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Vital Essentials Cat Food Review (11 Products)

Vital Essentials is one of the most popular raw food products on the market, but is it a good choice for your cat? Find out more in our Vital Essentials cat food review.

We gave Vital Essentials a grade based on the BestForPets (bestforpets.org) criteria for species-appropriateness, quality of ingredients, product variety, price, customer experience, and recall history.

Here's how it ranks in each of these %product_count% important categories.

Concerning Vital Essentials

Vital Essentials is a brand of cat and dog frozen and freeze-dried food. The Carnivore Meat Firm, the leading raw pet food private label company in the United States, owns it.

Sourcing and Production

Vital Essentials sources ingredients from the United States that are farm-raised, pasture-fed, free-run, or wild-caught.

In the company’s own Wisconsin facility, raw ingredients are frozen or freeze-dried.

They are never subjected to high-heat processing, which preserves nutrients while lowering the danger of spoiling and contamination.

Is Vital Essentials Cat Food On The Market?

The cat food from Vital Essentials has never been recalled, while the dog food has been removed at least four times. Except for one, all of the recalls were due to salmonella exposure.

What Cat Food Does Vital Essentials Have?

The flesh, bones, and organs in Vital Essentials food are frozen or freeze-dried. They make their foods in a variety of shapes, such as mini patties, mini nibs, chubs, and food toppers.

Most Vital Essentials recipes comprise 45% muscle meat, 45% organs, and 10% bone, mimicking the nutrient-dense mix of tissues seen in a prey-based diet.

Raw goat’s milk is used in all Vital Essentials cat foods. According to the business, this substance adds texture and nutrition.

Raw goat’s milk has enzymes that aid in the digestion of lactose, thus it should not cause digestive upset, and consumer evaluations indicate that it does not.


Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Freeze-Dried Cat Food by Vital Essentials

The predominant protein source in this cat food appears to be chicken.

Vital Essentials micro nibs are designed to be eaten right out of the bag, with no need for rehydration. They’re a healthier alternative to dry cat food.

Finely ground chicken with bone, heart as a source of vital taurine, nutrient-dense liver, and chicken gizzard are all included in the diet.

Fresh egg is also included as an extra source of ultra-bioavailable protein and minerals. Raw goat’s milk is used to improve the texture of the food and to add minerals.

Herring oil is included in the food as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids.

These fatty acids promote skin and coat health, contain anti-inflammatory qualities, and aid in overall wellness.

Overall, this cuisine has a high protein content, a moderate fat content, and almost no carbohydrate content.

This Vital Essentials food features the macronutrient distribution we seek, as well as prey-inspired muscular meat, organ, and bone ratios.

On the negative side, the 8% water content of this product is insufficient to keep your cat healthy. You may try one of Vital Essentials’ frozen meals or rehydrating their small patties.

Per ounce, the food contains 113 calories.


  • High in protein from animals
  • Herring oil is included as a species-appropriate source of omega-3s.
  • Carbohydrate content is really low.
  • Follows a diet inspired by prey.


  • It does not have enough moisture for cats.
  • Potentially insufficient fiber content


Chicken Mini Patties from Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Cat Food

The predominant protein source in this cat food appears to be chicken. This Vital Essentials recipe is nearly identical to the last one.

While the first snack we tested came in the form of little nibs, this one comes in the form of mini patties.

The patties rehydrate into a soft consistency similar to paté after soaking in warm water.

The first item on the ingredient list is finely ground chicken with bone, followed by chicken heart, liver, and gizzard.

These organs are high in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which your cat requires to grow.

Finally, egg, a healthy and easy-to-digest source of protein and other nutrients, is added to the chicken muscle meat, bones, and organs.

Raw goat’s milk is present in the cuisine. Raw, unpasteurized goat’s milk is easy to digest, high in nutrients, and cats enjoy the taste.

Collagen, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and other nutrients are added by eggshell membrane.

Herring oil contains nutritious omega-3 fatty acids that are highly accessible. Finally, mixed tocopherols are used to preserve the food.

Overall, this cuisine has a high protein content, a moderate fat content, and almost no carbohydrate content.

The food contains all of the nourishment your cat requires and contains no synthetic vitamins, minerals, or amino acids.

The only thing lacking is fiber. Real prey for a cat would have fur, claws, and other indigestible tissues, as well as any partially fermented plant materials un its gut.

These indigestible components are more than simply a nuisance. They serve an important function in the digestive process, aiding in the prevention of constipation and other digestive problems.

Otherwise, these freeze-dried patties are extremely nutritious. There are 64 calories in each patty.


