Dr. Elsey’s 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.

This brand has earned its keep in the cat litter department, but is Dr. Elsey’s cat food worthy of your cat’s bowl? Read our unbiased Dr. Elsey’s cat food review to find out.

The Cats.com Standard—Rating Dr. Elsey’s on What Matters

We’ve analyzed Dr. Elsey’s 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 these six key areas.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 7/10
  • Product Variety – 6/10
  • Price – 5/10
  • Customer Experience – 9/10
  • Recall History – 10/10

Overall Score: 7.7/10

We give Dr. Elsey’s cat food a 46 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.

About Dr. Elsey’s

Back in 1989, a feline-only veterinarian named Dr. Bruce Elsey started selling cat litter. The company’s since become a household name, producing a large variety of affordable, effective products for your litter box.

In 2017, the company took its first step outside of the litter box and launched a line of cat food. The line is called cleanprotein™, a name promising highly-digestible, efficient food that fuels your carnivore as nature intended.

Sourcing And Manufacturing

Dr. Elsey’s cat food is manufactured in the United States from ingredients sourced around the world. The company sources proteins from the United States and obtains other ingredients from Europe and Canada.

Dr. Elsey’s doesn’t source any primary ingredients from China, but may use China-sourced taurine.

Has Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Been Recalled?

It doesn’t appear that Dr. Elsey’s cat food has ever been recalled.

What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Dr. Elsey’s Offer?

Dr. Elsey’s offers a modest selection of wet and dry cat food.

The five dry cat food formulas stand out with exceptionally low carbohydrate content. All five recipes are made with at least 93% animal protein and only contain around 10% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. Unlike most kibble, Dr. Elsey’s dry food is made without the use of grains and other starchy ingredients and instead relies on gelatin as a binder.

The current cleanprotein dry food lineup from Dr. Elsey’s includes five recipes. The original chicken recipe is the only single-protein formula Dr. Elsey’s offers – the other four dry foods all contain dried chicken in addition to the primary protein source which is either turkey, duck, salmon, or rabbit. All recipes aside from the chicken formula also contain pork protein isolate as a concentrated source of species-appropriate animal protein.

Dr. Elsey’s wet food is less groundbreaking, but sticks to carnivorous dietary principles with high meat inclusions, moderate fat content, and minimal carbohydrate content.

With single source duck and pork recipes along with a selection of mixed-protein foods including ocean whitefish, beef, salmon, rabbit & turkey, chicken, and duck & turkey, the Dr. Elsey’s wet food lineup is small but diverse.

Dr. Elsey’s cat food is never made with by-products and doesn’t use mystery proteins like animal by-products or meat meal. The foods never contain artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, flavors, or chemical preservatives that could harm your cat over time.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product Name Food Type Primary Protein Calories Price Per Ounce Our Grade
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Dry Chicken 545 kcal/cup $0.35 A-
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Food Dry Salmon 544 kcal/cup $0.38 A-
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Canned Food Wet Chicken 36 kcal/oz. $0.47 A-

#1 Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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View Lab Report

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

This Dr. Elsey’s recipe is a chicken-based food loaded with protein from fresh chicken and dried egg product. Instead of the usual grains or legumes used to make dry cat food have the look and feel of crunchy kibble, this food contains gelatin as an agent of structure and shape.

The food contains chicken fat as a species-appropriate source of the fatty acids cats need. It also contains salmon oil as an animal-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. A variety of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are also included to make the food nutritionally complete.

Overall, this food is high in protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

Though this food is leagues ahead of the average dry food, it takes more than low carbohydrate content to make kibble a good choice for your cat. Regardless of carbohydrate content, dry food increases your cat’s chances of developing lower urinary tract disease. Make sure your cat gets plenty of water from other sources like water, wet cat food, and wet food toppers or mixers.

The food has 545 calories per cup.

Ingredients

Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Gelatin, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Potassium Citrate, Fructooligosaccharide, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols, Salt, Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 59%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 67.05%
Fat: 20.45%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 7.95%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 53.78%
Fat: 39.84%
Carbs: 6.38%

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Common Allergens: Chicken

Pros

  • Primarily meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content around 10% dry matter
  • Relies on animal-sourced fats
  • Made without grains or artificial additives

Cons

  • No dry food contains the moisture your cat needs
  • Chickpeas can be hard for some cats to digest

#2 Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review

Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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Salmon appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.

This kibble is almost identical to the chicken recipe above, except it’s primarily made from salmon. Fresh salmon is the first ingredient, followed by dried chicken as a concentrated source of protein. The food’s third protein source is dried egg product.

In addition to fresh salmon meat, the food contains salmon hydrolysate, an ultra-bioavailable form of salmon protein. The protein has undergone hydrolysis, a process that alters the amino acids and makes them more readily absorbed by the body.

Chicken fat is added as the food’s primary fat source. Unlike the chicken recipe above, the food contains chickpeas, which are both a source of carbohydrates and of protein. It contains natural flavor, which the company describes as a liver-derived palatant for cats.

The food contains flaxseed, presumably as a source of fiber. Just before a series of synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, the food contains a concentrated burst of protein from pork protein isolate.

