Instinct Cat Food Review: Pros, Cons and Recs

Instinct cat food

Instinct cat food promises the natural nutrition your furry friend craves. But are these high-protein, grain-free formulas all they’re cracked up to be? You want the best for your feline companion, so keep reading this no-nonsense review that dishes the details to help you decide if Instinct delivers quality tailored to your cat’s needs or if you should explore other options. We’ll sniff out the pros and cons of Instinct’s ingredient choices and pricing, plus provide vet-approved recommendations to determine if this cage-free, farm-raised fare deserves a spot in your cat’s bowl.

Instinct cat food
Instinct cat food

Overview of Instinct Cat Food Brand

Instinct offers a variety of high-quality cat food options for your feline companion. They produce both dry and wet cat food, with formulas for kittens, adults, and senior cats. Many of their recipes are grain-free, made with premium natural ingredients, and packed with protein.

  • Dry Food: Instinct’s dry cat food comes in both crunchy kibble and freeze-dried raw coated pieces. The kibble is high in protein with ingredients like chicken, fish, and duck. The freeze-dried raw coated pieces provide the nutritional benefits of raw food with the convenience of dry kibble. Both the kibble and freeze-dried raw coated pieces are available in grain-free and high-protein recipes for all life stages.
  • Wet Food: Instinct’s wet cat food pouches and cans contain high amounts of moisture to support urinary tract health and contain protein-rich ingredients like chicken, beef, and fish. They offer classic pâtés as well as chunky loaves with vegetables and broths. The wet food is available in grain-free, high-protein, and limited ingredient diet recipes for kittens, adults, and senior cats.
  • Raw Food: For cats accustomed to raw diets, Instinct offers frozen raw cat food medallions and patties made from high-quality meat and vegetable ingredients. The raw cat food provides natural enzymes and nutrients for digestion while closely mimicking a cat’s ancestral diet. However, raw diets may not suit all cats, so consult your vet first.

Overall, Instinct aims to craft cat food that nourishes your cat’s body and spirit. By using pure, real nutrition and following the ancestral diet of cats, Instinct’s cat food supports a lifetime of wellbeing for your feline family member. Instinct offers a range of high-quality cat food options to meet the needs of cats at every life stage and with different dietary requirements.

Instinct cat food
Instinct cat food

Top 5 Instinct Cat Food Formulas Reviewed

Instinct has a variety of high-quality cat food formulas to choose from. Here are some of their top products according to pet owners and experts.

1. Ultimate Protein Duck & Turkey

This grain-free dry cat food features duck and turkey as the first ingredients, providing a protein-packed meal for your cat. It’s a great option if your cat has a sensitivity to common proteins like chicken or fish. The limited ingredients and single-source animal protein also make it ideal for cats with food allergies or sensitivities.

2. Original Kitten Grain-Free Real Chicken

For growing kittens, Instinct’s Original Kitten formula is an excellent choice. It features real chicken as the first ingredient to support healthy muscle development. The blend of protein and fat provides plenty of energy for play. It also includes DHA for brain and eye development, as well as probiotics for digestive health.

3. Be Natural Real Salmon & Brown Rice

If your cat prefers fish-flavored food, try Instinct’s Be Natural Real Salmon formula. The main ingredient is wild-caught salmon, supplemented with digestible whole grains like brown rice. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat and cognitive benefits. The formula is free from artificial additives, by-products and fillers.

4. Ultimate Protein Real Duck Recipe

For wet cat food, Instinct’s Ultimate Protein Duck Recipe is a top choice. With 95% duck, organs and bone broth, it’s a highly nutritious option closely resembling your cat’s natural diet. The broth provides extra hydration and the duck provides essential amino acids for muscle, bone and joint health. ###5. Limited Ingredient Diet Real Turkey Recipe

For cats with food sensitivities or allergies, a limited ingredient diet like Instinct’s Real Turkey Recipe wet food can help eliminate problem ingredients. With just six main ingredients including turkey, turkey broth and potatoes, the chances of a reaction are minimal. The formula is also grain-free, gluten-free and free from artificial additives. It provides balanced nutrition using a novel source of animal protein.

In summary, Instinct offers high-quality cat food with responsibly sourced ingredients that cater to cats of all life stages and dietary needs. By choosing a formula suited to your cat’s unique requirements, you can feel good about feeding Instinct.

Instinct cat food
Instinct cat food

Pros and Cons of Feeding Instinct Cat Food

When deciding whether Instinct cat food is right for your feline friend, it’s important to weigh the positives and negatives. Here are some of the main pros and cons to consider:


•High-quality ingredients. Instinct uses wholesome, natural ingredients like real meat, poultry or fish, vegetables, fruits and healthy grains. No fillers, byproducts or artificial additives. This means better nutrition for your cat.

•Variety of formulas. Instinct offers wet and dry food options, as well as limited ingredient diets, high-protein, grain-free, and more. There’s something for every cat.

•Convenient. Instinct cat food can be found at many pet stores, making it easy to find and purchase. They also offer an autoship option if you prefer delivery.

