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Are Orijen Foods A Good Choice For Your Cat?
To answer these questions, we’ve taken a close look at Orijen, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, product variety, price, ingredient quality, customer experience, and recall history.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Orijen On What Matters
After hours of research, we’ve rated Orijen cat food according to the We’re All About Cats standard. Here’s how it measures up to each of our six criteria for quality.
- Species-Appropriateness – 7/10
- Ingredient Quality – 9/10
- Product Variety – 5/10
- Price – 4/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 5/10
Overall Score: 6.0/10
In total, we give Orijen cat food a 36 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.
Orijen is marketed as “a new class of food, designed to nourish dogs and cats according to their evolutionary adaptation to a diet rich and diverse in fresh meat and protein.”
It’s the flagship brand of Champion Petfoods, the first and largest pet food manufacturer in Canada. The company was founded in 1985 by Reinhard Mühlenfeld, an entrepreneur determined to become the first pet food manufacturer in Canada.
Reinhard started the company with two employees, making and packaging animal food for local Alberta farmers. By 2018, the company had over 500 employees working on their global sales team and at facilities in Alberta, Ontario, and Kentucky.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Orijen sources ingredients from carefully-vetted farms and ranches near their manufacturing facilities. The company has two manufacturing facilities—a NorthStar kitchen in Alberta and one DogStar kitchen located in Kentucky.
Customers in Canada, Europe, and parts of Asia get Orijen foods made in the Canadian facility, while those living in the United States and Central and South America will buy foods manufactured in Auburn, Kentucky.
Champion Petfoods has a mandate to “never outsource”, so they don’t work with outside manufacturers and their kitchens produce exclusively Orijen and Acana foods. Their custom-built facilities have received internationally-recognized Safe Food Quality (SQF) and Safe Feed/Safe Food (SFSF) certifications.
After production, Orijen cat food is sampled by in-house quality assurance staff and a third-party lab.
Has Orijen Cat Food Been Recalled?
Orijen has been recalled once.
In 2008, all Orijen cat food sold in Australia was recalled when several cats got sick and died after eating Orijen cat food. Champion Petfoods states that their recipes were not at fault. Mandatory gamma irradiation had made the food unsafe.
Why Was The Food Irradiated?
Prior to 2009, Australia’s food import regulations dictated that all pet foods made with fresh meat or cooked at low temperatures underwent irradiation treatment before reaching store shelves. This treatment exposes food to gamma rays, which destroy microbial contaminants.
Apparently, this mandatory irradiation treatment destroyed more than microbes—it depleted the vitamin A in the food and promoted the formation and release of free radicals in the body. Together,
vitamin A depletion and the release of free radicals made a number of Australian cats fall seriously ill after eating Orijen food.
Ten years later, a lawsuit was filed against Champion Petfoods.
Consumers from Minnesota, California, and Florida said that Champion Petfoods had misrepresented their products by not disclosing the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their food.
Testing by the Clean Label Project found that Orijen and Acana foods contained arsenic, BPA, cadmium, mercury, and lead. The average amount of heavy metals in the foods, however, were below the maximum tolerable levels set by the FDA.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Orijen Offer?
The Orijen cat food lineup includes five dry foods and six types of treats. They don’t make any wet foods.
Orijen foods contain up to 90% meat, two-thirds of which is fresh or freeze-dried and one-third of which is dehydrated.
Orijen foods utilize muscle meat, organs, bones, and cartilage in what they describe as Whole Prey ratios, approximating the ratios of animal parts a cat might consume in their natural whole prey diet.
Low-glycemic fruits, vegetables, and other additives constitute the remaining percentage of the food. Orijen foods rely heavily on fresh meat and botanicals to achieve nutritional completeness and don’t contain the array of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found in most cat foods.
Orijen Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Orijen Dry Cat and Kitten Food||Dry||$0.32||B-|
|Orijen FIT & TRIM Cat Food||Dry||$0.34||B-|
|Orijen Six Fish Dry Cat Food||Dry||$0.33||B-|
Chicken, turkey, and eggs appear to be the primary protein sources in this dry cat food.
This food is made for cats of all life stages. It’s appropriate for both adult cats and growing kittens. Like most Orijen foods, it contains a variety of protein sources, including a mix of poultry meat, organs, and cartilage, along with whole eggs, flounder, mackerel, and herring.
Most of these meats are fresh—refrigerated without preservatives—or raw, meaning that they were flash-frozen and not treated with any preservatives. The remaining third of the meat is dehydrated at low temperatures. Dehydrated meat is a concentrated source of animal protein.
In addition to meat, the food contains a variety of legumes, including peas, lentils, and chickpeas.
In total, this is a meat-based food with moderate protein, moderate fat, and relatively low carbohydrate content.
Each cup of Orijen Cat & Kitten food is 463 calories.
Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Whole Eggs, Atlantic Flounder, Whole Atlantic Mackerel, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver, Whole Atlantic Herring, Chicken Heart, Turkey Heart, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Chicken Fat, Chicken Necks, Chicken Kidney, Whole Green Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Navy Beans, Whole Chickpeas, Natural Chicken Flavor, Pollock Oil, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Cartilage, Lentil Fiber, Choline Chloride, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Freeze-dried Chicken Liver, Kale, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Whole Carrots, Apples, Pears, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
|Crude Protein||40% min|
|Crude Fat||20% min|
- Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Turkey, Whole Eggs, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver, Chicken Heart, Turkey Heart, Chicken Fat, Pollock Oil, Chicken Necks, Chicken Bone and Cartilage
- Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Red Lentils, Pinto Beans, Green Peas, Green Lentils, Navy Beans, Chickpeas, Lentil Fiber
- Common Allergens: Chicken, Eggs, Fish
- High protein content
- Made primarily from animal protein sources
- Contains multiple nourishing animal parts
- No artificial ingredients
- Low carbohydrate content compared to most dry cat foods
- Contains legumes
- Some reviewers say the food made their cats sick
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This Orijen food geared towards overweight cats and those with lower calorie needs.
It’s made with the brand’s standard variety of fresh, raw, and dehydrated animal proteins, whole prey ratios of muscle meat, organs, bones, and cartilage, and low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
Chicken, turkey eggs, herring, turkey, mackerel, and flounder serve as the food’s primary protein sources, followed by a variety of legumes, fruits, and veggies.
Overall, it’s a meat-based food with high protein, low fat, and relatively low carbohydrate content.
Despite being sold as a low-calorie food, the product’s 445 calories per cup are higher than the average dry food. All Orijen foods are calorically-dense and intended for smaller-than-average portions.
Fresh Chicken Meat (14%), Fresh Whole Eggs (6%), Fresh Whole Herring (6%), Fresh Turkey Meat (6%), Fresh Chicken Liver (6%), Fresh Whole Flounder (4%), Fresh Whole Mackerel (4%), Fresh Whole Pacific Hake (4%), Fresh Turkey Liver (4%), Fresh Chicken Heart (4%), Chicken (Dehydrated, 4%), Turkey (Dehydrated, 4%), Whole Mackerel (Dehydrated, 4%), Whole Sardine (Dehydrated, 4%), Whole Herring (Dehydrated, 4%), Alaskan Pollock (Dehydrated, 4%), Lentil Fiber, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Green Peas, Whole Chickpeas, Whole Yellow Peas, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Navy Beans, Chicken Cartilage (Dehydrated, 1%), Fresh Turkey Heart (1%), Whole Blue Whiting (Dehydrated, 1%), Chicken Fat (0.5%), etc..
|Crude Protein||44% min|
|Crude Fat||15% min|
- Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Eggs, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver, Chicken Heart, Turkey Heart, Chicken Cartilage
- Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Lentil Fiber, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Green Peas, Chickpeas, Yellow Peas, Pinto Beans, Navy Beans
- Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish, Eggs
- Rich in nourishing animal protein
- No plant protein fillers
- No artificial ingredients
- Contains multiple animal parts
- Relatively low carbohydrate content
- More plant matter than cats require
Pacific pilchard appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This food is made primarily from wild fish caught in New England waters, including mackerel, herring, flounder, redfish, monkfish, and silver hake. Fish accounts for 90% of the entire recipe. Due to fish’s potential for heavy metal and toxin contamination, fish-based diets aren’t ideal for cats.
Two-thirds of the fish is fresh or raw. The remaining one-third of the fish ingredients are dehydrated to provide a concentrated source of animal protein. To increase the food’s palatability, it’s infused with freeze-dried cod liver.
Overall, it’s a meat-based food with high protein, moderate fat, and relatively low carbohydrate content.
Each cup of this food is 463 calories.
Fresh Whole Pacific Pilchard (26%), Fresh Whole Pacific Hake (9%), Fresh Whole Pacific Mackerel (8%), Fresh Whole Pacific Flounder (5%), Fresh Whole Rockfish (5%), Fresh Whole Sole (5%), Whole Mackerel (Dehydrated, 5%), Whole Herring (Dehydrated, 5%), Whole Blue Whiting (Dehydrated, 5%), Herring Oil (5%), Alaskan Cod (Dehydrated, 5%), Whole Red Lentils, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Green Peas, Sunflower Oil (Cold-pressed), Whole Sardines (Dehydrated, 1.5%), Lentil Fiber, Whole Chickpeas, Whole Yellow Peas, Whole Pinto Beans, Cod Liver (Freeze-dried), Fresh Whole Pumpkin, Fresh Whole Butternut Squash, Fresh Whole Zucchini, Fresh Whole Parsnips, Fresh Carrots, Fresh Whole Red Delicious Apples, Fresh Whole Bartlett Pears, Fresh Kale, Fresh Spinach, Fresh Beet Greens, Fresh Turnip Greens, Brown Kelp, Whole Cranberries, Whole Blueberries, Whole Saskatoon Berries, Chicory Root, Turmeric Root, Milk Thistle, Burdock Root, Lavender, Marshmallow Root, Rosehips, Enterococcus Faecium.