Overall, this dry food has high protein content with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

This food breaks the dry food mold with low carbohydrate content and all the animal protein and fat a cat needs.

Ingredients

Salmon, Dried Chicken, Dried Egg Product, Gelatin, Salmon Hydrolysate, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Chickpeas, Pork Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Citrate, Fructooligosaccharide, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 56%
Crude Fat: 17%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 63.64%
Fat: 19.32%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 12.5%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 51.72%
Fat: 38.13%
Carbs: 10.16%

Ingredients We Liked: Dried Chicken, Chicken Fat, Pork Protein Isolate

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Dried Chickpeas, Flaxseed

Common Allergens: Fish, Chicken, Eggs

Pros

  • A meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains animal-sourced fats
  • Made without any artificial colors or flavors

Cons

  • Like all dry foods, it’s not hydrating
  • Contains chickpeas

#3 Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review

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

This canned food is made primarily from chicken and chicken liver. This combination of muscle meat and organs provides a diversity of animal-sourced nutrients, mimicking the nutrient spectrum of whole prey. The food contains dried egg product as a third source of animal protein.

Natural flavor is added to increase the food’s palatability.

The food is thickened with agar-agar, a seaweed derivative with a reputation for safety. After agar-agar, the food contains a small amount of barley grass. This ingredient is unusual in cat food, but it’s not as strange as it initially appears—barley grass is one of the types of grass used as cat grass. It’s a source of insoluble fiber.

The food contains salmon oil as a source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, along with green-lipped mussels. Dried New Zealand green mussels are a source of omega-3s and may help to support joint health.

The ingredient list concludes with a series of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that make the food nutritionally complete.

Overall, this food is rich in protein with moderate fat and low carbohydrate content.

There are 197 calories in each 5.5-ounce can or 37 calories per ounce.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Agar-Agar, Tricalcium Phosphate, Barley Grass, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Turmeric, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Magnesium Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ethylenediamine Dihydroiodide, Folic Acid.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 9%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 50%
Fat: 40.91%
Fiber: 6.82%
Carbs: 2.27%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 32.98%
Fat: 65.52%
Carbs: 1.5%

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil, Dried New Zealand Green Mussels

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Common Allergens: Eggs

Pros

  • A meat-based, high-protein food
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains animal-sourced fats
  • Made without any artificial colors or flavors
  • Moisture-rich for healthy hydration
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • Cost is above market average

What Do Customers Think Of Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food?

Most customers like Dr. Elsey’s cat food, though a few say their cats didn’t enjoy it or noted that it was out of their price range. Here’s what a few real customers have to say about it:

Positive Reviews

“My cat who is extremely picky when it comes to dry food just loves this one. The ingredients are great & I love that it comes in a 2 lb bag so that my cat can eat the entire bag before it gets stale; he refuses to eat dry food which has been opened too long no matter how tightly it is resealed & usually I wind up with an abundance left over but not with this one. Good to the last bite!” –  Mary55, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

“My 13 year old cat was diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed Glyco Balance by Royal Canine. He would not eat he canned food at all but would eat the dry if I mixed with another food. After some researco`h I found Dr Elseys and he loves the canned and dry food. BONUS: he went into remission in just 2 weeks and is back to his old sassy, demanding self. I will say that 2 weeks is unusual it not unheard of, dependeds on the cats overall health, care and diet.”Sopicky, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“I have 4 cats. All ranging from, “I’ll eat anything ” to “nah, I don’t think so”. I also only feed wet food having researched cat health and proper feeding. I was feeding Wellness cat food with no issues, but when I stumbled upon Dr. Elseys Cleanprotein I was doubly excited! Ingredients are amazing so I gave it a try. I ordered a case of the Turkey. Visually it looks appealing and smells good. Texture wise it’s very mushy. All 4 cats will not eat it! I tried tough love and like a mom I thought, “you’ll eat what I put down”. 2 days later and still no eating but lots of stares and crying, I gave in. I’m sad to have to give 1 star, but the reality is they do not like it, not even my non-picky boy. Back to Wellness.” Daisybd, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

“I love Dr. Elsey’s products; however, this price is really ridiculous for pet lovers who have a multi-cat household. I strive to feed my cats the best possible grain free food, but Dr. Elsey’s cat food prices are super high for a very small bag. Like the food, but too expensive for pet owners who have more than one cat. Dissatisfied and surprised! No thanks!”CatLady, reviewing Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Salmon Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

How Much Does Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Cost?

Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein dry cat food ranges from about $0.35 to $0.40 per ounce. It’s similarly priced to Young Again cat food and offers similar nutritional benefit in being low in carbohydrate and high in animal protein. To feed the average 10-pound cat Dr. Elsey’s dry food, it would cost between $0.60 and $0.80 per day.

The cost of Dr. Elsey’s wet cat food is higher. This is pretty common for brands that offer both wet and dry food. To feed a 10-pound cat cleanprotein wet food, it would cost about $2.61 per day.

Overall, Is Dr. Elsey’s A Good Choice?

