Kirkland Cat Food Review

Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

kirkland cat food review

Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

Considering Kirkland cat food? Get the facts first. Read this review to find out if Costco’s famous store brand delivers the quality and value you’re seeking.

The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Kirkland on What Matters

We’ve analyzed Kirkland cat food and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of these six key areas.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 7/10
  • Product Variety – 4/10
  • Price – 10/10
  • Customer Experience – 8/10
  • Recall History – 4/10

Overall Score: 6.5/10

We give Kirkland cat food a 39 out of 60 rating or a B- grade.

About Kirkland Cat Food

Bon Appetit calls Kirkland Signature “the best store brand there ever was”.

From vodka rumored to be a rebottling of Grey Goose to famously fresh cashews and socks said to rival Smartwools, Kirkland Signature has a reputation for delivering affordable products that are as-good-or-better-than their name-brand equivalents.

But can this brand do cat food as well as it does liquor and wool socks?

That’s what we’re about to find out. I’ve done hours of research on Kirkland cat food, studying the brand’s recall history, manufacturing, ingredient quality, and customer experience. On top of those hours of screen time, I did some paws-on testing, too. To get a sense of what this food is like in the real world, I bought a bag of Kirkland Signature cat food and tested it out with my two cats.

After that research and testing, I’m ready to bring you the facts about Kirkland Signature cat food. Let’s start at the beginning—where Kirkland cat food is made.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Kirkland Signature foods are made in the United States from domestic and imported ingredients.

Who Makes Costco Cat Food?

Kirkland Signature cat food is manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods in five facilities around the United States. In addition to Kirkland Signature, Diamond makes food for numerous names in pet food, including—to mention a few—Taste of the Wild, 4health, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Has Kirkland Cat Food Been Recalled?

In the spring of 2012, Kirkland Signature cat food was recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. It wasn’t the only brand involved—Diamond recalled numerous other brands after a salmonella outbreak in its facility.

In addition to Kirkland cat food, the recall affected Diamond-produced foods from brands including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Premium Edge, 4Health, Taste of the Wild, and Professional.

Following the salmonella outbreak, the FDA launched a week-long investigation of the company’s facilities in Gaston, South Carolina.

The FDA investigation found that Diamond Pet Foods wasn’t taking “all reasonable precautions” to ensure that its products were safe. For example, the FDA report observed that Diamond didn’t conduct any microbiological analysis to ensure that incoming animal fat was contaminant-free, nor did it control contamination of animal digest during its time in the warehouse.

The facility lacked hand washing or sanitizing stations in key areas. There were feed residues covering some parts of the food conveyor system and damage to some parts, increasing the likelihood of contamination. Perhaps to repair these damaged parts, Diamond had used cardboard and duct tape on their equipment, making some parts impossible to clean and hence a breeding ground for contaminants.

This wasn’t the first time Diamond’s Gaston plant was scrutinized by the FDA.

Back in 2005, Diamond Pet Food issued a dog food recall after discovering aflatoxin in its Gaston, South Carolina plant. Subsequently, the facility received a warning from the FDA after an inspection found “significant violations” of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The Gaston plant had produced dog food with excessive levels of aflatoxin and, according to the inspection, hadn’t implemented any procedures to prevent aflatoxin contamination.

Though it has been involved in one recall and its manufacturer has a history of safety and quality control issues, Kirkland Signature appears to be a consistent and safe brand. As of this writing, Kirkland cat food hasn’t been recalled in almost eight years.

What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Kirkland Offer?

Kirkland Signature cat food is available in three dry recipes. It appears that the brand’s two wet recipes, Organic Chicken & Chicken Liver and Organic Chicken & Turkey, are being discontinued.

Kirkland Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypePrice per OunceOur Grade
Kirkland  Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice FormulaDry$0.07B
Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato RecipeDry$0.08B-
Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat FormulaDry$0.10C+

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula

EVAXO Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice Cat Food

View on Amazon

Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food. 

This kibble is a crowd-pleaser. It’s an affordable and palate-friendly recipe formulated for all life stages, meaning that it’s nutritionally well-rounded for kittens and adults of all ages. It’s primarily made from chicken and chicken meal, both good sources of the amino acids that your cat needs to thrive.

After these chicken-derived ingredients, the food contains whole grain brown and ground white rice. These two types of rice help to bind the kibble, lending it structure and crunch. Chicken fat serves as the food’s primary fat source. It’s a good one—compared to plant oils, cats get more benefits from animal-derived fats.

