9 Lives Cat Food Review

Cats Reviews Nov 13, 2020
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Written by Kate Barrington | Updated Dec 2, 2020
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9 Lives Cat Food Review

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When shopping for cat food, most pet owners are concerned about price. You don’t want to spend a fortune feeding your cat every month, but you need to be wary of brands that are too cheap – they’re probably made with cheap ingredients as well.

You’ve probably seen 9 Lives on the shelf at your local grocery store, or even the dollar store. This should give you a clue about the quality of the brand, but it’s still a good idea to take a closer look and do your own evaluation before making a decision.

Read on to see an overview of the 9 Lives brand and to see what we think of their products.

9 Lives Cat Food
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Affordably priced
  • Wide variety of choices
Cons
  • Company isn’t particularly concerned with quality
  • Includes unnamed meat or poultry ingredients and by-products
Pros
  • Affordably priced
  • Wide variety of choices
Cons
  • Company isn’t particularly concerned with quality
  • Includes unnamed meat or poultry ingredients and by-products
Variety of Recipes
Ingredient Quality
Price Per Pound
Recall History
Availability
Customer Reviews

How We Review Cat Food Brands

When it comes to your cat, we know you want what’s best – that includes the best diet you can afford. The quality of your cat’s diet is directly related to its long-term health and wellness, so it is well worth paying a little more for your cat’s good.

If you’re wondering what makes a good cat food, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve tested, rated, and reviewed all of the top brands on the market. Before you check out our review of 9 Lives, there are a few things you need to know about your cat’s nutritional requirements.

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they have a biological need for a high-protein diet and most of that protein should come from animal-based sources. The best food for cats is high in protein with moderate fat content and low carbohydrate content.

Natural, whole-food ingredients are best, and your cat’s diet should be complete and balanced with the help of vitamin and mineral supplements. Avoid recipes that contain low-quality fillers and by-products.

Here are some of the other things we look for in a good cat food brand:

  • High-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
  • Rich in healthy animal fats (ex: chicken fat or salmon oil)
  • Few to no carbohydrate ingredients (especially within the top 5)
  • Limited number of main ingredients plus supplements
  • No low-quality fillers, grains, or by-products

When reviewing cat foods, we try to be unbiased. Our goal is to provide you with a detailed overview of the company, a summary of the products they offer, and a closer look at some of the recipes.

Using this information, you can decide for yourself whether it’s the right brand for you and your cat.

Overview of the 9 Lives Brand

The 9 Lives company first hit store shelves in 1959, making it the first wet cat food brand in the United States. The brand set out with the belief that, “all cats deserve to live the good life – with good food, good health, and a good home.”

What started with a few formulas for wet food grew into a nationwide company that now offers four complete lines of products with both dry food and wet food recipes.

9 Lives is dedicated to giving cats the life they deserve – all cats. Not only do they offer a wide variety of cat food products, but 9 Lives and their spokes-cat Morris advocates for the adoption of rescue cats, working with shelters and donating both time and money to support the cause.

As we mentioned above, 9 Lives is available just about everywhere. You can find it on grocery store and dollar store shelves as well as in pet stores and online. This is easily one of the most affordable brands of cat food as well, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Low-priced cat foods are affordable and accessible to most cat owners, but you have to ask yourself whether they offer the best nutrition for your cat. As you’ll see in our recipe reviews below, 9 Lives’ low price comes from low-quality ingredients including corn, wheat, soy, and by-products.

Though 9 Lives offers affordability and variety, this brand is definitely at the lower tend of the scale when it comes to quality.

What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?

9 Lives offers dozens of different cat food products, though they specialize in wet food. This brand offers five different dry food recipes as well as four lines of wet food and several variety packs.

According to the 9 Lives website, their wet foods, “give cats the choice of tender, meaty morsels with rich gravy, flakes of fish, savory shreds, or ground cat food with flavor and aroma cats can’t resist.”

The majority of 9 Lives cat food recipes feature chicken or fish as the primary proteins. You’ll see several recipes that include beef or turkey as well as some mixed recipes that contain both poultry and fish. Choose from a variety of pates as well as wet foods in sauces and broths.

