Contents of Article
Special Kitty is Walmart’s house brand cat food. There is very little information about the food online. According to many cat lovers and comments on cat sites, the wet food is comparable to 9 Lives, Fancy Feast, and Friskies. Checking the Walmart site, we found wet food, dry food, pouches, and variety packs. Walmart, of course, is a giant big box store. They carry many pet foods, some for better prices than you can find at pet food specialty stores. Some Special Kitty products are only available in-store while others can be purchased online.
Who Manufactures Special Kitty?
Special Kitty is made by The J.M. Smucker Company. This is the same company that makes 9Lives. We have previously reported that Walmart commissioned the Mars Corporation to create Special Kitty according to the standards for 9Lives and the two foods are virtually identical, except for the packaging. In 2015 The J.M. Smucker Company purchased Big Heart Pet Brands which owned 9Lives. J.M Smucker now manufactures both brands.
Special Kitty Food Recalls 2023
- Special Kitty has had a number of recalls in the past. The last one we found dates to 2008 and concerned Salmonella. Special Kitty also had products recalled during the melamine recalls in 2007. We did not find any recalls in the last several years.
- Special Kitty canned cat food recalled in 2023. Read the details here.
Overall Special Kitty Cat Food Reviews and Analysis
From what we can tell on the Walmart web site, Special Kitty currently has four kinds of dry cat food and one dry kitten food. They have eight classic pate canned foods and several dinner in gravy foods – some of which seem to come only in packages of several cans. They also have Special Kitty Select Gourmet Variety Pouches and variety packs of some of their classic pates and dinners.
Special Kitty’s dry foods include Special Kitty Outdoor Dry Cat Food. This is an all life stage cat food. The first five ingredients are: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, and Wheat Middlings. No guaranteed analysis provided on the Walmart site.
Special Kitty also has Special Kitty Gourmet Cat Food. This is an all life stage food. The first five ingredients in this food are: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, and Animal Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols). No guaranteed analysis provided on the site that we found.
You can also buy Special Kitty Original Complete Nutrition. This is an all life stage food. The first five ingredients in this food are: Poultry By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Corn, Ground Whole Wheat, Meat and Bone Meal, and Soybean Meal. No guaranteed analysis provided on the site.
The fourth Special Kitty dry food is Special Kitty Seafood Catch. This is also an all life stage food. The first five ingredients in the food are: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), and Natural Flavors (Source of Shrimp, Crab, Salmon And Tuna Flavors). No guaranteed analysis is provided on the site.
Special Kitty also makes For Kittens dry cat food. The first five ingredients in the food are: Chicken By‐Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewers Rice, Soybean Meal, and Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols. According to Walmart, “The bulk of the protein, approximately 95% of the total, comes from the first 4 ingredients, with the chicken by-product contributing about 50%, the corn gluten meal contributing about 24%, the brewers rice contributing about 3% and the soybean meal contributing about 18%.” We did not find any guaranteed analysis for the food on the site and this information comes from a response to a customer question.
Overall, it looks like many people buy these foods to feed feral cats, colonies of cats, or barn cats. They don’t want to spend a lot of money on cat food. Special Kitty Original Complete and For Kittens may have the best ingredients, just judging by the fact that they have meat protein as the first ingredient in the foods. However, it’s hard to judge without seeing the guaranteed analyses for the foods.
Special Kitty Select Variety Pouches includes four chicken and duck in gravy pouches, four chicken dinner in gravy pouches, and four rotisserie chicken flavor in gravy pouches. The ingredients and guaranteed analyses are provided on the web page but they are all jumbled together. We’ll use Rotisserie Chicken Flavor In Gravy as an example. The first five ingredients are: Sufficient Water For Processing, Chicken, Meat By-Products, Wheat Gluten, and Natural Flavors. The guaranteed analysis shows: Crude Protein (Min.) 10.0%; Crude Fat (Min.) 3.0%; Crude Fiber (Max.) 1.0%; Moisture (Max.) 82.0%; Ash (Max.) 3.0%; Taurine (Min.) 0.05%. This is a growth and maintenance food.
