Vital Essentials Cat Food Review

Let’s learn more about Vital Essentials cat food.

Vital Essentials is a brand of raw food for cats and dogs. It’s owned by Carnivore Meat Company, which is the leading raw pet food private label company in the United States. This Wisconsin-based company has been producing raw pet food since 1968.

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Vital Essentials is all about what they describe as the Alpha Prey Model Diet. It’s inspired by your cat’s heritage as a carnivorous predator. Each formula mimics nature’s nourishment – fresh, unprocessed prey.

But why Alpha Prey Model, not just “prey model”? Vital Essentials explains that the name refers to the alpha wolf – the leader of the pack. Their dominant position in the pack would earn the alpha wolf the very best parts of the prey. Although cats are solitary hunters, they, too, benefit from the alpha ideal.

Vital Essentials foods never undergo high-heat processing. Instead, they’re either frozen or freeze-dried, locking in the nutrient value of raw meat.

All of their formulas feature fresh, whole USDA certified meat – never animal by-products. The meat and all of the other ingredients are sourced in the United States. They’re grain-free recipes with no rice, corn, or wheat.

Vital Essentials Cat Food Formulas

Frozen Entrees

  • Mini Patties – Frozen 2oz raw meat patties made from chicken, turkey, duck, or rabbit. Available in packs of 16 mini patties.
  • Chubs – Frozen 16oz raw meat chubs made from chicken, turkey, duck, or rabbit
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Freeze-Dried Entrees

The freeze-dried formulas undergo a 48 hour freeze drying process that destroys dangerous organisms while leaving nutrients and natural enzymes intact.

  • Toppers™ – Freeze-dried shredded meat – serve as a complete meal or use as a meal topper – available in 6oz bags
  • Mini Nibs – A kibble-style freeze-dried raw meat entree – available in 12oz bags
  • Mini Patties – Freeze-dried patties – available in 10.5oz packages

Vital Cat Treats

These are some of the simplest cat treats you can buy in a bag. They’re freeze-dried chicken breast or minnows or ahi tuna – what you see in the name is what you give your cat.

  • Chicken Breast
  • Chicken Giblets
  • Duck Liver
  • Rabbit Bites
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Minnows
  • Ahi Tuna
  • Chicken Hearts

Has Vital Essentials cat food ever been recalled?

In February of 2018, Vital Essentials issued a recall due to potential salmonella contamination. The recall applied to a single lot of 1 lb bags of Vital Essentials Beef Nibblets Entrée for Dogs. There have been no reports of illness associated with the potentially contaminated dog food.

No cat food was involved in the recall.

Where can you buy Vital Essentials cat food?

Vital Essentials food is found in over 3,000 neighborhood pet specialty stores across the United States. It’s also distributed in five other countries outside of the U.S.

If you can’t find Vital Essentials cat food through a retailer near you, you can also browse Vital Essentials’ online offerings on Amazon, Chewy, Jet, and PetFlow.

Click here to find a Vital Essentials retailer near you.

What do customers think of Vital Essentials cat food?

On Chewy, Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs freeze-dried cat food has 20 reviews and a 4 out of 5 star rating. 90% of reviewers say they’d recommend the product.

Positive Reviews

“My two get mostly canned but I wanted a high quality dry down for periods when we weren’t home. They nibble on it only if hungry so they don’t over eat as one is prone to do. Both of their coats improved on this product despite using high a quality canned. We go thru at least a baga week so not cheap but the best alternative to dry. I keep the bowl full and both of their weights are perfect..” – CindyCRNA

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“One of my cats is diabetic. We recently found out about this food and wanted to try it, the only downside is that just adding water to it won’t make it as soft as she likes her food. We started crushing up the nibblets into flakes before adding enough water to make it the consistency of canned food. It looks disgusting but it works for her and she loves it.” -KatelynRose

Negative Reviews

“My cat loved vital cat freeze dried pattys but these nibs were too hard for her taste.” – MollysMom

“2 fussy cats wouldn’t eat, I suspect it was because they were too hard even after rehydrating (but they aren’t chewers). Used warm water let it sit, didn’t seem to hydrate much. Drained water, used water brought to the boil point and let sit then they softened. They still wouldn’t eat it…ugh. But they do like the patties and they rehydrate much quicker. 2 non fussy cats ate it so it won’t go to waste but I’ll stick w the patties. Good product.” – notCruella

Read more customer reviews on Chewy.

Vital Essentials Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Freeze-Dried Cat Food Review

First 5 Ingredients: Finely Ground Chicken With Bone, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Chicken Egg

You can pour these miniature chunks of freeze-dried raw food into the bowl and serve them like kibble. If you prefer to feed your cat a high-moisture diet, you might choose to rehydrate them with warm water. In addition to being a complete and balanced meal for your cat, the mini nibs are the perfect size to give your cat as a treat.

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The freeze drying process destroys pathogens, making it safer than an unprocessed raw food. Because of the reduced sanitation demands and the fact that freeze-dried food is safe to store at room temperature, it’s far more convenient than fresh raw food.

So what are these freeze-dried mini nibs made out of?

The recipe starts with finely ground chicken with bone. Bone is about 10% of the animal matter in the recipe and is rich in calcium and other minerals. Chicken heart is the second ingredient on the list. Despite being a vital organ, heart falls into the nutritional category of a muscle meat – it’s is primarily composed of muscle meat with connective tissue and isn’t a secreting organ. Chicken liver, however, is a nutrient-dense secreting organ. It’s the third ingredient on the list, followed by chicken gizzard, another organ meat. Chicken egg is added as another nutrient-dense and biologically available protein source.

These chicken-sourced ingredients are followed by raw goat’s milk and water.

Nutrient-rich eggshell membrane is added as a source of glucosamine and chondroitin.

Herring oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are tremendously beneficial for your cat’s skin and coat health and can reduce inflammation.

Instead of chemical preservatives, this food is preserved with vitamin E.

The raw meat composition is 45% organ meat, 45% muscle meat, and 10% bone. The guaranteed analysis indicates that the food has a crude protein percentage of at least 45%, 15% crude fat minimum, and virtually zero carbohydrates.

Each 12 ounce bag contains between approximately 6 and 7 cups of food. According to Vital Essentials’ feeding instructions for an average 10-lb cat, this food costs approximately $1.93 each day.

This daily feeding cost estimate is based on Chewy prices and excludes shipping costs.

Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta offers simple, honest knowledge about natural cat care and products that work so that you can spend less time researching natural cat care and more time having fun with your cat. She blogs about it at WildernessCat.com.

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