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Viva Raw Cat Food Review

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Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Raw cat food emulates the composition of a natural feline diet but nutritional balance is still a must. Not all commercial products are formulated to provide the essential nutrients your cat needs but Viva is.

If you’re considering switching to a raw diet for your cat, a single-protein formula from Viva might be a good option. Here’s what you need to know about the brand and its products.

The Cats.com Standard—Rating Viva Cat 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 – 5/5
  • Ingredient Quality – 5/5
  • Product Variety – 3/5
  • Price – 1/5
  • Customer Experience – 4/5
  • Recall History – 5/5

Overall Score: 3.8/5

In total, we give Viva raw cat food a 23 out of 30 rating.

Why Trust Cats.com

Before writing this review, I delved into the history of Viva to learn the story behind the brand. I gathered details about Viva’s product formulation, ingredient sourcing, and manufacturing processes as well as its recall history. I then ordered three Viva raw cat food formulas to test at home with my three cats Bagel, Biscuit, and Munchkin.

Drawing on my experience reviewing other raw cat food products, I evaluated Viva cat food in terms of its quality, species appropriateness, and general appeal. My cats offered their opinions on the texture and flavor of the food while I made observations about how easy it was to store and serve. I also completed an in-depth assessment of each product’s nutritional and ingredient makeup.

About Viva Cat Food

Viva is a fresh pet food company founded by Zach and Jenn (with help from their dog, Karoo). Based in Hillsborough, North Carolina, Viva was founded in 2020. Within two years, the company had earned $3 million in revenue. Viva now offers nationwide shipping and its products are available in over a boutique and specialty pet food stores.

What sets Viva apart from other raw pet food manufacturers is the chunky style of its dog food formulas. Viva believes “it’s important for pet parents to see what they’re feeding.” Out of respect for the carnivorous needs of cats, however, Viva’s feline formulas are more heavily meat-based and have a more finely ground texture.

In addition to following humane and ethical ingredient-sourcing practices, Viva ships green. All pet food products are shipped frozen in biodegradable or curbside recyclable insulation with dry ice. Viva doesn’t use any styrofoam.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Viva uses UDA human-grade ingredients sourced, as much as possible, from local businesses and small farms in the United States. The brand only works with farms that are certified humane through third-party audit programs. Their farms do not use hormones and antibiotics.

All Viva pet food is manufactured in USDA-inspected human food facilities. Each batch is tested for foodborne pathogens including Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.

In the FAQ section of the website, Viva states they do not use mechanically separated meat (MSM) in their recipes. MSM meets the standards for human-grade but is often used as an inexpensive alternative to whole meat in fresh pet foods. Viva notes that MSM often has a mushy texture and high calcium content.

Recall History

Viva has experienced one voluntary recall in the history of the brand. The voluntary recall was issued on January 27th, 2024 after a customer lodged a complaint with the FDA. In response, the FDA collected a sample of the food from the customer’s home which, according to the recall letter Viva issued to customers, tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

The products affected were Viva’s duck recipe dog and cat foods from Lot #22853 which were shipped to customers between October 24th and December 6th of 2023. When Viva became aware of the complaint, the brand issued a voluntary recall notice to customers and sent a retention sample of the affected products to an accredited 3rd party lab for testing.

Viva didn’t share the results but, in an FAQ section about the recall, the brand stated:

“After reviewing the results and seeing no additional consumer complaints from 1500+ consumers who received the lot (the last pack was shipped more than 50 days ago on 12/06/23), we decided to continue monitoring the situation and investigate further if additional information is shared with us.”

Viva continues to monitor the situation but, as of March 2024, no additional consumer complaints or reports of illness have been submitted. You can read the recall letter and Viva’s FAQ about the situation.

What Kinds of Cat Food Does Viva Offer?

Viva offers a limited assortment of single-protein, nutritionally balanced raw foods for cats and dogs. These recipes are nutritionally complete and balanced according to AAFCO nutrient profiles for cats.

All Viva raw cat foods are made with whole cuts of muscle meat or whole birds. In addition to muscle meat and organs, each recipe is supplemented with organic egg yolk, fish oil, and cod liver oil. Other beneficial ingredients may include Chilean mussels, nutritional yeast, oyster meat, and nutrient supplements like taurine and vitamin E.

The Viva raw cat food lineup includes the following five protein options:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Duck
  • Rabbit

Though Viva cat food is intended for raw feeding, it can also be cooked before serving. Viva recommends gently sauteeing the food over low-medium heat until it just starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Be sure to pour any liquid that cooks out into your cat’s bowl.

What Did Our Test Cats Think?

