Natural Balance Cat Food Review

Cats Reviews May 7, 2022
Written by | Updated May 11, 2022
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Natural Balance Cat Food Review

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Choosing the perfect food for your cat can be tough. With so many options out there, you may find yourself making your selection not based on what the food contains but what it doesn’t.

Natural Balance suggests that the things you feed your pet are just as important as the ones you don’t. Healthy, high-quality ingredients are the building blocks for a healthy diet for pets and they are the foundation of every recipe this brand has to offer.

Read on to see what we think of the brand and to see our reviews for their top products.

Natural Balance Cat Food
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Can easily be purchased both online and in stores
  • Affordable priced
  • Wide variety of recipes
Cons
  • Made with plant protein concentrates and high carbohydrate inclusions
Pros
  • Can easily be purchased both online and in stores
  • Affordable priced
  • Wide variety of recipes
Cons
  • Made with plant protein concentrates and high carbohydrate inclusions
Variety of Recipes
Ingredient Quality
Price Per Pound
Recall History
Availability
Customer Reviews

How We Review Cat Food Brands

Your cat is your world and you want him to live the best life he possibly can. In addition to giving him all of your love and affection, you should be giving your cat the highest quality diet you can consistently afford. You don’t necessarily need to go top tier if you can’t afford it, but the higher the quality of your cat’s diet, the healthier he will be for the long run.

But what exactly goes into a good cat food and how can you tell the good from the bad?

Shopping for cat food can be tricky, especially with so many different options to choose from. That’s where we come in! We’ve tested and reviewed all the top brands on the market to bring you honest reviews so you can make the decision for yourself.

When evaluating cat foods, we look at more than just the pictures on the package. We take an in-depth look at the list of ingredients as well as the guaranteed analysis – we also evaluate the brand as a whole! We take our job seriously, hoping to provide you with everything you need to feed your cat well.

Our recommendations are based on the nutritional needs of cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, as you may know, so they have high needs for animal protein in their diets. Cat food made with low-quality grains and fillers simply aren’t any good, so we don’t recommend them.

Here are some of the 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

In addition to making sure any cat food brand we recommend is made with high-quality ingredients, we evaluate several other factors as well. We prefer brands that offer a wide variety of recipes and those that provide plenty of information about their ingredients and products. We also consider pricing and recalls as well as the availability of the brand as a whole.

Overview of the Natural Balance Brand

The legacy of the Natural Balance brand leads back to Dick Van Patten. In 1989, he created the brand to offer pet parents a selection of products that meet high nutritional, taste, and safety criteria. Today, the brand is owned by the J.M. Smucker company, having been acquired from Big Heart Pet Brands in 2015.

Though Natural Balance has changed several times over the last few decades, their commitment to quality remains the same.

According to the website, Natural Balance is made up of more than health science experts. In fact, “Many of us are also happy pet parents. This combination of knowledge and love for pets is what allows us to create the best premium products for your best friends.”

What sets Natural Balance apart from many other brands is their focus on limited ingredient diets. These diets are formulated for cats who have food allergies or sensitivities, so they are grain-free and made with a variety of different protein options. Natural Balance products are divided into five different product lines, including both wet food and dry food options.

Natural Balance is so sure of their products they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you or your cat aren’t completely happy with the food, simply return it for a full refund or exchange.

What Kind of Cat Food Products Do They Offer?

Natural Balance offers a wide variety of wet food and dry food products as well as wet food pouches and some treats. Their main products are divided into four product lines:

  • Limited Ingredient Diets – This line of simple and nutritious formulas is made with a shortened list of ingredients including limited animal protein sources.
  • Original Ultra – These premium cat food recipes are designed to support many aspects of cat health including brain health, healthy teeth and bones, and heart health.
  • Delectable Delights – Designed for use as a meal topper or complete and balanced meal, these flavorful meals are perfect for picky eaters.
  • Fat Cats – Formulated to help cats stay trim, this product line currently only contains one recipe, a dry food formula low in calories and fat.

In addition to these products, Natural Balance also offers the Platefulls line of wet food in 3-ounce packages. These can be offered as meals or used as meal toppers.