•Made in the USA. All Instinct cat food is made in company-owned facilities in the United States, under strict quality and safety standards.


•Price. Because Instinct uses premium ingredients and specialized formulas, their cat food tends to cost more than average. The price can be a downside, especially if you have multiple cats or are on a tight budget.

•Limited vet recommendation. Some veterinarians prefer to recommend cat food brands that meet certain nutritional standards and feeding trials. Instinct does not currently meet those additional standards, though their food is still highly rated.

•Strong smells. The real meat and fish ingredients in Instinct wet and dry cat food can produce odors that some cat owners find unpleasant, especially the fish-based varieties. Proper storage and frequent waste removal can help reduce smells in the home.

•May not suit all cats. Although Instinct aims to provide balanced nutrition for all cats, some kitties may do better on a different brand or formula based on their unique needs, age or health issues. It’s best to check with your vet, especially for kittens or senior cats.

In the end, you know your cat best. Looking at the pros and cons of Instinct cat food, along with your cat’s individual needs and your own priorities can help determine if it’s the right choice for your feline family member. But when in doubt, talk to your vet.

Instinct cat food
Instinct cat food

Transitioning Your Cat to an Instinct Diet

Switching your cat to a new food always requires patience and a gradual transition. Start by mixing a small amount of the new Instinct cat food in with your cat’s current kibble or wet food. For example, mix about 25% of the new food with 75% of the familiar food for the first 3-5 days. Slowly make the new food a bigger portion of the mix over a 7-10 day period until your cat is eating 100% Instinct cat food.

Some tips to help your cat adjust:

  1. Choose an Instinct formula with similar ingredients to your cat’s current diet. This will make the transition easier since the taste and texture will be more familiar. For example, switch from a chicken-based diet to Instinct’s Original Chicken Meal Formula.
  2. Make the transition when your schedule allows you to be home more often. This way you can monitor your cat for any digestive upset and make adjustments if needed. Reduce the amount of new food or slow down the transition.
  3. Feed wet and dry Instinct cat food separately at first. Cats often prefer wet food, so offering it alone at the beginning of the transition may make your cat more open to accepting the new kibble.
  4. Be patient through the transition. It can take days or even weeks for some cats to fully accept a new diet. Offer praise, treats and play to help your cat develop positive associations with Instinct cat food.
  5. If your cat is still reluctant after 10-14 days, you may need to try a different Instinct formula or speak to your vet. Some cats can be quite picky, but with time and the right approach, you can find an Instinct cat food that your feline friend will enjoy!

Sticking with the gradual transition plan and providing your cat extra love and support will help make the switch to Instinct as stress-free as possible. Your cat’s health and happiness are worth the investment. Before you know it, your cat will be thriving on a high-quality, natural Instinct diet.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instinct Cat Food

Is Instinct cat food high in protein?

Yes, Instinct cat food products are typically high in animal-based protein. Instinct aims to provide high-protein, meat-first recipes that align with a cat’s natural diet. Most Instinct recipes feature a named meat like chicken, fish or duck as the first ingredient. Some formulas are 95% meat, organs, bones, and fat. The high protein levels in Instinct cat food can benefit an active cat or one with higher protein requirements.

Is Instinct cat food grain-free?

Many Instinct cat food recipes are grain-free, made without corn, wheat, soy or rice. Grain-free cat food can be a good option for cats with grain sensitivities or allergies. Instinct Ultimate Protein, Instinct Raw Boost and Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet product lines are all completely grain-free. However, some Instinct recipes do contain grains like oatmeal and barley. So, if you want a strictly grain-free cat food, be sure to check the ingredient list.

Is Instinct cat food good for urinary health?

Instinct cat food can be part of a healthy diet for urinary health. Many Instinct recipes are made with natural ingredients and optimal levels of magnesium, which can help maintain urinary tract health. Instinct also offers a line of veterinarian-developed urinary health cat food called Instinct Urinary Health. This line is formulated to promote urinary tract health and help reduce urinary pH. In addition to the specialized urinary health formula, any high-moisture Instinct recipe, like Instinct Ultimate Protein or Instinct Raw Boost, can also help support urinary health by promoting hydration. However, for cats with a history of urinary issues, you should always talk to your vet before switching foods.

Is Instinct cat food expensive?

Instinct cat food is typically priced at a premium compared to more standard cat food brands. The higher cost is due to the high-quality, natural ingredients used in Instinct recipes. Instinct cat food is available at most major pet retailers like Petco, PetSmart, and Chewy. You may be able to find some discounts or coupons to help reduce the cost. And while Instinct cat food is more expensive upfront, the high-quality nutrition may help reduce health issues in the long run.


The bottom line is that Instinct offers high-quality cat food with natural ingredients and tailored nutrition to match your cat’s needs. Their products check a lot of boxes for feline health and appeal to discerning cat owners. However, the cost may be prohibitive for some budgets. Talk to your vet about whether Instinct makes sense for your cat’s lifestyle before taking the plunge. At the end of the day, you want what’s best for your furry friend – Instinct aims to deliver just that if it fits for you.

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