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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.
- 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 Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula||Dry||$0.07||B|
|Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe||Dry||$0.08||B-|
|Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Formula||Dry||$0.10||C+|
#1 Kirkland Signature Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula
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.
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.
|Crude Protein||30% min|
|Crude Fat||20% min|
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
- 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
- High in carbohydrates
- Low moisture content
- Low in protein
#2 Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe
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.
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.
|Crude Protein||32% min|
|Crude Fat||14% min|
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
- 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
- Contains canola oil instead of animal-sourced fat
- High carbohydrate content
#3 Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Indoor Adult Cat Formula
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.
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.
|Crude Protein||32% min|
|Crude Fat||9.0% min|
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
- 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
- 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.
“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
“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.