When the average person thinks of Venison, they think of men wearing camouflage hunting in the woods.
While Venison may not be traditionally farmed on the scale of other animals, like Cattle or Chicken, it is still a viable and nutritious meat ingredient, especially for use in pet food.
The primary reason that Venison is used as an ingredient in cat food recipes is for those cats with severe allergies or dietary sensitivities.
In addition to this, Venison provides a different nutritional profile than many of the more commonly used red meats such as Beef and Lamb. This unique nutritional profile can be beneficial or more appealing to certain cats.
So should you be considering cat food recipes with Venison meat? What kind of nutrition can Venison meat provide, and is it worth all the hype? Let’s find out.
Venison Nutrition For Cats
The first worthy discussion point about Venison is that it is far lower in fat than other red meats such as Beef or Lamb.
This difference isn’t small and can be as extreme as Venison containing five times less fat than Beef and, more significantly for some, less saturated fat.
While cats need animal fat in their diet, some cats need lower levels than others. Examples of cats that need less fat in their diet include cats attempting weight loss, relatively inactive cats such as indoor cats, or senior cats.
Therefore a cat food recipe with a focus on Venison could be better suited for them than other, more traditional recipes.
Unsurprisingly, Venison is a rich source of protein. Animal proteins such as that from Venison meat is considered superior to plant-based proteins such as those from legumes like Peas or starches like Potatoes.
Protein is incredibly important in a cat’s diet and is used for the repair, growth, and maintenance of its cells.
While many think otherwise, excess protein in a cat’s diet is not wasted and is used as an energy source. Wild cats rely on a mixture of protein and fat to drive their activity.
Outside of the core nutrients of protein and fat, Venison meat is high in the mineral Zinc. Small quantities of Zinc can have a wide range of health benefits for cats.
These benefits include an improved immune system and a more efficient digestive system, and it can aid in the production of essential hormones.
Niacin, which is also known as Vitamin B3, is another micronutrient that is present in high levels in Venison meat.
Niacin has been shown to increase cardiovascular health and is crucial to help maintain a healthy metabolism. Also it can also have other beneficial effects on brain function and a cat’s skin and coat.
However, it is worth pointing out that Niacin is also found at high levels in poultry meat ingredients like Chicken and Turkey, so most cats would already have a plentiful supply in their diet.
Lastly, Venison is high in a little-known compound called L-carnitine. There are some inconclusive links between this compound and an increased risk of heart disease, which is worth noting.
However, to counter this, it should be pointed out that other red meats such as Beef and Lamb are also high in this nutrient and so feeding your cat Venison meat is unlikely to increase any risk.
Limited Ingredient Diets With Venison
Venison meat is often used in Limited Ingredient cat food formulas, which are becoming increasingly common. Limited Ingredient cat food formulas aim to use a minimal range of ingredients in comparison to traditional cat food.
This approach can enable cat owners to narrow down which ingredients their cats are experiencing an allergic or adverse reaction to.
In addition, these same recipes can then be used later to provide their cat with a recipe without any of those allergens.
The use of Venison in Limited Ingredient formulas stems from the fact that Venison is rarely used in cat food, and so a cat is far less likely to suffer an allergic reaction from it as they would not have been previously exposed.
That being said, a lack of previous exposure to an ingredient does not guarantee that a cat will not be allergic to it. However, it is widely believed that it does increase the likelihood that they can consume it without issue.
The use of uncommon meat ingredients, such as Venison, in cat food has a particular classification. These are known as Novel Meat formulas, and other examples of meat ingredients used in Novel Meat formulas are Rabbit, Alligator, and Kangaroo.
A cat food formula can be both a limited ingredient and novel meat formula, and many that use Venison would be categorized as both.
Check out our Best Cat Food With Rabbit article for more information on the use of rabbit meat in cat food.
Best Cat Food With Venison
Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Reviewㅤ
As we mentioned earlier, New Zealand is one of the world’s leading producers of Venison meat, and there is a world-famous pet food brand in New Zealand that produces venison-based cat food.
While most of their recipes are Lamb-based, they have expanded into other ingredients like Venison, Beef, and Chicken.
Ziwi Peak is known by many as an extremely expensive pet food brand and was even featured in our article discussing the most expensive cat foods (which you can find here).
However, this cost is not due to huge profit margins but instead caused by the incredibly high-quality ingredients found in their recipes.
You can learn more about what makes Ziwi Peak special and its full product range in our Ziwi Peak Brand Review.
The above wet cat food recipe with Venison is one of a select few wet cat food recipes we could find with Venison meat as a core ingredient.
Wet cat food is almost always the superior choice when compared to dry cat food, thanks to its moisture content.
This is because many cats struggle to take on sufficient water and often become dehydrated or experience other hydration-related health issues.
Not only does the above recipe contain a large portion of Venison meat, but it also contains Venison organ meat ingredients.
Organ meat ingredients such as the Heart, Liver, and Kidneys can be excellent additions to a pet food recipe and drastically improve their flavor and boost the overall levels of select beneficial vitamins and minerals.
