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Blue Buffalo Cat Food Unbiased Review 2021

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We’ve taken a close look at Blue Buffalo and graded it according to the We’re All About Cats standard, evaluating the brand on species-appropriateness, product variety, price, ingredient quality, customer experience, and recall history.

The We’re All About Cats Standard—Rating Blue Buffalo On What Matters

We’ve rated the brand on six key criteria for quality. Here’s how it rates in each of these six crucial areas.

Ratings

  • Species-Appropriateness – 6/10
  • Ingredient Quality – 6/10
  • Product Variety – 8/10
  • Price – 8/10
  • Customer Experience – 6/10
  • Recall History – 3/10

Overall Score: 6.17/10

Overall, we give Blue Buffalo a C grade. It receives high marks for affordability and offers decent product variety, but many of the recipes aren’t species-appropriate and customer experience varies greatly. The brand has also had a significant number of recalls.

Quick Look – Top Recipes Reviewed

Blue Buffalo Cat Food Video Review



About Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo was created in 2002 by Bill Bishop. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1961, Bishop began a long career in advertising and consumer products. Bishop is behind advertising and marketing programs for big names like Tropicana, Perrier, Nabisco, and American Express. He was the co-founder of SoBe and served as its COO until its sale to Pepsi in 2001.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Bishop brought his marketing acumen to a new project—Blue Buffalo. Named after Bishop’s 9-year-old Airedale terrier, Blue, the company was poised to go big on the burgeoning natural pet food market.

After sixteen successful years in the business, the company was sold to General Mills for $8 billion. Today, it’s America’s leading natural pet food company.

Sourcing And Manufacturing

Blue Buffalo works with a wide variety of pet food manufacturers and suppliers. According to a brand profile published by the Whole Dog Journal in 2012, these were Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, ANI/Vita-Line Products, CJ Foods, ProPet, Triple T Foods, and Tuffy’s Pet Foods.

In addition to these partners, Blue Buffalo also manufactures some of its own products. It appears that the company operates manufacturing facilities in Joplin, Missouri and Richmond, Indiana. While we don’t have exact details on Blue Buffalo’s manufacturing, it appears their products are made in the U.S.

Blue Buffalo doesn’t provide specific information about the sourcing of their ingredients either. This may be because they work with a wide variety of suppliers. We’d love to have more information in this area, but transparency about manufacturing and ingredient sourcing just isn’t part of Blue Buffalo’s brand.

Recall History

Evaluating a brand’s recall history can provide insight into the quality and safety of their products. Unfortunately, Blue Buffalo has been recalled several times since its creation in 2002.

Here’s a summary of the company’s recall history:

2017

Starting with a packaging problem affecting a number of Blue Buffalo dog food cups, 2017 involved three unique recalls. Shortly after the packaging problem in February, Blue recalled several cans of Homestyle Recipe dog food due to possible aluminum contamination. In March of 2017, Blue Buffalo dog food was recalled due to potentially high levels of beef thyroid hormone.

2016

Blue Buffalo announced a limited recall of dog food due to excessive moisture levels and the consequent potential for mold contamination.

2015

Blue Buffalo had two recalls in 2015. The first involved a limited number of Blue Kitty Yums cat treats. The treats were found to contain propylene glycol, which is prohibited by FDA guidelines.

In autumn of 2015, the company recalled a single lot of chewing bones due to potential salmonella contamination.

2010

Blue Buffalo recalled several products due to what they described as a “sequencing error”, which may have led to food contaminated with excess levels of vitamin D.

2007

Blue Buffalo was involved in the nationwide melamine recalls. The FDA confirmed the presence of melamine in rice protein concentrate in Blue Buffalo foods.

This prompted a recall of all their canned dog food, all cans of their Spa Select canned cat food, all dog treats, and Blue Buffalo Spa Select Kitten dry food. After discovering that the manufacturer had allowed melamine contamination, Blue Buffalo severed their relationship with American Nutrition, Inc.

In addition to recalls, Blue Buffalo has been at the center of multiple controversies and lawsuits.

In 2014, Purina accused Blue Buffalo of false advertising when Blue’s products tested positive for animal by-products, ingredients that Blue Buffalo claims are never present in any of their foods.

In response to this accusation, Blue Buffalo insisted that their ingredient supplier was at fault. Note that the ingredient supplier involved was Wilbur-Ellis, which was one of companies that imported melamine-tainted protein associated with the 2007 pet food recalls.

Blue Buffalo was also involved in a class-action lawsuit revolving around potentially toxic levels of lead in the brand’s foods. The lawsuit started when a dog named Coco died from kidney failure apparently caused by chronic lead poisoning. The case file states that the plaintiff sent Blue dog food to an independent lab for testing and confirmed that several varieties of the food contained excessive levels of lead. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.

In June of 2019, the FDA named Blue Buffalo among 16 pet food brands that may be linked to an increased risk of DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs and cats.

