It’s among the most popular raw food brands on the market, but is Vital Essentials a good choice for your cat? Get the facts in our Vital Essentials cat food review.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Vital Essentials on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Vital Essentials 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 – 10/10
- Ingredient Quality – 9/10
- Product Variety – 9/10
- Price – 6/10
- Customer Experience – 9/10
- Recall History – 4/10
Overall Score: 7.8/10
We give Vital Essentials cat food a 47 out of 60 rating or a B+ grade.
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 Vital Essentials
Vital Essentials is a brand of frozen and freeze-dried food for cats and dogs. It’s owned by the Carnivore Meat Company, which is the leading raw pet food private label company in the United States.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Vital Essentials uses farm-raised, pasture-fed, free-run, and wild-caught ingredients from the United states. Raw ingredients are frozen or freeze-dried in the company’s own Wisconsin facility. They’re never exposed to high-heat processing, leaving nutrients intact while reducing the risk of spoilage and contamination.
Has Vital Essentials Cat Food Been Recalled?
Vital Essentials cat food has never been recalled, but their dog food has been pulled at least four times. All but one of those recalls was due to potential salmonella contamination.
What Kinds of Cat Food Does Vital Essentials Offer?
Vital Essentials food is made from frozen or freeze-dried meat, bones, and organs. They’re foods are formed into a variety of shapes, including mini patties, mini nibs, chubs, and food toppers.
Mimicking the nutrient-packed mix of tissues found in a prey-based diet, most Vital Essentials recipes are 45% muscle meat, 45% organs, and 10% bone.
All Vital Essentials cat food contains raw goat’s milk. The company says this ingredient adds texture and nutrients. Raw goat’s milk contains enzymes that help digest lactose, so it shouldn’t cause digestive distress, and according to the customer reviews, it doesn’t.
Vital Essentials Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price||Our Grade|
|Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Cat Food||Freeze-Dried||$1.84 per oz||A-|
|Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Patties Entree Cat Food||Freeze-Dried||$1.96 per oz||A-|
|Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Rabbit Mini Patties Entree Cat Food||Freeze-Dried||$3.08 per oz||A-|
What Do Customers Think of Vital Essentials Cat Food?
In discussions of frozen and freeze-dried cat food brands, Vital Essentials is a crowd favorite. Customers seem to like the ingredient quality and their cats seem to like the way Vital Essentials food tastes.
“I prefer to make my own pet food, but ensuring that cat food is balanced is a job that feels impossible at times. With autoimmune diseases, I have been finding it difficult to manage my own issues and responsibilities while continuing to make my own pet food. It’s a huge process. So I went on a search for brands I could trust and I’ve been very happy with Vital Essentials brand. There’s no filler. My cat loves all of the variety available. The pellet form is easy to pour and hydrate. And the price is reasonable for high quality raw food.” – Ctina, reviewing Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Cat Food
“I love this product and so do my babies. Such a difference in their health. Lost hair growing back in, no more vomiting, ear issues clearing up. My cats love the patties the best but will eat the nibs as well. They have been on a raw food freeze-dried for 5 weeks. It is so expensive and I am struggling to find a way to fine a compromise between the this product and a high grade of grain free kibble. So much contradicting research out there makes it hard to decide what is the best path.” – Mamacat, reviewing Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Patties Entree Cat Food
“My cat will eat raw food no problem but this he wouldn’t touch. We tried both with water and dry, nope, not eating that Momma. It has a smell similar to play dough, which is why I think he wouldn’t eat.” – Kelb, reviewing Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Patties Entree Cat Food
“I was hoping/expecting these to be like many other brands of freeze dried raw foods I have used, but— they’re not. At all. They resemble “coco puffs” cereal and are hard. My cat isn’t interested at all. Back to Primal we go……..” – Tree, reviewing Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Raw Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Cat Food
Also Read: The Best Rabbit Cat Food
How Much Does Vital Essentials Cat Food Cost?
Vital Essentials cat food isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive brands on the market. Let’s break it down in terms of cost per day. The following cost per day estimates are based on a typical 10-lb cat who needs about 200 calories per day.
Depending on which type of protein you choose, whether you want freeze-dried or frozen, and whether you opt for nibs or patties, Vital Essentials will cost you something between $3.64 and $10.16 per day.
Overall, Is Vital Essentials a Good Choice?
Vital Essentials is a good option if you’re looking for accessible, expertly-formulated raw food. Each meal is inspired by the natural feline diet, featuring a balanced combination of muscle meat, organs, and bones. It’s one of the only raw cat food brands that doesn’t use excessive bone.
Vital Essentials’ nutritional excellence comes at a steep price. With some recipes exceeding $10 per day, this brand may be out of reach for some multiple cat homes or people on a tight budget.
Where To Buy Vital Essentials Cat Food?
Vital Essentials is relatively easy to find. It’s distributed in fifteen countries around the world and carried by over 5,000 independent pet specialty retailers in the United States alone—click here to find one near you. Online, you’ll find Vital Essentials cat food on Chewy, Amazon, Jet, PetFlow, and iHerb.