In addition to synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, the food contains guaranteed levels of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis. These probiotic bacteria may help to support digestion and overall health.

Overall, this food has low protein content, low fat, and high carbohydrate content.

With no animal by-products, no vaguely-named meats, no plant by-products, and no artificial colors or flavors, this food is free of a lot of ingredients we’d like to avoid.

It’s also special in what it does contain. Few comparably-priced foods offer guaranteed levels of probiotic bacteria. If the food meets these label claims, it could help to support healthy gut flora.

Though it’s one of the best values in dry cat food, this product isn’t perfect. Between its low protein levels, high carbohydrate content, and moisture depletion, it’s not a carnivore-appropriate meal.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Flaxseed, Sodium Bisulfate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein30% min
Crude Fat20% min
Fiber3.0% max
Moisture10% max
Ashn/a

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Fat, Probiotics

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Whole Grain Brown Rice, Ground White Rice

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Features named cuts of meat rather than vaguely-named meals or animal by-products
  • Contains guaranteed levels of probiotics
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • One of the most affordable foods you can buy

Cons

  • High in carbohydrates
  • Low moisture content
  • Low in protein

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe

Kirkland Signature Nature

View on Amazon

Salmon meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food. 

Nature’s Domain is Kirkland’s grain-free pet food line. Instead of rice or other grains, the food uses sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes as starchy binders.

It’s a fish-based food that features salmon meal and ocean fish meal as its first two ingredients, followed by several variations on peas and potatoes. The recipe uses canola oil as its primary fat source. We’d prefer to see animal-sourced fat in its place.

Like all Kirkland cat foods, the recipe has guaranteed levels of probiotics. Chicory root serves as a source of prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Overall, this food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content. 

With a name like Nature’s Domain, you know that this grain-free kibble is going to cost a little bit more than the standard Kirkland Signature food. And it does—each ounce of this food is three cents more expensive than Kirkland’s Maintenance Cat recipe.

But with plenty of starch, a bit of plant-sourced protein, and canola oil in lieu of animal-derived fats, this recipe isn’t any more nutritious or species-appropriate than the food in the purple bag. Instead, it looks a little bit worse.

Ingredients

Salmon Meal, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Canola Oil, Natural Flavor, Choline Chloride, Dl-methionine, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein32% min
Crude Fat14% min
Fiber3.0% max
Moisture10% max
Ashn/a

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Salmon Meal, Probiotics

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Canola Oil

Common Allergens: Fish

Pros

  • A relatively high-quality kibble for cats who like fish
  • One of the best economical dry foods you can buy
  • Contains guaranteed levels of probiotic bacteria for digestive support and overall health

Cons

  • Contains canola oil instead of animal-sourced fat
  • High carbohydrate content

Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Formula

Super Premium Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Food

View on Amazon

Chicken meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

This Kirkland recipe is marketed for indoor cats, promising to help your cat lose weight while keeping hairballs under control. The food contains chicken meal as its first ingredient, followed by ground white rice, peas, powdered cellulose, and potato protein.

It contains chicken fat as its main fat source, along with natural flavor—presumably hydrolyzed animal tissues—and a small amount of fish meal.

In addition to synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, the food contains dried chicory root as a source of prebiotic fiber and two species of probiotic bacteria. It also offers boosted levels of L-carnitine, an amino acid that helps to convert fat into energy.

Overall, this food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

This food prioritizes weight management over all else. It’s significantly lower-calorie than most dry foods with very low fat content and plenty of fiber. While it might help your cat to lose weight, it’s not the most nutritious food you can give him.

With more carbohydrate matter than protein, this food is not a species-appropriate choice and not the best choice for your carnivore.

The food is 285 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice, Peas, Powdered Cellulose (Source Of Fiber), Potato Protein, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Fish Meal, Sodium Bisulfate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Dl-methionine, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, L-carnitine, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein32% min
Crude Fat9.0% min
Fiber10% max
Moisture10% max
Ashn/a

Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Formula Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Breakdown

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Fat, Probiotics

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Ground White Rice, Peas, Potato Protein

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • May be a good choice for cats who need to lose weight
  • Contains guaranteed levels of beneficial bacteria
  • Contains species-appropriate animal fat instead of plant-derived oils

Cons

  • Very high in carbohydrate matter
  • Low fat content isn’t ideal for every cat

What Do Customers Think Of Kirkland Cat Food?

On Costco.com, the popular Maintenance Cat Chicken and Rice cat food has earned 500 reviews and a healthy 4.6 out of 5-star rating. Most reviewers praise Kirkland cat food’s combination of price and quality.

