Ashland Farms Cat Food Review

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Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Ashland Farms is an economy brand of cat food sold through the retail chain Family Dollar. It’s an ultra-affordable pick but is it worth putting in your cat’s bowl? Find out in this detailed review.

The Cats.com Standard—Rating Ashland Farms on What Matters

We’ve analyzed Ashland Farms 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.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 2/5
  • Ingredient Quality – 1/5
  • Product Variety – 3/5
  • Price – 5/5
  • Customer Experience – 2/5
  • Recall History – 3/5

Overall Score: 16/25

Meets AAFCO Guidelines? Yes

We give Ashland Farms an 16 out of 25 rating or an D grade.

Why Trust Cats.com

Before reviewing Ashland Farms, I researched the brand to determine its history, where its products are sold, and how the food is manufactured. I then purchased three recipes—one kibble and two canned foods—and evaluated them objectively using the information on the label. Finally, I tested the three foods with my cats Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.

In testing Ashland Farms cat food, I made observations about the appearance, smell, and texture of the food. My cats provided their opinions on flavor and general appeal. I also searched for customer reviews to get a better understanding of the average Ashland Farms customer experience.

About Ashland Farms

Ashland Farms is a private-label pet food line sold by the American variety store chain Family Dollar. It’s a brand loved for its great prices, offering about a dozen different foods and treats for cats and dogs.

Family Dollar provides very little information about the Ashland Farms brand other than to say the food has “the nutrition and quality ingredients your pet needs.” They mention “high-quality protein” and natural ingredients, but marketing terms like these are pretty generic.

A 30-second video on the Family Dollar website highlights the fact that the food is made in the USA and mentions Ashland Farms’ family-owned facilities. Research revealed several farms across the country called Ashland Farm, but it’s unclear whether any of them are actually linked to the Family Dollar pet food brand.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Online information about the manufacturing of Ashland Farms pet food is scarce. Some sources suggest Sunshine Mills, Inc. produces the pet food, and information on the packaging indicates that the product is distributed by Midwood Brands, LLC.

Sunshine Mills is responsible for brands like Evolve and Triumph. They also have a robust private-label program with manufacturing facilities spread throughout the southeastern United States. Midwood Brands, LLC is headquartered in Chesapeake, VA.

Family Dollar doesn’t state when the Ashland Farms brand was launched but Family Dollar stores first opened in 1959 and Sunshine Mills was founded a decade earlier. No specific information is available about the sourcing of Ashland Farm’s pet food ingredients. We weigh such a lack of information heavily when rating pet foods.

Recall History

Ashland Farms cat food has never been recalled at the manufacturing level. It has, however, been recalled at the retail level along with numerous other products stored and shipped from a Family Dollar Distribution Center in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Family Dollar initiated the pet food recall voluntarily in February of 2022 following an FDA inspection that revealed rats in the company’s distribution center. The recall included a long list of products that were shipped from the warehouse to 404 Family Dollar stores. The FDA’s announcement of the recall mentions the hazards associated with rodents in the facility, including the potential presence of Salmonella.

There’s no indication that Family Dollar received consumer complaints or reports of illness related to Ashland Farms pet food involved in the recall. Stores that received shipments of affected products were temporarily closed and Family Dollar appears to have followed best practices in responding to and communicating about the issue.

What Kinds of Cat Food Does Ashland Farms Offer?

Ashland Farms Cat Food products

This economy cat food brand offers a limited assortment of dry cat food and wet food in several different textures. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

The Ashland Farms brand offers a limited selection of dry cat food, wet cat food, and treats. Product availability appears to vary from one store to another and recipes may change depending on the ingredients available to the manufacturer.

Some of the products Ashland Farms offers include:

  • Choice Mix Premium Dry Cat Food
  • Healthy Essentials Premium Dry Cat Food
  • Beef Dinner in Gravy Wet Cat Food
  • Chicken & Tuna Dinner Wet Cat Food

Ashland Farms dry cat food relies heavily on refined grains, animal by-products, and artificial additives. Though the Healthy Essentials dry food I reviewed includes several named protein sources like chicken by-product meal and white fish meal, the list of ingredients is heavily skewed toward low-value plant ingredients. The brand’s wet cat food products are no better.

Though they rely less on carbohydrate fillers, the only Ashland Farms wet cat foods I could find included the words “flavor” and “dinner” in the product name. The term “dinner” falls under the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) 25% rule. This rule states that the named ingredient need only comprise 10% of the total product (25% by weight without water). The flavor rule doesn’t dictate minimums, only that a listed ingredient provides the flavor.

What Did Our Test Cats Think?

While I didn’t have a high opinion of Ashland Farms’ quality going into testing, I suspected my cats might feel differently. What cheap cat foods like this lack in nutritional value and species-appropriateness, they often make up for in general appeal.

As suspected, Ashland Farm’s heavy use of animal fats and flavors made this brand a hit with my cats.