|Crude Protein||42% min|
|Crude Fat||20% min|
- Ingredients We Liked: Herring Oil
- Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Lentil Fiber, Chickpeas, Yellow Peas, Pinto Beans
- Common Allergens: Fish
- Primarily made from animal protein sources
- Contains herring oil as a source of species-appropriate omega-3 fatty acids
- Relatively low carbohydrate content
- No artificial ingredients
- Fish-based foods aren’t appropriate for long-term feeding
What Do Customers Think Of Orijen Cat Food?
Back when Orijen was exclusively manufactured in Canada, their cat food received consistently positive customer reviews.
Since the company opened their facility in Auburn, Kentucky, many loyal customers in the United States and Central and South America report a decline in quality. These customers say the US-made food is inconsistent, smells strange, and makes their cats sick. Such complaints make up the majority of negative reviews.
“Yes, it is more expensive than cat food from the grocery store but it’s worth it. The quality is amazing, my two cats eat less with Orijen. It improved the digestion of my oldest cat and improved the quality of their fur. They lost weight and look healthier. They are always hungry with other cat food. So, yes it’s more expensive but you give them less and better quality food that it’s better for their health.” – Nolwenn, reviewing Orijen Fit & Trim Cat Food
“My Senior Cat loves this and she is healthy and beautiful. I got her from the Shelter and feed her only dry food this Orijen 6 Fish and the Orijen dry Cat and Kitten food. The vet says she is in great shape and I have to agree because she is so playful and her coat is so nice. Also if you are on a budget. They really don’t eat as much as it is so nutrient rich. My cat Cinnamon has stayed a consistent healthy weight and she has constant access to her food. I just give her a bit twice a day so it stays fresh. That might be over doing it but she is my sweetie. I feel very confident feeding her Orijen..” – Dreamer, reviewing Orijen Six Fish Cat Food
“My cat has been eating the 5 star Canadian Orijen formula for 2 years. She loves it and I have nothing to say but great things about the Orijen product made in Canada. My local distributor told me that ALL U.S. retailers are now required to purchase the NEW formula made in Louisville, Kentucky I bought one 4 Lb. bag of the new Kentucky stuff. My cat began vomiting the new stuff and her stools were something different. Her coat became dull and dry. I mentioned this to the retailer and he gave me a talk about how great the new Kentucky plant was. I was able to obtain more of the Canadian product and within a week the cat was back to her old self. No more vomiting, same old stools and her coat is like shiny velvet again. When she’s happy, I’m happy. I compared the ingredients on the bags and you can see where the difference is. I’d give the new food minus one star if I could. I will NEVER buy the U.S. formula again and I’m not the only one. You’ll see more bad reviews for the new stuff if you look around a little.” – Ric Lbon, reviewing Orijen Dry Cat and Kitten Food
“My cat ate this food for 5 years and loved it. Then she started puking. The vet found nothing wrong with her and then luckily, I found some 1-star reviews about the company switching factories, and therefore the formula. I was able to pinpoint the very day she started throwing up was the day I started feeding her a new bag. I switched brands, and now no more grossness. I’ll take this review down once the company gets their stuff together, though I probably won’t ever go back.” – Barry Neely, reviewing Orijen Six Fish Cat Food
How Much Does Orijen Cat Food Cost?
Most Orijen cat food varieties cost roughly the same amount—around $0.30 to $0.35 per ounce. According to the company’s feeding recommendations for the average 11-lb cat, the food will cost about $0.91 per day.
Overall, Is Orijen Cat Food A Good Choice?
There’s a reason Orijen cat food made our list of the best dry cat foods on the market. Orijen products are some of the only dry foods that feature a whole-prey-inspired variety of fresh muscle meat, organs, and bones. Very few dry food companies can match the low carbohydrate content of Orijen foods or the integrity of their sourcing.
That said, Orijen isn’t a great choice for every cat. Since opening their DogStar kitchen in the United States and reformulating their recipes to include more American ingredients, the company has lost a lot of customers and gained a lot of complaints.
At this point, we don’t know what Orijen is doing wrong at the DogStar kitchen, but the reviews from unhappy customers are enough of a reason to hesitate before choosing this brand.
Orijen foods emphasize variety, including multiple animal species in each recipe. If your cat has allergies or food sensitivities, this might make it a less-than-ideal brand choice.
Overall, Orijen foods are some of the best dry products on the market, but they’re not perfect. Recent reformulations and manufacturing changes may have decreased the quality of Orijen cat food sold to customers in the US, Central America, and South America.
Where Is Orijen Cat Food Sold?
Orijen cat food is exclusively sold through independent pet specialty retailers. You won’t find it in major chain stores or big box stores.