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Blue Buffalo Cat Food Reviews and Recalls [part 1]

Thanks to the power of advertising and buzzworthy online and offline reviews among cat parents, Blue Buffalo cat food has rapidly become America’s favorite natural pet food. We want pet owners to know all the brand’s pros and cons, so we’ve prepared a Blue Buffalo cat food reviews and recalls guide for cat lovers.

Leaps and bounds ahead of many smaller natural pet food companies, Blue Buffalo, is a trusted name in providing the most high quality and nutritionally balanced natural cat food.

After researching and reviewing all the Blue Buffalo food varieties, we narrowed the best wet and dry cat foods down to these six. These six varieties had a positive impact on the cats that switched from other brands, but pet owners also noticed a shinier, thicker coat and less smelly bowel movements.

But does Blue Buffalo cat food genuinely live up to the hype? Are they truly the healthiest choice for cat parents to feed their beloved felines?

The origins of Blue Buffalo

Founded in 2002 by Bill Bishop and his two sons, Blue Buffalo began to pay tribute to the Bishop family’s beloved Airedale terrier, Blue. After losing their pup to cancer, the Bishops turned their grief into action. They began formulating natural pet foods dedicated explicitly to putting the health of companion cats and dogs first.

The Bishops were driven to educate cat and dog parents about their pets’ nutritional needs, and transparency was important. Unlike many of the current cat and dog foods on the market when Blue Buffalo first entered the industry, Blue broke down all of their ingredients and shed light on the truth behind the good and bad ingredients found in many cat and dog foods.

Since then, Blue Buffalo has become a household name, raking in over $1 billion in sales each year.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve been immune to slipping up now and again, especially in the case of one of their most infamous recalls.

blue buffalo recall

Blue Buffalo’s recalls

Dating back to 2007, Blue Buffalo reported six major recalls.

Blue Buffalo recall in 2007

The most notorious of the lot took place in April 2007 when it was revealed that the rice protein in Blue Buffalo Blue Spa Select canned cat food and Blue Buffalo Spa Select Kitten dry food contained melamine.

Blue Buffalo recall in 2010

An October 2010 FDA report found dangerously high vitamin D levels in three varieties of dry dog food: Blue Wilderness Chicken, Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon, and Potato, and Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult.

Blue Buffalo recall in 2015

In November 2015, Blue’s Cub Sized Wilderness Wild Chew Bones were potentially contaminated with salmonella.

Blue’s Kitty Yums Tasty Chicken cat treats were also pulled from shelves in November 2015 containing noticeable amounts of propylene glycol. Experts have found the food additive to be linked to abnormalities in the blood cells of cats who consume significant amounts of it.

blue buffalo kitten food hungry
Blue Buffalo recall in 2016

In May 2016, bags of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Fish and Sweet Potato Recipe, dry dog food were recalled for containing mold.

Blue Buffalo recall in 2017

In February 2017, Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight cans, Chicken Dinner With Garden Vegetables, were pulled for potentially being contaminated with high amounts of heavy metal, aluminum.

In February 2017,  thirteen varieties of plastic cups of Blue’s Divine Delights wet dog food were recalled due to improperly sealed foil covers. Four varieties of Blue Wilderness Trail Trays wet dog food were also recalled for the same reason.

Just one month later, in March 2017, Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner wet food for dogs were recalled for containing elevated levels of (naturally occurring) beef thyroid hormones. Consumption of that hormone level has potentially fatal side effects such as increased heart rate and difficulty breathing.

Blue Buffalo Wet Cat Food

Cat parents on the hunt for wet cat food have no want of options with Blue Buffalo’s wet cat food.

Read our in-depth review on Blue Buffalo Wet Cat Food.

The cat food company has grown far beyond the standard Healthy Gourmet options for indoor cats to adding several lines of affordably priced specialty cat food for cats of all health conditions, ages, and dietary needs.

In Blue Buffalo’s current wet cat food line up, standard cat food, grain free, and limited ingredient lines exist alongside prey-based high protein, and specialized veterinarian wet cat food.

Blue Buffalo’s Freedom Grain Free and and Blue Basics Limited are available for kittens, adult, and senior cats and feature ingredients like protein-rich meats and easily digestible plant ingredients like fiberful and antioxidant packed pumpkin.