Product Name Food Type Main Protein Source Calories Price Per Ounce Our Grade
Ashland Farms Healthy Essentials Premium Dry Cat Food Dry Ground Corn 96 kcal/oz. $0.06 D
Ashland Farms Beef Dinner in Gravy Wet Cat Food Wet Animal Liver 25 kcal/oz. $0.17 C-
Ashland Farms Chicken & Tuna Dinner Wet Cat Food Wet Meat By-Products 32 kcal/oz. $0.17 C

#1 Ashland Farms Healthy Essentials Premium Dry Cat Food

Ashland Farms Healthy Essentials Premium Dry Cat Food

Ashland Farms dry cat food comes in very small multi-colored kibbles that are easy for most cats to chew. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

This dry cat food is formulated for cats of all life stages and does appear to meet AAFCO recommendations for essential nutrients. Unfortunately, the recipe relies heavily on refined grains (like corn and wheat) as well as meat and poultry by-products and unspecific animal ingredients. Animal by-products aren’t necessarily a problematic ingredient but when they’re unspecified it’s hard to judge the quality.

With ingredients like soybean meal and corn gluten meal on the list, it’s hard to tell how much of the protein in this formula actually comes from biologically valuable animal sources. The high carbohydrate content and low moisture content of this food also detracts from its species appropriateness.

While this dry cat food appears to offer low biological value, my cats found it highly appealing. The multi-colored kibbles are very small and easy to chew and the product appears to have a meaty aroma some cats may like.

Ingredients

Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Chicken Flavor), Soybean Meal, Beef and Bone Meal (Source of Beef Flavor), Animal Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Whole Wheat, Wheat Middlings, Corn Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles, Corn Gluten Meal, Natural Salmon Flavor, White Fish Meal (Source of White Fish Flavor), Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Fish Oil, Phosphoric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Taurine, Added Color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2), Choline Chloride, Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Folic Acid, Biotin, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.

Ingredients We Liked: Beef and Bone Meal, White Fish Meal, Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Ground Corn, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat, Wheat Middlings, Corn Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles, Corn Gluten Meal, Added Color

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 30%
Crude Fat: 9%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 34.09%
Fat: 10.23%
Fiber: 3.41%
Carbs: 52.27%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 30.66%
Fat: 22.34%
Carbs: 47.01%

What We Liked:

  • Numerous sources of animal protein
  • Flavor is largely derived from natural animal sources
  • Small kibbles are easy for cats to chew

What We Didn’t Like:

  • No dry food provides the moisture your cat needs
  • Relies heavily on refined grains and animal by-products
  • Contains artificial colors
  • Very high in carbohydrates

#2 Ashland Farms Beef Dinner in Gravy Wet Cat Food

Ashland Farms Beef Dinner in Gravy Wet Cat Food

This beef-flavored wet cat food has a shredded texture and a thick gravy. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Though this recipe is described as “beef flavor wet cat food,” the primary ingredient is non-specific animal liver. Even so, there are numerous named sources of animal protein including chicken, beef, turkey, and ocean whitefish. There are also the same meat by-products that appear in the dry food recipe above.

While this recipe still contains corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, the overall carbohydrate content is lower than Ashland Farms dry food. It’s also much higher in moisture which supports hydration and may improve digestibility. Unfortunately, the food still contains added color and it’s thickened with guar gum which triggers loose stools in some cats.

This wet cat food has a shredded appearance at first glance, but it’s clear the “shreds” are formed pieces of the processed mixture. Regardless, my cats enjoyed the flavor and seemed to find the chunky texture and gravy appealing.

Ingredients

Water Sufficient for Processing, Animal Liver, Chicken, Beef, Wheat Gluten, Meat By-Products, Turkey, Ocean Whitefish, Soy Flour, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Added Color, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Taurine.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Ocean Whitefish

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Wheat Gluten, Soy Flour, Potato Starch, Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Added Color

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 2.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 13.89%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 30.56%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 43.75%
Fat: 29.51%
Carbs: 26.74%

What We Liked:

  • First three ingredients are animal-based
  • Cats seem to find the flavor and aroma appealing
  • High in moisture to support hydration in cats

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains corn, wheat, and soy ingredients
  • Guar gum may trigger loose stools in some cats
  • Contains some vaguely named animal ingredients

#3 Ashland Farms Chicken & Tuna Dinner Wet Cat Food

Ashland Farms Chicken & Tuna Dinner Wet Cat Food

This chicken and tuna-flavored wet cat food has a smooth pate texture. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Similar to the previous formula, this wet cat food features numerous animal proteins. It relies heavily on meat and poultry by-products with two named sources of muscle meat or whole protein (chicken and tuna). Though still nothing close to ideal, I’d choose this recipe over the previous one for my cats.

This recipe contains fewer plant ingredients than the previous, though white rice isn’t the most nutrient-rich choice. The food also contains nonspecific animal liver, guar gum, and added color which could contribute to irregular digestion in sensitive cats. It also contains carrageenan which, though not confirmed as a harmful ingredient to cats, comes with some controversy.