Dr. Elsey’s offers some of the best dry cat food on the market. It’s rich in animal protein and made without animal by-products for maximum bioavailability. At less than 5% starch on a dry matter basis, Dr. Elsey’s foods won’t spike blood sugar and may even be appropriate for diabetic cats.

Their wet foods are less extraordinary, but they stand out, too. They’re comparable to Hound & Gatos, Ziwi Peak, and other high-protein paté-style foods. They offer a rich combination of muscle meat and organs along with multiple sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

This brand shines as a starting point for recovering kibble addicts. If you’re transitioning your cat off his high-carbohydrate dry diet, Dr. Elsey’s is a great intermediate stage between traditional kibble and a truly species-appropriate diet.

Where To Buy Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food?

You can buy Dr. Elsey’s online through Amazon, Chewy, PetSmart, Petco, Jet, Homes Alive Pets, and PetFlow.com. Use the company’s store locator to find a retailer near you.

small mallory photo

About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at Cats.com and an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com 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.

22 thoughts on “Dr. Elsey’s Cat Food Review

  1. Kathryn G

    I have been feeding my cats Dr. Elsey’s for 2 years and I love it because it has the highest protein content most similar to real prey, which is close to 60% for most prey species including rodents (I found a cool document from a zoo on nutritional analysis of live prey which they feed their animals). But I am dismayed to see the CYANIDE detected by the lab in your analysis report. There are no units on it. Can you please provide more information from the lab? Should I be worried about this?

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Kathryn, that’s a really good question, but unfortunately, I don’t have much context on it, myself. I just sent an email to our lab and will see if I can shed some light on the issue. Thank you for asking.

      Reply
  2. Max

    I want to try feeding my cat the chicken dry kibble, but I’m a tad worried about the recent amazon and chewy reviews complaining of the kibble being smashed and crumbling in the bag before they even open it, did this ever come up for you or has it since?

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      I haven’t tried it in a couple of years, so, unfortunately, I can’t comment on this. However, it does seem to be a real issue, and I would not be surprised if you encountered it upon purchasing. Fortunately, Chewy is quite generous with refunds, and you may be able to get your money back if there is a real problem.

      Reply
    2. CatLadyS

      Hi there! I have now bought a few bags since reading the reviews about the smashed kibble, and while I had one bag that was very crumbly, the past two bags have not had the issue. I’d say it seems to have been corrected.

      Reply
    1. Avatar photoKate Barrington

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Stacy! We’ll take a closer look and get this review updated.

      Reply
  3. Satan

    Any news on that Cyanide found in the food, or you all will just play it by ear and hope everyone forgets about it.
    I understand is not your fault, but maybe another private lab analysis using a different lab?

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey, I just haven’t heard back from the lab and haven’t had a chance to look into it further. I’ll contact the company for more information as well. Sorry about the late reply!

      Reply
  4. Nana

    A lot of the reviews are saying the quality of this food dropped and that their cats are getting sick 🙁

    Reply
    1. Angela Stooksberry

      My kitten has been eating it since September & definitely no illness. He has never even had a hair ball or thrown up as far as we know. Very happy with it. I feel our cats should consume dry food enough so they will eat it while boarded or most importantly when we are gone. I don’t have cat sitters feed raw. I just prefer not to. His diet is 90% moist raw & canned. So far perfectly shaped kibble. No crumbles or dust. I buy thru Amazon.

      Reply
        1. Angela Stooksberry

          You are most welcome. I have recommended this food & your website to family & I see my brother left a comment. How funny!

          Reply
      1. Erin K.

        I found Dr. Elsey’s about a year ago. My cat (whom passed away last month, NOT from eating this food) absolutely loved this food – both salmon and chicken formulas. She was a picky eater, so when she approved, I was delighted.
        I adopted a kitten in June 2022, started her on Dr. Elsey’s in September – she loves it as well.
        Now…we’ve added a 6 month old kitten to our family, he too, loves this food. We add bone broth to it and always provide wet food for the majority of their meals.

        I am concerned with reading about the Cyanide and someone posted about cats getting sick from this food. I’d really like to know more about this…very concerning!!

        Reply
  5. Joseph Stooksberry

    Am I missing something? I just may be missing it but I don’t see chickpeas listed on the blue bag ingredient list above. Under cons it says some cats may not tolerate peas well or something to that effect but I don’t think the chicken recipe has peas in it. By all means double check. I just got new glasses & my apology If I just can’t see we’ll enough. lol. My kitten is fed homemade wet food but we do leave this out for him & he definitely eats it. Seems to enjoy the crunch & his bowel movements are small with very little odor. His homemade food is very moist. I like knowing If he is hungry he has food present. He will eat the dogs food if we don’t leave out some dry kibble & with this being so very inexpensive & with better ingredients than most we are so thankful you presented the info. I would have never have found this without your website. Thank you. The bag is so plain & not flashy so easily overlooked. I purchased 10 bags & 3 bags in & as of Christmas of 2022 the kibble is formed & not dusty nor crumbly. Happy New Year! 🙂

    Reply
    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      No, I haven’t heard anything back from the lab, but I have reached out to someone at the Dr. Elsey’s food formulation partner, and they may be able to help.

      Reply

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