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We’ve taken a close look at Wellness and graded it according to the Cats.com standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, product variety, price, ingredient quality, customer experience, and recall history.
The Cats.com Standard—Rating Wellness on What Matters
We’ve rated Wellness on six key criteria for quality. Here’s how it rates in each of these six crucial areas.
- Species-Appropriateness – 8/10
- Ingredient Quality – 7/10
- Product Variety – 7/10
- Price – 7/10
- Customer Experience – 8/10
- Recall History – 4/10
Overall Score: 6.9/10
In total, we give Wellness cat food a 41 out of 60 rating or a B- grade.
As part of our review process, we’ve submitted samples to an independent lab. You can see the full report here.
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.
Wellness cat food, particularly canned foods in the CORE line, are rich in species-appropriate animal protein and made from high-quality ingredients. Other Wellness foods aren’t as nutritionally excellent, containing hefty doses of plant ingredients and higher carbohydrate content than cats require. Wellness foods have been recalled several times, but the brand doesn’t get many customer complaints and most cats seem to love Wellness cat food.
Overall, it’s an above-average cat food brand, but it does have a few flaws. Find out what’s great about Wellness and what’s not in our in-depth Wellness cat food review.
Wellness started in 1997 as a creation of WellPet LLC, a pet food company that started in 1926 with the founding of Old Mother Hubbard Dog Treats. When Old Mother Hubbard and Eagle Pack merged, they formed WellPet, LLC. The company is now a subsidiary of Berwind Corporation, a private investment management company.
Sourcing And Manufacturing
The company says that the vast majority of their pet food production is done in their own Mishawaka, Indiana facility. Wellness Signature Selects, Divine Duos, and all wet foods in pouches are made in Thailand.
On the Wellness website, the company provides a step-by-step description of their canned food manufacturing process. The page explains that they work with “only the most respectable ingredient suppliers” to ensure that all products are made with excellent raw ingredients, then manufacture the foods according to a controlled process.
In a video published in 2012, WellPet says that their quality assurance program maintains the strictest standards of food safety in the pet food business and exceeds standards established by the FDA and AAFCO.
Wellness has been recalled several times since 1997. Here’s a quick summary of the brand’s recall history.
In February, a small amount of metal was found in products made in one of the facilities that manufactures Wellness products. While the affected products were not part of the WellPet family, the company decided to take the “conservative step” and recalled several canned cat food varieties.
In March of 2017, Wellness recalled one variety of canned dog food due to possibly excessive levels of naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone.
In May of 2012, Wellness issued a recall due to possible salmonella contamination of dry dog food.
In October, Wellness recalled a single variety of dry dog food due to excessive moisture content. While not immediately dangerous, excessively moist dry foods are prone to developing mold before their labeled expiration date.
In February of 2011, 21.6 million cans of Wellness canned cat food were recalled due to inadequate levels of thiamine.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Wellness Offer?
All Wellness foods are made with whole foods and are free of wheat, corn, and soy. They don’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Wellness’ two lines are CORE, which is a protein-centric, grain-free food, and Complete
Health. The Complete Health line offers “whole food nutrition with grain-free options for your cat’s everyday health. The line includes products geared towards specific life stages and lifestyles, including foods for kittens, indoor cats, and weight management.
CORE’s dry selection is currently limited to seven products, which includes five original recipes, Wellness Air Dried food, and two RawRev products, which involve kibble blended with chunks of freeze-dried meat.
The CORE wet food selection includes Pates, Hearty Cuts, 95% Animal Protein, CORE Signature Selects, Divine Duos, and Simply Shreds snacks.
Wellness Complete Health
Wellness Complete Health offers a selection of both grain-free and grain-inclusive dry foods, each formula targeting life stages and health and lifestyle needs.
The wet food selection includes Complete Health Pate, Gravies, Minced, Sliced, Morsels, and Healthy Indulgence. The Complete Health line also includes Wellness Kittles treats.