During the FDA’s investigation of a potential link between grain-free diets and an increased risk of DCM in dogs—and some cats—the agency named 16 brands most commonly fed to pets who developed heart issues between 2014 and 2019. Blue Buffalo was the sixth brand on the list and associated with 31 reports of heart disease in that 5-year period.

It’s important to note that this was not a recall and the FDA’s investigation remains inconclusive.

What Kinds Of Cat Food Does Blue Buffalo Offer?

All of Blue Buffalo’s follow a natural blueprint, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of variety. Blue Buffalo has six different cat food and kitten food lines.

For dry cat food, there are the original BLUE, BLUE Freedom (which is a line of grain-free products), BLUE Basics limited-ingredient foods, meat-rich BLUE Wilderness, and BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet, which is only available through veterinarians. Blue Buffalo’s newest dry food line for cats is Blue True Solutions which is designed to address specific health needs.

Blue Buffalo’s wet cat foods are available in the same six product lines, including traditional cat foods, veterinary diets, and the new Blue True Solutions line of health-specific products.

What Do Customers Think Of Blue Buffalo Cat Food?

To get an idea of what real customers are saying about Blue Buffalo, here are a few reviews selected from several popular recipes listed on Amazon and Chewy.

Positive Reviews

“My 6-year-old kitty loves this food. He can’t get enough of it. He was on Science Diet A/D food for a while when I first adopted him because he wouldn’t eat anything else. This food was a great next step for him, since it has a similar texture and some similar ingredients.” – CatDog, reviewing Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Adult Canned Cat Food

“I started feeding Blue when my oldest cat developed diabetes. He has been on this food for 8 years and my vet says “ I don’t know what you’re doing but whatever it is keep doing because he is doing great. All my cats are on this….” – Quacker, reviewing Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Dry Cat Food

Negative Reviews

“My older cat has grain allergies. The vet said this must have grain in it since she was sick while trying to eat it. The name is deceiving. I’m disappointed. My kitten loves Blue Buffalo” – Debbi, reviewing Freedom Indoor Adult Pate

“I got this food thinking that I was treating my cat but instead, I was just treating Blue Buffalo’s marketing department. Blue Buffalo has a host of problems associated with it and the vets I spoke to told me to avoid this stuff like wildfire. They had seen countless cats come in with urinary and kidney problems who were being fed Blue Buffalo.” – MarketingGotMe, reviewing Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Food

Blue Buffalo Cat Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

All nutritional percentages in this table and hereafter are taken from the manufacturer’s guaranteed analysis. Exact nutritional percentages are not available. All calculated values are determined using these minimum and maximum published values and may differ from actual values. Blue Buffalo is the ultimate authority on their products, so please contact the company for more nutritional information.

#1 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food

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Like all products in the Wilderness line, this food is grain-free and promises to deliver increased levels of high-quality protein.

What is important to note with this recipe, however, is that the name states it’s made “with chicken.” The word “with” in pet product names usually implies that the formula isn’t primarily made from that ingredient, even if it’s the first one on the list.

The recipe starts with deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. Along with pea protein, these serve as the food’s primary protein sources. Menhaden fish meal and dried egg product appear later on the ingredient list.

Instead of grains like corn, rice, or wheat, the food contains peas and tapioca starch as its primary binding agents. Though these ingredients tend to look more appealing than grains, none of them are particularly nourishing for cats. They drive up the food’s carbohydrate content and the protein is generally less digestible than protein from animal sources.

The food is enhanced with what Blue Buffalo calls “LifeSource Bits”. These are pieces of kibble containing concentrated antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, the food contains a smattering of nutraceuticals, with probiotics, turmeric, and berries appearing near the end of the ingredient list.

Overall, this food has slightly below-average carbohydrate content when compared to other dry foods, moderate protein content, and moderate fat.

As an economical dry food, this recipe is one of the better ones you can buy. It doesn’t contain any animal by-products or vaguely named ingredients. It’s free of artificial colors or potentially harmful preservatives. And it contains several species of probiotic bacteria, promising to support better digestive health.

But it’s not great.

Pea protein takes up some significant real estate near the beginning of the ingredient list, indicating that this food’s protein may be more plant-derived than meat-based. And with its carbohydrate content lingering just under 30% on a dry matter basis, the food is significantly starchier than it should be, raising your cat’s blood sugar and potentially contributing to diabetes over time.

Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Calcium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 56.3%

Crude Fat: 25.4%

Crude Fiber: 5.6%

Moisture: 12.7%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 44%

Fat: 19.8%

Fiber: 4.4%

Carbs: 31.9%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 35.5%

Fat: 38.8%

Carbs: 25.7%

Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Potatoes, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal

Common Allergens: Chicken, Eggs, Fish

Pros

  • Relatively low carbohydrate content compared to other dry foods
  • Cats seem to like the chicken flavor
  • No by-product meals or vaguely named food products

Cons

  • Contains a concentrated source of plant protein
  • Excessive carbohydrate content for carnivores
  • Doesn’t contain the moisture your cat needs

#2 Blue Buffalo Indoor Health Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food

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This popular formula is marketed to indoor cat guardians. The company claims that the recipe addresses the unique needs of indoor-only cats, including a tendency to develop hairballs, urinary tract disease, and obesity. To combat these issues, the food is high in fiber, contains cranberries, and has moderate calorie content.