  • It contains a combination of muscular tissue and organs.
  • Ideal for cats suffering from food sensitivities and allergies.
  • Carbohydrate content is really low.
  • There are no artificial components in this product.


  • Fiber content is low.


Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food by Vital Essentials

The principal protein source in this cat chow appears to be rabbit. This foodstuff, like all Vital Essentials foods, is mostly composed of muscle flesh, organs, and bones.

Finely powdered entire rabbit, rabbit heart, liver, lungs, kidney, trachea, and blood are all included in each patty.

As an added source of nutrition, the dish contains raw goat’s milk. Goat’s milk may have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

Herring oil contains highly bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids, which assist to keep your cat’s skin and coat healthy while reducing inflammation.

Mixed tocopherols are used to preserve the food. This food has a high protein content, a moderate fat content, and a very low carbohydrate content.

With rabbit as its sole protein source and a short ingredient list, this meal is an excellent choice for cats who have food sensitivities or allergies.

The flavor of rabbit is polarizing, despite being one of the closest analogues to the types of animals in a cat’s typical prey-based diet.

This dish has received some of the most mixed reviews in the Vital Essentials family, with slightly more than 20% of reviewers giving it a 1-star rating.

Each freeze-dried rabbit patty contains 61 calories.


  • Novel protein from a single source is perfect for sensitive kitties.
  • Herring oil is included as a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Carbohydrate content is low.
  • It is made up of muscular meat, organs, and bones.
  • Without possibly hazardous ingredients


  • This food is disliked by certain cats.
  • There could not be enough fiber to support good digestion.


VITAL ESSENTIALS Rabbit Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Finely ground whole rabbit, rabbit heart, rabbit liver, rabbit lungs, and rabbit kidney are the first five ingredients.
  • 52% protein, 15% fat, 3% fiber, and 8% moisture are guaranteed.
  • Calories per cup: 105 calories per ounce
  • Price per pound/ounce: $3.25

This rabbit freeze-dried food is made in the same way as the previous recipe, but instead of patties, it arrives in micro nibs that resemble small kibbles.

This formula is quite similar to the previous one, except rabbit ingredients replace the chicken ingredients, including ground entire rabbit (with bone) and a variety of rabbit organs.

You’ll also notice rabbit blood. Though feeding your cat blood may seem weird, when properly sourced, it may be a nutritious addition to his diet.

One explanation for this is that blood contains plasma, which is high in nutrients. It can also be used as a texture-altering component in place of things like carrageenan.


VITAL ESSENTIALS Beef Freeze-Dried Grain-Free Meal Enhancer

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Beef, beef tripe, beef lung, ground beef bone, and beef liver are the first five ingredients.
  • Analysis guaranteed: 42% protein, 32% fat, 1.9% fiber, 7.5% moisture
  • 184 kcal/oz calories per cup
  • Price per pound/ounce: $2.17

Despite the fact that this product is marketed as a meal supplement, it is a complete and balanced formula that you can give to your cat entirely.

However, because it is a little pricy, we do not recommend it. The dish incorporates a lot of animal-based products, such as fresh beef, cattle organs, ground beef bone, beef blood, and beef fat.

This is one of the few Vital Essentials recipes that include fat other than herring oil, and the crude fat concentration is roughly double that of other recipes. It could be related to the flaked form of the food.


Turkey Mini Nibs Freeze-Dried Cat Food VITAL ESSENTIALS

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Finely ground turkey with bone, turkey heart, turkey liver, turkey gizzard, and raw goat’s milk are the first five ingredients.
  • Analysis guaranteed: 49% protein, 17% fat, 3% fiber, 8% moisture
  • 123 kcal/oz calories per cup
  • Price per pound/ounce: $2.08

Another kibble-like formulation, this turkey formula starts with finely ground turkey with bone.

There are additional turkey organs such as the heart, liver, and gizzard, as well as turkey eggs and eggshell membrane.

Although there is no turkey blood in this recipe, it does contain raw goat’s milk, water, and herring oil.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of these freeze-dried raw foods is that they are virtually entirely composed of meat.

Vital Essentials does not bulk up its foods with plant protein concentrates or carbs. In reality, the FAQ section of their website states that their items have 1% carbohydrates or fewer.