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

Dry Food Recipes

RecipeProtein %Fat %Fiber %Moisture %Calories/Cup
Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Salmon Formula3715410413
Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Tuna Formula3712410397
Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Chicken Formula3012510410
Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula29.511.5510410
Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Salmon Formula30124.510410
Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Venison Formula3010510370
Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Salmon & Chickpea Formula308105329
Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Turkey & Chickpea Formula308104336
Original Ultra Indoor Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal Formula301416.58381
Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal Formula3417203400
Original Ultra Reduced Calorie Formula3410.5810337
Original Ultra Chicken, Duck Meal, Salmon Meal Kitten Formula3820310420
Fat Cats Low Calorie Dry Cat359.5910320

Wet Food Recipes

RecipeProtein %Fat %Fiber %Moisture %Calories (kcal/kg)
Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Chicken Formula in Broth112183832
Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Tuna Formula in Broth112183803
Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Whitefish Formula in Broth92183776
Limited Ingredient Diets Chicken & Pumpkin Formula in Broth112183857
Limited Ingredient Diets Tuna & Pumpkin Formula in Broth112183833
Limited Ingredient Diets Chicken & Green Pea Canned Formula8.562781,200
Limited Ingredient Diets Duck & Green Pea Canned Formula972781,350
Limited Ingredient Diets Salmon & Green Pea Canned Formula941781,200
Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Turkey & Turkey Liver Formula92.52.5781,110
Limited Ingredient Diets Indoor Salmon & Chickpea Formula92.5578990
Delectable Delights Catatouille Cat Stew Formula102183840
Delectable Delights Land ‘n Sea Cat-serole Cat Pate Formula112.51831,022
Delectable Delights Life’s a Beach Cat Pate Formula1131801,042
Delectable Delights O’Fishally Scampi Cat Stew Formula102183828
Delectable Delights Purrfect Paella Cat Stew Formula102183822
Delectable Delights Sea Brulee Cat Stew Formula102183846
Original Ultra Chicken, Salmon & Duck Canned Formula9.58.52781,400
Original Ultra Chicken, Salmon & Duck Canned Kitten Formula109.52781,300
Original Ultra Reduced Calorie Chicken, Salmon & Duck Canned8.572781,180
Original Ultra Chicken & Liver Pate Canned Formula961.5781,245
Original Ultra Indoor Chicken Canned Formula952781,160
Original Ultra Ocean Fish Canned Formula951781,050
Original Ultra Salmon Formula1061.5781,070
Original Ultra Tuna & Shrimp Canned Formula1051.5781,110
Original Ultra Turkey & Giblets Canned Formula951.5781,070

Product Recall History

Before feeding your cat anything, you want to make sure it is safe and healthy. Reviewing the information on the pet food label is important, but it may not give you the whole story. It’s also a good idea to learn a little bit about the brand before making your final decision.

There are a lot of things to consider when evaluating the quality of a pet food brand, but it’s always a good idea to look at the product recall history.

The pet food industry is regulated less than human food, but the FDA does make an effort to control certain aspects of labeling and safety requirements. When a product doesn’t meet the grade, it might be recalled from sale. Product recalls can happen for everything from minor labeling errors to major issues like contamination with food-borne pathogens.

Here’s an overview of product recalls for the past 10 years:

  • July 2020 (Choline chloride) – The FDA issued a recall for Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula canned cat food due to elevated levels of choline chloride.

Natural Balance has had a few other recalls since 2010, but only affecting dog food products. There is only a single recall for a cat food product from this brand.

Products Included in This Review

NameTypeProtein %Fat %Top 5 Ingredients
Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck FormulaDry29.511.5Green peas, duck, duck meal, pea protein, canola oil
Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal FormulaDry3417Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken, chicken fat, brewers dried yeast
Fat Cats Low Calorie Dry CatDry359.5Chicken meal, salmon meal, pea protein, garbanzo beans, peas
Original Ultra Turkey & Giblets Canned FormulaWet95Turkey, turkey broth, poultry giblets, dried carrots, brown rice
Delectable Delights Catatouille Cat Stew FormulaWet102Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, carrots, dried egg

Compare Natural Balance Cat Food

NATURAL BALANCE Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula

1. NATURAL BALANCE Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula

NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal Formula

2. NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal Formula

NATURAL BALANCE Fat Cats Low Calorie Dry Cat

3. NATURAL BALANCE Fat Cats Low Calorie Dry Cat

NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Turkey & Giblets Canned Formula

4. NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Turkey & Giblets Canned Formula

NATURAL BALANCE Delectable Delights Catatouille Cat Stew Formula

5. NATURAL BALANCE Delectable Delights Catatouille Cat Stew Formula

Type of Food
Dry
Type of Food
Dry
Type of Food
Dry
Type of Food
Wet
Type of Food
Wet
First 5 Ingredients
Green peas, duck, duck meal, pea protein, canola oil
First 5 Ingredients
Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken, chicken fat, brewers dried yeast
First 5 Ingredients
Chicken meal, salmon meal, pea protein, garbanzo beans, peas
First 5 Ingredients
Turkey, turkey broth, poultry giblets, dried carrots, brown rice
First 5 Ingredients
Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, carrots, dried egg
Guaranteed Analysis
30% protein, 12% fat, 4% fiber, 10% moisture
Guaranteed Analysis
34% protein, 17% fat, 3% fiber, 10% moisture
Guaranteed Analysis
35% protein, 9.5% fat, 9% fiber, 10% moisture
Guaranteed Analysis
9% protein, 5% fat, 1.5% fiber, 78% moisture
Guaranteed Analysis
10% protein, 1.5% fat, 1% fiber, 83% moisture
Calories per Cup
410 kcal/cup
Calories per Cup
400 kcal/cup
Calories per Cup
320 kcal/cup
Calories per Cup
170 kcal/can (5.5 oz.)
Calories per Cup
60 kcal/tub (2.5 oz.)
Price Per Pound/Ounce
$3.15/pound
Price Per Pound/Ounce
$2.80/pound
Price Per Pound/Ounce
$4.36/pound
Price Per Pound/Ounce
$0.34/ounce
Price Per Pound/Ounce
$0.52/ounce
1.

NATURAL BALANCE Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea & Duck Formula

Product Info

  • Type of Food: Dry
  • First 5 Ingredients: Green peas, duck, duck meal, pea protein, canola oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% protein, 12% fat, 4% fiber, 10% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 410 kcal/cup
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $3.15/pound

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 30%
Crude Fat: 12%
Crude Fiber: 4%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 33.33%
Fat: 13.33%
Fiber: 4.44%
Carbs: 48.89%
Ingredients: Green Peas, Duck, Duck Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement

Cats who suffer from food allergies and sensitivities often do well on a limited ingredient diet – a diet made with a shorter list of ingredients. Fewer ingredients mean fewer things that could potentially trigger a negative reaction. These recipes also contain a single source of animal protein.

Unfortunately, while this LID recipe does contain fewer than the average number of ingredients, it starts with a carbohydrate rather than a protein ingredient. While the total protein content of the recipe may still be within the appropriate range, we don’t recommend recipes that don’t start with protein.

Not only does this recipe start with a carbohydrate ingredient, but it also incorporates a plant protein concentrate: pea protein. We’re also not big fans of canola oil as the primary source of fat.

Overall, this recipe could use some improvement. We like that it includes both fresh duck and duck meal, but three of the other top-five ingredients could be better. Again, we also can’t recommend a recipe that lists anything other than animal protein as the first ingredient.
2.

NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Chicken Meal & Salmon Meal Formula

Product Info

  • Type of Food: Dry
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken, chicken fat, brewers dried yeast
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 34% protein, 17% fat, 3% fiber, 10% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 400 kcal/cup
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $2.80/pound

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 34%
Crude Fat: 17%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 37.78%
Fat: 18.89%
Fiber: 3.33%
Carbs: 40%
Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Dried Yeast, Oat Groats, Chicken Liver, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Menhaden Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Oat Hulls, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), etc…

Though a full 30 cents cheaper than the previous recipe, we actually like this Original Ultra formula better. It starts off strong with chicken meal as the first ingredient and includes fresh chicken as the third. Chicken liver and salmon meal come later as supplemental sources of animal protein.

In addition to an animal-based ingredient at the start of the list, we also like that this recipe incorporates whole grains rather than legumes as the primary carbohydrates. These are generally more nutritious and can be easier for your cat to digest.

Chicken fat is the primary source of fat, supplemented by menhaden (fish) oil. Compared to the previous recipe estimated over 35% carbohydrates, this formula is estimated under 30%.

One thing worth noting here is the heavy use of synthetic supplements. These ingredients make up more of the list than the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates combined. This brings into question how much nutrition the whole-food ingredients actually contribute, but it’s always hard to tell.
3.

NATURAL BALANCE Fat Cats Low Calorie Dry Cat

Product Info

  • Type of Food: Dry
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, salmon meal, pea protein, garbanzo beans, peas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 35% protein, 9.5% fat, 9% fiber, 10% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 320 kcal/cup
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $4.36/pound

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 35%
Crude Fat: 9.5%
Crude Fiber: 9%
Moisture: 10%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 38.89%
Fat: 10.56%
Fiber: 10%
Carbs: 40.56%
Ingredients:

Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Pea Protein, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Oat Groats, Dried Beet Pulp, Pea Fiber, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Oat Hulls, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols And Lactic Acid), Brewers Dried Yeast, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg, Carrots, Parsley, Dried Spinach, Choline Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Inositol, etc…

Obesity is just as dangerous for cats as it is for people, but it can be harder for them to lose weight since their body weight is so much lower. While one option is to simply feed your cat less, another is to switch to a recipe lower in calories like this Fat Cats formula.

