What is the WSAVA Organization?
WSAVA stands for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and was formed in 1961 when a group of Veterinary professionals chose to re-brand their existing group – the International Association of Small Animal Specialists (IASAS).
The organization currently has more than 200,000 members that are a part of 113 member organizations. Their goals include advancing companion animal welfare and creating industry guidelines providing education.
The group has a high reputation, and many veterinary professionals in the western world are supporters or members of the group.
However, until recently, the WSAVA was relatively unknown among pet owners and even among veterinary professionals and technicians.
With the recent controversies around pet food formulation and potential risks caused by ingredient selection, the WSAVA has been thrust into the limelight.
What Are The WSAVA Guidelines?
The WSAVA has many guidelines for the well-being of pets, but their most well-known and controversial are those on the topic of pet food.
The guidelines lay out some strict and challenging criteria, including the use of educated and established nutritionists, feeding trials, and nutritional analysis of the food.
If you are interested, the full WSAVA Guidelines document can be found here, and I highly recommend you check them out so you can better understand this topic.
WSAVA has also produced an FAQ document which you can read here. This FAQ page discusses many “myths” around the topic of pet food.
While our discussion is going to be focused on WSAVA-compliant cat food, the WSAVA guidelines have surged in popularity and prevalence due to news in the dog food industry.
In the past several years, there have been links between the high use of legumes in dog food recipes and an increased rate of Canine Heart Disease.
This concerning link and the research and follow-up caused by it have led to many dog owners switching to WSAVA-compliant food instead.
We won’t go into detail on this topic in this article, but if you’d like to learn more, you can read our detailed explanation in our article Best Dog Foods Without Peas.
Critics of WSAVA and its guidelines will point out that WSAVA is funded by the giants of the pet food industry, including companies like Purina, Hill’s, and Royal Canin.
Because of the sponsorships these companies have for WSAVA, some believe that WSAVA guidelines are purposefully made to promote these huge pet food brands and their foods and discourage pet owners from considering feeding their pets food from smaller pet food brands.
However, supporters of WSAVA would disagree with this strongly and would say that it makes perfect sense for these huge pet food brands to support the association as they also want to promote their beliefs on testing, standards, and the use of nutritionists.
If you’d like to see which brands associate with WSAVA, you can see all of their industry partners on this page.
Why Most Cat Food Brands Are Not WSAVA Compliant
The section of the WSAVA guidelines that most cat food brands have difficulty complying with is the requirement for a full-time qualified nutritionist, especially one with a Ph.D. in animal nutrition.
You don’t need to be an industry expert to understand that, for a lot of the smaller brands, this role would be difficult to fulfill.
If that wasn’t enough, it is compounded by the fact that there is a minimal number of qualified nutritionists available, to begin with.
Moreover, many cat food brands do not carry out in-depth feeding trials of their food and instead choose to do smaller-scale trials.
Feeding trials can be a controversial subject, as many consumers are against animal testing, especially in an invasive or laboratory setting.
However, controversy aside, no cat food brand can effectively argue that their foods do not need to be extensively tested, as this step is crucial to ensuring they are safe for long-term consumption.
However, while some of the WSAVA guidelines are not met by many brands, we do feel it necessary to point out that almost all cat food brands meet some of the guidelines.
The best example of this compliance would be the section of the guidelines on nutrient analysis and quality control standards.
All pet food brands are mandated by government regulation to display this information on the packaging of commercially sold pet food in the United States.
Best WSAVA Approved Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Complete Essentials Adult Chicken & Egg Formula Review
Purina Pro Plan is a giant of the industry and probably the most popular pet food brand among supporters of the WSAVA Guidelines.
They are classed as one of the ‘big three’ brands and are one of the industry’s biggest researchers, and have hundreds of staff who are dedicated to advancing pet nutrition.
In particular, they are a world leader in research and development and employ several veterinary nutritionists to formulate their foods, which you can find listed here.
Purina Pro Plan has a huge range of cat food products available such as recipes for various cat life stages, such as Kittens and Senior Cats, but also several recipes for specific health issues like Hairballs or Urinary Tract problems.
If you’d like to learn more about Purina Pro Plan, including its choice of ingredients, the nutritional profile of its recipes, and the brand’s recall history, check out our Purina Pro Plan Brand Review.
We are going to cover dry food first, and while there may be some recipes better suited to your specific cat, the above Complete Essentials Chicken & Egg Recipe is a fantastic all-around pick that would be suitable for the majority of cats.