A few complaints crop up in the review section and in threads around the web. Most negative reviews accuse various Kirkland formulas of making their cats sick, but I wasn’t able to find any substance to these claims.

Another common complaint relates to the Costco-sized packages. Even happy customers feel overwhelmed by Kirkland’s cumbersome 25-lb sacks of dry food. One person on Reddit said they’d buy it if they could, but they didn’t have room to store the bag.

Positive Reviews

“So if you’re a cat lady like me this is for you lol. Super great value, good nutrition, and simple ingredients!”Latissa G., reviewing Kirkland Signature cat food on Influenster

“Great value for money with this cat food. Maintaining my 12 year old cat’s weight with this food has been easy, and she seems to enjoy the food. The only downside to buying this brand is storing all of the extra food. I use a big plastic tub, and a smaller cereal storage container to pour the food from every morning.” Christine A., reviewing Kirkland Signature on Influenster

Negative Reviews

“I’ve used Costco dry cat food for years. And all the cats liked it. However, At this time I have nine rescue cats. Not one will touch the food. I don’t understand what is wrong. I see from other reviews that people are having the same issue. Kirkland: you need to be aware of this problem!!!!” Landa, reviewing Kirkland Signature cat food on ConsumerAffairs

“Both of my cats are sick after being on a new bag Kirkland maintenance chicken and rice for about a week. Both have diarrhea and one is vomiting. They have been on this before so at first I thought maybe it was just upset stomach but now I’m convinced its the food.” – Gwen, commenting on a Kirkland cat food review on PetFoodTalk

How Much Does Kirkland Cat Food Cost?

If you buy it on the Costco website or in the warehouse, Kirkland cat food ranges from $0.07 to $0.10 per ounce. If you’re feeding a typical 10-lb cat, that adds up to roughly $0.14 to $0.20 per day.

This puts Kirkland cat food among the cheapest brands on the market.

Overall, Is Kirkland Cat Food A Good Choice?

Kirkland cat food isn’t perfect. Like many other dry products, their recipes are moisture-depleted, carbohydrate-heavy, and relatively low in protein.

But compared to other comparably-priced products, Kirkland is an outstanding option. This brand offers superior ingredient quality with none of the potentially-harmful additives you’ll find in other budget foods.

Where To Buy Kirkland Cat Food?

You can buy Kirkland cat food through the Costco website, on Amazon, or in Costco stores around the world. Click here to find a Costco Wholesale warehouse near you.

Click Here to Shop for Tiny Tiger Cat Food on Amazon

Mallory Crusta

About Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

19 thoughts on “Kirkland Cat Food Review

  1. AvatarJoyce Bevins

    What is the ash content of Kirkland Maintenance Cat Food?
    What is the ash content of Kirkland’s Nature’s Domain Salmon meal and sweet potato cat food?
    I have a male cat and want to care for his kidneys.
    Any suggestions for best cat food ?

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Hi Joyce,

      Thanks for your comment! I contacted Kirkland and it looks like the Kirkland Maintenance cat food is about 7% ash, while the Nature’s Domain food is 8.5% ash. This is typical among dry foods. Controlling ash levels can help, but it isn’t necessarily the most reliable way to choose a kidney-friendly food. It appears that the best way to preserve your cat’s kidney health is by choosing moisture-rich foods with high-quality, low-waste protein and controlled levels of phosphorus.

      Our list of the best cat food for senior cats takes these factors into consideration and you might find it helpful: https://allaboutcats.com/best-cat-food-for-senior-cats

      Hope this helps you choose the best food for your cat!

      – Mallory

      Reply
  2. AvatarLinda Bryson

    I feed my two cats Blue Buffalo. One kitty likes it in the house. My other kitty wants noting to do with indoors. Is the Costco brand cat food as good as Blue Buffalo (dry)? It is getting expensive. Especially because of loss if income due to Coronavirus.

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Linda, yes! The Costco brand is as good as Blue Buffalo, if not better. I think you’re going to be very happy with it and it’ll be good for your budget, too.

