PetSmart is one of, if not the largest pet food retailer in the United States and Canada, which makes it an obvious choice for millions who need to buy their cats food on a regular basis.
However, there are many pet owners who strongly dislike PetSmart and see it is as a commercialized monster and a store that should be avoided.
Regardless of opinion, what are some of the best cat foods sold at PetSmart, and what are important factors to consider before you make your choice?
Does PetSmart Sell High-Quality Cat Food?
While some of the popular premium or high-quality pet food brands can’t be found at PetSmart stores, there are still countless that can. Prime examples of these include Purina Pro Plan, Instinct, Merrick, Nulo, Wellness, and more.
While High-Quality is a very subjective term, it generally includes cat food recipes that contain high proportions of animal or fish-based ingredients as well as favorable nutrition that is high in protein and fat.
This kind of nutritional profile is critical for cats as they are obligate carnivores and do not thrive on a diet high in plant matter and carbohydrates.
If you are interested in learning more about feline nutrition and what an obligate carnivore means, be sure to read our Cat Food Guide.
Outside of nutrition, many of these brands have excellent safety and recall records and have production facilities with extremely high quality and safety standards.
While finding out information on a brand’s safety and quality record and standards can be difficult, we’ve done the research for you, so head on over to our Brand Review List to learn more about brands that interest you.
What Cat Food Should I Avoid At PetSmart?
Despite stocking many high-quality or premium cat food brands, PetSmart still stocks quite a large range of low-quality or extremely low-cost cat food recipes.
The problem with these brands’ recipes is that they are often packed full of plant-based ingredients that are dense sources of carbohydrates. As we mentioned above, this kind of diet and nutritional profile is not well suited to cats and can cause them several health issues.
Secondly, many of these brands have poor recall and safety records, including recalls for issues like Salmonella Contamination, the presence of foreign objects, and packaging issues.
Lastly, some of the brands utilize some very low-quality or questionable ingredients, including unnamed meat or fish ingredients.
While these ingredients have the potential to provide valuable nutrition, they are very unaccountable and lack transparency. A manufacturer could change their source or makeup without informing their customers.
PetSmart’s Acquisition Of Chewy.com
The majority of shoppers at PetSmart and Chewy are unaware that PetSmart actually acquired Chewy several years ago after its initial explosive growth.
For those unfamiliar with Chewy, it is an online-only pet supplies company that excels in selling pet food at affordable prices, with the aid of discounts and subscription services.
This acquisition had an impact on both companies and vastly increased the number of brands available on Chewy, but also introduced some previously Chewy exclusive brands (like American Journey) to PetSmart stores and website.
However, several years later, these brands reappeared on Chewy’s website showing that they couldn’t resist the monstrous market share that Chewy enjoys.
What does this mean for the average PetSmart shopper? It is unlikely to have a significant impact, but it does show that PetSmart is likely to remain the countries leading pet food provider for many more years to come.
Should I Buy My Cat Food At PetSmart?
This is a difficult question to approach with strong opinions on both sides of the argument. As we mentioned earlier, there is a vocal minority that strongly believes that PetSmart is everything wrong with the modern pet food industry.
They believe that pet food has become overly commercialized with a focus on flashy packaging, advertising, and misleading ingredients and would instead prefer the focus was shifted back to research and development.
However, PetSmart is a vital lifeline for many who do not have a range of pet food suppliers close by and need a source they can rely on.
The sheer size of PetSmart stores ensures that there will be a large selection of cat food to choose from, which means you are sure to find a recipe that fits your cat’s tastes and needs.
As for price, PetSmart tends to be fairly competitive when compared to other pet food stores. They regularly offer promotions and discounts which can be quite substantial.
However, PetSmart is struggling to compete with the new online-based pet food stores and their discounts for subscriptions, hence why they purchased Chewy.
Best Cat Food At PetSmart
Instinct Original Grain Grain Free Chicken Recipe Review
Nature’s Variety Instinct has been a staple of PetSmart stores for many years although their product range may not be quite as vast as others like Blue Buffalo or Purina.
We have been extremely impressed with their dog food recipes for many years now, and the same traits that make their dog food appealing also apply to their cat food.
While there are a few choices in regards to meat ingredients, the above Chicken recipe is the most popular and is a safe bet for those who are unsure.
It includes a huge portion of poultry and fish ingredients, including Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal.