While the Blue True Solutions consist of carefully formulated pates that target skin and coat health as well as a prebiotic enhanced and easily digestible chicken-based wet cat food that’s gentle enough for cats with even the most sensitive stomachs.

blue wilderness

Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness line takes a high protein low carbohydrate approach to feline nutrition. Light on the vegetable ingredients and often grain free, these animal protein based wet cat food lines are ideal for cats who may need to shed extra weight and for maintaining lean muscle.

The Wilderness lines of wet cat food have grown beyond the traditional Wilderness pates, to include Wilderness Wild Delights with meaty morsels, Blue Carnivora prey-based feeding (boasting recipes that contain as much as 95% of their protein from highly digestible animal sources like iron-rich organ meats), and the newest of the lot, the Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe line of wet cat food that features unique proteins like venison and duck.

Blue Buffalo’s veterinarian diet line includes novel proteins like alligator for cats with allergies or sensitivities to the most commonly used animal proteins in the pet food industry, as well as wet cat food with meticulously formulated and carefully calibrated vitamin and mineral levels that are appropriate for cats with GI tract, urinary, and kidney health concerns among other conditions.

Blue Buffalo has several wet cat food options for kittens too. The Wilderness line offers three flavors for kittens, while Carnivora, Healthy Gourmet, Basics Limited Ingredient, and Freedom Grain-Free all have one flavor. The line specifically formulated for kittens, Baby Blue’s Healthy Growth wet cat food is carefully fortified with the extra nutrients kittens need like higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and taurine served up in three flavors of high protein wet cat food.

blue buffalo kitten food

As a company, Blue Buffalo has shown time and time again to be receptive to requests for special diets. Specifically, as we can see from their Freedom Grain-Free, Basics Limited Ingredient, and Wilderness lines, Blue Buffalo has embraced grain free options. Grains being used in cat foods is a subject of debate among cat parents and experts. This is because grains aren’t something cats seek out to eat in the wild, nor have they been part of their feline ancestors’s diets. Blue Buffalo’s grain free options show that they take their consumer’s needs and wants into consideration.

All of Blue Buffalo’s wet cat foods are complete and balanced options. So beyond featuring premium quality meats and highly digestible animal proteins as the top ingredients in all of their wet cat food, Blue Buffalo also fortifies all of their lines with essential vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and amino acids.

The hyper availability of Blue Buffalo wet cat food in both online and instore retailers coupled with the affordable price points makes this holistic cat food an accessible and healthful option for cats of all ages and life stages.

Top three picks for Blue Buffalo wet cat foods:

  1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights
  2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free 
  3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipes

Blue Buffalo Dry Cat Food

Some cats just aren’t keen on wet cat food. Texturally sensitive kitties can be especially finicky when it comes to mealtime. But Blue Buffalo has as many dry cat food options for our feline friends who prefer crunchy kibble over mushy minced meats!

Read our in-depth review on Blue Buffalo Dry Cat Food.

While Blue Buffalo dry cat food originated with the signature Blue Life Protection line with recipes like Blue Indoor Health and Blue Hairball and Weight Control, the company has gone on to introduce dozens of new formulas and flavor combinations of dry cat food.

Dry cat food gets a bad rap for its high carbohydrate and low moisture content and its link to urinary tract conditions, but not all kibble is alike! Blue Buffalo makes sure of that, especially with their Wilderness, Carnivora, Basics Limited, and Freedom Grain-Free lines of dry cat food.

blue buffalo cat food reviews catnap
Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness dry cat food featuring meats like rabbit and duck are formulated for kittens, adult, and senior cats. Two protein-packed Wilderness options for adult cats are the Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe line and new Wilderness recipes like Denali Dinner and Flatland Feast. Denali Dinner and Flatland Feast feature uncommon meat like deboned quail and halibut.

The Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe dry cat food is grain-free and contains no chicken. Instead, this high protein dry cat food features iron-rich and highly digestible animal proteins like venison, trout, bison, and lamb.

The Blue Carnivora dry cat food is high protein, grain free, and prey-based nutrition for kittens, adult and senior cats. Crafted from nutrient-rich cartilage and organs like chicken liver and wild-caught pollock, this line of dry cat food makes zero compromises when it comes to premium quality. The Carnivora Woodland Blend of dry cat food for adult and mature cats boasts 90% protein from 11 different animal sources, like omega-3 rich saltwater fish, and iron-packed deboned duck and turkey liver.