VivaRawTest

I mixed Viva with my cats’ current freeze-dried food to ease them into the new diet. Kate Barrington / Cats.com

To test Viva raw cat food, I ordered three different recipes: turkey, beef, and rabbit. My order was processed and shipped quickly, the products arriving safely frozen and packed with dry ice and recyclable insulation.

Because Viva sells its raw food in two packs, I was able to pop one package of each flavor in the freezer and the other in the fridge to thaw. The food packets are designed to peel open but I found myself having to use scissors to cut into them. From there, however, the food was easy to scoop into a bowl and the smooth texture mixed well with my cats’ regular food.

Viva Raw Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product Name Food Type Main Protein Source Calories Price Per Ounce Our Grade
Viva for Cats Turkey Recipe Raw Turkey 46 kcal/oz. $0.45 A
Viva for Cats Beef Recipe Raw Beef 46 kcal/oz. $0.50 A
Viva for Cats Rabbit Recipe Raw Rabbit 41 kcal/oz. $0.66 A

#1 Viva for Cats Turkey Recipe

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Buy on VivaRawPets.com

Made with humanely raised turkey, this is a single-protein raw cat food recipe. It contains a species-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and ground bone with several animal-based sources of added fat. It also offers some supplemental protein and essential nutrients from Chilean mussels and oyster meat.

Like all of Viva’s raw food formulas, this turkey recipe has a finely ground texture. The meat looked nice and fresh when I opened the packet and it was easy to mix in with my cats’ regular food—I chose to mix it because raw food sometimes upsets their stomachs.

Overall, this is a protein-packed and high-moisture formula that doesn’t contain excessive carbohydrates or artificial additives. It’s nutritionally balanced according to AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles.

Ingredients

Turkey with Ground Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Gizzard, Turkey Liver, Organic Psyllium Husk, Chilean Mussels, Fish Oil, Organic Egg Yolk, Taurine, Organic Icelandic Kelp, Cod Liver Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Oyster Meat, Manganese Proteinate.

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey with Ground Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Gizzard, Turkey Liver, Chilean Mussels, Fish Oil, Organic Egg Yolk, Cod Liver Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 16.1%
Crude Fat: 8.2%
Crude Fiber: 0.7%
Moisture: 73%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 59.63%
Fat: 30.37%
Fiber: 2.59%
Carbs: 7.41%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 42.35%
Fat: 52.39%
Carbs: 5.26%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Species-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and bone
  • Relies on animal-sourced fat
  • Smooth texture is easy for cats to eat

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, around $7.25 per pound
  • Viva has a 10-pound minimum order

#2 Viva for Cats Beef Recipe

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Buy on VivaRawPets.com

Like the previous formula, this Viva raw cat food recipe features a single source of animal protein and several animal-based fats. If your cat has food allergies, Viva makes it easy to avoid potential allergens while adhering to a carnivore-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and bone.

Viva’s beef raw cat food recipe is finely ground and rich in hydrating moisture. Measured as dry matter, it contains nearly 60% protein and is very low in carbohydrates. It’s like feeding your cat fresh ground meat but it’s formulated to provide all the essential nutrients they need.

Ingredients

Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Bone, Organic Psyllium Husk, Chilean Mussels, Organic Egg Yolk, Taurine, Cod Liver Oil, Organic Icelandic Kelp, Nutritional Yeast, Fish Oil, Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Oyster Meat, Manganese Proteinate.

Ingredients We Liked: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Bone, Chilean Mussels, Organic Egg Yolk, Cod Liver Oil, Fish Oil, Oyster Meat

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 17.1%
Crude Fat: 9.1%
Crude Fiber: 0.9%
Moisture: 71%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 58.97%
Fat: 31.38%
Fiber: 3.1%
Carbs: 6.55%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 41.61%
Fat: 53.77%
Carbs: 4.62%

What We Liked:

  • Relies primarily on animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Carnivore-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and bone
  • High in moisture with a smooth texture
  • Made with a single source of protein

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, around $8 per pound
  • Viva has a 10-pound minimum order

#3 Viva for Cats Rabbit Recipe

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Buy on VivaRawPets.com

When researching Viva, I was particularly excited to see this recipe. My cat Biscuit is allergic to pretty much everything but rabbit and few pet food manufacturers offer rabbit recipes that don’t contain other proteins. This formula contains little more than rabbit muscle meat, organs, and ground bone.

Measured as dry matter, this rabbit recipe is even higher in protein than the beef formula—around 65.5%. It’s also extremely low in carbohydrates and relies on animal-sourced fat to provide essential fatty acids, including anti-inflammatory omega-3s.

Visually, this recipe is similar to Viva’s other raw foods. It has the same finely ground texture and fresh appearance. My cats particularly enjoyed this product mixed with their usual freeze-dried rabbit cat food.

