Merrick Cat Food Review

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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.

Merrick describes their foods as “Whole Health Made Right”, but is this brand the right choice for your cat? Find out in our unbiased review of Merrick cat food.

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

We’ve analyzed Merrick 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 those six key areas.

Ratings

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

Overall Score: 6.3/10

We give Merrick cat food a 38 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.

About Merrick

This pet food company started in 1988, when the Merrick family started making dog treats on their ranch in Hereford, Texas. Their first offering was a dog treat called the Flossie. The Flossie’s success inspired the family to start manufacturing all-natural dog food. Twenty-five years after the company started, Merrick introduced its first line of cat food.

In 2015, Nestlé Purina announced its buyout of Merrick Pet Care. The conglomerate explained that they wouldn’t make any changes to Merrick’s management or operations, allowing it to continue operating as an independent business.

Sourcing And Manufacturing

Merrick makes “Five Promises” about its ingredients and manufacturing practices.

  1. Merrick’s first promise is to partner with local growers, theoretically supporting local communities and ensuring the freshness of their ingredients. As an American company, this means that most of Merrick’s ingredients are sourced from the United States. Merrick doesn’t source any ingredients from China.
  2. Merrick uses what they call “nutritious, whole foods”. According to their nutritional philosophy, this means that they don’t use any artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, or preservatives.
  3. Merrick promises to provide balanced nutrition by using 30% to 80% protein from meat, poultry, and fish, combined with vegetables, whole grains, and fruit.
  4. Merrick’s fourth promise is something they refer to as “health you can see.” They say their foods feature “industry-leading” levels of healthy fats, highly digestible meat proteins, and glucosamine and chondroitin.
  5. All Merrick foods are prepared in company-owned kitchens in Hereford, Texas. Their kitchens are Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3-certified and certified by the USDA National Organic Program.

Has Merrick Cat Food Been Recalled?

Merrick food and treats have been recalled several times. Here’s a brief summary of Merrick’s recall history.

2018

In May of 2018, several beef-based dog treats were recalled due to potentially elevated levels of beef thyroid hormones.

2011

In January of 2011, Merrick’s Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats were recalled due to potential salmonella contamination. In the summer of the same year, the company announced a recall of their Doggie Wishbone treats, again due to potential salmonella contamination.

2010

Merrick treats were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Merrick Offer?

Company founder Garth Merrick says that Merrick is set apart by “the efforts we make to retain the natural goodness and nutritional integrity of the whole food ingredients we use,” explaining that “We use the fewest steps we can. We stay away from artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

We believe this approach keeps our customers — and most importantly, their pets – satisfied that our diets are contributing greatly to their pet’s happiness and well-being. We’ve been doing that since the beginning, and we’ll continue to do that in the future.”

Merrick has a diverse cat food offering, including dry food, wet food, raw mixers, and treats. They’re broken down into three lines—Purrfect Bistro, Limited Ingredient Diet, and Backcountry.

Purrfect Bistro is the brand’s original cat food line. It includes both grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes, all targeting different life stages and needs. It’s also the most economically priced of the three product lines.

The Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) line targets cats with food sensitivities and allergies. Each recipe is made with a single source of animal protein, including novel options like duck and turkey. While Merrick lists two dry food recipes in their LID line, only the canned food options appear to be currently available.

The Backcountry line involves all-natural, grain-free foods, some of which are infused with freeze-dried raw meat. Backcountry wet foods are only sold in 3-ounce pouches.

Merrick Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

#1 Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food

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

This Purrfect Bistro wet cat food is a grain-free paté made primarily from chicken and chicken liver with dried egg product as a supplemental source of protein.

In addition to these animal-based ingredients, the food contains a few plant ingredients including dried cranberries and organic dehydrated alfalfa meal. Cranberries may help support urinary tract health in cats, but alfalfa is typically used as a plant-based source of protein in pet food. It’s a much less biologically valuable source than the animal ingredients listed previously.

This cat food contains salmon oil as the primary source of added fat. Not only is this a healthy animal-based fat, but it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help support your cat’s skin and coat health.

Merrick recently reformulated this wet food to remove carrageenan, replacing it with agar agar. Carrageenan is a potentially carcinogenic ingredient that may also contribute to inflammation, so it’s good to see Merrick taking action to remove it. Agar agar is a seaweed-based thickener. It doesn’t have the same bad reputation as carrageenan, but some cat owners say that agar agar contributes to GI issues in their cats.

Overall, this meat-based canned food is high in protein with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.

The food has 177 calories in each 5.5 ounce can or about 32 calories per ounce.

Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Dried Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Agar-Agar, Ground Flaxseed, Locust Bean Gum, Xanthan Gum, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Potassium Iodide).

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 2.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 15.91%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 39%
Fat: 47.35%
Carbs: 13.65%

Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Salmon Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Made with a single source of high-quality animal protein
  • Salmon oil provides omega-3 fatty acids
  • Reformulated to remove carrageenan
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • Higher carb content than some wet foods

#2 Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Game Bird Recipe

Buy on MerrickPetCare.com

Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this recipe.

Three animal-based proteins top the list for this dry food recipe, and they’re supplemented by four other sources of animal protein. Because this recipe is a multi-protein formula, however, it might not be the best option for cats with food allergies.

This recipe is fairly rich in omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon meal, but the overall fat content is still a little low. Cats require a minimum of 9% crude fat in their diets and this recipe has about 16% fat on a dry matter basis, but we generally prefer fat content closer to 20% for healthy cats.

Though the majority of the main ingredients in this dry food are animal-based, there are several starchy plant ingredients on the list. Potatoes and peas fall within the top five and the eighth ingredient is a concentrated source of plant protein: potato protein.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the total carb content of this recipe is much higher than the wet foods reviewed, but it’s a little lower than many cheap cat foods. Keep in mind as well that no dry food provides the moisture your cat needs, so be sure to supplement your cat’s moisture intake in other ways to keep him properly hydrated.

Overall, this meat-based dry food is high in protein with low fat and high carbohydrate content.

The food has 3,588 calories per kilogram or about 395 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Potato Protein, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Deboned Duck, Deboned Quail, Chicken Liver, Dried Yeast Culture, Salt, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Phosphoric Acid, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Gelatin, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 42%
Crude Fat: 14%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 11%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 47.19%
Fat: 15.73%
Fiber: 4.49%
Carbs: 32.58%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 40%
Fat: 32.38%
Carbs: 27.62%

Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Chicken Fat, Deboned Duck, Deboned Quail, Chicken Liver

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potatoes, Peas, Potato Protein, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal

Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish

Pros

  • Top three ingredients are high-quality animal proteins
  • Primary source of added fat is animal-based
  • Infused with freeze-dried pieces of animal protein
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • No dry food provides the moisture your cat needs
  • High in overall carbohydrate content
  • Contains numerous starchy ingredients and plant proteins

#3 Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Turkey Recipe Canned Food

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Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this recipe.

This Limited Ingredient Diet recipe is a grain-free paté-style canned food made primarily from fresh turkey and turkey liver.

Pea protein is the main source of supplemental protein, though the organic dried alfalfa meal likely contributes to the protein content as well. Unfortunately, plant-based protein is much less biologically valuable than animal protein for cats. We’d also prefer to see an animal-based source of fat to replace the flaxseed oil used in this recipe.

Though there are a few ingredients we could do without, this recipe lives up to the promise of being a limited ingredient formula. It’s made with a single source of animal protein and only contains a handful of ingredients aside from supplements. This might make it a highly digestible option for cats, though it’s worth noting that plant ingredients can be hard for some cats to process.

Like the previous wet food formula, this recipe is free from carrageenan. It’s thickened with guar gum, a starchy ingredient that has been known to trigger digestive upset in some cats.

Overall, this meat-based canned food is high in protein with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.

The food has 157 calories in each 5.5 ounce can or about 28.5 calories per ounce.

Ingredients

Deboned Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Flaxseed Oil, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate).

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1.4%
Moisture: 78%
Ash: 3%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 40.91%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 6.36%
Carbs: 16.36%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 36.37%
Fat: 49.08%
Carbs: 14.55%

Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Liver

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Pea Protein, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal

Common Allergens: None

Pros

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Limited list of main ingredients
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • Contains a concentrated source of plant protein
  • Higher carbohydrate content than some wet foods

What Do Customers Think Of Merrick Cat Food?

Merrick cat food receives primarily positive reviews. The brand’s product listings on Amazon and Chewy have, on average, four-to-five-star ratings. Most customers think Merrick is a high-quality brand and say that their cats enjoy eating it.

If you want to hear about negative experiences with Merrick, head to Consumer Affairs.

While reviews are varied, the presence of foreign objects in the food is a recurring complaint. At least two customers found pieces of plastic in cans of Merrick cat food and one found an unidentified brown, hair-covered object. The consumers made these complaints in 2010, 2015, and 2016, respectively.

Positive Reviews

“I have two diabetic cats – sisters. I needed a grain free food for them. What I like about Merrick pates is that they mix great with water. Whether your cat is diabetic or not, best to get water into their diets. I mix this wet food with warm water and make a slurry. I find that cats would rather lap up their food then chew it. Their diabetes has been managed well on this food. We also buy the beef, salmon, and tuna flavors too.” –  SugarKittyMom, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken Paté

“I’ve had a hard time finding a low-carb option that my biggest (and roundest) cat will eat. He likes this one, though! The ingredients list looks good and the kibbles are about half the size of the usual kibbles I see in cat foods. My only complaint is that I wish it came in 20+ pound bags.”Heatherdera, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“Something wrong with recent batch. Cats refused to eat it. In past, when fed cats only this, they lost too much weight, and were losing their fur. Some cans in past were punctured and food went rotten. I switched to another brand and cats are eating and doing well.” unipsycholing, reviewing Merrick Limited Ingredient Chicken Paté

“Missed it and order this food. i do wish carageenan would be listed as an acception, like grain and other bi-products. Off to the store. I must have a better choice for my kitties.”Maggie95, reviewing Merrick Purrfect Bistro Chicken Paté

How Much Does Merrick Cat Food Cost?

Merrick cat food ranges from moderately priced to expensive.

If you have a 10-pound cat, canned food from the Purrfect Bistro line costs about $2.79 per day. Limited Ingredient Diet wet foods may be a little more expensive, around $3.00 per day, with the Backcountry line being the most expensive. Feeding your cat Backcountry wet food would cost about $4.19 per day.

The most economical option for Merrick cat food is their dry food in the Purrfect Bistro line. It would cost about $0.41 per day for a 10-pound cat.

Overall, Is Merrick A Good Choice?

Merrick cat food is an acceptable choice. It’s neither one of the best nor one of the worst foods on the market. In terms of price and ingredient quality, Merrick appears to be comparable to Wellness, Fromm, and Wysong.

To get the best out of Merrick, opt for wet foods from the Backcountry line. They’re free of carrageenan and have lower carbohydrate content compared to those in the Purrfect Bistro and Limited Ingredient lines.

Where Is Merrick Cat Food Sold?

Merrick is available in pet product retailers and farm and ranch stores. Online, you can buy Merrick cat food through Petco, Chewy, Amazon, PetFlow, and Doctors Foster & Smith.

Click here to shop for Merrick cat food on Chewy

small mallory photo

About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at All About Cats. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on All About Cats is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.

10 thoughts on “Merrick Cat Food Review

  1. Roxanne Smaldone

    Hi Mallory, How are you and your Kitties? Have your Cats tried the Backcountry in the Pouches? My Peanut tried it, He will eat it. Sometimes. Would review this Please. He is a picky boy. He is a Senior. I Worry about him. Have a Purrfect day

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Roxanne, good to see you here! I’m sorry about the late reply. We’re all doing well—thanks for asking. We haven’t tried these pouches, but I have evaluated them from afar. Nutritionally speaking, I’d rate them as the best of the Merrick lineup, so if you’re looking for something nourishing and species-appropriate from Merrick, this is your best choice. I wonder if your boy Peanut would like any of the foods on our list of the best cat food for seniors. https://allaboutcats.com/best-cat-food-for-senior-cats

      Reply
  2. Lucero

    what are your thoghts on merricks kitten food thogh? I am getting a kitten soon so i would like to know, thanks!

    Reply
  3. Daniel Martin

    Hello Mallory, Daniel here from Mexico City.

    We have 24 cats that are being fed mainly with Wholehearted products, my question is, compared with Merrik, which one would you say is the best option? to keeo feeding them with Wholehearted or to make the change to Merrik? Petco sells here only the Purrfect Bistro line up. Thanks a lot in advance, and confratulations for this site, it is very helpful.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hi Daniel, I would lean towards Merrick over WholeHearted. Compared to WholeHearted, we know a bit more about the manufacturing and safety of the foods from this brand.

      Reply
  4. Christine Cordova Leyva

    Hi Mallory,
    I’m a cat mom with two Bengal cats, that are picky eaters. They refuse to eat fish as the first protein. I use Merrick purfect bistro chicken, duck, rabbit and Thanksgiving dinner; and I add water to it. I also use Merrick Backcountry pouches as a topper. They get Blue Buffalo Wilderness as a kibble mixed with Roosevelt kibble; with Kiwi Kitchens Lamb gently air dried as a topper. For treats, I give them ApplePaws chicken loin (hand fed), or they get Fussie Cat Gold Chicken shreds in gravy, or ApplePaws chicken shreds in gravy. They lose their minds over treats and are very vocal! My question is…is it normal for cats to hate fish? Am I meeting their nutritional needs? I’ve even tried Orijen and Acana wet food and they won’t touch it..they only want Merrick. They have a pet fountain separate from their food area, which they love and they drink alot of water everyday. One cat is a male and I worry about his urinary health. They are litter mates and are a little over a year old. I picked Merrick and ApplePaws because they have a wider selection of non-fish proteins.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hello Christine, thank you for commenting! It’s great to have you here. I see nothing strange about a cat hating fish. All cats have their own preferences, and it sounds like yours have an exceptionally varied diet. Having a preference like that is not indicative of a problem at all!

      Reply
  5. Rachel Robison

    Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free seems to be the only food that comes in beef flavor. My cats love beef and only tolerate chicken. I read somewhere that cats shouldn’t only eat fish so I rotate this food and Tiki Cat’s various seafood flavors. I don’t know if the ingredients have changed since your review or if the beef is different than the chicken but I don’t see carrageenan listed as an ingredient in the Merrick Purrfect Bistro, Beef Pate.

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hi! Thanks for sharing! It does appear that Merrick has changed their recipes, now using agar-agar instead of carrageenan! This piece is in need of an update; thanks for flagging that!

      Reply

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