Here is the nutritional information for some of the most popular cat food recipes:

Dry Food Recipes

Recipe Protein % Fat % Fiber % Moisture % Calories (cal/cup)
Daily Essentials Dry Food 30 9 3 12 306
Indoor Complete Dry Food 30 9 4 12 305
Lean & Tasty Dry Food 31 8 10 4 299
Plus Care Dry Food 31 9 3 12 295
Protein Plus Dry Food 33 9 4 12 300

Wet Food Recipes

Recipe Protein % Fat % Fiber % Moisture % Calories (can)
Meaty Pate with Real Liver & Bacon 9 5 1 78 165
Meaty Pate with Real Ocean Whitefish 9 4.5 1 78 159
Meaty Pate with Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna 11 4 1 78 160
Meaty Pate with Real Salmon 9 4.5 1 78 160
Meaty Pate with Real Tuna & Shrimp 9 4.5 1 78 163
Meaty Pate with Real Turkey & Giblets 9 4.5 1 78 163
Meaty Pate Seafood Platter 9 4 1 78 170
Meaty Pate with Real Chicken 9 4.5 1 78 163
Meaty Pate with Real Chicken & Seafood 9 4.5 1 78 163
Meaty Pate Mixed Grill 10 5 1 78 167
Meaty Pate Poultry Supper 10 5 1 78 178
Meaty Pate with Real Beef (13oz.) 9 4.5 1 78 380
Meaty Pate Super Supper 9 4.5 1 78 168
Meaty Pate with Real Chicken & Tuna 9 4.5 1 78 168
Hearty Cuts with Real Chicken & Cheese in Gravy 8 2.5 1 82 123
Hearty Cuts with Real Beef & Chicken in Gravy 8 2 1 82 112
Hearty Cuts with Real Beef in Gravy 8 2 1 82 117
Hearty Cuts with Real Turkey in Gravy 8 2.5 1 82 115
Hearty Cuts with Real Chicken & Fish in Gravy 8 2 1 82 121
Hearty Cuts with Real Chicken & Salmon in Gravy 9 3 1 82 124
Hearty Cuts with Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Gravy 9 2.5 1 82 123
Hearty Cuts with Real Turkey & Cheese in Gravy 9 3 1 82 134
Hearty Cuts with Real Chicken in Gravy 8 2.5 1 82 123
Hearty Cuts with Real Turkey, Chicken, & Cheese in Gravy 8 2.5 1 82 119
Tender Morsels with Real Ocean Whitefish, Tuna, & Cheese Bits 8 2.5 1 82 126
Tender Morsels with Real Beef in Sauce 8 2.5 1 82 115
Tender Morsels with Real Flaked Tuna & Cheese Bits in Sauce 14 2 1 78 139
Tender morsels with Real Flaked Tuna & Egg Bits in Sauce 14 2 1 78 139
Tender Morsels with Real Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Sauce 9 2.5 1 82 123
Tender Morsels with Real Turkey & Chicken in Sauce 8 2.5 1 82 119
Tender Morsels with Real Turkey & Giblets in Sauce 8 2.5 1 82 120
Tender Morsels with Real Chicken in Sauce 8 2.5 1 82 118
Tender Morsels with Real Salmon in Sauce 8 2.5 1 82 128
Protein Plus with Tuna & Liver 12 4.5 1 78 160 kcal/cup
Protein Plus with Tuna & Chicken 12 4.5 1 78 160 kcal/cup

Product Recall History

A product recall occurs when there’s an issue with the product or packaging. It sometimes happens when there’s concern about contamination, or it can be for something as simple as a labeling issue.

Having started in 1959, 9 Lives has over 60 years of history to cover when it comes to recalls. It wasn’t until the past two decades or so, however, that the FDA really started to take a closer look at pet food. Somewhat surprisingly, 9 Lives has only had 2 recalls in its history.

Here is an overview of 9 Lives pet food recalls:

  • December 2018 (low thiamine levels) – The FDA issued a recall for 9 Lives affecting 4-can packages of Protein Plus canned cat food due to low thiamine levels.
  • January 2017 (low thiamine levels) – This recall was issued for 4-packs and individual cans of four different recipes from the Meaty Pate product line.

Many pet food brands that experience recalls are those that outsource their production to other manufacturers. 9 Lives has the benefit of being a big enough brand that they have their own facilities – this may help with quality control.