However, if you aren’t interested in a venison-based wet cat food recipe, you should consider the below freeze-dried recipe.ㅤ
Freeze-dried food is what Ziwi Peak is best known for, and it offers an extremely pure and simplistic diet. While the cost and weight of these recipes may seem extreme, they can be re-mixed with water to make them more reasonable.
Similar to the wet cat food recipe, this freeze-dried food contains a huge portion of venison meat which is a mix of traditional meat cuts and organ meats.
Instinct Original Grain-Free Pate Real Venison Recipe Reviewㅤ
Instinct is a brand that we discuss and regularly promote on this site, and for a good reason. The brand is widely available for purchase, is reasonably priced, and has impressive nutrition and ingredient quality.
Instinct’s Original range is a staple and one which we would recommend for both dry cat food and wet cat food. However, Instinct also has various other product ranges, including raw and semi-raw recipes.
While many cat owners write off raw food as a fad or marketing, many cat owners swear by it and believe that their cats enjoy their food far more than previously.
To see Instinct’s full range and why they feature so regularly in our articles, take a read of our Instinct Brand Review.
It came as a surprise to us when we discovered that Instinct’s original range has a venison-based cat food recipe.
Despite the extra cost associated with Venison meat, this recipe does not disappoint, and Instinct’s usual high standards remain.
The recipe’s first-listed ingredient is Venison which shows that there is a large portion present.
This portion of Venison is supplemented by a smaller portion of Pork Liver which, as an organ meat ingredient, can boost the recipe’s flavor and nutrition.
Outside of this, there are some very tiny portions of plant-based ingredients which make up less than 5% of the overall contents of the recipe.
This mix includes Flaxseed, Peas, and Carrots, which provide a minute proportion of carbohydrates and fiber.
Farmina N&D Pumpkin Venison, Pumpkin, and Apple Recipe Review
Farmina is a European-based pet food brand which may mean you are less familiar with it than some of the North American staples.
However, this unfamiliarity doesn’t mean that you should dismiss Farmina, as they produce some impressive recipes with consistent nutrition and high ingredient quality.
In addition, Farmina has had a historic and extensive partnership with many research and academic studies in Europe around pet food which has aided their own formulation and industry-wide progress.
We discuss the specifics of this research in our Farmina Brand Review.
While the above Venison-based recipe from Farmina may not be widely available for purchase compared to some other Farmina recipes, if you can get ahold of it, it is well worth considering.
The recipe includes 28% fresh venison and 26% dehydrated venison resulting in a huge portion of venison meat for a dry cat food recipe.
Thanks to this large portion of Venison, the overall proportion of protein and fat in this recipe is 42% and 20%, respectively.
Outside of this Venison content, Farmina sticks to some of its reliable and trusted plant-based ingredients, including Pea Starch and Pumpkin.
These ingredients provide a modest proportion of carbohydrates and fiber. While we would prefer that cats do not consume a high amount of either of these nutrients, the portion here is far smaller than most alternative dry cat food brands.
Probably the most recognizable brand to feature in this article, Taste of the Wild is a favorite across the United States and is fed to millions of pets on a daily basis.
Their products regularly feature on the shelves of large pet food stores as well as smaller independent retailers.
Taste of the Wild has a very stable product range allowing pet owners to stick with them for years without being concerned about regular change.
Despite this, the brand has expanded into some grain-inclusive pet food recipes in the last few years due to concerns about the high use of legumes in dog food.
If you’d like to learn more about Taste of the Wild and our analysis of their ingredient choices and nutrition, head on over to our Taste of the Wild Brand Review.
For those familiar with Taste of the Wild, you will know that their Rocky Mountain formula’s primary ingredients are not Venison-based, but the recipe still contains a small portion of Venison.
This may be a good option for those who want to experiment with giving their cats a taste of Venison without splashing out or tracking down some of these more specialist or expensive recipes.
Alongside the small portion of Venison, Rocky Mountain formula utilizes Chicken Meal as its primary meat ingredient, along with another small portion of Salmon.
This unusual combination will provide a unique flavor and a satisfactory proportion of animal-based protein and fat.
Outside of these ingredients, Taste of the Wild makes extensive use of legumes and starches in most of their recipes which in this case are Peas and Sweet Potatoes.
These industry favorites provide a moderate proportion of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Addiction Grain-Free Viva La Venison Reviewㅤ
Addiction is a small pet food brand and not one that readers will find at a large pet food store. Much like Ziwi Peak, the brand is also based in New Zealand and has access to some of the same high-quality ingredient sources.
Addiction is best known for producing recipes with uncommon meat ingredients like Venison and Kangaroo but also for producing dehydrated pet food, which is a relatively small niche.
Dehydrated pet food is an interesting topic and one that has seen more discussion in recent years. It allows pet owners to provide wet/moist pet food while retaining many of the benefits of dry pet food.
If you’d like to learn more about Addiction’s dehydrated cat food range, take a read of our Addiction Brand Review.
As we mentioned earlier, one of Addiction’s best-known traits is its use of uncommon ingredients, which is shown above in its Viva La Venison recipe.
