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Wondering if FirstMate is a safe, healthy choice for your cat? Find out in our comprehensive FirstMate cat food review.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating FirstMate on What Matters
We’ve analyzed FirstMate 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.
- Species-Appropriateness – 5/10
- Ingredient Quality – 7/10
- Product Variety – 8/10
- Price – 5/10
- Customer Experience – 9/10
- Recall History – 10/10
Overall Score: 7.7/10
We give FirstMate cat food a 46 out of 60 rating or a B+ grade.
This Canadian pet food company was founded in 1989 and originally focused on food for dogs. Today, the company has expanded to include multiple pet food brands, including KASIKS, Skoki, and FirstMate. FirstMate is marketed as simple, high-quality pet food you can trust.
Is it a safe, trustworthy choice for your cat? Let’s investigate further.
Sourcing And Manufacturing
FirstMate manufactures all of their own products in their British Columbia facility. The company highlights end-to-end control of their production process as one of their biggest competitive advantages.
FirstMate controls its own sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution. The company obtains all ingredients from North America, with the exception of lamb sourced in Australia.
Their meat ingredients come from animals that were humanely raised, transported, and slaughtered according to Canadian regulations. All of their fish ingredients are sustainably caught in their natural habitat.
Has FirstMate Cat Food Been Recalled?
No. FirstMate cat food has never been recalled.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does FirstMate Offer?
FirstMate produces both dry and wet cat food options. Their lineup includes grain-free and grain-inclusive varieties, limited ingredient diets, and both single- and multi-protein formulas.
All FirstMate pet foods are made from quality cuts of meat rather than vaguely named animal by-products and meat meals. Most of FirstMate’s canned foods are single-protein recipes, though they offer a few formulas where wild tuna is paired with chicken, turkey, or wild salmon. FirstMate dry foods all start with a high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient, typically chicken or Pacific Ocean fish.
FirstMate’s cat food formulas are free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. It’s also worth noting that their entire wet food lineup is made without gum thickeners like guar gum and carrageenan. Rather, FirstMate uses the starch from potato to thicken their foods and give them the ideal paté consistency.
The brand’s dry foods are packaged using vacuum infusion to lock the fats and oils into the pores of each piece of kibble. In addition to preserving the food, this process protects the nutrients and heat-sensitive fatty acids that might otherwise degrade during cooking.
Generally speaking, FirstMate cat foods are higher in carbohydrates than we typically like to see for a feline diet. FirstMate canned foods receive an average of 17% of calories from carbohydrates (ranging from 10-25%) and their kibble has an average of 22% calories from carbs. According to FirstMate, however, their recipes are formulated according to nutritional research and fall within “acceptable levels for healthy cats and are well balanced with appropriate protein and fat levels.”
FirstMate Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price||Our Grade|
|FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula Limited Ingredient Diet||Dry||$5.06 per lb||B+|
|FirstMate Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.45 per oz||B-|
|FirstMate 50/50 Salmon & Tuna Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.58 per oz||B-|
#1 FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Cat Food Review
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Chicken meal appears to be the primary protein source in this dry cat food.
This popular limited-ingredient dry food recipe features chicken meal as the primary ingredient, accounting for 92% of the food’s total protein content. With the remaining 8% of the food’s overall protein content coming from plants, we can assume that this is a relatively digestible cat food.
Aside from chicken meal and chicken fat, there’s not much to this aptly named limited ingredient food. Potato is one of the top three ingredients and thus contributes significantly to the recipe’s high carbohydrate content. Blueberries appear fourth on the list with a small amount of kale at the end of the ingredient list.
Overall, this food has moderate protein content, moderate fat, and high carbohydrate content.
This is a truly limited-ingredient food and a promising option for cats with food sensitivities or allergies. As is true for all dry foods, however, this formula doesn’t provide the moisture your cat needs. You’ll need to supplement your cat’s moisture intake in other ways to support hydration.
The food has 547 calories per cup.
Chicken Meal, Potato, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Whole Blueberries, Dl-Methionine, Minerals: (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins: (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Calcium Propionate (a Preservative), Taurine, Yeast Extract (a Source of Prebiotics), Kale, Glucosamine Hydrochloride.