Though the brand has only had two recalls in its history, you still have to consider the quality of the ingredients when you evaluate the brand as a whole.

Products Included in This Review

Name Type Protein % Fat % Top 5 Ingredients
9Lives Daily Essentials with Chicken, Beef, Salmon Flavor Dry Food Dry 30 9 Whole ground corn, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat
9 Lives Indoor Complete with Chicken & Salmon Flavor Dry Food Dry 30 9 Whole ground corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, whole wheat
Meaty Pate Mixed Grill Canned Cat Food Wet 10 5 Meat by-products, water, poultry by-products, chicken, fish
Tender Morsels with Real Turkey & Giblets in Sauce Canned Food Wet 8 2.5 Water, meat by-products, turkey, chicken, soy protein concentrate
Hearty Cuts with Real Beef in Gravy Canned Food Wet 8 2 Water, meat by-products, beef, chicken, wheat flour

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

Product Info:

  • Type of Food: Dry
  • First 5 Ingredients: Whole ground corn, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% protein, 9% fat, 3% fiber, 12% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 306 kcal/cup
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.65 per pound

Ingredients:

Whole Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat, Beef Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Meat and Bone Meal, Animal Digest, Salmon Meal, Salt, Phosphoric Acid, Choline Chloride, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, BHA (Used As A Preservative), Blue 1, Blue 2, Rosemary Extract.

This Daily Essentials recipe from 9 Lives is made with flavors of chicken, beef, and salmon. The package claims that it is 100% complete and balanced, formulated to support strong muscle growth, healthy heart & vision, and healthy skin & coat.

Unfortunately, the list of ingredients leaves much to be desired. Not only is whole ground corn the first ingredient, but you’ll also find soy and wheat ingredients listed within the top 5. In fact, chicken by-product meal is the only animal ingredient within the first 5.

No cat food that lists a carbohydrate (especially corn, wheat, or soy) as the first ingredient gets our blessing. It’s also worth noting that the estimated carbohydrate content of this formula is well over 30%. The only animal proteins are by-products or unnamed meat meals, aside from a little salmon meal.

This recipe also contains artificial colors and preservatives.

9 Lives Indoor Complete with Chicken & Salmon Flavor Dry Food

Product Info:

  • Type of Food: Dry
  • First 5 Ingredients: Whole ground corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, whole wheat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% protein, 9% fat, 4% fiber, 12% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 305 kcal/cup
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.65 per pound

Ingredients:

Whole Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Whole Wheat, Meat and Bone Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Animal Digest, Soy Hulls, Salmon Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Phosphoric Acid, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Red 40, BHA (Used As A Preservative), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Rosemary Extract.

Taking a look at this Indoor Complete recipe, you’ll see that the first five ingredients are the same as the Daily Essentials recipe. In fact, the majority of the ingredients are the same with minor swaps like animal fat for beef fat.

Overall, this recipe appears to be primarily carbohydrate-based with limited amounts of animal by-products and unnamed meat meals. Though the crude protein level (30%) is perfectly adequate for cats, it is unlikely that the majority of it comes from animal products and none from quality ingredients.

In addition to questionable corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, this recipe also contains artificial colors and preservatives. We also see things like “animal digest” which are primarily used to flavor low-quality pet foods to make them more enticing for cats despite having lower meat inclusions.

9Lives Meaty Pate Mixed Grill Canned Food

Product Info:

  • Type of Food: Wet
  • First 5 Ingredients: Meat by-products, water, poultry by-products, chicken, fish
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10% protein, 5% fat, 1% fiber, 78% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 167 kcal/can
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.08 per ounce

Ingredients:

Meat By-Products, Water Sufficient For Processing, Poultry By-Products, Chicken, Fish, Brewers Rice, Glycine, Steamed Bone Meal, Guar Gum, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Dl-Methionine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Taurine, Beta-Carotene (Color), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Sodium Nitrite (To Promote Color Retention).

Wet food makes up the majority of 9 Lives’ product line. This Mixed Grill canned food is made with flavors of chicken and seafood with a smooth texture.

Compared to the dry food recipes, this formula starts off a little stronger with four of the first five ingredients being animal-based. The trouble is two of them are by-products and three of them come from unnamed sources (meat, poultry, and fish).

