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Pure Balance promises pet store quality at Walmart prices, but is it a safe, healthy choice? Find out in our unbiased Pure Balance cat food review.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Pure Balance on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Pure Balance 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 – 6/10
- Ingredient Quality – 5/10
- Product Variety – 5/10
- Price – 7/10
- Customer Experience – 8/10
- Recall History – 6/10
Overall Score: 6.2/10
We give Pure Balance cat food a 37 out of 60 rating or a C+ grade.
About Pure Balance
Walmart introduced Pure Balance cat and dog food in 2012.
Jody Pinson, the vice president of Walmart’s pet division, told Veterinary Practice News that Pure Balance was developed after Walmart’s customers said they “wanted to be able to feed their dogs a dry food made with pure ingredients without having to make a special trip to the pet store”.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Some Pure Balance foods are manufactured by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, a manufacturing company with facilities in the United States.
Ainsworth’s relationship with Walmart began when they developed Ol’ Roy, another successful Walmart store brand. When Ainsworth later developed Rachael Ray Nutrish, Walmart saw the opportunity to fill the specialty food void on their shelves and asked Ainsworth to develop Pure Balance as a Walmart store brand.
While Ainsworth continues to manufacture some varieties, the company partners with other—unnamed—manufacturers to produce other recipes. It’s unclear where these manufacturers are located.
When asked where the food was made, a customer service representative explained that Pure Balance dog food was primarily made in the United States, but couldn’t share any more details. Like the brand’s manufacturing, Pure Balance’s ingredient sourcing practices are opaque.
Has Pure Balance Cat Food Been Recalled?
It doesn’t appear that Pure Balance food has ever been recalled.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Pure Balance Offer?
Pure Balance offers a modest selection of wet and dry cat food. Some are made with grains and some aren’t, but all are made without corn, soy, and wheat.
The Pure Balance selection includes the grain-free Wild & Free line and a Limited Ingredient line for cats with food sensitivities and allergies.
Pure Balance Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price||Our Grade|
|Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat Food||Dry||$3.51 per lb||C|
|Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Dry Cat Food||Dry||$4.51 per lb||C+|
|Pure Balance Turkey & Sweet Potato Dinner Food for Cats||Wet||$0.26 per oz||B-|
Turkey appears to be the primary protein source in this wet cat food.
This wet food is one of Pure Balance’s limited ingredient diets and is marketed as a simple solution for cats with food sensitivities and allergies. In spite of that marketing, the food’s ingredient list could be a lot more limited. Let’s take a closer look at what’s in each can.
The ingredient list starts with turkey, which is a nourishing protein source and not one of the leading food allergens for cats. In addition to the sweet potato mentioned in the product’s name, the food contains dried egg product as a second source of protein. It’s an interesting choice considering that eggs are among the most common food allergens affecting cats.
The food gets a flavor boost from an additive called “natural flavor”, which is typically made from hydrolyzed—and hence hypoallergenic—animal tissues. Ground flaxseed is added as a source of fiber.
The turkey, broth, potatoes, flaxseed, and eggs are all bound and stabilized by a trio of carrageenan, guar gum, and cassia gum. While guar and cassia gum have relatively harmless reputations, carrageenan has a history of inflammation and is potentially carcinogenic, making it a less-than-ideal inclusion in your cat’s food.
Overall, this food has moderate protein content with moderate fat and moderate carbohydrate content.
This food is okay, but not excellent. It’s made without artificial additives and uses named meats rather than vaguely-labeled by-products and meals, both of which are good qualities and rare among foods at this price point. That said, there are plenty of other canned foods with more meat, more organs, lower carbohydrate content, and which are made without carrageenan.
There are 100 calories in each 3-ounce can or roughly 33 calories per ounce.
Turkey, Turkey Broth, Sweet Potato, Natural Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Choline Chloride, 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.
Ingredients We Liked: Turkey
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sweet Potato, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
- Rich in animal-sourced protein
- Made without animal by-products
- Contains only named meats
- Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- High in carbohydrates compared to other wet foods
- Contains carrageenan
What Do Customers Think Of Pure Balance Cat Food?
Most customers seem to like Pure Balance cat food. Reviewers, forum users, and blog commenters all have more positive than negative things to say about this brand. Most are price-conscious and say they appreciate having a brand that meets both their price and quality standards.
Here’s what a few Pure Balance customers have to say about their experience.
“I’ve been on a mission to find a good quality wet food for my cat. I’m shocked that so many name brands have such horrible ingredients. I didn’t expect to find anything at Walmart, but was in the pet section to buy a de-shedding tool, the Shed Monster (which works great BTY). I saw this “minimal ingredient” food, and checked the label. It looked better than a lot of them, so I got two. When I first put it down, my cat didn’t eat it, even when I put a few bit of dry kibble on top. After awhile when she was perched in her spot to ask for food, I brought it up to her. She ate it all! (I always add a bit of water, since she has constipation issues because of her long fur.) I like that it has sweet potato in it, since my cat needs some fiber since I got her off dry food. I’m going to call the number on the package to find out where the ingredients are sourced and made, since it only says “distributed by Walmart”. I don’t want to feed her anything unless it comes from U.S. although there are a couple of foods made in “human grade” facilities in Thailand.” – Shandi
This dry cat food helped save my cat who was suffering from antibiotic induced diarrhea. However, the smell, color, size and shape of the pieces is inconsistent. The pieces in the current bag are dark brown, very small and hard to chew. In prior bags the pieces were more golden, a little larger, easier to chew and smelled much better. She is eating the current ones but not with the same gusto. Obviously, she preferred the golden ones. However, I still think this is a very good food and will continue to feed it and would recommend it. I did call the phone # on the bag and, hopefully, the manufacturer will improve the consistency.” – Em2Blue
“I have 4 indoor cats. They hate it but since they are going to have to eat it till I can travel to buy Good Life cat food. Walmart usually carries Good Life but this was the only non g mo that they had. I will tell you it smells horrible! That cats won’t touch it. I had to mix Meow Mix with it before they would even consider and my cats are not finicky. When you pay this much for a 7 pound bag of cat food, you want you cats to eat it. I am VERY disappointed in the nasty smelling cat food! When you buy food for your cats, you have to be trusting because you can’t smell it. This is as bad as Rachael Ray that I bought for my dog and had to throw away.” – Melody
“My rescued cat is toothless, so he prefers small kibbles of his dry food. This food is good overall, but the quality is very inconsistent. Each batch very different from kibble size to smell. If you really want to feed your cat with this product, make sure you buy a lot at a time.” -Nases
How Much Does Pure Balance Cat Food Cost?
If your cat weighs 10 lbs and needs about 200 calories a day, you’d spend about $1.56 per day to feed your cat Pure Balance wet food. If you choose one of the brand’s dry recipes, your daily feeding cost will be lower at around $0.24 per day.
Overall, Is Pure Balance A Good Choice?
Pure Balance cat food has some strengths that set it apart from other brands on the Walmart cat food aisle. For the price of Fancy Feast or Purina Cat Chow, you get food that’s made without artificial colors, flavors, or potentially-harmful chemical preservatives.
But while Pure Balance does a great job of excluding certain unwanted ingredients, it’s stuffed with other things it shouldn’t contain—its limited ingredient diets aren’t as limited as they could be, its wet foods contain carrageenan and unnecessary plant ingredients, and its dry foods are high in carbohydrates.
Where To Buy Pure Balance Cat Food?
You can buy Pure Balance cat food in Walmart stores and on the Walmart website. It’s also available on Amazon.