Its main protein sources are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and menhaden fish meal – similar to the previous recipe we reviewed. Unfortunately, these ingredients are followed by a medley of starchy plant ingredients, including brown rice, barley, and oatmeal. But this recipe isn’t all grains. The food also contains peas and pea protein, ingredients that contribute both protein and carbohydrates.

The food is enriched with Blue Buffalo’s signature LifeSource Bits, which are enriched chunks of kibble containing concentrated vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Ultimately, this is a plant-based dry food with high carbohydrate content, moderate-to-high protein content, and moderate fat.

Like so many dry foods—especially those marketed for indoor cats—this recipe is a plant-heavy, carbohydrate-rich product that fails to honor your cat’s needs as a carnivore. It has all the nutrition your cat needs, but it’s not the species-appropriate ideal.

Ingredients

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Peas, Pea Protein, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potato Starch, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Pea Fiber, Potatoes, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Cranberries, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Salt, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Blueberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 51.6%

Crude Fat: 24.2%

Crude Fiber: 9.7%

Moisture: 14.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 35.2%

Fat: 16.5%

Fiber: 6.6%

Carbs: 41.8%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 30.1%

Fat: 34.2%

Carbs: 35.7%

Ingredients We Liked: Deboned Chicken

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Pea Protein, Potatoes

Common Allergens: Chicken, Fish

Pros

  • Relatively affordable compared to average dry food
  • Cats seem to like the flavor
  • Doesn’t contain meat or poultry by-products

Cons

  • Multiple sources of plant-based protein
  • High carbohydrate content
  • Doesn’t provide the moisture your cat needs

#3 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

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This turkey pate canned food comes from Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness line which, again, promises to be free from grains and high in protein. Turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver are the primary three ingredients, so this recipe does appear to be mostly turkey-based.

While muscle and organ meats take up a significant amount of real estate on the ingredients list, again we see some of those starchy plant-based ingredients like potatoes along with flaxseed and several gums as thickening agents.

This formula also contains carrageenan which is used as a thickener and stabilizer in canned cat foods. This is a controversial ingredient which has been linked to inflammation and toxicity in pets.

Overall, this is a fairly species-appropriate canned food with high protein and fat content that is limited in carbohydrate content.

The carbohydrate content of this formula is a little higher than ideal at 12% – we like to see carb content under 10% – but it is still within a decent range. It is primarily meat-based and provides the balanced nutrition and moisture your cat needs.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver, Natural Flavor, Potatoes, Guar Gum, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Taurine, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 10.2%

Crude Fat: 9.1%

Crude Fiber: 1.5%

Moisture: 79.2%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 45.5%

Fat: 40.9%

Fiber: 6.8%

Carbs: 6.8%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 30%

Fat: 65.5%

Carbs: 4.5%

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Turkey Liver

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Potatoes, Guar Gum, Carrageenan

Common Allergens: None

Pros

  • Primarily made from animal-based ingredients
  • No by-products or vaguely named meat and poultry meals
  • Relatively low in carbohydrate content

Cons

  • Contains carrageenan as a thickener/binder
  • Receives mixed reviews from cat owners
  • Slightly higher-than-ideal carbohydrate content

How Much Does Blue Buffalo Cat Food Cost?

Compared to other brands positioned as super-premium and natural, Blue Buffalo is relatively inexpensive. For example, if you have a 10-lb cat who needs about 200 calories per day, Blue Buffalo Freedom canned food will cost you around $1.40/day.

That makes it just a little bit more expensive than budget brands like Friskies and Fancy Feast.

Overall, Is Blue Buffalo a Good Choice?

Blue Buffalo cat food is popular and well-loved, but it’s far from perfect nutritionally or in terms of quality. Where they really excel is in price and variety.

Most Blue Buffalo cat foods contain considerable amounts of plant matter. Worse than the brand’s reliance on plant-heavy recipes, Blue Buffalo has been recalled multiple times during the last decade. These incidents suggest deficits in quality control and transparency from Blue’s suppliers and manufacturing partners.

Blue Buffalo, therefore, isn’t one of our favorite cat food brands to recommend to pet owners. If you’re going to feed your cat Blue Buffalo, we recommend choosing a canned food formula that is rich in animal protein and moisture with limited added carbohydrate content.

Where Is Blue Buffalo Cat Food Sold?

Blue Buffalo is available almost anywhere you can buy cat food. You’ll find it in grocery stores, pet specialty retailers, and more. Online, it’s available on Amazon, Chewy, and other web retailers.

Click here to shop for Blue Buffalo cat food on Chewy.

About the author


Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.

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