Not only is this recipe full of unnamed ingredients and by-products, but it also contains questionable additives like carrageenan, artificial color, and a long list of synthetic supplements.

9Lives Tender Morsels with Real Turkey & Giblets in Sauce Canned Food

Product Info:

  • Type of Food: Wet
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water, meat by-products, turkey, chicken, soy protein concentrate
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 8% protein, 2.5% fat, 1% fiber, 82% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 120 kcal/can
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.08 per ounce

Ingredients:

Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Turkey, Chicken, Soy Protein Concentrate, Modified Corn Starch, Giblets, Wheat Flour, Fish, Soy Flour, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Steamed Bone Meal, Iron Oxide (Color), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite).

Many cats enjoy canned foods that contain sauce or gravy. This recipe is described as “real turkey and giblets that are smothered in a savory sauce.”

The trouble with canned cat foods that contain sauce is that they also tend to contain a lot of thickeners. This recipe relies on meat by-products, turkey, and chicken as the main sources of protein with cornstarch, wheat flour, and soy flour as thickening agents.

Though the majority of this recipe’s protein comes from animal sources, their quality is questionable. We also question the inclusion of artificial colors and an extensive list of synthetic supplements.

9Lives Hearty Cuts with Real Beef in Gravy Canned Food

Product Info:

  • Type of Food: Wet
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water, meat by-products, beef, chicken, wheat flour
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 8% protein, 2% fat, 1% fiber, 82% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 117 kcal/can
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.11 per ounce

Ingredients:

Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Beef, Chicken, Wheat Flour, Soy Protein Concentrate, Modified Corn Starch, Steamed Bone Meal, Fish, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Caramel Color, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Iron Oxide (Color), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite).

Many of 9 Lives products are made with a combination of different proteins, so we were curious to see how this beef recipe compared. We weren’t surprised to find that, while beef is included, it isn’t the first protein listed – this recipe also contains fish, chicken, and unnamed meat.

In comparing this recipe to similar recipes, we found the first 10 ingredients identical to those in the Hearty Cuts Real Beef and Chicken in Gravy recipe. There were only some adjustments in the order.

Overall, this beef recipe contains several sources of protein, most of which are animal-based. The problem is several of those sources are unnamed or by-products.

What Do Customers Think of 9 Lives Cat Food?

Using Chewy customer reviews as a foundation, it seems that most customers are pleased with 9 Lives. Ratings upwards of 4/5 stars are common, though some formulas achieve lower ratings of 3 stars.

When it comes to customer comments, many people love the low price. In fact, many of the positive ratings are based on price rather than the quality of the food – keep this in mind when you start shopping.

How Much Does 9 Lives Cat Food Cost?

Two of the qualities that make 9 Lives a popular brand are the variety and affordability. This brand offers just 5 different dry food recipes, but dozens of wet food formulas divided across four product lines.

9 Lives cat food is available in grocery stores, dollar stores, retail chains, pet stores, and online. With so many distributors, prices may vary but the brand as a whole is definitely at the lower end of the price scale.

Dry food recipes average about $0.65 per pound and most of the popular wet food formulas cost $0.8 per ounce. Certain flavors cost a little more, up to $0.14 per ounce.

To give you a better idea how 9 Lives stacks up against other cat food brands, here is a quick chart to show you some average prices for cat food:

Where Can You Buy 9 Lives Cat Food?

Though 9 Lives may not be one of the absolute best brands on the market, it is certainly easy to find. You can find 9 Lives cat food everywhere from dollar stores and grocery stores to major retailers and chain stores.

Shop online for 9 Lives at Chewy or Amazon as well as other pet product retailers. To find a retailer near you, use the locator on the 9 Lives website.

Our Final Thoughts: Is 9 Lives a Good Brand?

Unfortunately, we can’t recommend 9 Lives cat food in good conscious. We love the fact that the brand is affordable and offers a wide variety of choices, but it is clear from our review that the company isn’t particularly concerned with quality.

Not only are many recipes very carbohydrate-heavy, but most make heavy use of unnamed meat or poultry ingredients and by-products. We also found it troubling that so many recipes were nearly identical in their ingredients list with simple tweaks to the order or the product name.

If you’re looking for an affordable brand of cat food but you aren’t willing to compromise on the quality of your cat’s nutrition, there are plenty of other brands to consider.

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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