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A commitment to fresh regional ingredients and high-meat formulations have helped make Acana one of the most frequently-recommended pet food brands on the market. But is it a good choice for your cat? Find out in our unbiased Acana cat food review.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Acana on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Acana and graded it according to the Cats.com 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.
- Species-Appropriateness – 7/10
- Ingredient Quality – 9/10
- Product Variety – 5/10
- Price – 7/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 6/10
Overall Score: 6.6/10
We give Acana cat food a 40 out of 60 rating or a B- grade.
As part of our review process, we’ve submitted samples to an independent lab. You can see the full report here.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab.
We bought the products at full retail price, and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
Analytical testing in a food chemistry lab gives us the exact macronutrient and micronutrient content of each recipe. The tests also look at microbial content, yeast, mold, and heavy metals, helping you ensure that you’re only putting the best in your cat’s bowl.
To access the lab reports for each food reviewed here, click the “view lab report” link in the product review.
Acana is a cat and dog food brand created by Champion Petfoods, a Canadian company best known for high-meat, grain-free dry foods made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Champion Petfoods was created in 1985 by Canadian entrepreneur Reinhard Mühlenfeld. Originally a tiny operation serving local Alberta farmers, the company is now Canada’s largest pet food manufacturing company and sells to over 70 countries worldwide.
Champion Petfoods is behind two brands—Orijen and Acana. Compared to Orijen, Acana foods have lower meat content and prices, making it more accessible to buyers on a budget.
Sourcing And Manufacturing
Acana foods are made in Canada and the United States.
Buyers from the United States, Central America, and South America receive Acana food manufactured in the company’s DogStar kitchens located in Kentucky. Those living in Canada, Europe, and Asia buy Acana made in the company’s NorthStar kitchen, which is located in Alberta.
Because of the company’s commitment to fresh regional ingredients, the suppliers and formulations vary based on where it was made.
In this article, we’ll focus on the formulations produced in the company’s DogStar kitchen.
Champion’s DogStar kitchens are centrally located in Kentucky’s farming community, giving them access to fresh regional ingredients. According to the company, most Acana ingredients arrive at the DogStar kitchen within 48 hours of harvest. To store these fresh ingredients, the DogStar kitchens are equipped with 25,000 square feet of cooler space capable of holding over 500,000 pounds of fresh ingredients.
Acana refuses to outsource their manufacturing to co-packers and they don’t manufacture pet food for anyone else.
Has Acana Cat Food Been Recalled?
Prior to 2009, Australian import regulations required all raw or lightly-cooked imported foods undergo gamma irradiation treatment before being sold in stores. Because Orijen foods contain fresh and freeze-dried ingredients, they were subject to this mandatory irradiation treatment.
In 2008, the treatment destroyed more than microbial contaminants in Orijen food. It depleted vitamin A and promoted the formation and spread of free radicals. Combined, these effects led to illness—sometimes fatal illness—in several cats who ate the treated Orijen food.
In 2018, US consumers filed a lawsuit against Acana’s parent company, Champion Petfoods.
The class-action suit alleged that Champion misrepresented their food by failing to disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins. Testing by the Clean Label Project revealed that both Orijen and Acana foods contained arsenic, BPA, cadmium, mercury, and lead. You may view documentation of those toxins here. The average amount of heavy metals in Orijen and Acana foods fell within the maximum tolerable levels set by the FDA.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Acana Offer?
While Acana offers several lines for dogs, their cat food selection is limited to the Regionals line, which includes four recipes.
US-made Acana Regionals foods are inspired by regions of the United States, including Meadowland, Wild Atlantic, and Grasslands.
The Canadian lineup also includes four recipes, each inspired by regions of western Canada, including Wild Prairie, Pacifica, Grasslands, and Ranchlands.
All Regionals foods are at least 70% meat, half of which is fresh—never frozen, only refrigerated—or raw, which means it was frozen before processing. Muscle meat, organs, and cartilage are included in each recipe in what Acana calls “WholePrey ratios”.
Acana foods are minimally supplemented, containing added zinc, copper, and choline. Other necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are provided by meat, organs, cartilage, and a variety of vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. They appear in the nutrient analysis, but not on the ingredient list.
