best-rated cat food products, and much more. All in all, Nature’s Variety Instinct is a reputable brand with a large audience of pet parents around the world who trust their products.

Instinct’s recipes consist of high protein ingredients that only come from healthy sources and backgrounds, in order to deliver the best nutrition for growth and development.

Overall, we give Nature’s Variety Instinct cat food brand a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

References:

  1. Nature’s Variety — Wikipedia

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