The recipe includes a large portion of Chicken & Chicken Meal as its primary ingredients, which ensures that the recipe contains an impressive portion of animal-based protein and fat at a minimum of 40% and 16%, respectively.
Outside of this Chicken content, the recipe includes several plant-based ingredients, including Pea Protein, Cassava Root Flour, Pea Starch, and Potato Protein.
While not all of these ingredients are looked upon favorably by the entire industry, Purina Pro Plan supports their use, and they provide the recipe with a mix of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
Savor Adult Salmon & Wild Rice Entree Classic Review
If you are interested in wet cat food from Purina Pro Plan, the above Salmon & Wild Rice recipe may be a good choice.
The recipe has Salmon as its first listed ingredient, which shows that there is a substantial portion of Salmon present.
Salmon is an excellent choice for cat food and can provide high-quality protein and fat, along with high levels of the beneficial Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
To supplement the Salmon, the recipe from Purina Pro Plan includes smaller portions of Liver, By-Products, and Chicken which, when combined, sum to an impressive minimum of 10% protein and 5% fat.
Despite making the recipe’s name, the portion of Wild Rice present is actually very small, so it only provides a tiny portion of carbohydrates and fiber. This lack of plant material strongly aligns with a cat’s natural obligate carnivore diet.
While Purina Pro Plan might be the undisputed king of all of the Purina pet food brands, if it isn’t readily available or out of your price point, you may want to consider another Purina sub-brand known as Purina Beyond.
Purina Beyond has quickly risen in popularity thanks to its use of high-quality ingredients and the impressive nutrition its recipes can provide. If that wasn’t enough, Purina Beyond is one of the best-priced cat food brands.
Grain-Free Ocean Whitefish & Egg Review
While Purina Beyond may not have the depth that Purina Pro Plan does, it has some impressive dry cat food recipes, including the above Whitefish recipe.
The recipe’s primary ingredients are Ocean Whitefish and Chicken Meal, which are both high-quality sources of protein and fat and well suited to a cat’s diet.
While the protein and fat proportion aren’t quite as high as the Purina Pro Plan recipe, it is still satisfactory at a minimum of 35% and 14%.
Outside of these ingredients, the recipe utilizes a mix of Peas, Tapioca, and other minor ingredients. These provide cats with a mix of plant-based protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
If you’d like to learn more about Purina Beyond, check out our Purina Beyond Brand Review for more information.
Royal Canin Indoor Adult Review
Royal Canin is the second of the big three pet food brands we will discuss and is found throughout the United States at pet food stores and veterinary practices.
While Royal Canin may not be quite as vocal on their use of veterinary nutritionists to develop their cat food recipes, we know for a fact that they utilize them and have an abundance of expertise available.
Their Nutritional Philosophy goes into detail about their approach to the development of their food and is a good read for anyone interested.
What many do not realize is that Royal Canin is owned by Mars Petcare, which owns many other well-known brands.
We will discuss another brand from Mars Petcare later, but other brands that you might recognize include Whiskas and Pedigree.
You can learn the full history of Royal Canin, including details on when they were bought out by Mars Petcare in our Royal Canin Brand Review.
Given that the majority of cats are based indoors, the above Adult Indoor from Royal Canin may be a wise choice for many cat owners.
The most abundant ingredient in the recipe is Chicken Meal which is a high-quality source of animal-based protein and fat.
While some cat owners fear meat meals like Chicken Meal, they are simply meat that has been processed to remove the majority of its moisture, leaving behind a very nutritionally dense ingredient.
Royal Canin’s protein and fat proportion are far lower than Purina Pro Plan’s at a minimum of 27% and 11%, and some may believe this may be better suited to inactive indoor cats.
Outside of this Chicken content, Royal Canin utilizes several grain-based ingredients like Corn, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, and Wheat.
Many in the industry would look down on ingredients like these, but they are a staple of Royal Canin recipes and act as a dense source of carbohydrates and plant-based protein.
Royal Canin Adult Instinctive Loaf In Sauce Review
If you are looking for a wet cat food option from Royal Canin, the above Adult Instinctive Loaf In Sauce could be a potential option.
The recipe utilizes a mix of Chicken and Pork ingredients like Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products, Chicken Liver, and Pork Liver.
Pork is an unusual addition to cat food recipes and is rarely seen, but regardless, it is still a beneficial addition and source of animal-based protein and fat.
