The 7 Best Cat Foods In Canada

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While the United States long ago set the standard for quality pet food, several other countries have stepped into the ring.

With premium ingredients, strong quality standards, and commitment to sustainability, Canadian pet food companies give U.S.-based brands a run for their money.

At A Glance: Best Cat Food To Buy In Canada

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Want a quick look at the best human grade cat foods reviewed in this article? In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Open Farm
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Herring and Mackerel Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food

  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Packaging is reclosable and recyclable
  • Highly digestible, rich in moisture for hydration
FirstMate
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

FirstMate Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

  • Limited list of simple, digestible ingredients
  • Rich in high-quality animal protein
  • Plenty of moisture to support your cat’s hydration
Go! Solutions
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Pate Cat Food

  • Packed with high-quality sources of animal protein
  • Rich in moisture, easily digestible for cats
  • Supplemented with salmon oil for omega-3 fatty acids
Smack
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Smack Purrfect Pork Raw Dehydrated Cat Food

  • Made with all-natural, humanely raised pork
  • Includes nutrient-rich organ meats
  • Dehydrated at low temperatures to preserve nutrition
Canadian Naturals
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Canadian Naturals Turkey & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food

  • Made with regional, non-GMO ingredients
  • Multiple sources of high-quality animal protein
  • Supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion
Orijen
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

  • Packed with high-quality sources of animal protein
  • Contains nutrient-rich organ meats
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
Amoré Pet Foods
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Amore Cat MEGA Morsels Beef Recipe Air Dried Cat Food

  • Made with biologically appropriate muscle meat and organs
  • Free from fillers, by-products, and artificial additives
  • Locally sourced ingredients including free-range meat and eggs

What Makes Canadian Cat Food Different?

While it’s easy to stick to what’s familiar, what’s familiar isn’t always best. Consumers in the United States demonstrate strong brand loyalty, and we love to see that “Made in the USA” callout on a label. But when it comes to premium-quality pet food, sometimes you have to go international.

In fact, some of our favorite cat food brands like Ziwi Peak and Open Farm are based outside the U.S.

As a responsible pet parent, you want what’s best for your feline friend and that means making an informed decision on what you feed him. While shopping around for a high-quality cat food, you may come across big-name brands made in Canada and find yourself wondering: what’s the difference?

Functionally speaking, there is little difference between American cat food and Canadian cat food.

All cats have the same nutritional requirements, so commercial cat foods are all formulated to meet your cat’s nutritional needs. In fact, the voluntary organization that promotes pet food nutritional standards in Canada uses the standards set by AAFCO.

That being said, not every country has the same manufacturing regulations as the United States.

We’ll talk more about how Canada’s pet food industry is regulated later in this article, but for now suffice it to say that Canada does have a federal regulatory agency that oversees the manufacture, labeling, and sale of both human and pet food products.

For now, however, let’s talk about a few details that make Canadian pet food different.

First and foremost, Canada has different natural resources than the United States which means you may see a focus on different ingredients, especially proteins. It’s not uncommon for Canadian pet food to feature a lot of fish and seafood as well as poultry like duck and game meats like venison.

You may also notice that many of the top-shelf Canadian pet food companies focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients.

It’s no secret that Canada is head and shoulders above the United States when it comes to sustainability. While statistics vary from one province to another, 79% of Canada’s electricity comes from eco-friendly sources. By 2025, vehicle greenhouse gasses are expected to be half of what they were in 2008. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly pet food company, Canada is a great place to start your search.

There’s a lot to love about Canadian pet food companies, but it’s always your job as a responsible pet owner to make an informed decision. We’re here to help you learn the ins and outs of the Canadian pet food industry and to introduce you to some of the best cat food in Canada.

The Best Cat Food In Canada: Our Top Picks

Now that you have a better understanding of what sets Canadian cat food apart, you may be curious to learn more about some of the specific brands. Below you’ll find a list of some of our favorite Canadian pet food companies with a quick recipe review from each brand.

#1 Open Farm

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Easily one of our top picks for cat food in general, Open Farm is a relatively new entry into the pet food industry. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Open Farm is dedicated to premium quality, ingredient transparency, and ethical sourcing.