For cats who have less adventurous appetites or who may be sensitive to wheat, rice, barley, and other grains, Blue’s Freedom Grain-Free and Blue Basics Limited Ingredient dry cat food is an equally nutritious kibble. These lines feature high-quality meats as the first ingredients and highly digestible and fiberful vegetable ingredients like sweet potatoes and pea protein. There’s even a specialized Grain-Free Indoor Weight Control dry cat food that is formulated with extra plant proteins and fruits to help cats shed extra pounds and maintain lean muscle.

Blue Basics Limited Ingredient dry cat food also has chicken-free options for cats who may be allergic or sensitive to that oh so common ingredient in cat food.

blue buffalo kitten food

Blue Buffalo has six dry cat food options for kittens. The Carnivora and Wilderness lines have two high protein, grain free kitten dry food offerings between them. The Blue Freedom Grain-Free line is also, well, grain free! The original Blue Buffalo dry cat food, the Life Protection line has a chicken and brown rice recipe for kittens, and there is a special line specifically developed for kittens: Baby Blue.

Baby Blue’s Healthy Growth dry cat food comes in two flavors: chicken and brown rice, and high protein, grain free chicken and peas. All of Blue Buffalo’s dry cat food for kittens is formulated with all of the extra vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients kittens need to properly grow and develop.

Blue Buffalo’s veterinarian formulated (and exclusive) wet cat food from the previous section also finds their matches here with accompanying prescription-grade Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet dry cat food. This line features foods designed to safely feed and nourish kitties with a variety of health needs like food intolerances and urinary tract conditions.

Top three picks for Blue Buffalo dry cat foods:

  1. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food
  2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Natural Adult Dry Cat Food
  3. Blue Buffalo Weight Control Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

blue buffalo recall 2020

Aside from its recalls, is Blue Buffalo dangerous?

While Blue Buffalo has had recalls they offer pet owners foods with high-quality ingredients. They don’t use animal by-products or questionable additives, fillers, or anything artificial. When it comes to recalls all cat lovers owe it to their feline companions to follow organizations like Consumer Affairs, to get up to date news on which brands recall products.

What goes into Blue Buffalo foods?

With its catchy motto, Blue Buffalo, “Love them like family. Feed them like family,” sets itself apart from many brands by flooding the market with its razor-sharp focus on ingredients and nutrition.

Most notably, Blue Buffalo ditches fillers, unnecessary grains, and unhealthy meat byproducts and meals for real ingredients.

Blue is open about its commitment to creating whole-foods based wet and dry cat foods. The company’s products are formulated by teams of animal nutritionists, food scientists, and veterinarians. All of Blue Buffalo’s formulas are compliant with AAFCO and the Global Nutrition Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) nutrient requirements.

Blue’s recipes are rooted in holistic ingredients and fortified with blends of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These include the highest quality meats, omega-3 rich flaxseeds, antioxidant-packed cranberries, potassium, fiber-rich carrots, and other nutritious vegetables and fruits.

blue buffalo cat food reviews licking

Where is Blue Buffalo manufactured?

Blue Buffalo’s foods are manufactured in two American factories. One is based in Joplin, Missouri, and the other in Richmond, Indiana. These state of the art facilities perform rigorous testing and quality checks.

These tests include product efficacy, digestibility, palatability, shelf-life, and the effect the formulas have on urine health, stool quality, and more.

All major ingredients are sourced in the United States.

Blue Buffalo cat food lines

Blue Buffalo sells cat food appropriate for all life stages, including kitten and senior formulas. They currently have seven lines of cat food:

  • Classic BLUE Blue Buffalo
  • Blue Grain-Free
  • Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Blue Wilderness
  • Blue Carnivora
  • Blue Natural Veterinary Diet
  • Blue True Solutions

blue buffalo recall 2020 cat mom

What are cat parents saying about Blue Buffalo foods?

Now that we’ve given you all the details about what you’re pouring into your kitty’s dinner dish, we’re going to take a step back and let real cat parents (like you!) dish out what they and their felines love or don’t love about the various Blue Buffalo foods we’ve explored here.

