Orijen says their unique foods, custom-built kitchens, and unmatched fresh local ingredients have earned them an international reputation and more industry awards than any other pet food maker in the world. Is this status well-deserved?
Are Orijen Foods a Good Choice for Your Cat?
To answer these questions, we’ve taken a close look at Orijen, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, product variety, price, ingredient quality, customer experience, and recall history.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Orijen on What Matters
After hours of research, we’ve rated Orijen cat food according to the Cats.com standard. Here’s how it measures up to each of our six criteria for quality.
- Species-Appropriateness – 8/10
- Ingredient Quality – 9/10
- Product Variety – 6/10
- Price – 4/10
- Customer Experience – 6/10
- Recall History – 5/10
Overall Score: 6.3/10
Orijen is marketed as “a new class of food, designed to nourish dogs and cats according to their evolutionary adaptation to a diet rich and diverse in fresh meat and protein.”
It’s the flagship brand of Champion Petfoods, the first and largest pet food manufacturer in Canada. The company was founded in 1985 by Reinhard Mühlenfeld, an entrepreneur determined to become the first pet food manufacturer in Canada.
Reinhard started the company with two employees, making and packaging animal food for local Alberta farmers. By 2018, the company had over 500 employees working on their global sales team and at facilities in Alberta, Ontario, and Kentucky.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Orijen sources ingredients from carefully-vetted farms and ranches near their manufacturing facilities. The company has two manufacturing facilities—a NorthStar kitchen in Alberta and one DogStar kitchen located in Kentucky.
Customers in Canada, Europe, and parts of Asia get Orijen foods made in the Canadian facility, while those living in the United States and Central and South America will buy foods manufactured in Auburn, Kentucky.
Champion Petfoods has a mandate to “never outsource”, so they don’t work with outside manufacturers and their kitchens produce exclusively Orijen and Acana foods. Their custom-built facilities have received internationally-recognized Safe Food Quality (SQF) and Safe Feed/Safe Food (SFSF) certifications.
After production, Orijen cat food is sampled by in-house quality assurance staff and a third-party lab.
Has Orijen Cat Food Been Recalled?
Orijen has been recalled once.
In 2008, all Orijen cat food sold in Australia was recalled when several cats got sick and died after eating Orijen cat food. Champion Petfoods states that their recipes were not at fault. Mandatory gamma irradiation had made the food unsafe.
Why Was the Food Irradiated?
Prior to 2009, Australia’s food import regulations dictated that all pet foods made with fresh meat or cooked at low temperatures underwent irradiation treatment before reaching store shelves. This treatment exposes food to gamma rays, which destroy microbial contaminants.
Apparently, this mandatory irradiation treatment destroyed more than microbes—it depleted the vitamin A in the food and promoted the formation and release of free radicals in the body. Together,
vitamin A depletion and the release of free radicals made a number of Australian cats fall seriously ill after eating Orijen food.
Ten years later, a lawsuit was filed against Champion Petfoods.
Consumers from Minnesota, California, and Florida said that Champion Petfoods had misrepresented their products by not disclosing the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their food.
Testing by the Clean Label Project found that Orijen and Acana foods contained arsenic, BPA, cadmium, mercury, and lead. The average amount of heavy metals in the foods, however, were below the maximum tolerable levels set by the FDA.
What Kind of Cat Food Does Orijen Offer?
The current lineup of Orijen cat food includes a variety of dry foods, wet foods, and treats. Until mid-2022, Orijen only offers dry foods for cats as well as a selection of freeze-dried treats.
All of Orijen’s foods contain high levels of animal ingredients. Their dry foods formulas are made with up to 90% animal meat and their wet foods are even higher, around 95%. Orijen’s promises that at least the first five ingredients in every diet are comprised of fresh or raw animal ingredients.
Aside from fresh and raw muscle meat, Orijen cat foods contain organs, bones, and cartilage in what Orijen describes as Whole Prey ratios. This combination is designed to approximate the ratios of animal parts a cat might consume in their natural whole prey diet.
Low-glycemic fruits, vegetables, and other additives constitute the remaining percentage of Orijen’s dry cat foods. Their wet food formulas are much lower in carbohydrate content, many under 5% carbs on a dry matter basis.
While Orijen foods rely heavily on fresh meat and botanicals to achieve nutritional completeness, many still contain synthetic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids like those found in most cat foods.
Orijen Cat Food – Top 4 Recipes Reviewed
As of May 2022, we’ve updated this recipe comparison to include one of Orijen’s new wet food formulas.
|Orijen Dry Cat and Kitten Food
|$6.67 per lb
|Orijen Original Entrée Wet Cat Food
|$1.53 per oz
|Orijen FIT & TRIM Cat Food
|$7.04 per lb
|Orijen Six Fish Dry Cat Food
|$7.00 per lb
What Do Customers Think About Orijen Cat Food?
Back when Orijen was exclusively manufactured in Canada, their cat food received consistently positive customer reviews.