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potato, Whole Blueberries
Common Allergens: Chicken
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Contains a single protein source to reduce the risk of allergic reactions and intolerances.
- Rich in animal-sourced protein
- Free of harmful artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- High carbohydrate content
- Dry food doesn’t provide the moisture your cat needs
#2 FirstMate Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This limited-ingredient canned food features a single protein source, a starch, and supplements that make it nutritionally complete. Aside from kale at the very bottom of the ingredient list, the food really only has two main ingredients. It doesn’t even contain any stabilizers like guar gum or cassia gum.
This makes it a promising option for cats with food sensitivities or allergies, including those on an elimination diet to identify trigger ingredients.
Overall, this dry food has moderate protein content with moderate fat and high carbohydrate content.
This food’s positive qualities include a super-slim ingredient list, the use of apparently high-quality protein source, and a refusal to include any potentially-harmful artificial ingredients. That said, the inclusion of potato sends the food’s carbohydrate content up over 20%, which is more than your carnivore needs or can benefit from.
The food has 140 calories per 5.5-ounce can or about 25 calories per ounce.
Boneless Chicken, Water Sufficient for Processing, Potato, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Minerals: (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Iodine), Vitamins: (Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Kale.
Ingredients We Liked: Boneless Chicken
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potato
Common Allergens: Chicken
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Appropriate for cats with food sensitivities and allergies
- Free of potentially-harmful additives
- Primarily made from high-quality boneless chicken
- Relatively high carbohydrate content
- A considerable percentage of reviewers say their cats didn’t like the food
#3 FirstMate 50/50 Salmon & Tuna Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review
Salmon appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
While the other foods reviewed earlier were limited-ingredient foods with a single protein source, this recipe contains two protein sources—salmon and tuna. Ninety-six percent of the food’s protein content comes from these ingredients.
Like other FirstMate foods, this recipe contains potato instead of any traditional thickening gums. Synthetic vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and kale provide supplemental sources of key nutrients.
Overall, this food has high protein content with moderate fat and high carbohydrate content.
This food has some good qualities. It includes high-quality fish as the primary ingredients and doesn’t contain a lot of the plant ingredients you’d see in other, less streamlined foods. By using potato instead of traditional stabilizing gums, this FirstMate food becomes a high-starch choice, though the total carb content is lower for this recipe than the previous canned food formula.
The food has 146 calories per 5.5-ounce can or about 27 calories per ounce.
Boneless/Skinless Salmon, Deboned Tuna, Water Sufficient For Processing, Potato, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Minerals: (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Iodine), Vitamins: (Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Kale.
Ingredients We Liked: Boneless, Skinless Salmon, Deboned Tuna
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potato
Common Allergens: Fish
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Contains high-quality salmon and tuna
- Rich in animal-sourced protein
- A relatively limited-ingredient food
- Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that could harm your cat
- Relatively high carbohydrate content
What Do Customers Think Of FirstMate Cat Food?
Because their lineup includes several limited-ingredient foods, FirstMate is a popular choice among cats with food sensitivities, allergies, intolerances, and chronic digestive problems. People like that FirstMate foods are made without any thickening gums and are impressed by the simplicity of their ingredient lists.
Their foods, particularly the wet ones, get some negative reviews. Most unhappy reviewers say their cats didn’t like the foods’ taste, smell, or consistency.