This company uses only humanely-raised meats and wild-caught fish, all of which is free from antibiotics and growth hormones. They offer a wide variety of product types and flavors, though their options for dogs are a little more extensive than for cats.

They still offer a number of dry foods, wet foods, and bone broths.

Open Farm is highly rated for ingredient quality and species-appropriate nutrition, though you shouldn’t be surprised to pay a bit more because of it. Not only is Open Farm conscious about their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing practices, but their packaging is all reclosable, reusable, and/or recyclable.

Featured Recipe: Open Farm Herring and Mackerel Rustic Blend Wet Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Ocean Herring, Mackerel, Water Sufficient For Processing, Pumpkin, Carrots

This wet food formula is marketed not only as a wet food but also as a meal topper or mixer. It is rich in moisture which supports your cat’s hydration and it contains two high-quality sources of animal protein. If your cat has a sensitive stomach or is allergic to common proteins like beef or chicken, this fish-based formula could be a good option.

Like most of Open Farm’s recipes, this formula does contain a significant number of plant-based ingredients, including some legumes and pulses. It’s also worth noting that the primary sources of added fat are plant-based as well, though the herring and mackerel provide natural sources of omega-3s.

Overall, we love the quality as well as the protein and moisture content of this formula. That said, it does contain a number of plant-based ingredients but the carbohydrate content is still only around 15%.

Ingredients:

Ocean Herring & Mackerel, Water Sufficient For Processing, Pumpkin, Carrots, Spinach, Red Lentils, Agar Agar, Non-GMO Cranberries, Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Chicory Root, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Turmeric.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 8.1%
Crude Fat: 4.74%
Crude Fiber: 0.97%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45%
Fat: 26.33%
Fiber: 5.39%
Carbs: 23.28%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 34.03%
Fat: 48.36%
Carbs: 17.6%

What We Liked

  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Packaging is reclosable and recyclable
  • Highly digestible, rich in moisture for hydration

What We Didn’t Like

  • Fairly expensive
  • Contains several plant-based ingredients

#2 FirstMate

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The FirstMate pet food brand was founded in 1989 and was originally focused on dog food products. Today, however, they’ve expanded their offerings to include both dog and cat food products across several brands such as KASIKS and Skoki.

This brand manufactures all of their own products in company-owned facilities in British Columbia. They source their ingredients primarily from North America, the exception being their lamb which comes from Australia. All of their meat ingredients are humanely raised, and their fish is sustainably wild-caught.

FirstMate offers a variety of dry and canned food products, many of which are made with a limited number of ingredients. They use a variety of protein options including chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, duck, lamb, and more.

Featured Recipe: FirstMate Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Boneless Chicken, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride

Formulated with cage-free chicken, this canned food recipe is rich in species-appropriate animal protein and moisture. Because it is made with a short ingredient list, it’s great for cats with food allergies or sensitivities, unless, of course, your cat is allergic to chicken.

In fact, this formula contains just two main ingredients aside from the water necessary for processing and nutrient supplements required for balanced nutrition. There’s a little kale thrown in at the end, but its likely not significant enough to make much of a difference in terms of the food’s composition.

Overall, this appears to be a protein- and moisture-rich recipe with very low carbohydrate content. We wouldn’t mind seeing a supplemental source of animal-based fat but this is a very low-calorie cat food that could be a great option for older cats or those who need help achieving a healthy weight.

Ingredients:

Boneless Chicken, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Minerals: (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Iodine), Vitamins: (Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Kale.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 4%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 18.18%
Fiber: 2.27%
Carbs: 29.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 40.42%
Fat: 35.7%
Carbs: 23.88%

What We Liked

  • Limited list of simple, digestible ingredients
  • Rich in high-quality animal protein
  • Plenty of moisture to support your cat’s hydration

What We Didn’t Like

  • Contains some plant-based ingredients

#3 Go! Solutions

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Read Our Full Brand Review

This company is geared around producing pet foods formulated to address specific needs. These may include allergies, digestive issues, sensitivities, and skin problems. Go! Solutions is owned by Petcurean, a family-owned company based in Canada that was founded in 1999. Other Petcurean brands include Gather, Summit, and Now Fresh. Though based in Canada, Petcurean sources a number of their ingredients from the United States and they have multiple production facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

All Go! Solutions pet food products are made with meat sourced from animals deemed fit for human consumption. They use a number of unique protein options like lamb and venison which may be a benefit for cats with food allergies or sensitivities. They offer an assortment of dry and wet cat foods.

