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We’ve rated Dave’s cat food on ingredient quality, species-appropriateness, recalls, and more. Read our Dave’s cat food review to learn how this brand stacks up.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Dave’s Cat Food on What Matters
We’ve rated the brand on six key criteria for quality. Here’s how it rates in each of these six crucial areas.
- Species-Appropriateness – 8/10
- Ingredient Quality – 9/10
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Price – 7/10
- Customer Experience – 8/10
- Recall History – 9/10
Overall Score: 8/10
In total, we give Dave’s cat food a 48 out of 60 rating or an A- grade.
About Dave’s Cat Food
The Dave’s Pet Food brand was created by Dave Ratner roughly twenty years ago. While the pet food brand is only about twenty years old, Ratner opened his first retail store – a soda shop – in 1975. Over the years, Dave began to notice an increasing demand for pet food, so he expanded his shop and rebranded it Dave’s Soda and Pet City.
Eventually, Dave decided to claim a piece of the pet food market for himself. With the help of a veterinary nutritionist, he developed what he stills calls “good food at a reasonable price.” Despite being a small, private label brand, Dave’s pet food is now sold in over 2,000 independent retail stores across the United States and online.
Sourcing And Manufacturing
Most of Dave’s pet foods are manufactured in the United States but their tuna-based cat foods are produced in dolphin-free facilities in Thailand. The company sources their ingredients from the US as much as possible, though some come from Canada, Thailand (tuna), New Zealand, and Australia (lamb).
The vitamin blends used in Dave’s pet food are made in China but no other ingredients are sourced from China.
Dave’s Pet Food has been in business for two decades and only appears to have had one product recall during that time. The recall occurred in June of 2018 and only affected a single batch of Dave’s 95% premium beef dog food.
The recall was initiated after Dave’s received a report from the FDA that one lot of the product was found to have elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The analysis was conducted after the FDA received complaints about 4 dogs who were found to have low thyroid levels. Dave’s issued a voluntary recall in response to the report and the company has not experienced any recalls since.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Dave’s Pet Food Offer?
Dave’s offers a wide variety of wet cat foods but only a single dry food recipe. Wet foods are sold in pouches or cans of three different sizes: 3oz., 5.5oz., or 12.5oz.
Dave’s wet cat food is divided into the following five product lines:
- Healthy & Natural
- Healthy & Nutritious
- Healthy & Delicious
- Cat’s Meow
- Restricted Diet
Within these product lines, Dave’s cat foods come in numerous flavors and textures. Chicken and tuna appear to be the primary proteins featured in Dave’s formulas, though the brand offers turkey and salmon recipes along with a limited assortment of foods made with beef or lamb.
In addition to their collection of patés, shredded foods, and stews, Dave’s offers two Restricted Diet recipes. One recipe is made with restricted phosphorus levels to help manage kidney disease in cats. The other has restricted magnesium levels to help manage urinary issues.
What Do Customers Think of Dave’s Cat Food?
Dave’s publishes customer testimonials on their site, but you always have to take these with a grain of salt. Many companies will publish only positive or mildly critical reviews. To get a broader understanding of the Dave’s Pet Food customer experience, I scoured reviews on Facebook and product reviews on Amazon for cat food products.
Many customers are pleased with the quality of the food and the ingredients. There are many reviews supporting the efficacy of Dave’s therapeutic diets and there’s a running theme of owners of fussy cats enjoying Dave’s cat food more than other brands.
While the majority of the reviews I found for Dave’s Pet Food online were positive, there were several customers who complained about the watery consistency. One reviewer found foreign debris in their cat’s food and another had two cats get sick after switching to Dave’s. Numerous customers have also complained about the lack of response from Dave’s customer service.
Let’s take a look at a few reviews from some of the most popular recipes from Dave’s Pet Food.
“I recently found Dave’s on Chewy. I am so thankful to have found this food. I have 6 cats. I really appreciate the 12.5 oz and 22 oz cans. Those little 3 oz cans do not work when you have 6 cats. My cats absolutely love Dave’s. They clean their bowls. They are all healthy and have shiny soft coats. I love the ingredients and the price point. I couldn’t be happier.” – by Colleen Sheldon on Facebook
“Our cat Beatrice, has been eating various brands of the best, state of the art kibble that money could buy for 13 years and finally, it caught up with her. She almost died of acute pancreatitis. We got her home from the hospital and checked her sugar 3-4 times per day and had to give her insulin. The owners of our favorite pet store, The Hound’s Meow here in Tampa told us about Dave’s 95%. We have been feeding it to all three cats since then and we no longer need to give Beatrice insulin! Also, they are all around the same age, but acting like young ‘uns again! Plus, they drink less water and the waste in the litter box is so much less prolific and much less stinky! My friends are all taking heed and it has helped several of their perpetually sick dogs and cats to attain a better quality of life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” – by Jennifer Howery Torres on Facebook
“I bought the tuna & mackerel canned cat food for my cat, who has multiple food sensitivities/allergies, one of which is chicken. I scanned the ingredients like I always do…no chicken so I assumed all was well. My cat was going NUTS with itchiness after she started eating it. She was miserable. I finally checked out Dave’s website. The food contains ‘natural flavors’ and their Q&A (if you can find it) states it could be smoke, pork, or chicken palatant. NOT COOL. With SO many pets sensitive or allergic to chicken nowadays, it should be listed as a TRUE ingredient, not hidden.