      Reply
  3. AvatarDave

    Hi Ms Crusta,
    I was at a Costco Store in the Bay Area today and found the two Kirland Dry Cat food offer. I’m a frequent Costco
    Member, I shop for gas and food and other products every week. Just got a kitten now 15 week old. At what age is my kitten ready to try the Domain product. It looks like the next level from kitten to adult food. I’m giving Tiger Nourish Kitten food now a rice base product. Also when and what type of wet kitten food you suggest Tiger should try along with method of introduction to my little guy ?.
    Warmest Regards,
    Dave

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Hi Dave, thanks for your question about providing the best food for your Tiger. He can safely transition to adult food when he’s around 12 months of age. As for making the move to a wet diet, you can do that as soon as you like. There are so many wet kitten foods that would work! You can learn about some of them in our article on the best kitten food. You can start adding a spoonful of wet food into his kibble and gradually increasing the amount over the course of a week or two. This is the same gradual approach I’d recommend for switching to adult food later on. Hope this answers your questions! Best, Mallory

      Reply
  4. AvatarAustin

    I’m tempted to get this brand for my cat, but I’m worried about the low protein. I’ve read that indoor cats require quite a bit of protein.

    Do you recommend mixing in some wet cat food with this kibble for the extra protein?

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Austin, that would be a great idea! The food is definitely a bit higher-carbohydrate and lower-protein than we’d like, so mixing in some wet cat food or alternating dry and wet meals would be an excellent way to help get those macronutrients in line.

      Reply
  5. AvatarTomas ramos

    hello I have a better kitten for your advertising in the food bags, I would like to contact the person in charge and offer my cat. regards

    Reply
  6. AvatarKatie

    Would it be appropriate to mix the Maintenance Cat food with the Sweet Potato/Salmon food, since one is high carb/low protein and the other is low carb/high protein?

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Yes, Katie, you could certainly do that. It still wouldn’t be a nutritionally stellar diet, but it’s a good start. You could also try alternating meals to give your cat more variety.

      Reply
  7. AvatarLORIE JONES

    Hi, my kitties have been eating Kirkland Maintenance Cat food for years. They all loved it. I noticed that when we switched to Kirkland, they all quit throwing up (except the occasional hairball). Now after years of this food, all 6 of my kitties will not eat the food. This happened halfway through the bag. We bought another bag from a different Costco and they still won’t touch it. I cleaned bowls, the mat and everything near their food, just in case they were smelling something else. I called the manufacturer of Kirkland cat food and spoke with a vet. She told me that nothing has changed with their formula or processing. Now we are going nuts trying to figure out what to do. We bought Blue Buffalo, Abound grain free, and Iams, etc, they ate some and all threw up. We bought Rachael Ray food, they won’t eat it. They will eat Purina grain free but all continue to throw up and now 4 of my cats have allergies (scratching fur off, licking so much in spots that she is loosing her hair. We used to buy Authority Brand cat food at Petsmart. They loved it and had no alleries. It got so expensive we can’t afford it for so many rescue kitties. Any suggestions. We are almost out of food and I don’t know what to do. Lorie

    Reply
  8. Avatarkrist

    Hi
    My cat will love the Kirkland brand they also get extra protein i cooked chicken and sometimes cook steak.
    But I notice that my cat fart and there shit at times stink more then others why is it they fart so much.
    Kristi
    Alberts

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Hello there Kristi, flatulence can sometimes be caused by excessive fiber in your cat’s diet or may be a sign that your cat has a sensitivity to something in their diet. You can try closely tracking patterns in your cat’s waste and flatulence to identify if they correlate with dietary factors.
      You might like this article on the best cat food for gassy cats: https://wereallaboutpets.com/best-cat-food-for-gassy-cats
      Our article on the best cat food for smelly poop may also help: https://allaboutcats.com/best-cat-food-smelly-poop

      Hope you’re able to find some solutions soon!

      Reply
  9. AvatarJeff

    Mallory, I appreciate your reviews. While in search of a better food, due mostly to soft smelly stools, I moved from Kirkland maintenance to the Natures domain salmon & Sweet potato. He has more energy and stools are firm and normal odor. So it seems I am good. Now I see Rachel ray indoor is in the store. Is that inferior to the Natures domain? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Mallory CrustaMallory Crusta Post author

      Hello Jeff, thanks for stopping by! I wonder if your cat has a sensitivity to chicken, given that the switch to a fish-based food alleviated his soft, smelly stools. With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend the Rachael Ray indoor cat food for a couple of reasons. For one, it contains chicken, and secondly, it appears to contain slightly more plant-derived protein, which is arguably lower-value than meat-based protein for cats.
      Hope this helps! – Mallory

      Reply
  10. AvatarAei

    My male orange tabby has a tendency to obstruct his urinary tracts. Problem solved by mixing dry and wet food (half each) PLUS 4 tablespoon of water mixed into it.

    Never feed adult male cats dry food only.

    I’m using Kirkland chicken kibble for dry and Friskiie’s for wet.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *