Steve’s Real Food 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.

We’ve rated Steve’s Real Food cat food on ingredient quality, species-appropriateness, recalls, and more. Read our Steve’s Real Food review to learn how this brand stacks up.

The Cats.com Standard—Rating Steve’s Real 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.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 9/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 10/10
  • Product Variety – 6/10
  • Price – 6/10
  • Customer Experience – 8/10
  • Recall History – 6/10

Overall Score: 7.5/10

In total, we give Steve’s Real Food cat food a 45 out of 60 rating or a B+ grade.

About Steve’s Real Food Cat Food

Quest freeze-dried cat food comes in small, lightweight pellets that crumble easily by hand and rehydrate quickly in liquid.

The Quest line of freeze-dried cat food comes in small, lightweight pellets that crumble easily by hand and rehydrate quickly in liquid.

Steve’s Real Food was the first commercial raw pet food brand, founded in 1998 by Steve Brown. Brown set out to make raw pet food affordable for the average pet owner, and the brand has adapted over the years to meet the needs of modern raw pet food customers in terms of their packaging and formulation.

Steve’s Real Food also seeks to educate modern pet owners and retailers about the benefits of raw food. The brand offers educational content and incentivizes retailer employees to complete their 3-hour RawU feeding course online.

Sourcing And Manufacturing

All ingredients used in Steve’s pet food are sourced from local U.S. farms. The company states that, “each farm is vetted to ensure that they are both sustainable and humanely raising their herds.” All meat is free-range, grass-fed, and antibiotic-free. All poultry is free-range and free of antibiotics and added hormones.

To make their foods, Steve’s uses a process that grounds and mixes all the meat, poultry, produce, and additives together. The mix is then shaped into tater tot-sized nuggets and flash-frozen. Steve’s stores the food frozen and uses High-Pressure Processing technology as further protection against Salmonella, Listeria, and E.coli.

Recall History

The company voluntarily recalled several of its products in 2018 due to concerns about contamination with foodborne pathogens.

In March 2018, Steve’s recalled a single production lot of Raw Frozen Dog Food Turkey Canine Recipe after Salmonella was identified in a sample by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. In September 2018, Steve’s voluntarily recalled the following three products due to potential Salmonella and/or L. mono contamination:

  • Steve’s Real Food Turducken Recipe raw frozen dog food
  • Quest Emu Diet freeze-dried cat food
  • Quest Beef Diet freeze-dried cat food

Steve’s Turducken Canine Diet was also recalled in March 2013 due to potential Salmonella contamination. No reports of human or pet illness were made in association with any of these recalls.

What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Steve’s Real Food Offer?

Steve's Real Food frozen pet food nuggets are about the size of a tater tot and come in 5-pound bags.

Steve’s Real Food frozen pet food nuggets are about the size of a tater tot and come in 5-pound bags.

Steve’s Real Food offers five raw frozen foods that are formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for both cats and dogs. These recipes contain whole meats, organ, and bones but also incorporate nutrient-rich foods like raw goat’s milk, eggshell membrane, and kelp.

Steve’s recently released a new line of freeze-dried foods formulated specifically for cats. The Quest line includes four single-protein recipes made with chicken, beef, whitefish, or pork. The foods are made up of 95% meat, organ, and bone with 5% whole-food ingredients like coconut oil and green-lipped mussel.

What Do Customers Think Of Steve’s Real Food Cat Food?

Customer reviews for Steve’s Real Food are somewhat limited. Steve’s posts testimonials on the brand’s website, but there are only about a dozen of them, and all are largely positive. Dogs Naturally Magazine and Dog Food Advisor both give the brand their highest marks for ingredient quality and safety.

On Amazon, most Steve’s Real Food and Quest freeze-dried recipes have fewer than 150 reviews but are rated at least 4.5 out of 5 stars. Customers generally review the brand favorably, commenting on the ingredient quality and nutritional value, as well as the food’s appeal to even picky eaters. The most frequent negative comments are about the price of the food.

Let’s take a look at a few reviews from some of the most popular recipes from Steve’s Real Food.

Positive Reviews

“Great Quality, Great Price”

“My 4 month old kitten is on a raw food diet and when I found this product on Amazon I decided to give it a try. I love the limited ingredients and the fact that it is free range and grass fed. It’s difficult finding high quality freeze dried products for this price. The small nuggets keep its shape to hand out as treats but also soft enough that I can crumble as a topping as well. You can feed as is or add water which helps with hydration. And instead of a measly 2 or 3 ounces, you get 10 ounces to boot! What a deal and my dog loves them as well! Thank you for a great product.” – by Tustin, reviewing Steve’s Real Food Quest Super Premium Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Beef Recipe on August 8, 2022

“Well Worth The Price. Quality And Nutrition Is Superior”

“Well worth the price. Quality and nutrition is superior. Do your research about Steve’s dog food to verify for yourself the value of feeding your dog or cat Steve’s.” – by Joe, reviewing Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Food Diet for Dogs and Cats Beef Recipe on September 15, 2022

Negative Reviews

“Quality?”

“Last three bags have had lots of dark or burnt pieces so I am not sure about the Quality control. Otherwise I am happy with the product.” – by Roberta, reviewing Steve’s Real Food Quest Super Premium Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Beef Recipe on March 8, 2021

What Did Our Test Cats Think?

To test Steve’s Real Food, I ordered two raw pet food formulas and one Quest freeze-dried formula. I chose the pork nuggets and chicken nuggets frozen cat/dog food and the whitefish freeze-dried cat food. The food shipped fairly quickly and arrived in a cardboard box with insulation and dry ice. It was still completely frozen when I received it.

I thawed the nuggets in warm water to create a consistency similar to wet cat food. Even though it was thawed, the food was still pretty cold, so it didn’t have much noticeable aroma to it. For this reason, my cats weren’t particularly interested in it.

Once the food came to room temperature, however, they were willing to try it. The product is formulated for both cats and dogs, so I tested it with my dog Archie as well. He loved it. The nuggets are about half the size of a wine cork and they thawed quickly in warm water. Once thawed, the consistency was very soft and the food was thoroughly ground with large chunks of individual ingredients.

Though my cats were skeptical about the raw Steve’s Real Food, they absolutely loved the Quest freeze-dried whitefish recipe.

Quest freeze-dried cat food comes in pellets, and they’re much softer than many freeze-dried foods I’ve tested, like Purpose. The pellets crumbled easily by hand and rehydrated very quickly into a soft wet food that my cats couldn’t devour fast enough. They were also perfectly happy to snack on the dry pellets.

Steve’s Real Food Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product Name Food Type Main Protein Source Calories Price Per Ounce Our Grade
Steve’s Real Food Frozen Raw Pork Nuggets Raw Pork 164 kcal/cup $0.44 A
Steve’s Real Food Frozen Raw Chicken Nuggets Raw Chicken 152 kcal/cup $0.44 A
Quest Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Whitefish Recipe Freeze-Dried Whitefish 135 kcal/cup $2.30 B+

#1 Steve’s Real Food Frozen Raw Pet Food Pork Nuggets

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Steve’s Real Food raw frozen pet foods are formulated for both dogs and cats. The recipes are made with singular animal proteins, inclusive of muscle meat, organ, and bone. This recipe features pork as the primary ingredient with pork heart, liver, and neck bone.

Salmon oil is the primary added fat in this recipe and provides a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids. The green-lipped mussel offers some omega-3s as well but is primarily included as a natural source of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin. Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E and offers anti-inflammatory benefits, but it is less biologically valuable for cats than animal fats like salmon oil.

The quality and nutrition value of this food is high, given its more than 58% dry matter protein and 40% dry matter fat content. This makes it nutritionally appropriate for cats, though the language on the package I received was skewed heavily toward dogs – especially the feeding recommendations.

Ingredients

Pork, Pork Heart, Pork Liver, Carrots, Kale, Pork Neck Bone, Broccoli, Goat’s Milk, Chia Seed, Flaxseed, Kelp, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Green Lipped Mussel, Inulin, Coconut Oil, Sesame Seeds, Ground Eggshell.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 14.4%
Crude Fat: 10%
Crude Fiber: 0.5%
Moisture: 75.4%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 58.54%
Fat: 40.65%
Fiber: 2.03%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 37.22%
Fat: 62.78%
Ingredients We Liked Ingredients We Didn’t Like Common Allergens
Pork

Pork Heart

Pork Liver

Pork Neck Bone

Goat’s Milk

Salmon Oil

Green Lipped Mussel

Coconut Oil Pork

Pros

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Includes raw muscle meat, organs, and ground bone
  • Relies primarily on animal-sourced fat
  • Contains over 58% crude protein and 40% crude fat as dry matter

Cons

  • Raw food has some risk for contamination with foodborne pathogens
  • Fairly expensive
  • Feeding guidelines are focused on dogs

#2 Steve’s Real Food Frozen Raw Pet Food Chicken Nuggets

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Similar in formulation to the previous raw food, this chicken recipe is made with a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) formulation of 80% meat, organ, and bone. The food contains over 50% crude protein and 49.6% crude fat measured as dry matter and the carbohydrate content is negligible.

All of Steve’s Real Food frozen pet food nuggets are high in moisture which helps support your cat’s hydration. This food relies on salmon oil as the primary added fat, supplemented by coconut oil. Raw goat’s milk supports a healthy gut microbiome and ground eggshell is a source of added calcium.

Any raw cat food comes with some risk of contamination with foodborne pathogens simply because the food isn’t cooked. As long as you follow safe food handling practices, the risk to you, your family, and your cat is very low.

Ingredients

Ground Chicken, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Livers, Chicken Gizzards, Broccoli, Carrots, Romaine Lettuce, Cantaloupe, Goat’s Milk, Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Coconut Oil, Inulin, Taurine, Green Lipped Mussel, Ground Eggshell.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 12.9%
Crude Fat: 12.2%
Crude Fiber: 0.2%
Moisture: 72.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 46.91%
Fat: 44.36%
Fiber: 0.73%
Carbs: 8%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 28.84%
Fat: 66.24%
Carbs: 4.92%
Ingredients We Liked Ingredients We Didn’t Like Common Allergens
Ground Chicken

Ground Chicken Bone

Chicken Livers

Chicken Gizzards

Goat’s Milk

Salmon Oil

Green Lipped Mussel

Coconut Oil Chicken

Pros

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • A.R.F formulation with 80% meat, organ, and bone
  • Salmon oil provides animal-sourced omega-3s
  • Rich in moisture to support your cat’s hydration

Cons

  • Raw food has some risk for contamination with foodborne pathogens
  • Fairly expensive

#3 Quest Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food Whitefish Recipe

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Quest freeze-dried cat food is sold in 10-ounce bags and is available in four different flavors. This whitefish recipe appears to be primarily animal-based, though the only source of added fat is coconut oil. Though the food contains more than one type of fish, it is free from other common allergens like chicken and beef.

The food contains nearly 60% crude protein measured as dry matter with about 19% fat. Despite being high in protein and moderate in fat content, however, it’s higher in carbohydrates than we’d like. The food is also very low in moisture, but I found it very easy to rehydrate in both water and broth.

Because this recipe is made with whole fish, the nutrient content from the organs and bone – in combination with the other whole-food ingredients – negates the need for synthetic supplements. When properly rehydrated, the formulation is very species-appropriate, though this fish recipe is perhaps less so than the other three Quest recipes simply because fish isn’t part of a natural diet for most wild cats.

Ingredients

Pollock, Pacific Cod, Rockfish, Salmon, Chia Seed, Goat Milk, Fenugreek, Flaxseed, Kelp, Taurine, Green Lipped Mussel, Coconut Oil, Inulin, Ground Eggshell.

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 55%
Crude Fat: 18%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 5.5%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 58.2%
Fat: 19.05%
Fiber: 2.12%
Carbs: 20.63%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 46.53%
Fat: 36.98%
Carbs: 16.5%
Ingredients We Liked Ingredients We Didn’t Like Common Allergens
Pollock

Pacific Cod

Rockfish

Salmon

Goat Milk

Green Lipped Mussel

Coconut Oil Fish

Pros

  • Made with sustainably sourced, wild-caught fish
  • Pellets are easy to rehydrate in water
  • Prey model formulation with 95% meat, organs, and bone

Cons

  • Relies primarily on plant-based added fat
  • Very expensive

How Much Does Steve’s Real Food Cat Food Cost?

Raw cat food is almost always going to be more expensive than dry food but, at about $0.44 per ounce, Steve’s Real Food frozen nuggets aren’t exorbitantly priced. The cost is similar to premium wet foods like Open Farm and Tiki Cat. To feed the average 10-pound cat a raw diet of Steve’s Real Food, it would cost about $2 per day.

Freeze-dried cat food from the Quest line is very expensive, over $2 per ounce. This puts it on par with other freeze-dried cat food brands like Stella & Chewy’s, though it’s cheaper than Feline Natural. The daily cost to feed a 10-pound cat the whitefish recipe reviewed above is about $3.93.

Overall, Is Steve’s Real Food Cat Food A Good Choice?

Though Steve’s Real Food’s selection of products is fairly limited, the quality of the food is high. Both Steve’s raw frozen pet foods and Quest freeze-dried cat foods are protein-rich and nutrient-dense. I recommend both, so your decision may come down to price or convenience.

If you choose Steve’s Real Food for your cat, be mindful of how much you feed your cat. The feeding recommendations for the raw food are skewed more toward dogs than cats but as long as you weigh your cat’s portion in ounces instead of counting nuggets, it should be fine. Some of the Quest freeze-dried recipes are pretty low in fat, so measure your cat’s portion to ensure they get about 200 calories a day.

Where Is Steve’s Real Food Cat Food Sold?

You can purchase Steve’s Real Food and Quest cat food directly from the brand’s website and save 10% with the Subscribe and Save option. Steve’s Real Food is also available on Amazon and you may be able to find it in-store at independent and specialty pet retailers.

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About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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