I did try to email the company to ask what specifically was in this food; they never bothered to answer. THUMBS DOWN.” – by Beth Leigh on Facebook
Love This Cat Food But Watch Out For Dangerous Debris Mixed Into Contents
“I want to start by say I love this product and so do my cats. It is a healthy option at a decent price point. I’ve been getting the 12oz and that lasts my cats about 2 days.
However, on two separate occasions from two separate cans, I have found debris mixed into the food. The first time, and the most concerning piece of debris was a small metal screw. I scooped some food out into my cat’s food dish and I was mixing some warm water into the food when I found it. I contacted Dave’s to let them know. I was not looking for compensation or anything, just wanted to flag the safety issue. As such, I tossed the screw without capturing a picture. I had only one response from them asking for pictures.
Today, several weeks later, I noticed something bright green when I put the food in the bowl mixed into the food. It was a small piece of soft plastic – like a plastic bag. I pulled it out and tossed it as well. I have not contacted Dave’s about this as they were rather unresponsive when I found the screw in the food.
I will probably continue to feed my cats Dave’s if I cannot find a suitable alternative, but I will be diligent about checking the contents before I let my cats eat. I cannot even imagine what the metal screw would have done to my cats.” – by Amanda G. Reviewing Dave’s Pet Food Naturally Healthy Chicken Formula for Cats on March 6, 2021
What Did Our Test Cats Think?
To test Dave’s Pet Food, I ordered four different canned food recipes. I wasn’t able to find the dry food formula in stock at my local independent pet retailer.
The four recipes I ordered were:
- Dave’s Pet Food Shredded Chicken & Tuna Dinner in Gravy
- Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Liver & Chicken in Juice paté
- Dave’s Pet Food Cat’s Meow Beef with Lamb Dinner
- Dave’s Pet Food Naturally Healthy Grain-Free Beef & Chicken Dinner
Unfortunately, the store was out of the Cat’s Meow food I ordered, so I ended up with a turkey recipe from the Healthy & Delicious line instead. After I opened the cans, I noticed significant differences in texture among the different recipes.
The Restricted Diet recipe was incredibly smooth and thoroughly blended, almost like a mousse. Both the turkey recipe and the beef with chicken recipe had the typical paté texture, though the turkey recipe was a little softer. The shredded chicken recipe had a significant amount of liquid with some shreds and chunks of tuna and chicken.
My cats enjoyed all four recipes, though the shredded formula was their favorite. They always prefer high-moisture foods and foods in broth or gravy over traditional patés.
Dave’s Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Main Protein Source||Calories||Price Per Ounce||Our Grade|
|Dave’s Naturally Healthy Grain-Free Turkey Formula Canned Cat Food||Wet||Turkey||35.5 kcal/oz.||$0.21||A|
|Dave’s Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Liver and Chicken in Juice Pate||Wet||Chicken||27 kcal/oz.||$0.39||B|
|Dave’s Pet Food Shredded Chicken & Tuna Dinner in Gravy Recipe Wet Food||Wet||Chicken||24 kcal/oz.||$0.58||A-|
#1 Dave’s Naturally Healthy Grain-Free Turkey Formula Canned Cat Food
This grain-free canned food features fresh turkey as the primary protein with chicken broth for moisture. Chicken liver and fresh chicken provide supplemental protein and likely provide most of the recipe’s fat.
At roughly 45% crude protein on a dry matter basis, this formula is moderately high in protein. The dry matter fat content is around 23%, which leaves the total carbohydrate content just over 15%. We generally prefer wet foods to be under 10% dry matter carbohydrate but the carbs in this recipe come largely from nutritious sweet potatoes and carrots rather than starchy beans and legumes.
Though not marketed as such, this recipe is made with a limited list of main ingredients – just 5 excluding the chicken broth and the thickeners. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it isn’t a single-protein formula, so it may not be appropriate for cats with chicken allergies.
Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Guar Gum, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Agar-Agar, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Cranberries, Blueberries, Taurine, Dried Squash, Zucchini, Sodium Carbonate.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Chicken Liver Chicken
Ingredients We Liked
Ingredients We Didn’t Like
#2 Dave’s Restricted Diet Phosphorus Chicken Liver and Chicken in Juice Pate
Priced nearly double the previous recipe, this formula belongs to Dave’s Restricted Diet duo. Made with fresh chicken and chicken liver, this food offers restricted levels of phosphorus which can be helpful for cats with chronic kidney disease.
It’s important to note that Dave’s Restricted Diets are not prescription cat foods, nor are they intended for therapeutic use. The food was developed with the help of a veterinary and is recommended for intermittent feeding only since it isn’t nutritionally complete.
Fresh chicken and chicken liver are the main ingredients in this recipe. Rice flour is used as a thickener, though guar gum is also listed. While rice flour isn’t an inherently dangerous ingredient, it doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition, assuming it is white rice flour. Guar gum has been known to trigger digestive upset in some cats.
Fish oil is the primary source of added fat. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support skin and coat health, though we’d prefer it come from a named source like salmon oil.
Overall, this recipe is fairly low in protein at around 30% dry matter and the fat content is only around 16%. The dry matter carb content is over 30% which is far from ideal. Based on customer reviews, however, this recipe does appear to help with the management of kidney disease, so it may be worth including as an intermittent option. Just be sure to pair it with a species-appropriate formula that is nutritionally complete.
Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Water Sufficient For Processing, Rice Flour, Pumpkin, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B 12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Biotin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide), Taurine.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Chicken Fish Oil Guar Gum
Ingredients We Liked
Ingredients We Didn’t Like
#3 Dave’s Pet Food Shredded Chicken & Tuna Dinner in Gravy Recipe Wet Food
This shredded chicken recipe is the most expensive of the three, priced around $0.58 per ounce. It’s also sold in smaller 2.8-ounce cans, though 5.5-ounce cans may be available in some places.
Upon opening this cat food, I was surprised how much liquid it contained. My cats loved it, of course, but I was a little disappointed by the ratio of liquid to shredded chicken and fish. Calculating the guaranteed analysis as dry matter, however, this recipe does contain over 60% crude protein. The fat content is extremely low, however, just under 10% dry matter.
Given the very low fat and calorie content of this food – as well as the amount of liquid – I would recommend this formula as a food topper. It could be very expensive to feed as a staple diet. It doesn’t contain any red flag ingredients, but the fiber content is nearly 10% which could be an issue for cats that are prone to constipation.
It’s also worth noting that the main source of added fat is plant-based. The fresh tuna likely supplies some animal-based fat, but I’d much prefer to see tuna fish oil or salmon oil used instead.
Chicken Broth, Chicken, Tuna, Pumpkin, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Powdered Cellulose, Potato Fiber, Minerals (Zinc Oxide, Reduced Iron, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite), Magnesium Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Salt.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Tuna Sunflower Oil Fish
Ingredients We Liked
Ingredients We Didn’t Like
How Much Does Dave’s Cat Food Cost?
The premise on which Dave’s Pet Food was built is “good food at a reasonable price.” Ranging from $0.21 to $0.58 per ounce for wet food and $0.16 for the solitary dry food, Dave’s is similarly priced to brands like Taste of the Wild and American Journey. Where Dave’s sets itself apart from the pack, however, is in offering a higher level of quality than most similarly-priced products.
In terms of quality, Dave’s ranks among some of our other top brands including Koha and Hound & Gatos. Using the example of a 10-pound cat, it would cost between $1.18 and $4.83 per day to feed your cat Dave’s wet food. A dry food diet is much cheaper.
Overall, Is Dave’s Cat Food A Good Choice?
Dave’s Pet Food appears to hold true to its motto, “good food at a reasonable price.” While the carbohydrate content of Dave’s cat food varies wildly, the objective quality of the products seems higher than formulas from other brands that are similarly priced.
If you’re looking for a cat food to help manage urinary or kidney problems, Dave’s Restricted Diet recipes seem to get positive reviews and, at just $0.39 per ounce, they’re much cheaper than the average prescription diet.
Dave’s pate-style canned foods appear to offer the best value. Priced under $0.30 per ounce, they offer quality nutrition comparable to more expensive brands. The shredded recipes seem to be the highest in protein, but they’re also the most expensive, closer to $0.60 per ounce.
Where Is Dave’s Cat Food Sold?
The founder of Dave’s Pet Food is an independent retailer himself, so his pet foods are only sold in independent pet retail stores. Dave’s is also carried by major online retailers like Amazon, Chewy, Pet Flow, Pet Life, and more. You can find a complete list of retailers on the company website.