These ingredients combine to provide a minimum of 42% protein and 21% fat which is extremely impressive and closely aligns the recipe to a cat’s natural diet.
Menhaden Fish Meal is a notable inclusion and is a regular in premium pet food recipes. Menhaden Fish are harvested for their oil, but the leftover fish meal can be a relatively inexpensive yet nutritious addition to pet food to add additional protein and fat without having to utilize plant-based ingredients.
You can read more about Menhaden Fish Meal in our article Menhaden Fish Meal in Dog Food.
Outside of these meat and fish ingredients, Instinct’s Original recipe tends to utilize legume and starch ingredients which in this case is Peas and Tapioca.
The small portion of these ingredients provides a modest proportion of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Crave With Protein From Chicken & Salmon Indoor Adult Review
In stark contrast to Instinct, the brand Crave is a relatively new addition to PetSmart stores after the brand launched in 2017.
Crave was created by Mars Petcare to appeal to pet owners who are more knowledgeable of their pet’s nutritional needs and wish to avoid the use of lower-quality ingredients such as plant-based ingredients high in carbohydrates.
This approach and aim are reflected in the nutrition offered by Crave’s recipes which is similar to brands that are far more expensive and considered by some to be “premium.”
You can read more about Crave, including its full product range and strategy, in our Crave Brand Review.
The above Chicken & Salmon recipe from Crave is typical of their range and includes an impressive minimum of 40% protein and 16% fat.
This kind of nutritional profile closely aligns with a cat’s natural diet and ensures the proportion of carbohydrates is modest.
This impressive nutrition is due to a large portion of Chicken and Chicken Meal which are the recipe’s main ingredients. However, these Chicken ingredients aren’t alone and are joined by a smaller portion of Salmon Meal and Chicken Fat.
However, providing impressive nutrition in line with high-cost brands at a competitively low price has consequences. Crave is forced to utilize some vegetable by-product ingredients like Pea Protein and Potato Protein.
These vegetable by-products boost the overall proportion of protein in the recipe with plant-based protein, which many think is inferior to animal-based protein.
You can read more about this topic, including specifics on Pea Protein in our article Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Flour, and Pea Fiber in Dog Food.
That being said, the overall proportion of animal-based protein in this recipe is still significant and should not be dismissed.
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Lentil Recipe Review
Nulo is an established pet food brand in the United States and, in many ways, is similar to Instinct in that it doesn’t take up entire aisles of PetSmart stores but still has a large product range.
Nulo can be appealing to cat owners whose cats have certain health issues or dietary needs. This is as Nulo has several specialized cat food recipes such as those for Kittens, Senior Cats, Indoor Cats, and even a recipe to help alleviate hairballs.
You can see this full range of products and our thoughts on it in our Nulo Brand Review.
However, we’ve chosen a more generic recipe to discuss in this article to appeal to a large range of cats. Salmon and Lentils is a prime example of the excellent nutrition and ingredient quality provided by Nulo recipes.
As you might have guessed, Salmon is the recipe’s primary ingredient, but there are also large portions of Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, and Cod.
This mix of poultry and fish ingredients provides a very satisfactory proportion of protein, coming in at a minimum of 42%. The proportion of fat, however, is smaller than some other recipes discussed here, at a minimum of 12%.
This lower fat level could make this appealing to cats who are less active, such as indoor cats or older cats.
In addition, the inclusion of Salmon and Cod means that there is a high amount of the Omega Fatty Acids, which many believe can provide cats with several health benefits.
Outside of these ingredients, Nulo utilizes a mix of legumes like many other premium brands. For this recipe, the selection includes Peas and Lentils, which provide carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Purina Beyond Simply Indoor Wild Caught Salmon, Egg & Sweet Potato Recipe Review
While some of the other brands mentioned here might be smaller or newer entrants to the cat food industry, almost all cat owners will be familiar with Purina.
Purina is probably the largest player in the pet food industry and has been a staple of pet food stores like PetSmart and veterinary practices for decades. Purina produces a range of pet food at varying price points as well as food for specialized health problems that have to be prescribed by a vet.
However, Purina can’t sit idle as the industry evolves and is constantly innovating. This innovation has led to the launch of a new brand in recent years known as Beyond.
Beyond, like others mentioned here, aims to appeal to pet owners who want a better diet for their pets as well as a simplified ingredient list to avoid confusion.