Since the company opened their facility in Auburn, Kentucky, many loyal customers in the United States and Central and South America report a decline in quality. These customers say the US-made food is inconsistent, smells strange, and makes their cats sick. Such complaints make up the majority of negative reviews.
That all being said, the majority of Orijen cat food reviews online focus on the dry food products. Because their wet food line has only recently been released, we aren’t able to determine how customers like it quite yet.
“Yes, it is more expensive than cat food from the grocery store but it’s worth it. The quality is amazing, my two cats eat less with Orijen. It improved the digestion of my oldest cat and improved the quality of their fur. They lost weight and look healthier. They are always hungry with other cat food. So, yes it’s more expensive but you give them less and better quality food that it’s better for their health.” – Nolwenn, reviewing Orijen Fit & Trim Cat Food
“My Senior Cat loves this and she is healthy and beautiful. I got her from the Shelter and feed her only dry food this Orijen 6 Fish and the Orijen dry Cat and Kitten food. The vet says she is in great shape and I have to agree because she is so playful and her coat is so nice. Also if you are on a budget. They really don’t eat as much as it is so nutrient rich. My cat Cinnamon has stayed a consistent healthy weight and she has constant access to her food. I just give her a bit twice a day so it stays fresh. That might be over doing it but she is my sweetie. I feel very confident feeding her Orijen..” – Dreamer, reviewing Orijen Six Fish Cat Food
“My cat has been eating the 5 star Canadian Orijen formula for 2 years. She loves it and I have nothing to say but great things about the Orijen product made in Canada. My local distributor told me that ALL U.S. retailers are now required to purchase the NEW formula made in Louisville, Kentucky I bought one 4 Lb. bag of the new Kentucky stuff. My cat began vomiting the new stuff and her stools were something different. Her coat became dull and dry. I mentioned this to the retailer and he gave me a talk about how great the new Kentucky plant was. I was able to obtain more of the Canadian product and within a week the cat was back to her old self. No more vomiting, same old stools and her coat is like shiny velvet again. When she’s happy, I’m happy. I compared the ingredients on the bags and you can see where the difference is. I’d give the new food minus one star if I could. I will NEVER buy the U.S. formula again and I’m not the only one. You’ll see more bad reviews for the new stuff if you look around a little.” – Ric Lbon, reviewing Orijen Dry Cat and Kitten Food
“My cat ate this food for 5 years and loved it. Then she started puking. The vet found nothing wrong with her and then luckily, I found some 1-star reviews about the company switching factories, and therefore the formula. I was able to pinpoint the very day she started throwing up was the day I started feeding her a new bag. I switched brands, and now no more grossness. I’ll take this review down once the company gets their stuff together, though I probably won’t ever go back.” – Barry Neely, reviewing Orijen Six Fish Cat Food
How Much Does Orijen Cat Food Cost?
Most Orijen dry cat food varieties cost roughly the same amount—around $0.30 to $0.35 per ounce. According to the company’s feeding recommendations for the average 11-lb cat, the food will cost about $0.91 per day.
As of May 2022, Orijen wet foods aren’t yet available online or in stores, so we weren’t able to determine pricing for this food. We imagine it will be in a similar range to other species-appropriate wet food brands like Ziwi Peak and Identity.
Note: Pricing is not currently available for Orijen wet cat food. Once these products become available online, we’ll be able to update this section.
Overall, Is Orijen Cat Food a Good Choice?
There’s a reason Orijen cat food made our list of the best dry cat foods on the market. Orijen products are some of the only dry foods that feature a whole-prey-inspired variety of fresh muscle meat, organs, and bones. Very few dry food companies can match the low carbohydrate content of Orijen foods or the integrity of their sourcing.
That said, Orijen isn’t a great choice for every cat. Since opening their DogStar kitchen in the United States and reformulating their recipes to include more American ingredients, the company has lost a lot of customers and gained a lot of complaints.
While Orijen has recently released a line of wet foods, they haven’t updated their FAQs to say specifically where their wet foods are made. At this point, we assume they’re made in the same Dogstar Kitchens as their dry foods.
We aren’t quite sure what Orijen is doing wrong at the DogStar kitchen, but the reviews from unhappy customers are enough of a reason to hesitate before choosing this brand.
Orijen wet and dry cat foods emphasize variety, including multiple animal species in each recipe. If your cat has allergies or food sensitivities, this might make it a less-than-ideal brand choice.
Overall, Orijen foods are some of the best dry and wet food products on the market, but they’re not perfect. Recent reformulations and manufacturing changes may have decreased the quality of Orijen cat food sold to customers in the US, Central America, and South America.
Where Is Orijen Cat Food Sold?
Orijen cat food is exclusively sold in-store exclusively through independent pet specialty retailers, much like other premium brands including Open Farm and Koha. You can also find their dry food formulas on Amazon and Chewy.
Because Orijen’s wet foods have only recently launched in May 2022, they aren’t available online yet. Before long, however, you should be able to purchase them through trusted online retailers and locally through independent and specialty pet food stores.