Ingredients

Rabbit with Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Kidney, Organic Psyllium Husk, Chilean Mussels, Organic Egg Yolk, Fish Oil, Taurine, Cod Liver Oil, Organic Icelandic Kelp, Nutritional Yeast, Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Oyster Meat, Manganese Proteinate.

Ingredients We Liked: Rabbit with Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Kidney, Chilean Mussels, Organic Egg Yolk, Fish Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Oyster Meat

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 17.7%
Crude Fat: 7%
Crude Fiber: 0.7%
Moisture: 73%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 65.56%
Fat: 25.93%
Fiber: 2.59%
Carbs: 5.93%

Caloric Weight Basis

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Protein: 48.76%
Fat: 46.83%
Carbs: 4.41%

What We Liked:

  • Made with a single source of novel animal protein
  • Rich in hydrating moisture
  • Finely ground texture is easy for cats to eat
  • Very low in carbohydrates

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Expensive, around $10.50 per pound
  • Viva has a 10-pound minimum order

What Do Customers Think of Viva Cat Food?

Because Viva was only founded a few years ago, customer reviews are still a little hard to find outside of the brand’s website. On the Viva website, customers give the brand an average of 4.83 out of 5 stars, with a total of around 1200 reviews.

Positive Reviews

“I’ve transitioned my new 3 yr old Ragdoll to Viva from a life time of eating kibble. She loves it! I received my sample pack and she’s enjoyed every protein with no problem switching to the next.” – D.N. on VivaRawPets.com, on January 1st, 2024

“I couldn’t be happier with the company. I love seeing the Instagram posts showing the company’s transparency and quality control of their products.” – W.S. on VivaRawPets.com, on January 2nd, 2024

Viva customers seem to appreciate the brand’s variety of protein offerings as well as the quality of the products and transparency about their processing. Several reviews mention mistakes with their first order but those same customers also report that Viva’s customer service team acted quickly to resolve the issue and the experience didn’t sour their opinion of the brand.

Negative Reviews

“I ordered the turkey and duck for my kitties and while the duck packages were tightly sealed, the turkey packaging was not the best. There were air pockets which caused the meat to become freezer burnt.” – J.G. on VivaRawPets.com, on August 2nd, 2023

“First time I bought the food my cat was going crazy for it. It looked super fresh. The second time (right now) the food looked less fresh and my cat legitimately has been taking a bite or two and wasting the rest every time I give him any.” – D.L. on VivaRawPets.com, on June 12th, 2023

Reviews on Viva’s website are overwhelmingly positive, but it’s always difficult to tell whether a brand posts all the reviews they receive or just the good ones. The limited negative reviews of Viva seem to focus on the price and some cats refusing to eat it.

There are also comments about the 2-pound packages being too large, but Viva seems to have remedied this issue by selling the food in two-packs of 1-pound packages.

How Much Does Viva Cat Food Cost?

Viva is designed as a subscription service like Smalls where you provide information about your pet and receive a customized meal plan. You can also place individual orders, though a 10-pound minimum applies.

Viva raw foods are priced per pound with costs ranging from $6.75/pound for the chicken recipe to $10.50/pound for the rabbit recipe. Per ounce, Viva raw food ranges from $0.42 to $0.66. It’s comparatively priced with other raw pet food manufacturers like Smallbatch Pets and Darwin’s Natural.

The calorie content of Viva’s raw food recipes varies but averages around 45 calories per ounce. To feed a 10-pound cat Viva raw food, the daily cost would range from $2 to $3.

Where is Viva Cat Food Sold?

The best place to buy Viva raw cat food is through the brand’s website. You can place individual orders or start a subscription based on your cat’s custom meal plan. Viva is also sold in a limited number of specialty pet food stores around the United States. Most of the stores are located in southern California or major cities along the East Coast.

When you purchase through the Viva website, you’ll receive free shipping on orders over $250. Some exclusions apply, such as Alaska, Hawaii, and certain areas of Texas & Montana. Pricing for shipping on all orders under $250 is a flat rate of $10-$20, based on your shipping zone.

Overall, Is Viva Raw a Good Choice?

I am impressed with the quality of Viva Raw’s cat food products and appreciate that all of them feature a single-animal protein. The finely ground texture made the product easy to feed and it was clearly incredibly fresh. I also like that Viva Raw offers three novel proteins (rabbit, duck, and turkey) in addition to standard options like beef and chicken. This makes it a viable option for cats with allergies to common proteins.

Overall, Viva appears to be a great option. However, it might be best for those who know their cats already like raw food. The 10-pound minimum order makes it tough to sample the product without making a significant investment.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.
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About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a writer with over twelve years of experience in the pet industry. She is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach and has completed coursework in therapeutic nutrition, raw feeding, and the formulation of homemade diets for pets at an accredited university. Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house. She has three cats, Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.