The recipe’s primary ingredient is Venison Meal which is a meat meal. Meat meal ingredients like these are often feared by pet owners, but they shouldn’t be.
They can be extremely dense sources of nutrition as they have had the bulk of their moisture removed in advance.
By having an ingredient like Venison Meal as the first listed ingredient on a recipe, it ensures the portion of the animal-based content present is significant.
Outside of this Venison Meal, Addiction makes use of a mix of starches and legume ingredients like Peas, Potatoes, and Tapioca. These ingredients provide a moderate proportion of carbohydrates and fiber.
Tapioca may be a less familiar addition to cat food for some, but it is quite regularly seen in pet food recipes from premium brands.
It is not hugely popular in North America but does see widespread use in human food in places like South America.
If you’d like to learn more about Tapioca and its nutritional value, we recommend you read our article Tapioca In Dog Food.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Green Pea & Venison Reviewㅤ
Natural Balance is a well-known North American brand and is very easily found in retail pet food stores and online at large pet food websites like Chewy and Petflow.
Natural Balance has a huge product range that includes a mix of dry and wet cat food recipes. However, despite the huge size of their range, they have a strong focus on Limited Ingredient pet food.
If you’d like to read more about Natural Balance and its focus areas, be sure to read our Natural Balance Brand Review.
Given this focus, it may not be surprising that they have a venison-based recipe available as it can be an ideal component of a limited-ingredient diet.
Unlike some other recipes here, Natural Balance only includes Venison meat in their recipe which will make it a top choice for cats with adverse reactions to other meat ingredients.
Sadly the portion size of Venison found in this recipe is not as impressive as others featured here, and they only provide a minimum proportion of protein and fat that is 30% and 10%.
Instead, the recipe includes a very large portion of Peas which make up the bulk of the contents and act as a dense source of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Natural Balance also includes a portion of Flaxseed and Brewers Yeast for their added health benefits. Flaxseed is especially popular in pet food as it is a reliable source of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PV Reviewㅤ
Last but not least, we have a recipe from one of the pet food behemoths – Royal Canin. Royal Canin, along with Purina and Hill’s, are giants of industry and feature in retail pet food stores and in veterinary clinics.
Many of their recipes, including the one featured above, are only available on prescription from a veterinarian and are designed for cats with severe or specific health problems.
These Veterinary recipes have detailed research and formulation behind them from Royal Canin’s army of nutritionists and researchers.
You can see Royal Canin’s full Veterinary range in our Royal Canin Brand Review.
It is important that a cat’s health issues are properly assessed before starting a diet like this, as it can have other consequences.
However, if you are struggling to find a solution to your cat’s dietary needs, you may want to discuss and consider a recipe like the above.
Given that this is a veterinary recipe, the nutritional profile is less critical, but we will note that Venison is not the recipe’s primary ingredient but is instead present in a moderate proportion.
Rather than a large portion of Venison, the recipe utilizes Peas as the primary ingredient, and these Peas can provide nutrition in the form of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Is Venison Cat Food Expensive?
The cost of Venison is tough to gauge reliably as Venison isn’t farmed in such an intensive manner as other animals are.
The price of Venison meat from a local hunter or friend is going to be significantly cheaper than a similar quantity from a specialist meat seller who has to source or import their products.
However, unknown to many, there are Venison farms, and they have come into the mainstream in the last decade due to the increased demand for Venison.
These venison farms are almost certainly where the bulk of the Venison used in cat food is sourced from, as cat food manufacturers need a reliable and plentiful supply in order to maintain consistent production levels.
One of the countries to supply Venison meat is New Zealand, which also produces a large portion of the world’s demand for Lamb.
While Venison meat is unlikely to be as cheap as staples like Chicken or Pork, it is often more reasonably priced than you may first imagine.
While we won’t claim that any of the recipes we will discuss shortly are cheap, we do not believe they are extortionately priced. However, as we will discuss shortly in this article, the price of Venison has increased in recent years.
Many people in more rural locations often acquire a substantial quantity of Venison from their own or their friends or family’s hunting efforts.
While it is critical to do some research on how to prepare homemade cat food, there is little reason why you couldn’t use some of this Venison to supplement your cat’s diet or even be used as a treat.
Worldwide Venison Shortage
There has been a significant effort to increase the output of venison meat worldwide, but sadly these efforts do not appear to have been successful, and many pet food manufacturers are experiencing serious issues in supply due to herd shortages.
For several pet food brands, this has meant that they have had to cut production of that particular recipe or raise their prices to match the increase in cost that they are facing.
However, even more concerning and worrisome, some pet food brands have had to temporarily or permanently discontinue their Venison products as they are unable to produce them reliably.
As all too many of us will know, changing a cat’s diet in a drastic fashion, such as moving from a Venison-based diet to an alternative meat ingredient, can be difficult and taxing.
This can be compounded when the cat in question has severe allergies or sensitivities that limit the available alternatives.
If you believe the supply of your cat’s current food, whether it be Venison-based or any other composition, may be in danger, then it may be wise to start transitioning your cat early before you run out of that cat food.
This will allow your cat to adapt and will give you a chance to find another alternative if your first-choice replacement isn’t suitable.