VITAL ESSENTIALS Duck Mini Patties Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Cat Food

  • Food Type: Dry
  • The first five ingredients are finely ground bone-in duck, duck heart, duck liver, duck gizzard, and duck egg.
  • 45% protein, 20% fat, 3% fiber, and 8% moisture are guaranteed.
  • 60 kilocalories per patty
  • Price per pound/ounce: $2.37

This recipe, like the other ones, uses only duck components. Because there are no hidden allergens in Vital Essentials recipes, they are an excellent alternative for cats with food allergies.

If your cat is allergic to typical proteins such as beef or chicken, this duck recipe can be a viable option. You’re probably wondering why raw goat’s milk is used in these cat chow recipes.

Raw goat’s milk is a highly digestible source of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes for pets. These enzymes aid with digestion, which can be beneficial to your cat as well.

What Do Customers Have to Say About Vital Essentials Cat Food?

Vital Essentials is a popular brand when it comes to frozen and freeze-dried cat food. Customers appear to like the ingredient quality, and their cats appear to enjoy the taste of Vital Essentials food.

Positive Feedback

“I like to prepare my own pet food, but ensuring that cat food is balanced can be a difficult task at times.” With autoimmune disorders, I’ve found it tough to handle my own problems and duties while still making my own pet food. It’s a lengthy procedure. So I began on a hunt for companies I could rely on, and I’ve been extremely pleased with the Vital Essentials brand. There are no fillers. My cat enjoys the wide range of options. The pellet form is simple to moisten and pour. And the price for high-quality raw food is reasonable.” – Ctina, writing a review on Vital Essentials Chicken Entrée Mini Nibs

“I adore this product, and so do my children.” What a difference it has made in their health. Hair is growing back, vomiting has stopped, and ear problems have improved. My kitties prefer the patties but will eat the nibs as well. They’ve been on a raw freeze-dried diet for 5 weeks. It’s really pricey, and I’m trying to figure out how to strike a balance between this product and a high-quality grain-free kibble. There is so much contradictory research out there that it is difficult to determine which approach is best.” – Mamacat, when she was evaluating Vital Essentials Rabbit Entrée Mini Patties

Negative Feedback

“My cat will eat raw food with no difficulty, but he won’t touch this.” We tried both wet and dry, and no, Momma, we’re not eating it. It smells like play dough, which is why I believe he won’t eat it.” – Kelb, writing a review on Vital Essentials Rabbit Entrée Mini Patties

“I was hoping/expecting these to be similar to many other brands of freeze dried raw foods I’ve tried, but they aren’t.” At all. They are firm and resemble “coco puffs” cereal. My cat is completely uninterested. We’re going back to Primal……” – Tree, going over Vital Essentials Mini Nibs Chicken Entrée


What is the price of Vital Essentials Cat Food?

Vital Essentials cat food is not inexpensive. In fact, it is one of the most expensive brands available. Let us look at it in terms of cost per day.

The daily cost estimates below are based on an average 10-pound cat who requires approximately 200 calories per day.

Vital Essentials will cost you between $3.64 and $10.16 a day, depending on the type of protein you choose, whether it is freeze-dried or frozen, and if you choose nibs or patties.

Is Vital Essentials a Good Buy in General?

If you’re seeking for easily accessible, properly designed raw food, Vital Essentials is a good choice.

Each meal is based on the normal feline diet and includes a well-balanced mix of muscular meat, organs, and bones. It’s one of the few raw cat food brands that doesn’t include a lot of bone.

The nutritional perfection of Vital Essentials comes at a high cost. With some recipes costing more than $10 a day, this brand may be out of reach for some multi-cat households or those on a strict budget.

Where Can I Purchase Vital Essentials Cat Food?

Vital Essentials is quite simple to locate. It’s available in fifteen countries and over 5,000 independent pet specialty retailers in the United States alone.

Vital Essentials cat food is available on Chewy, Amazon, Jet, PetFlow, and iHerb.


Overall, BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has nothing but praise for Vital Essentials as a brand.

It’s apparent that the company considered ideal feline and canine nutrition while developing their goods, and quality is certainly more essential than profits.

Based on our research and testing of the things listed above in the Vital Essentials cat food review, we offer Chicken Mini Nibs Entree Freeze-Dried Cat Food by Vital Essentials and Rabbit Mini Patties Grain Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food by Vital Essentials as the two most well-known and trustworthy products.

Having said that, their products are somewhat expensive, but you can’t put a premium on your cat’s long-term health and happiness.

If you’re searching for a low-cost way to introduce your cat to raw food, Vital Essentials freeze-dried patties or tiny nibs could be ideal.

If you simply want to incorporate higher quality nutrition into your cat’s diet but aren’t ready to make a financial commitment, one of the meal toppers may be an excellent solution.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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