Acana Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price||Our Grade|
|Acana Regionals Meadowland||Dry||$5.60 per lb||B|
|Acana Regionals Grasslands||Dry||$6.00 per lb||B|
|Acana Regional Appalachian Ranch||Dry||$0.28 per oz||B|
What Do Customers Think of Acana Cat Food?
Acana receives mixed reviews. While the brand is generally well-regarded and gets primarily positive reviews, Acana has been hit by criticism since opening their DogStar kitchen in Auburn, Kentucky. Since the transition to the United States manufacturing plant, customers say that Acana foods taste different, look different, and, according to some, make their pets sick.
Here are four reviews from Acana customers:
“When I adopted my cat I wanted to feed her the best cat food out there, so I Googled Best Cat Food and Acana popped up. After a few weeks her coat was shiny and she looked healthier then when I adopted her. Even the vet said her coat was shiny and soft. Healthier food, healthier cat!” – Donna Brown, reviewing Acana Regionals Grasslands Cat Food
“I have been feeding it to our two cats for about a month and the oldest cat of 12 years, acts like she did when she was 5. More energy, fur not as oily, more alert…. I always looked at reviews that said what I just said as being a bit over-hyped but it’s true, just like with people, you eat better, you look better and you feel better. This is the best cat food we have ever tried and both cats love it. It has always been a challenge to find a food that BOTH of them like equally. Side note: We initially mixed it with their old food but they ended up not eating the old food, they just left it in the bowl. The food has a long expiration date so don’t be afraid to save some money and get the 12lb bag. We store the excess in air-tight Tupperware type containers.” – Vespasian, reviewing Acana Regionals Meadowland
“Something has been wrong with both of our cats since we switched to this food. They’ve had bloody diarrhea, have become picky eaters, are shedding more and are pooping like crazy. A high-quality food shouldn’t have them visiting the litter box 3x a day and filling it up – or pooping so much that they’ve started going on the floor. When we transitioned them to this food we did so slowly and properly and followed the feeding guidelines (not to over-feed). It has not worked. Since switching to a different food they’re back to normal. The thing is, when we lived in Canada we fed our cats Orijen and they were fine. Now that we live in the US it seems their American product is not up to the same standard.” – John Smith, reviewing Acana Appalachian Ranch
“Not cool. I’ve bought 4 of these bags now, and this one – the 4th – is all of a sudden making my cat sick as hell at both ends. I took the cat off this food, and sickness gone. Put cat back on just a little bit and BOOM there we are again. I’m going to request a refund and hopefully no other cats get sick from this same batch but something went very wrong and I’ll NOT be spending this much money on this brand anymore.” – Kyle S., reviewing Acana Regionals Grasslands
How Much Does Acana Cat Food Cost?
Acana is a moderately-priced cat food brand. According to the company’s feeding guidelines for an 11-lb cat, Acana costs about $0.64 to $0.75 per day. This puts Acana in the same price bracket as Merrick Backcountry, Taste of the Wild, and Wellness CORE grain-free dry cat food.
For those weighing Acana against its meatier and more expensive sibling, it’s about 20% cheaper than Orijen, saving you about $87 per year.
Overall, Is Acana a Good Choice?
Acana is one of the best dry cat food brands on the market. Acana’s unusually high meat inclusions, use of muscle meat, organs, and cartilage in WholePrey™ ratios, and relatively low carbohydrate content sets it apart from other kibble brands.
But Acana isn’t without its flaws. Although they offer a line of limited ingredient foods for dogs, Acana hasn’t yet launched a Singles line for cats. The brand’s emphasis on varied meat proteins may make it a poor choice for cats with food sensitivities and allergies.
Since Champion Petfoods opened their DogStar kitchen in the United States, the company has received a barrage of customer complaints. These quality control issues aren’t apparent in every bag, nor do they affect every cat, but they’re worth keeping in mind when considering Acana cat food.
Where Is Acana Cat Food Sold?
Both online and off, Acana is exclusively sold through independent pet specialty retailers and veterinary practices.
Both authorized and non-authorized dealers sell Acana. The company claims, however, that authorized retailers provide superior customer service and the Champion Petfoods 100% satisfaction guarantee. Non-authorized dealers include, but aren’t limited to, Chewy/PetSmart, Jet, Walmart, and eBay.