Featured Recipe: Go! Solutions Carnivore Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey + Duck Pate Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Turkey

Crafted with your cat’s carnivorous needs in mind, this wet food formula features multiple sources of high-quality animal protein. In fact, 96% of the protein in this recipe comes from animal sources, including fresh chicken, turkey, and duck along with chicken liver.

In addition to being rich in protein, this formula is loaded with moisture to support your cat’s hydration and all of the ingredients are digestible whole foods. That being said, there are a few plant ingredients which we generally prefer to avoid in cat food, but the estimated carbohydrate content is still under 5% which is well within our preference range.

We also appreciate that this formula is packaged in reclosable, recyclable, BPA-free cartons instead of plastic pouches or cans. These cartons are made from sustainable materials and the fact that they are reclosable is important since they contain 6.4 ounces rather than the typical 5.5 ounces.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Turkey, Tapioca, Duck, Dried Egg Whites, Flaxseed, Cassia Gum, Guar Gum, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Pumpkin, Cranberries, Salmon Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 5.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 25%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 25%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 34.65%
Fat: 46.29%
Carbs: 19.06%

What We Liked

  • Packed with high-quality sources of animal protein
  • Rich in moisture, easily digestible for cats
  • Supplemented with salmon oil for omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like

  • Fairly pricey
  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients

#4 Smack

View on SmackPetFood.com

Founded in 2008, Smack is a Canadian-based pet food company that focuses on raw dehydrated formulas for cats and dogs. The company’s origins start with a family dog named Zorro who passed away from cancer. This passing inspired the family to create Smack for other families and their pets who can benefit from wholesome, nutritious, raw food diets. All of Smack’s raw dehydrated recipes are dehydrated using gentle, low-temperature air drying methods which help retain more nutrition compared to freeze-drying.

Each recipe features a short list of high-quality ingredients including organic superfoods with proven benefits for pet health. Most of their recipes are made with Canadian-grown USDA organic free-range chicken, used bone-in with organs. They also use bone-in wild BC salmon and humanely raised pork.

Featured Recipe: Smack Purrfect Pork Raw Dehydrated Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Pork (Bone-In), Pork Heart, Pork Liver, Pork Kidney, Pork Tongue

Made with a limited number of high-quality ingredients and gently dehydrated at low temperatures, this cat food offers excellent nutritional quality. The first ingredient is humanely raised, bone-in pork and it is followed by nearly half a dozen nutrient-rich organ meats.

Aside from the pork muscle meat, bone, and organ meats, this recipe contains a handful of plant ingredients. According to Smack, these are proven superfoods and several are organic. Quality aside, however, we generally prefer to see cat foods with fewer carbohydrate inclusions

While Smack dehydrated foods can be fed as-is, it is best to serve them rehydrated to help meet your cat’s needs for moisture. Simply add equal parts warm water to the food and soak prior to feeding.

Ingredients:

Pork (Bone-In), Pork Heart, Pork Liver, Pork Kidney, Pork Tongue, Pork Spleen, Pumpkin, Kale, Apple, Celery, Blueberry, Cranberry, Turmeric, Tocopherols.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 40%
Crude Fat: 30%
Crude Fiber: 1.8%
Moisture: 4%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 41.67%
Fat: 31.25%
Fiber: 1.88%
Carbs: 25.21%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 29.18%
Fat: 53.16%
Carbs: 17.66%

What We Liked

  • Made with all-natural, humanely raised pork
  • Includes nutrient-rich organ meats
  • Dehydrated at low temperatures to preserve nutrition

What We Didn’t Like

  • Contains some unnecessary plant ingredients
  • Limited number of product choices

#5 Canadian Naturals

View on Canadian Naturals

A 100% family-owned pet food company with over 50 years of experience in the industry, Canadian Naturals is well-trusted among pet owners in Canada. With their headquarters in Fraser valley in Abbotsford, BC, this brand is manufactured in company-owned kitchens on the West Coast with regional, non-GMO ingredients. Canadian Naturals uses regional farm-fresh ingredients and lists a number of their suppliers directly on their website.