Special Kitty’s individual cans of food appear to be sold only in-store, though you can buy variety packs online and have them shipped. Here’s a look at just the wet foods. They include Mixed Grill Dinner, Meaty Turkey & Giblets Dinner, Turkey & Giblets Dinner (which seems to be different from Meaty Turkey & Giblets Dinner), Ocean Whitefish & Tuna Dinner, Savory Turkey & Cheese Dinner in Gravy, Chunky Chicken & Tuna Dinner, Savory Sliced Beef Dinner in Gravy, Super Supper Dinner, Savory Salmon Dinner, and Chicken & Tuna Dinner (which may or may not be different from Chunky Chicken & Tuna Dinner). Most of these canned foods appear to be available in different size cans.
We can take one food as an example, such as Savory Turkey & Cheese Dinner in Gravy. This is a maintenance cat food. The first five ingredients in the food are: Water Sufficient For Processing, Meat By-Products, Turkey, Chicken, and Soy Flour. Although it is described on the can as a “classic pate,” customers in the reviews report that the turkey is sliced or shredded with small round bits of cheese. No guaranteed analysis for the food is provided.
Based on the ingredients for the canned foods, these look like average, less expensive foods. It’s hard to draw conclusions or make recommendations without seeing guaranteed analyses.
We randomly selected Special Kitty Mixed Grill Dinner to review. This food is listed as a “classic pate” and some of Special Kitty’s foods are pate/loaf-style foods. You should be aware that some customer reviews we read reported that foods that were listed as pate were actually sliced foods. My cats usually preferred sliced foods, but if you think are buying a pate, that’s what you should be getting.
The first five ingredients in this food are: Meat By-Products, Water Sufficient Enough For Processing, Poultry By-Products, Liver, and Chicken. As you can see, four out of the first five ingredients are meat proteins. It’s not unusual for canned cat food to have a lot of protein and cats may like this food. The customer comments are very positive. Many people seem to buy this food to feed multiple cats or stray cats, but the cats do seem to like it.
Meat by-products are “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal feed.” Lots of people dislike the idea of meat by-products in pet foods today but if you buy kidneys or brains at the butcher’s shop, they are perfectly acceptable for human consumption. Lots of people cook liver. Many cats and dogs like these organs. A lot depends on where these by-products come from and how they are handled. We won’t criticize Special Kitty for using meat by-products.
The second ingredient in the food is water sufficient for processing. This is not unusual in a wet cat food. One of the reasons people like to feed wet food is because of the high moisture content. It’s usually preferable to the much lower moisture content found in dry cat foods.
The third ingredient in this food is poultry by-products. Poultry by-products are “non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice…Similar to ‘meat by-products,’ it is most of the parts of the bird that would not be part of a raw, dressed whole carcass. That may include the giblets (heart, gizzard and liver) but also other internal organs, heads and feet.” Again, many cats will enjoy eating these organs even if some cat lovers may not consider them the most desirable parts of the bird.
The fourth ingredient in the food is liver. The kind of liver isn’t specified but it could be chicken or beef or even pork. Many cats like liver and it provides a lot of good nutrition. Chicken liver, for example, is 63 percent protein, 35 percent fat, and 2 percent carbs. It’s a good source of Thiamin, Zinc, Copper and Manganese, and a very good Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium.
The fifth ingredient in the food is chicken. Chicken is a good source of protein, Vitamin B6, Niacin, and Phosphorus. Many cats enjoy it.
Other ingredients of interest in the food include steamed bone meal – considered the most natural form of calcium and phosphorus available to animals. It is provided exclusively from bones. Hydrolyzed Yeast is a flavor enhancer that is somewhat related to MSG. The food also contains guar gum which is a common thickening agent in canned pet foods, along with carrageenan. And it contains caramel color.
We have no idea how many calories are in the food.
No guaranteed analysis was provided for this food or for other Special Kitty canned foods. We searched all over the Internet. We found information from 2008 and 2012 that other people have compiled, but no percentages for the current foods.
Special Kitty Mixed Grilled Dinner is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO cat food nutrients profiles for growth and maintenance.
From looking at lots of the Special Kitty foods – dry, pouches, and canned – and checking their ingredients, we think these foods are average compared to most other cat foods. They probably are comparable to 9 Lives and Fancy Feast as others have suggested. However, without seeing the guaranteed analyses for the foods it’s hard to make the kind of comparisons we would like to make. The foods might be better than we think. The canned foods seem to have a lot of meat protein. We do think the wet foods look better than most of the dry foods, just based on the ingredients.
We don’t agree with some sites that assume just because foods cost less or come from discount stores that they are awful. We try to keep an open mind about every brand.