Thanks to the large portion of these ingredients, the recipe contains an impressive minimum of 11% protein and 1.9% fat.
Outside of these meat ingredients, the recipe contains very little other content with just very small portions of some grain ingredients like Brewers Rice Flour and Wheat Gluten.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Rice Recipe Review
The last of the ‘big three’ pet food brands is Hill’s Science Diet, and they share many of the same traits that Royal Canin and Purina have.
They also have a close relationship with the WSAVA organization and are a leader in the research and development of cat food and feline nutrition.
While they do not list specific veterinary nutritionists on their website as Purina Pro Plan did, they still discuss their methodology and approach and claim to work with more than 220 veterinarians, qualified nutritionists, and food scientists.
This product range includes recipes purpose-built for certain health issues such as Sensitive Skin, Hairballs, Weight Issues, and Urinary Issues.
The above Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken & Rice Recipe is a prime example of this and is one of Hill’s Science Diet’s most popular cat food recipes.
To learn more about Hill’s Science Diet, including its full range of recipes for health issues, check out our Hill’s Science Diet Brand Review.
Sensitivity issues such as Sensitive Skin and Stomachs are something that is becoming more and more prevalent among cats, and more cat owners are understanding them and attempting to address them, which is why recipes like this are so popular.
The formula uses a large portion of Chicken as its primary ingredient, and as we know, Chicken is an excellent choice for cat food and can provide a plentiful supply of animal-based protein and fat.
There are also smaller portions of Chicken Meal and Chicken Fat present, which, when combined with the Chicken, sum to an even bigger proportion.
This results in a minimum proportion of protein at 29% and fat at 17%, which is higher and sits in the middle when compared to Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin.
Hill’s Science Diet uses many of the same grain ingredients like Royal Canin and Purina Pro Plan, and in this recipe, this includes Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, and Whole Grain Corn.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Tender Tuna Dinner Review
Hill’s wet cat food range is slightly smaller than their dry food range, but there are still many formulas to choose from, including a large number for urinary and kidney issues which is a common problem for cats.
However, the above Tender Tuna Dinner is an excellent general-purpose pick and would be well-suited to most cats.
The recipe utilizes a mix of Tuna, Chicken, and Pork Liver as its primary ingredients.
While this combination might be a little unorthodox, it is highly nutritious and helps the recipe to provide a minimum of 7.8% protein and 2.5 % fat.
Outside of these meat ingredients, the recipe uses small portions of some grain ingredients like Wheat Flour, Rice Starch, and Oat Hulls to add a minor portion of carbohydrates and fiber.
Iams ProActive Health Salmon Recipe Review
The last brand to feature in our list of WSAVA-approved cat foods is Iams, which may surprise some readers.
While Iams does not have the level of research and development that the big three brands can offer, they do satisfy the WSAVA Guidelines.
Being part of the same Mars Petcare group that Royal Canin is also a part of is, without a doubt, a big help, but that shouldn’t be used to downplay Iams.
Many will be familiar with seeing Iams recipes on the shelves of grocery stores like Walmart, which makes it extremely convenient to purchase, and if that wasn’t enough, Iams is far more affordable than the other brands mentioned here.
If you’d like to learn more about Iams, including information about its ingredient choices, its product range, and its recall record, check out our Iams Brand Review.
The above Salmon recipe from Iams is one of their best and is a great all-around pick suitable for most cats.
The recipe utilizes a large portion of Salmon and Chicken By-Product Meal as its primary ingredients, which are a valuable source of animal-based protein and fat.
There are also smaller portions of Chicken and Chicken Meal that help to supplement these ingredients. In total, this results in a minimum proportion of protein of 32% and a minimum proportion of fat of 15%.
The recipe then includes various grain ingredients like Corn, Sorghum, Corn Grits, and Corn Gluten Meal.
These ingredients are very similar to those used by the other brands mentioned here and provide a mix of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and fiber.
A Note On Eukanuba
For those of you who have read our WSAVA Approved Dog Food article, you’ll know that there is a fifth brand that meets the WSAVA Guidelines, which is Eukanuba.
Sadly, in the United States and Canada, Eukanuba does not produce any cat food recipes, so we can not recommend them here.
However, Eukanuba in the UK does produce cat food, although we are not sure if this still meets the WSAVA Requirements as its US-based dog food does.
Regardless, if you’d like to learn more about Eukanuba, be sure to take a read of our Eukanuba Brand Review.