Not only does Canadian Naturals offer high-quality pet food formulas, but they are committed to delivering that quality at the best value for their customers. They offer a small assortment of dry cat food recipes and a larger variety of dog foods.

Featured Recipe: Canadian Naturals Turkey & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Turkey Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Salmon Meal

Made with regional ingredients, this dry cat food features turkey meal as the primary protein. As additional sources of animal protein, you’ll also find salmon meal and egg on the list. Both of these are meat meals which means the moisture is removed prior to inclusion, making them both concentrated sources of animal protein.

While this recipe contains three animal-based sources of protein, it also contains a significant number of plant ingredients. Peas may provide some protein, though they are generally not our favorite ingredient in cat food. You’ll also find starchy inclusions like potatoes on the list.

We appreciate that this formula contains probiotics to support your cat’s digestion, though the low moisture content may negate those benefits. Overall, however, this formula appears to contain high-quality ingredients and we appreciate that Canadian Naturals uses local or regional sources.

Ingredients:

Turkey Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Egg, Flaxseed, Choline Chloride, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Apples, Blueberries, Carrots, Spinach, Tomato, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Broccoli, Pumpkin, Bananas, Brewer’s Yeast, Sodium Chloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Rosemary Extract, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Peppermint, Garlic, Parsley, Green Tea Extract, Turmeric, Thyme, Rosemary, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Chamomile.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 32%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 3.5%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 35.56%
Fat: 20%
Fiber: 3.89%
Carbs: 40.56%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 28.52%
Fat: 38.96%
Carbs: 32.53%

What We Liked

  • Made with regional, non-GMO ingredients
  • Multiple sources of high-quality animal protein
  • Supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion

What We Didn’t Like

  • Contains a significant number of plant ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs

#6 Orijen

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The flagship brand of Champion Petfoods, Orijen was the first and remains the largest pet food manufacturer in Canada. Founded in 1985 by Reinhard Muhlenfeld, the company got its start preparing and packaging animal feed for local Alberta Farmers. By 2018, Orijen had grown to a company with over 500 employees. They are headquartered in Alberta, Ontario and have manufacturing facilities both in Canada and in Kentucky.

Orijen formulates their products to provide biologically appropriate nutrition for dogs and cats. Their recipes are powered by WholePrey ratios with the first 5 ingredients being fresh or raw. They currently offer a limited selection of dry cat food and freeze-dried treats.

Featured Recipe: Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets, Flounder

Formulated for cats of all life stages, this dry food formula starts with a long list of high-quality animal proteins. From poultry like chicken and turkey to fresh fish like whole mackerel, this recipe is packed with a mixture of muscle meat, organs, and cartilage.

Not only does Orijen use a large percentage of meat in their formulas, but most of it is fresh or raw. The remaining protein sources are dehydrated at low temperatures to remove water without compromising the nutritional integrity of the product.

While Orijen certainly delivers on high-quality animal protein, we’re disappointed that they only offer dry food options for cats. Commercial dry cat food is typically higher in carbohydrates than wet food and doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs – this recipe is no exception.

Overall, it seems to provide a concentrated source of high-quality animal protein, healthy fat, and calories but it is still higher in carbohydrates than we’d like and low in moisture.

Ingredients:

Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Eggs, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Chicken Fat, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Navy Beans, Pollock Oil, Lentil Fiber, Pea Starch, Chicken Heart, Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Whole Cranberry, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pear, Freeze-Dried Chicken, Freeze-Dried Turkey, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 40%
Crude Fat: 20%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.44%
Fat: 22.22%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 30%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 34.61%
Fat: 42.03%
Carbs: 23.36%

What We Liked

  • Packed with high-quality sources of animal protein
  • Contains nutrient-rich organ meats
  • Rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids

What We Didn’t Like

  • Contains a significant number of plant ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs

#7 Amor

View on Amor Pets

Amore pet foods was founded by Barbara Fellnermayr in Vancouver. Barbara spent the majority of her career working as the manager of the very first Vancouver City Pound followed by Coquitlam City Pound.