You can learn the fine details of Purina’s newest brand as well as the Purina backstory in our Purina Beyond Brand Review.
What makes Purina Beyond even more unique compared to other brands is its venture into the Organic pet food space. Purina Beyond has an organic dog food recipe and an organic cat food recipe which is extremely rare given the higher cost associated with organic ingredients.
The above Indoor Salmon recipe from Purina Beyond isn’t an organic recipe but is still a prime example of Beyond’s appealing nutrition and ingredient selection.
Salmon is the recipe’s primary ingredient and is present in an impressive proportion size. As we regularly mention, Salmon is not just an excellent source of fish-based protein and fat but also contains high levels of the beneficial Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Many believe that these Omega 3 Fatty Acids can provide cats with several health benefits, such as an improvement in the condition of their skin and fur.
Purina Beyond plays it safe when it comes to plant-based ingredients and once again utilizes legumes like Peas and Starches like Tapioca and Sweet Potato.
However, this does contrast to most Purina recipes which instead use grain ingredients, like Corn, Wheat, Soy, and more.
Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Deboned Chicken & Egg Recipe Review
Tiki Cat is a brand best known for its large and varied selection of wet/canned cat food. The quality and nutrition provided by these wet cat food recipes are second to none.
Tiki Cat’s dry cat food range is far smaller than their wet food range, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed as the quality is still maintained.
You can see the full range of wet and dry cat food in our Tiki Pets Brand Review.
The above Chicken & Egg recipe is our favorite adult cat food recipe from the range, thanks to its impressive ingredient list.
The first three listed ingredients in the recipe are all Chicken-based and are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Dehydrated Chicken.
This huge sum of Chicken provides an ample portion of animal-based protein and fat that is higher than most dry cat food recipes mentioned here, coming in at a minimum of 43% protein and 19% fat.
Outside of this Chicken, the recipe includes a portion of Dried Egg Product which is Eggs that have had their shells and excess moisture removed. Eggs are one of the most bioavailable pet food ingredients and are extremely underutilized by most brands.
Lastly, the recipe contains a small portion of Tapioca, Flaxseed, Chickpeas, and Peas. These plant-based ingredients provide a modest proportion of carbohydrates, fiber, and select vitamins and minerals.
Wellness Core Original Formula Review
Wellness has featured on PetSmart shelves for decades and is a familiar face of the pet food industry. Wellness is owned by WellPet LLC, which also owns several other familiar brands like Holistic Select and Eagle Pack.
The core range from wellness has repeatedly been our favorite thanks to its consistent nutrition and selection of high-quality ingredients. However, their other ranges are still worth considering, and you can explore them on our Wellness Brand Review.
The original recipe from the Core range was the first recipe in the range and, despite its age, is still an excellent choice.
Like others discussed here, it includes a mix of poultry ingredients such as Turkey Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, and Chicken Fat.
These Poultry ingredients are extremely reliable sources of nutrition and can provide a plentiful supply of animal-based protein and fat.
Outside of these poultry ingredients, Wellness uses the industry favorite of Peas but also includes a smaller portion of Dried Potatoes. Potatoes are an extremely dense source of carbohydrates which is why their portion size mustn’t be too large.
Purina Pro Plan LiveClear Probiotic Turkey & Oatmeal Formula Review
However, for those who want to play it safe, we thought no better choice than to mention Purina’s most established and prestigious brand – Purina Pro Plan.
While Purina Pro Plan is controversial to some, it’s well-known worldwide as a provider of high-quality pet food especially specialized pet food recipes for those with health issues.
Purina Pro Plan invests thousands of hours into the research and development of their product lines and stands out in comparison to smaller brands that can’t justify such costly research.
To learn more about the behemoth that is Purina Pro Plan, head on over to our Purina Pro Plan Review.
Their LiveClear cat food range from Purina Pro Plan is relatively new and focuses on cats with sensitive stomachs and digestive systems, which is an issue that is becoming increasingly common.
Chicken and Turkey are the recipe’s primary two ingredients and act as a stable base of animal-based protein and fat.
While many cat food recipes for health issues tend to provide poor nutrition, it is the opposite for this recipe from Purina Pro Plan, and it includes a minimum of 40% protein and 18% fat which is similar to others mentioned here.
Outside of this poultry content, the recipe utilizes a mix of Pea Protein, Rice, Oat Meal, and other plant-based ingredients to provide a portion of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.