“Got a sample of this after writing FirstMate and they were kind enough to send a few sample bags. I have an IBD cat and anyone with a fur baby with this Disease knows how hard it is to find a food they for one will eat, let alone be free of potential irritants and not needed ingredients. For one, “Chicken Meal” is not horrible, it has more nutrients actually than just “Chicken”. Always look at the first 5 ingredients it will tell you all you need to know about the quality of cat food. This food is so far a hit with my IBD cat, he gets it as just a treat for right now along with FirstMate Chicken LID in the can. I also sprinkle powdered pet chicken bone broth on top of his FirstMate canned it is suppose to help repair the intestinal mucosa.. Hats off FirstMate, don’t change anything please.” – DonnaJean, reviewing FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Cat Food
“Canned chicken: Although it looks like cat food that has been barfed up, four of our five cats seem to love it and the other one is too busy outside to eat right now but he’s not finicky so I think he’ll like it too. We have decided to give our cats only the best and after exhaustive research, this food seems to fit the bill for canned food. Haven’t tried dry food yet. Hopefully the cats will continue to eat it!” – AletaA, reviewing FirstMate Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Canned Cat Food
“I have a very picky girl and she would not eat it. She would rather starve that’s how bad it is. My boy cat who eats EVERYTHING, would just eat it in bits and pieces. I would give it 1 star but because it is grain free and is free of guar gum, I would still recommend it to others because of the price point. I wish my cats liked it more.” – meowmeowbebop, reviewing FirstMate Limited Ingredient Chicken Formula Limited Ingredient Canned Cat Food
“Because there aren’t many foods for cats that don’t contain grain and fish, I purchased this kibble with high hopes. The fact that 96% of reviewers recommended this product also made it look very promising. Unfortunately none of my four cats (which includes one with IBD) showed much interest in it.” – Hajime19, reviewing FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Cat Food
How Much Does FirstMate Cat Food Cost?
FirstMate cat food is at the lower end of the premium price range. Their dry food costs roughly $0.40 per day if you’re feeding a typical 10-lb cat. FirstMate’s wet food is a bit more expensive, ranging from $1.82 to around $2.80 per day.
Overall, Is FirstMate A Good Choice?
FirstMate stands out from the crowd in a few significant ways with their cat foods. First, their dry cat foods are some of the few truly limited-ingredient products on the market, containing fewer than 5 main ingredients. Second, FirstMate wet foods are among the relative few that do not contain artificial binders and thickeners like carrageenan and other gums.
FirstMate’s parent company, Taplow Ventures, appears to be a company you can trust. During their last 30 years of operation, they have not issued a single product recall. All FirstMate foods are made from sustainably-caught fish, free-run poultry, and other natural ingredients. They also appear to be produced under carefully-controlled conditions.
These foods are a good option for cats with food sensitivities or allergies but proceed with caution—most of their foods are high in carbohydrates. Obligate carnivores like your cat simply aren’t built to process plant foods in significant amounts. As mentioned previously, however, many of FirstMate’s recipes are lower in carbs than the average commercial cat food – especially their dry foods.
Also Read: Best Cat Food for Diabetic Cats
Where To Buy FirstMate Cat Food?
You can buy FirstMate cat food in independent pet specialty retailers scattered across Canada and the United States. FirstMate also partners with a number of distributors in Europe and Asia. Online, it’s available through Chewy, Amazon, and directly through the FirstMate website.
Is the canned food for cats low in phosphorus for CKD CATS? Can you send me the list of canned food and percentage of the phosphorus, please?
Hi Christiane, thanks for your questions!
First Mate foods are not formulated for cats with kidney disease and aren’t necessarily the best option for a cat with CKD. I’d recommend having a look at our guide to the best food for cats with kidney disease.
Unfortunately, FirstMate doesn’t make their foods’ exact phosphorus content readily available. Instead, we can only guess phosphorus content based on the guaranteed analysis. Because the guaranteed analysis only gives the minimum percentage of phosphorus, it’s not really an accurate measure of its nutritional composition. I’ve contacted First Mate requesting a typical nutritional analysis of all of their canned cat foods but haven’t received anything yet. I’ll update you if I learn anything more. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to contact First Mate asking for the typical phosphorus content of any recipe you’re interested in.
Hope this helps!
Hi Mallory, I have been feeding my 8 year old cat the cage free turkey canned food for about 6 months and until a month ago, she is getting bored with the taste. I tried adding various other flavours to intrigue her but to no avail. Since I tried the Turkey with Tuna canned option, she loves her food. I am concerned about feeding her fish every day because of mercury content which I think it must have. She can’t eat dry food cause she has no teeth and vomits easily even with small pieces of chicken mixed in with the turkey. I feed her 5 small meals a day. She has no problem with the consistency of the wet food. Can can you please advise if feeding her the turkey with tuna every day could result in problems?