During her tenure, the City of Vancouver announced its first no-kill policy and Coquitlam followed suit when Barabara moved there. Today, Barabara continues to work for the health and wellness of animals in Canada through Amore pet foods and through her work with local rescues.

Amore offers an assortment of locally sourced, human-grade, 100% natural air-dried foods for dogs and cats. They use only the highest quality ingredients sourced from local farms and they grind their meat in-store to monitor the quality.

Featured Recipe: Amore Cat MEGA Morsels Beef Recipe Air Dried Cat Food

First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Heart, Carrots, Squash

This air-dried cat food features locally sourced free-range beef as the primary ingredient. All ingredients are human-grade, bought whole and ground in-house to ensure quality. Amore has their vegetables delivered fresh each week and they don’t use any synthetic additives.

Because this product is dried, it doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs unless you rehydrate it. Amore notes that you can feed it as-is, but its best to mix with fresh water or broth and let sit for 15 minutes after stirring for full rehydration.

While we appreciate the high protein content and the quality of the ingredients, we’ll note that this recipe does contain a significant number of plant ingredients. We weren’t able to determine the estimated carb content since the fiber content is not provided, but it is likely significant.

Ingredients:

Free-Range Non-Medicated Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Heart, Carrots, Squash, Yams, Kale, Parsley, Parsnips, Free-Range Eggs, Salmon Oil, Kelp.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 36.8%
Crude Fat: 15.6%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 36.8%
Fat: 15.6%
Carbs: 47.6%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 30.09%
Fat: 30.98%
Carbs: 38.93%

What We Liked

  • Made with biologically appropriate muscle meat and organs
  • Free from fillers, meat by-products, and artificial additives
  • Locally sourced ingredients including free-range meat and eggs

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some cats dislike the texture of rehydrated food
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs (unless rehydrated)

How Is Canadian Cat Food Regulated?

In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the final say when it comes to the manufacture and marketing of most food products, both for people and pets. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has set the standard for what is considered “complete and balanced” for dogs and cats, though they don’t have any regulatory power.

Organizations like these help keep American pets safe and help American pet owners make smarter choices about what they feed their pets. So, what’s the Canadian equivalent?

While the FDA’s reach doesn’t extend beyond U.S. borders, Canada has their own industry watchdogs.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is “dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canadas people, environment, and economy.” The CFIA is a regulatory agency that was created in 1997 to consolidate the delivery of all food safety, animal health, and plant health regulations in the country.

It was created by combining three previously separate federal government departments:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Health Canada

Like the FDA, it’s the CFIA’s responsibility to enforce the various acts and regulations that impact the food industry – that includes pet food. One of the primary regulations the CFIA is responsible for enforcing is the Food and Drugs Act. First passed in 1920 and revised in 1985, this act regulates the production, import, export, transport, and sale of food, drugs, contraceptive devices, and cosmetics.

But does the CFIA actually enforce any of these regulations? It’s unclear.

Over the past several years there have been several reports on Canada’s failure to regulate their pet food industry. A representative of the CFIA told a Global News reporter, “Pet food safety and hygiene are the responsibility of the pet food manufacturers.”

While regulations for pet food do exist, they appear to be much less detailed (and less strictly enforced) than the regulations for human products.

The CFIA doesn’t require inspection or verification of pet food products manufactured and sold in Canada. For products exported to the United States, manufacturers must provide documentation to U.S. regulatory authorities, though much of that documentation is based on honesty.

In the previously mentioned Global News Report, Dr. Daniel Joffe, national medical director of VCA Canada comments that, because Canada’s pet food industry is largely based on the honor system with a lack of enforcement, there’s room for dishonesty. Additionally, veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper states that the fact that the industry is largely unregulated puts pets in harm’s way.

