9 Lives Cat Food Review

In 1959, 9Lives entered the market with their first canned cat food, called Moist and Meaty.

The brand’s famous ambassador, an orange tabby named Morris, joined the team almost ten years later in 1968. Morris became iconic and helped 9Lives to become one of the most popular and long-lasting cat food brands.

9Lives, along with many of the U.S.’s best-known pet food brands, is operated by Big Heart Pet Brands, a massive pet food conglomerate is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company.

What types of cat food does 9 Lives offer?

9Lives offers a large selection of cat food and is available in dry and wet varieties.

Most 9Lives products are manufactured in the United States and made with primarily North American ingredients.

Dry Cat Food

  • Daily Essentials
  • Plus Care®
  • Protein Plus®
  • Lean & Tasty
  • Indoor Complete

Wet Food

Tender Morsels

  • Tender Morsels With Real Ocean Whitefish, Tuna & Cheese Bits
  • Tender Morsels With Real Beef in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Chicken in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Flaked Tuna & Cheese Bits in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Flaked Tuna & Egg Bits in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Salmon in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Turkey & Chicken in Sauce
  • Tender Morsels With Real Turkey & Giblets in Sauce

Meaty Paté

  • Meaty Paté With Real Liver & Bacon
  • Meaty Paté Poultry Supper
  • Meaty Paté Mixed Grill
  • Meaty Paté With Real Chicken & Tuna
  • Meaty Paté With Real Chicken & Seafood
  • Meaty Paté With Real Chicken
  • Meaty Paté With Real Beef
  • Meaty Paté Super Supper®
  • Meaty Paté Seafood Platter
  • Meaty Paté With Real Turkey & Giblets
  • Meaty Paté With Real Tuna & Shrimp
  • Meaty Paté With Real Salmon
  • Meaty Paté With Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna
  • Meaty Paté With Real Ocean Whitefish

Protein Plus®

  • Protein Plus® With Tuna and Liver
  • Protein Plus® With Tuna and Chicken

Hearty Cuts

  • Hearty Cuts With Real Chicken & Cheese in Gravy
  • Hearty Cuts With Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Gravy
  • Hearty Cuts With Real Chicken & Fish in Gravy
  • Hearty Cuts With Real Chicken & Salmon in Gravy
  • Hearty Cuts With Real Beef in Gravy
  • Hearty Cuts With Real Beef & Chicken in Gravy

Has 9 Lives cat food ever been recalled?

9Lives was recalled in January of 2017 due to low thiamine levels in several varieties of the brand’s Meaty Pate canned food. J.M. Smucker brands EverPet and Special Kitty were also involved in the recall.

What do customers think of 9 Lives cat food?

A 2015 Nielson report showed that after over 50 years on the market, 9 Lives was still one of the most popular cat foods in the United States.

While most consumers probably buy 9Lives at the grocery and never make a public comment on the food, the brand’s Consumer Affairs page is seething with complaints. There, the brand has an overall satisfaction rating of 1.7 out of 5 stars, based on 31 ratings submitted in the last year.

Most reviewers say that their cat—sometimes multiple cats and even dogs—got sick or died after eating 9Lives food. It appears that none of these reports have been investigated or confirmed. One consumer reported that their can of 9Lives was bloated and burst open. Another showed a photo of fish-based 9Lives canned food that had turned a bright red color after sitting out for a short amount of time.

On Chewy, the brand’s popular Daily Essentials dry food has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. 97% of customers say they’d recommend it.

Positive Reviews

“Cats love it and it’s a great bargain. You can’t beat the value that you get for this back. I love that everything is delivered for free when I meet the minimum. It’s way cheaper than in the stores. And the cats adore it.” – Leda67

“My cat is really picky. I don’t know if it’s because he just doesn’t like certain things or that I spoil him so much that he knows that I will give him whatever he wants if he even looks at me, who knows. He ran out of his usual food and it took me almost 30 minutes just to take a leap of faith on something else I thought he might like until we get his favorite. HE ACTUALLY LIKES IT!! I can sleep easy.” – Tamara

Negative Reviews

“The cats do like the food I don’t like the way the fur feels now not soft and fluffy. So going back previous food which I can purchase locally. Thank u” – grettagirl

“I purchased this to give the stray kitties a change from their usual dry food but the kibble size was larger than they really seem to care for and the younger kitties just pretty much ignore it.” – Wobbely

Read more customer reviews on Chewy.

Now let’s take a closer look at 9Lives by reviewing one of their most popular recipes.

9 Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef & Salmon Flavor Dry Cat Food Review

First 5 Ingredients: Whole Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat

This popular kibble is a high-carbohydrate food made primarily from plant ingredients. Note that on the bag, this food is named “Daily Essentials” with no mention of ingredients. “With the flavors of chicken, beef, & salmon” is printed in smaller text on a different part of the bag.

There are labeling regulations dictating how pet food companies can describe their food.

This food appears to be following regulations by using the key words “with” and “flavor”. The “with” rule demands that the product consists of at least 3% of the named ingredient. The “flavor” rule doesn’t imply a specific percentage of a given ingredient, but something a little bit more vague. The product only needs to taste like the named ingredient.

These wording details provide some clues about the formulation of the food, but we’ll have to look at the ingredient list to learn more.

The first ingredient is whole ground corn, which is a high-carbohydrate ingredient that cats don’t need. It’s followed by chicken by-product meal. Like all animal by-products, this ingredient may be either good or bad—it’s impossible to know how much of it is nourishing, bioavailable protein and how much of it is indigestible or handled unsafely. At any rate, it’s the only carnivore-appropriate inclusion in the first five ingredients.

Chicken by-product meal is followed by corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and whole wheat. Remember that ingredients are listed by weight. If you combined the corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and whole wheat in one pile of grain, they’d certainly outweigh the chicken by-product meal in this food.

This series of plant ingredients is followed by beef fat, which is a carnivore-appropriate source of fatty acids. Next comes meat and bone meal, which is a vaguely-named animal by-product meal. Remember that while animal by-products can be a great source of nutrition, they’re nutritionally opaque. It’s difficult to evaluate the digestibility of a food made primarily from rendered by-product meals.

Salmon meal is added as a nourishing source of omega-3 fatty acids and is the last ingredient before a long list of vitamins, minerals, and added amino acids.

There are a few concerning additives near the bottom of the ingredient list. This is where you’ll notice artificial colors Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Blue 2. Though generally considered safe, they’re not necessary and they could cause health problems in both animals and people.

It also includes BHA. This synthetic preservative is an antioxidant that keeps fats from going rancid. While the FDA classifies the preservative as “generally recognized to be safe”, lab studies have shown that it can be carcinogenic in rats and other animals. The National Toxicology Program says that BHA can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The guaranteed analysis states that this food is 30% protein minimum, 9% fat minimum, and approximately 43% carbohydrate.

Considering that the ingredient list includes corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and whole wheat, it’s reasonable to assume that a large percentage of that crude protein is indigestible and will go through your cat’s body as waste.

Overall, its poor protein quality, astronomical carbohydrate content, and lack of moisture makes 9Lives Daily Essentials a below-average cat food.

9Lives Daily Essentials is available in 3.15-lb, 12-lb, 13.2-lb, and 20-lb bags.

On Chewy, the food costs between $.05 and $.08 per ounce.

Where can you buy 9 Lives cat food?

It’s available in most grocery chains and big box stores. Online, you can buy 9 Lives through Amazon, Chewy, and various other retailers.

Click here to shop for 9 Lives cat food on Chewy.

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