Positive Blue Buffalo cat food reviews

“My several adopted feral cats have issues from their skin to digestive problems. After years of medical treatments and changes in food, I tried this product. No more skin issues and a significant change in digestive problems. It seems an additional benefit is the cats don’t seem to want treats as often.” Smoke on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Dry Cat Food)

“Forget good manners! When Oliver, my Sovereign-State-with-a-Tail sniffs this dish coming his way, he casts aside his usual dignified demeanor and behaves more like a puppy than a ten-year-old feline!” Ollie on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights, Chicken & Turkey in Tasty Gravy Wet Cat Food)

“My cats both eat it and like both the Indoor Chicken dry food and the Freedom canned chicken. I noticed since switching from the former diet that their coats have improved, and there is a lot less sneezing and “runny” eyes after the change in diet.” Shari824 on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Indoor Dry Cat Food)

Negative Blue Buffalo cat food reviews

“The first time I gave them this food, they ate at least 3/4 from their bowls. But the second time, they barely ate half of the serving. Now they just move it around and refuse to eat, later crying for more food.” Glads on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Meaty Morsels Wet Cat Food)

“Bought for my ‘eats everything’ indoor cat. He went a full 48 hours begging me for anything except this food. I mixed it with his old food, and he still wouldn’t eat it. I had to replace it with another brand from the store, and I started feeding this to the outdoor cat who also refused it.” Kelly on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Dry Cat Food)

“My cat is extremely picky. I’m sure [this is] a great product, but for the world of me, I can’t get her to eat it. I bought it for her because she has feline herpes and I thought maybe this could help strengthen her immune system. . . . Anyway story short: she refuses to eat it.” Owlworthy on Chewy.com (Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Dry Cat Food)

blue buffalo cat food reviews happy

Alternatives to Blue Buffalo cat food

But Blue Buffalo isn’t the only whole foods-based, holistic cat food brand on the market! Several other companies are also taking a less processed and wholesome approach to creating and selling the most nutritious foods for felines.

Three brands in particular stand above the rest: Nulo, Orijen, and Taste of the Wild. Here’s why we dig each of them.

Nulo

Nulo’s health-first approach has guided them since the brand debuted on shelves ten years ago in 2009.

Nulo takes a high animal-based protein approach and goes easy on vegetables, fruits, grains, and other plant matter sources. Their high-protein, low-carb, and low-glycemic recipes are chock full of vitamins, probiotics, fiber, omega-3s, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Grain-free, soy-free, corn-free, and formulated without artificial, Nulo’s dry cat food, MedalSeries High-Meat Kibble is known for being a favorite among finicky cats and is a healthful choice for cats living with chronic conditions or illnesses.

Orijen

Orijen is a Canadian cat and dog food company founded in 1985. Orijen is known for its commitment to a “biologically appropriate philosophy.”

Orijen takes a “WholePrey” approach, which means they incorporate not only meats, but also cartilage and organs in a ratio that “mirrors” the diet cats eat in the wild, reducing the need to add extra (or synthetic) vitamins, minerals, or other essentials because the Orijen ingredients already provide all the necessary nutrients. Focus on animal-proteins above all else (some Orijen foods contain up to 90% animal ingredients!) Orijen’s wet and dry cat foods are designed to reflect what cats eat in the wild.

Appropriate for all life stages, Orijen’s cat food is made from non-GMO, locally produced ingredients, and is obsessively researched and tested to ensure it’s the utmost quality.

Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild describes itself as “a modern diet inspired by nature.” Taking inspiration from domestic cats “ancient” feline DNA and “ancestral diets,” Taste of the Wild strives to create balanced, holistic, and energy-boosting foods to not only fuel cats day to day lives but to help them thrive.

The real meat and animal products make up the first ingredients in all of Taste of the Wild’s cat foods, and vegetables are used sparingly. By going light on the plant ingredients, Taste of the Wild’s wet and dry cat foods are higher-protein, low-carb, and highly digestible. There are no preservatives, corn, soy, wheat, fillers, or anything artificial.

Species-specific probiotics, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals also play a key role in Taste of the Wild’s wet and dry cat foods. Manufactured in US factories, Taste of the Wild undergoes strict quality, purity, and safety standards to ensure the highest quality foods.

Final thoughts

Blue Buffalo foods have reigned as the top-selling natural pet food in the U.S. for various reasons. Their commitment to using premium meats and wholesome vegetables and fruits in all of their recipes is where it starts. Their affordability, nutritionally balanced foods, and an expert panel of the most learned animal nutritionists and veterinarians place Blue Buffalo a cut above other pet foods in the industry.

Victoria Tomis
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