Wellness Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
|Product Name||Food Type||Price||Our Grade|
|Complete Health Pate Chicken Entree Grain-Free Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.47 per oz||A-|
|CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree in Broth Canned Cat Food||Wet||$0.68 per oz||A-|
|CORE Grain-Free Indoor Formula Dry Cat Food||Dry||$6.15 per lb||B-|
|Wellness CORE Kitten Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Food||Dry||$0.6 per oz||A-|
Chicken appears to be the primary protein source in this canned food.
This popular recipe is a straightforward, meat-based canned cat food that incorporates high-quality chicken, chicken liver, and turkey. According to customer reviews, the pate has a texture “like ground meat” that both people and their cats seem to enjoy.
In addition to carnivore-appropriate meat ingredients, the food contains fruits and vegetables like carrots and cranberries, plus cassia gum, guar gum, and xanthan gum as thickeners.
Altogether, the food is high in protein from species-appropriate animal sources, moderate in fat, and low in carbohydrates. The food is 34 calories per ounce or 101 calories in each 3 oz can.
Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Cranberries, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Choline Chloride, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Carrots
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Rich in species-appropriate animal ingredients
- Moisture-rich food promotes healthy hydration
- Free from artificial ingredients
- Low carbohydrate and plant content
- Cats seem to like eating this food
- Contains carrot and cranberry, neither of which are necessary for cats
#2 Wellness CORE Signature Selects Flaked Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree in Broth Grain-Free Canned Cat Food Review
Tuna appears to be the primary protein source in this canned cat food.
Because fish is so prone to heavy metal and toxin contamination, it’s not a highly-recommended cat food ingredient. This food is made primarily from tuna, mackerel, and salmon set in sauce.
While the product is described as a “flaked” food, customers found something more like stew inside of the can. One customer begged, “Where’s the Flaked Fish???” and said that the food was essentially “fancy gravy”.
The gravy in question is thickened with tapioca starch and the food contains guar gum as a binding agent. Sunflower oil is also added to the broth.
Like many fish-based foods, this is a relatively low-calorie canned meal. It’s 25 calories per ounce or 70 calories per 2.8 oz can.
Tuna, Tuna Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Mackerel, Salmon, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite], Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K).
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Ingredients We Liked: Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Tapioca Starch
Common Allergens: Fish
- Made primarily from animal protein sources
- No artificial ingredients
- Cats like the flavor
- Some customers didn’t like the food’s consistency
Deboned chicken and chicken meal appear to be the primary protein sources in this dry cat food.
Like all Wellness CORE foods, this kibble claims to “nourish your favorite feline’s primal essence” by delivering protein-rich nutrition. The food features deboned chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients, which are both nourishing sources of the animal protein your cat craves.
While this product does provide more meat than the average dry food, it also contains peas, potatoes, and potato protein. Like most cat foods marketed to guardians of indoor cats, the food is high in fiber from tomato pomace, pea fiber, and ground flaxseed.
Altogether, Wellness CORE grain-free chicken dry cat food has moderate-to-high protein content primarily from animal sources, low fat, and high carbohydrate content. It’s 445 calories per cup.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Potato Protein, Tomato Pomace, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Cranberries, Chicory Root Extract, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols Added to Preserve Freshness, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Beta-Carotene, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Fat
Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Peas, Potatoes, Potato Protein
Common Allergens: Chicken
- Primarily made from animal protein sources
- Free from artificial ingredients
- Cats like the flavor of this dry food
- Excessive carbohydrate content
- No dry food provides the moisture your cat needs
Our top pick is this high-protein wet cat food from Wellness CORE. It’s a meat-based formula packed with animal-derived ingredients, including turkey, chicken liver, chicken meat, and chicken meal.
While some people write off chicken meal as inferior to so-called “real chicken” and put it in the same category as poultry by-products, those criticisms don’t hold up to examination. Chicken meal appears to be just as nutritious and digestible as any other chicken product. In fact, it packs a harder protein and calorie punch—which is exactly what your growing kitten needs.
The inclusions of herring and menhaden fish oil make the food a good source of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that contributes to brain and eye development in kittens.