With its smooth, moist texture, my cats found this Ashland Farms wet cat food appealing as well. It’s a more calorie-dense choice than the previous recipe, so cats may not need to eat as much of it.

Ingredients

Meat By-Products, Poultry By-Products, Water Sufficient for Processing, Chicken, Animal Liver, Tuna, Rice, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Added Color, Salt, Vitamins, Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Carrageenan, Taurine, Minerals, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Tuna

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Guar Gum, Added Color, Carrageenan

Guaranteed Analysis

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

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 45.45%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 27.27%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 35.53%
Fat: 43.15%
Carbs: 21.32%

What We Liked:

  • Appears to be a primarily meat-based recipe
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration
  • Cats seem to find the flavor and aroma appealing

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Contains some vaguely named animal ingredients
  • Guar gum may trigger loose stools in some cats
  • Contains added color

What Do Customers Think of Ashland Farms Cat Food?

Because Ashland Farms cat food is only sold through Family Dollar, online customer reviews are pretty scarce. While Family Dollar has a presence on Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs, few reviews mention their pet food brand specifically.

Ashland Farms Cat Food dry cat food

Though Ashland Farms’ dry food was very appealing to my cats, many customers on Family Dollar’s website had a different experience. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Positive Reviews

“Bought this bag specifically for a kitten. He ate it really well with no complaints and is currently six months old. The other flavor in this brand did not receive the same enthusiasm though. He will have a full bowl and act like I’m starving him so I need to go back to this one now.” —HappyJack reviewing Ashland Farms Choice Mix Premium Dry Cat Food on FamilyDollar.com, February 2023

“Cats and weaned kittens love this brand. It is small enough for the kittens and tasty enough to not have to mix any wet food in with it.” —Wags reviewing Ashland Farms Healthy Essentials Premium Cat Food on FamilyDollar.com, September 2023

Though positive reviews for Ashland Farms are very limited, several happy cat owners mention the product’s low price and high appeal for their cats. A few customers who had a good experience compared Ashland Farms to other popular brands like Meow Mix and 9Lives.

Negative Reviews

“I bought this on a whim because I was broke and my cat needed food. I will admit I ended up buying it because of the way the packaging looked—it seemed to look like it was more on the natural side vs big corporations. My cat absolutely refuses to eat this!! I researched the ingredients and they are all fillers and trash! I do not recommend!” —Yo Momma reviewing Ashland Farms Choice Mix Premium Dry Cat Food on FamilyDollar.com, March 2023

“I don’t know what this food is made of. None of the cats will eat it. I purchased this food three times and had to throw it away each time. What is in this food that a starving cat won’t eat it? Never will purchase again.” —KSBS reviewing Ashland Farms Healthy Essentials Premium Cat Food on FamilyDollar.com, November 2022

Negative reviews of Ashland Farms cat food center largely around the poor quality of the ingredients. Many cats seem to refuse the food entirely and some who did eat it experienced digestive upset or vomited shortly after.

How Much Does Ashland Farms Cat Food Cost?

Pricing on Ashland Farms cat food may vary among individual retailers but, overall, it’s one of the least expensive cat food brands on the market. Similarly priced to economy brands like Fancy Feast and Meow Mix, this cat food won’t strain your budget.

When I purchased it, Ashland Farms wet cat food cost $0.95 per 5.5-ounce can and the dry food cost $11 for a 12-pound bag. That makes the per-ounce price of Ashland Farms dry food just under $0.06.

While Ashland Farms cat food is undeniably cheap, it’s not very energy- or nutrient-dense. The high concentration of refined grains and other non-species-appropriate ingredients means your cat won’t be able to absorb nutrients as efficiently from this food as they would a more meat-based diet. They may end up needing to eat larger portions and that, combined with the poor biological value, also means more mess in the litter box.

Where Is Ashland Farms Cat Food Sold?

Because Ashland Farms is a private-label brand, it’s only sold by Family Dollar. Availability may vary among various stores, so use the Store Locator to see what local stores have in stock.

You can also order via the Family Dollar website but product selection is limited and small-volume products may require a minimum order. For example, the minimum purchase amount for the 15-ounce bag is six bags.

Though you can’t purchase Ashland Farms cat food from major online retailers like Amazon and Chewy, you may be able to order it online from your store of choice and have it delivered by a company that delivers groceries like Instacart.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.
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About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a writer with over twelve years of experience in the pet industry. She is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach and has completed coursework in therapeutic nutrition, raw feeding, and the formulation of homemade diets for pets at an accredited university. Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house. She has three cats, Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.

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  1. Angela Lynch

    My cat is 2 years old and never been sick until today. My husband brought home a bag of Ashland Farms choice mix premium dry cat food that he purchased from family dollar last night and my poor baby got sick. It’s going in the trash, and I will be more careful next time faced with a unfamiliar cat food.

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