This recipe starts with chicken meal as the first ingredient and, somewhat surprisingly, salmon meal as the second. We do see a plant protein concentrate as the third, but we’d rather see it there than in the second slot. The crude protein content is actually a little higher than the previous recipe as well.

Legumes like peas and garbanzo beans are the primary carbohydrates here, but you’ll also see oat groats and oat hulls which provide fiber as well as nutrition.

The estimated carb content of this recipe is under 30% as well, though the fiber content is much too high – we don’t recommend more than 3% for most cats. Fiber content over 5% is fairly likely to cause digestive upset in cats.
4.

NATURAL BALANCE Original Ultra Turkey & Giblets Canned Formula

Product Info

  • Type of Food: Wet
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, turkey broth, poultry giblets, dried carrots, brown rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 9% protein, 5% fat, 1.5% fiber, 78% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 170 kcal/can (5.5 oz.)
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.34/ounce

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 9%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 40.91%
Fat: 22.73%
Fiber: 6.82%
Carbs: 29.55%
Ingredients:

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Poultry Giblets, Dried Carrots, Brown Rice, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salmon Meal, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Guar Gum, Taurine

Even when we’re not the biggest fans of a brand’s dry food formulas, we often like their wet food recipes better. This Original Ultra formula features fresh turkey and poultry giblets as the main ingredients and primary sources of animal protein.

We like that fresh turkey is the first ingredient. Unfortunately, we don’t love the poultry giblets. Nothing is wrong with giblets, of course, we just don’t like that it comes from an unspecified source.

Other than that, however, there’s not too much else to say about this formula. Salmon meal is included as a supplemental source of protein and brown rice and dried carrots are the only carbohydrate ingredients. Overall, the estimated carb content is under 5%.
5.

NATURAL BALANCE Delectable Delights Catatouille Cat Stew Formula

Product Info

  • Type of Food: Wet
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, carrots, dried egg
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10% protein, 1.5% fat, 1% fiber, 83% moisture
  • Calories per Cup: 60 kcal/tub (2.5 oz.)
  • Price Per Pound/Ounce: $0.52/ounce

Guaranteed Analysis

loader
Crude Protein: 10%
Crude Fat: 1.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 83%

Dry Matter Basis

loader
Protein: 58.82%
Fat: 8.82%
Fiber: 5.88%
Carbs: 26.47%
Ingredients:

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Dried Egg, Green Beans, Tapioca Starch, Pea Protein, Guar Gum, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Tuna Oil, Choline Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity)

Significantly more expensive than the previous recipe, this Delectable Delights formula features chicken as the single source of animal protein. You’ll notice, however, that it does include pea protein on the list.

Sunflower oil is the first source of fat, though tuna oil is listed as well. You’ll also find fresh veggies like carrots and green beans for nutritional support, though the recipe still uses a significantly number of synthetic supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

What Do Customers Think of Natural Balance Cat Food?

Having been around for more than 3 decades, Natural Balance is a fairly well-known name in the pet food industry. Judging by customer reviews on Chewy, customers like the quality and variety.

Many of the products available on Chewy from Natural Balance carry a 4-star average or higher, many with over 100 customer reviews. Using some of the most popular products for reference, it seems clear customers and their cats enjoy the food. Customers whose cats have food sensitivities seem most appreciative of the variety of options.

How Much Does Natural Balance Cat Food Cost?

Shopping by price alone is never a good idea with cat food. Though you’re more likely to end up with a good product if you’re willing to spend a little more, there are also expensive brands out there that are lower in quality than more affordable options.

So, you’re probably wondering where Natural Balance falls on the spectrum.

For the quality it delivers, Natural Balance’s prices aren’t too bad. That being said, we don’t think they’re quite right. It’s difficult to justify paying over $3.00 per pound for a recipe that doesn’t even list an animal protein as the first ingredient. The other dry foods range from under $3 to over $4 per pound while the wet foods are priced at $0.34 and $0.52 per ounce.

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

Where Can You Buy Natural Balance Cat Food?

Natural Balance is a fairly popular pet food brand, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it in stores or online. In stores, you’re most likely to find this brand in major pet retail chains like Petco and PetSmart, though you may also see it in smaller regional and local stores.

Online, you can easily shop for Natural Balance cat food at Chewy or other online pet retailers. You may also be able to find some recipes on Amazon as well.

Our Final Thoughts: Is Natural Balance a Good Brand?

Though Natural Balance ranks fairly high using our scoring system, we can’t recommend it in good faith unless you are careful about which recipe you select.

Most of the formulas in the Limited Ingredient Diet line don’t feature an animal protein as the first ingredient and many Natural Balance recipes are made with plant protein concentrates and high carbohydrate inclusions.

We like the wet foods a little better but still think you could get a higher-quality product for a lower or similar price.

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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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