Though it’s grain-free with no potatoes, or soy, this pate contains small amounts of certain plant ingredients, including ground flaxseed, dried kelp, chicory root extract, and alfalfa meal.
Though these ingredients aren’t essentials in a carnivorous diet, they have a few benefits for kittens. Chicory root extract, for example, is a prebiotic. Along with probiotics, this type of fiber could help to support digestive and immune system health.
Each 3 oz. can contains 108 calories, which is about average across all kitten formulas.
Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
Dry Matter Basis
Caloric Weight Basis
What We Liked:
- One of the most protein-packed kitten foods on the market
- Ultra-soft pate texture is easy for kittens to eat
- Calorie-dense recipe to fuel growth and development
- Rich in moisture for optimal hydration
- Supplemented with fish oil as a source of DHA
What We Didn’t Like:
- A little more expensive than many kitten foods
- Contains some plant ingredients
What Do Customers Think Of Wellness Cat Food?
While many other brands garner complaints around the web, Wellness has a good reputation among consumers. Most of their products receive four and five-star reviews.
One of their leading recipes, Wellness Complete Health pate, has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Chewy based on 521 customer reviews. 90% of these customers say they’d recommend the food to a friend.
“I have used this food for … well over 15 years, for my cats! I tried a less expensive “house brand,” here, for quite a few months, but decided despite a huge price difference to go back to Wellness. I am so glad I DID! My cats and I are much much happier. wellness SMELLS like something I would eat, myself! My cats have been finishing it within ten minutes, instead of leaving it, and my husband thinks he may be seeing an improvement in litter box “outcomes,” too.” – Ollie, reviewing Wellness Complete Health Chicken Pate
“My indoor calico turned 12 last month, and I noticed she looked fat! She was always trim most of her life, but, although I liked holding her and feeling all of that extra cushion on her, I knew it wasn’t good for her health, especially now that she’s getting older. So I switched her to Wellness Indoor and, just a month later, she’s back to her normal trim self. So impressed! I didn’t change the amount – honestly, since she was a kitten, I’ve always free-fed her – making sure there’s always fresh food and water in her bowls, and she’s good at managing her own intake. So the difference-maker in her weight regulation was purely the ingredient shift. EXCELLENT!” – MomOfSev, reviewing Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken Dry Cat Food
“The ingredients in this wet cat food is pretty decent but upon opening the can it was runny with no chunks. My cats ate it of course but was asking for more after a short time. Plus it went right through my elderly’ cats system which is very unlike her. I’m going back to our tried and true, Earthborn.” – Anniesmom, reviewing Wellness CORE Signature Selects Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entree
“Cats seem to like it, just not sure it is super dry and the crumbles turn to “dust”. Might look again for something else.” – Core, reviewing Wellness CORE Grain-Free Chicken Dry Cat Food
How Much Does Wellness Cat Food Cost?
In part because the brand covers everything from grain-inclusive kibble to canned products with 95% animal protein, Wellness cat foods range from very inexpensive to pricey.
For example, Wellness wet foods range from around $0.5 per ounce if you choose a product from the Complete Health line and $0.57 per ounce for Divine Duos, meaning your average daily feeding costs will add up to something between $1.34 and $3.42.
Complete Health Indoor dry cat food costs about $0.29 per ounce and their CORE Grain-Free dry foods cost about $0.23 per ounce. Your daily feeding costs will range from $1.22 to $1.48 and more if you opt for the brand’s air-dried formulas.
Overall, Is Wellness A Good Choice?
Wellness cat food is one of the better brands on the market. The Wellness CORE line stands out with a great selection of high-protein foods made primarily from animal ingredients. Their Complete Health line is also a good option, particularly if you choose their canned recipes rather than the dry foods.
Though Wellness has been recalled several times in the past, the company reacted promptly to reports of problems and very few customers complain about the food making their pets sick. Overall, the brand has a good reputation among both cats and people.
Where Is Wellness Cat Food Sold?
You can buy it through independent pet retailers, chains, and in some big box stores. It’s also available online through sites like Amazon and Chewy.
Wellness is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.