If Canadian pet owners can’t trust the CFIA to ensure the safety of pet food products, who can they trust? Some say the PFAC is the best place to turn.

Nutritional Adequacy of Canadian Pet Food

More specific to the pet food industry, the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) is a voluntary organization that acts as the national voice Canada’s pet food industry.

Much like AAFCO, the PFAC represents pet food manufacturers as well as the companies that supply the pet food industry with ingredients, products, and services. While the PFAC has no regulatory authority, they help their members comply with federal regulations.

More importantly, they help their members follow AAFCO nutritional guidelines. What does that mean? Any Canadian pet food that meets PFAC requirements also conforms to AAFCO nutritional standards.

Keep your cat’s carnivorous needs in mind.

It’s important to keep in mind that American pet food companies are not required to seek AAFCO endorsement, but it certainly helps. Aside from adhering to AAFCO’s nutrient profiles, pet food companies can get the AAFCO stamp of nutritional adequacy by completing a food trial.

Here at We’re All About Cats, we don’t consider AAFCO to be the ultimate authority on pet nutrition. While their cat nutrient profiles are supported by decades of research conducted by the National Research Council (NRC), they represent the minimum requirements for pet nutrition.

Personally, we think your cat deserves better than the bare minimum.

While an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy is certainly a good place to start (and a great way to eliminate some really poor-quality pet foods), it’s still important to have an understanding of your cat’s nutritional needs and how different pet foods meet them – or don’t.

For example, AAFCO recommends a minimum crude protein content of 26% and crude fat of 9% for adult cats, based on a dry matter basis.

If you consider the fact that cats are obligate carnivores and biologically designed to subsist on a whole prey diet, your cat’s ideal diet is closer to 52% protein and 46% fat. Cats simply aren’t designed to consume a plant-based diet, though that’s what most commercial cat foods are.

The average commercial cat food contains as much 55% carbohydrate.

If you want to feed your cat the kind of diet he’s designed to thrive on, your best bet is a properly formulated raw or homemade food. Fresh cat food offers exceptional quality as well. Unfortunately, all three of these options are pretty expensive and it’s not in every cat owner’s budget.

For those who want to support their cat’s long-term health and wellness with quality nutrition, there are still plenty of commercial options worth considering. If you live in Canada, some of those options are pretty great. Just take a closer look at some of the healthiest recommendations above!

Final Thoughts

As a responsible cat owner, your cat’s long-term health and wellness is your top priority. While regular vet appointments and adequate opportunities for exercise and enrichment are essential, the best thing you can do to support your cat’s wellness is to feed him a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet.

No matter where your cat’s food is made, it’s important to ensure that it is nutritionally adequate and produced in accordance with federal standards for quality and safety. The trouble with Canadian pet food is that while federal regulations do exist, they don’t appear to be consistently enforced.

That leaves the ultimate responsibility on your shoulders.

As a pet owner, you must do your due diligence to choose a high-quality product from a reputable company. Don’t trust everything you read on the label, either. Review the company’s website to find information about ingredient sourcing, manufacturing processes, and quality assurance. Look for evidence of product recalls and spend some time reading customer reviews.

Want more? Check out our guide to the best cat food here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a cat food is made in Canada?

While food regulations differ between the U.S. and Canada, you can expect pet food products to indicate their country of manufacture somewhere on the label. Many will say “Made in Canada” somewhere, or you’ll simply see the address for the brand listed. Keep in mind that some companies that are technically based in Canada, production might occur elsewhere.

Is Canadian cat food safe?

The production and sale of pet food is regulated in Canada by the CFIA, roughly equivalent to the FDA in the United States. Pet food manufacturers are required to adhere to certain standards for safety and quality, though there is some question whether the CFIA actually enforces those regulations. You can always check for Canadian pet food recalls through the Government of Canada’s website.

Is Canadian cat food healthy for my cat?

While quality may vary from one product to another, you can assume that any pet food product carrying a PFAC endorsement also meets AAFCO cat or dog nutrient profiles. Keep in mind that these profiles only account for the minimal nutritional requirements of pets and they do not have any bearing on the quality of the ingredients used to meet those requirements.

About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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