Freshpet may be some of the only cat food you’ll buy from a fridge, but is it any fresher, safer, or more nutritious than the average cat food brand? Find out in our unbiased Freshpet cat food review.
The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Freshpet on What Matters
We’ve analyzed Freshpet and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, ingredient quality, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history. Here’s how it rates in each of these six key areas.
We give Freshpet cat food a 33 out of 60 rating or a C grade.
In 2006, John Phelps and Cathal Walsh launched Freshpet, a brand of refrigerated pet food. Freshpet claims to cut back on processing to amp up nutrition and says their foods are made with “whole ingredients”, then “gently cooked without preservatives, and kept refrigerated where meats belong.”
Sourcing And Manufacturing
All Freshpet foods are steam-cooked in Freshpet’s company-owned Pennsylvania facility.
About 97% of the ingredients in Freshpet foods are sourced from the United States and Canada. While all food ingredients are sourced in North America, the company sources vitamins and minerals from other regions. Though China is the biggest supplier of synthetic vitamins and amino acids, Freshpet maintains that they don’t source any ingredients from that country.
Has Freshpet Cat Food Been Recalled?
Freshpet cat food has never been recalled.
What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Freshpet Offer?
Freshpet offers three lines of cat food.
They include Freshpet® Select, the brand’s original line, Vital® foods with 80% meat, poultry, or fish content, and Nature’s Fresh®, which uses chicken and turkey from farms that follow the Step 1 and Step 2 animal welfare standards established by the Global Animal Partnership.
Freshpet Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed
What Do Customers Think Of Freshpet Cat Food?
Freshpet receives primarily positive reviews on its product listings, but things trend towards negativity once you look beyond Freshpet’s website and their retail partners.
While over 50% of Consumer Affairs reviewers are satisfied with the brand, unhappy customers share similar complaints. Freshpet is supposed to stay fresh for a week in the fridge, but many reviewers say they opened up the bag to find smelly or moldy Freshpet cat food. And as it turns out, Consumer Affairs is just the tip of the rotten Freshpet iceberg.
Similar reports appear on social media and discussion boards. After about half an hour of web browsing, I counted 88 customer reports of not-at-all-fresh Freshpet. Complaints include bloated bags, sour smells, moldy food, and pets getting sick after eating questionably-fresh food. Dozens more customers didn’t say the product was spoiled but that their pets fell ill after eating Freshpet.
“We have a 9 year old rescue cat. She will only eat wet food. All the wet foods we have fed her smell terrible and she would throw up after eating them or leave most of it in her dish and it would stink to high heaven. We found the Freshpet Vital chub at PetCo recently. Decided to give it a try. I can honestly say she is eating it and has not thrown up since we switched her. I would recommend this food to anyone struggling with picky eaters! It doesn’t stink and you can refrigerate it. We buy 3 or 4 at a time and freeze them until we are ready to use. Very happy with this cat food!” – Cynthia Edginton, reviewing Freshpet Vital® Grain Free Chicken & Beef Recipe for Cats
“I rescued a malnourished kitten from some homeless people five years ago. She grew up eating restaurant coffee creamer that they would take from restaurants. She’s very small now for her age (5) and she has a hard time keeping food down. This is the only food she can eat without getting sick! She is very healthy, happy, and has shiny fur and eyes. Thank you so much for making a quality cat food! There are many options for good dog food, not so much for cats. Thank you again!” – Stacey, reviewing Freshpet Select Chicken & Beef
“I started buying the chicken bites about a year ago when I lived in California. My cat LOVED it and I saw a great change in her behavior. Before she was always hungry and crying for more food no matter what I gave her. When I tried the chicken bites, she calmed down, slept through the night and wasn’t begging for food. In fact, she only ate a small amount to be satisfied. I always provide dry food and, of course, water.
When we moved to Oregon a few months later, I started buying the chicken bites again, but they would not last. As soon as I opened the package it would start to deteriorate quickly. The expiration date was months away. I thought it was a fluke, so I tossed it and bought another one. Within a day, it had mold growing and the stench was so bad that I had to seal it up and take it outside. I decided to take it back to the market. The odor was so bad that the manager gave me a refund and two free bags as an apology.
I thought that was a great deal, but my cat refused to eat it. I smelled it and it was already going bad. I opened the second bag and she wouldn’t eat that either. I threw both of them away. I then decided to buy the pate in the roll and she loved it. That was three months ago, buying one roll per week. For the last two weeks, I have noticed she is snubbing her nose at this and again, the food is rotting too fast. Sadly to say, I think we are going to have to stop spending money on food that rots long before the expiration date and more importantly I need to protect my cat’s health and not take a chance of her eating bad food. I have purchased these products at different stores, so I don’t believe it’s a cooler issue, I think it’s a product flaw. I am very careful about keeping the product cold and sealed at home as well.” – Diane of Albany, Oregon reviewing Freshpet on Consumer Affairs
“This food did not go over well with my cats. They all ended up throwing up frequently when eating this food. I would not recommend and will not ever consider buying again. Wish it was a better experience.” – Audrey S., reviewing Freshpet® Select Roasted Meals Chicken Recipe with Carrots & Spinach Recipe on Influenster
How Much Does Freshpet Cat Food Cost?
Freshpet’s cost varies by line and product type.
If you choose one of Freshpet’s rolls from the Vital™ line, you might spend over $4 every day to feed a 10-lb cat. If you opt for one of the brand’s kibble-style foods in a bag, your daily feedings costs will go down to $0.98 to $1.16—comparable to some of the cheapest wet foods or homemade raw.
Overall, Is Freshpet A Good Choice?
Frankly, you could do a lot better than Freshpet cat food.
On the bright side, Freshpet cat food is typically lower in carbohydrates and plant ingredients than the average dry food and many canned products. Most of their recipes, particularly those in the Vital™ line, are rich in the animal ingredients cats crave.
The food’s biggest selling point is the idea that it’s a preservative-free food that’s minimally processed and belongs in the refrigerator instead of the pantry. This marketing angle is misleading on multiple levels.
Ironically, Freshpet food is loaded with salt, vinegar, and celery powder and can last longer in the fridge than the average canned food. Hill’s recommends that you throw out opened cans of cat food after 5-7 days in the fridge. You can leave an open container of Freshpet in the fridge for 14 days—or so says the company.
All of this salt means Freshpet food is extremely high in sodium—sometimes containing as much as 10x the daily recommendation for cats—which deters some customers. It’s interesting to note that it doesn’t appear that sodium has any negative health effects for cats. In fact, a high sodium diet makes cats drink more water and could reduce the incidence of urinary tract disease.
And besides being packed with more preservatives than the average canned food, Freshpet cat food doesn’t always make it to the expiration date. Indeed, Freshpet is very often not fresh at all. There have been so many reports of Freshpet spoiling before the expiration date or making pets sick that the potential benefits of this purportedly fresh food seem hardly worth the risk or the cost.
Where To Buy Freshpet Cat Food?
You’ll find Freshpet in groceries, big box stores, pet specialty retailers, and natural food stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Freshpet Select is sold primarily in groceries and Vital™ is available through pet specialty retailers. Nature’s Fresh is sold in natural food stores.
Freshpet cat food isn’t currently available online, but you can use online retail sites to browse the product selection and check for the products’ availability in local stores. Some online services including Instacart and Peapod allow you to have Freshpet cat food delivered to you from a local store.