Hello Arlene, it’s always hard to say whether or not a fish-inclusive food will cause health issues over time as we don’t have any solid evidence one way or the other. That said, I would try to incorporate some more fish-free foods if possible, perhaps experimenting with some other brands. Perhaps you could experiment with some of the limited-ingredient diets from First Mate’s sister brand, Kasiks. Good luck!
My cat is 17 .5 years old, he was raised on friskies, recently I tried the salmon and tuna formula, it smelled spoiled with in 4 hours, in a good container in the fridge, and it seems to me that the company has used all the garbage parts of the fish, will never, never buy again, the past month spent $ 60 on this, go ahead spin it anyway you want, its garbage, my cat wouldnt eat it, and cats know!!!
My cat loves this food – especially the cans. We totally believe in this company and how they source their products.
Luckily she is 13+ and still going strong.
Glad you and your cat enjoy First Mate!
Hi there! Very helpful review. Can you say more about why you’ve rated this food 5/10 for species-appropriateness? Is it the inclusion of potato? I’m considering this food for my Cornish Rex cat who has sensitivities and would like to know more.
Whether wet or dry, all of their foods tend to be pretty high in plant ingredients (like the potato you mentioned) and carbohydrates, which we generally don’t think aligns with a species-appropriate feeding model. Hope that helps!
Hello! Any thoughts on the First Mate grain friendly foods? Such as their Indoor Cat food blend, or the Cat and Kitten food.
Hello Cassandra, great question. Similarly to the grain-inclusive recipes, we see a good proportion of protein from animal sources, and the plant content looks slightly higher—for instance, 14% plant protein in the grain-friendly Cat & Kitten formula vs 8% plant protein in the Chicken & Blueberries formula. I’m not a big proponent of grain-free dry food—it seems like a bit of a fad, and we don’t see any indication that eliminating grains does much of anything to support wellbeing—so I would consider the grain-friendly recipes you refer to as roughly equal to the dry foods listed in this review.
Hello is FirstMate salmon formula limited ingredient grain free canned cat food good for cats with hair balls ? if not and there is a better one what do you recommend
Hello Katelynn, you might appreciate our article on the best cat food for cats with hairballs.
Hi Mallory, My local pet store gave me a sample of the Firstmate duck with blueberry, but I do not see it listed anywhere, and one of my cats loved it. I was only using a few pieces of kibble to get him interested in his food, as I’m switching over to a canned wet diet. It’s going okay, though I do miss the ease of kibble early in the morning so violence doesn’t ensue before I get out there to feed them all. Do you know if they still make this formula? Thank you, Lisa
P.S. If I went to an early morning kibble feeding and two wet feedings, would that be okay for them. Ages 13 down to 2 years old. 5 cats total. Also, what is your favorite non wet food brand, and flavors. No fish please.
Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment! I was able to find this product on Amazon, though it’s quite pricey there. Yes, I think an early morning kibble feeding plus two small wet meals would be just fine—the more moisture, the better! Regarding favorite non-wet foods, here’s our guide to the best dry cat food on the market.
Moi aussi je souhaiterais une analyse du First Mate canard bleuets. Il semble y avoir un taux de glucides plus bas que les autres recettes sèches de First Mate. Avec patates.. sans pois, lentilles qui apportent souvent des problèmes digestifs.
Aussi une analyse des recettes humides de la marque Koha m’intéresserait pour mon chat avec problèmes gastro-intestinaux. Les recettes diététiques à ingrédients limités m’apparaissent très intéressantes.
Bonjour Nathalie, votre évaluation est correcte ! Je recommanderais cette recette comme alternative à ces autres recettes à base de légumineuses. De plus, vous aimerez peut-être notre avis sur la nourriture pour chats Koha ici. En bref, c’est une excellente option pour les chats souffrant d’allergies et de sensibilités alimentaires. J’espère que cette traduction de Google Translate est lisible ! Merci!