Orijen Original Cat grain-free cat food changed its formula. The 2016 Orijen cat food recipe was labeled as “Cat & Kitten”, now it’s simply Orijen Original Cat. As I do usually when brands change their recipe, I researched the new ingredients and the guaranteed analysis to see if those changes point in the right direction. So, here’s my review of this new formula.
Nutritional Features of Orijen Original Cat
- Orijen Original is a grain-free formula
- No soy, wheat, corn or tapioca
- 90% fresh and raw* animal ingredients (unprocessed state of the ingredients)
- 10% fruits, vegetables, and other nutrients.
- The first 5 ingredients are fresh or raw
- Wholeprey diet, including what’s most nutritional for cats.
- Freeze-Dried coated kibbles provide a raw flavor that cats love.
- Free-run chickens and turkeys (in a barn without outdoor access).
- Packaged with all essential amino acids for your cat’s immune system.
- With added probiotics to help the cat’s gut.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 for healthy skin and shiny coats.
- Made in the USA with local and overseas ingredients.
*Fresh meats mean they are refrigerated as the sole method of preservation. Raw meats are also fresh meats but they are frozen at the peak of freshness to preserve nutrients.
The formula includes the following meats & fish varieties:
⇒ Chicken: Meat, liver, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated chicken liver, fat.
⇒ Turkey: Meat, giblets, dehydrated turkey.
⇒ Mackerel: Whole fish, dehydrated mackerel.
⇒ Flounder: Meat.
⇒ Herring: Whole fish.
Orijen Original Cat New Formula Ingredients:
Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, Chicken Liver, Whole Herring, Eggs, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Chicken Fat, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Navy Beans, Pollock Oil, Lentil Fiber, Pea Starch, Chicken Heart, Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Whole Cranberry, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pear, Freeze-Dried Chicken, Freeze-Dried Turkey, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
Guaranteed Analysis Orijen Original Cat New Formula
Crude protein 40% min – Crude fat 20% min – Crude fiber 3% max – Moisture 10% max – DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) 0.2% min – EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) 0.2% min – Calcium 1.4% min – Phosphorus 1.0% min – Magnesium 0.1% min – Taurine 0.2% min – Omega-6 Fatty acids* 3.5% min – Omega-3 Fatty acids* 0.8% min – Total microorganisms* 1 Million CFU/lb (Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium animalis, lactobacillus casei).
More nutritional Facts:
Calories: 515 per cup.
Iodine: 2.4 mg on an as fed basis
Sodium: 0.4% as fed basis
Phosphorus: 1.10% as fed basis
Ingredients of Orijen Cat & Kitten 2016 Formula (discontinued):
Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Eggs, ﬂounder, Whole Atlantic Mackerel, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver, Whole Atlantic Herring, Chicken Heart, Turkey Heart, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Chicken Fat, Chicken Necks, Chicken Kidney, Whole Green Peas, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Navy Beans, Whole Chickpeas, Natural Chicken ﬂavor, Alaskan Pollock Oil, Ground Chicken Bone, Lentil ﬁber, Choline Chloride, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Freeze-Dried Chicken Liver, Kale, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Whole Carrots, Apples, Pears, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunﬂower Seeds, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Biﬁdobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
Guaranteed Analysis of Orijen Cat & Kitten 2016 Formula (discontinued)
Crude protein (min.) 40 % – Crude fat (min.) 20 % – Crude fibers (max.) 3% – Moisture (max.) 10 % – Calcium (min.) 1.2 % – Phosphorus (min.) 1% – Magnesium (min.) 0.1% – Taurine (min.) 0.2% – Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 3.5 % – Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 0.8% – DHA (min.) 0.2 % – EPA (min.) 0.2 %
Changes In Orijen Original Cat USA New Formula VS Previous Recipe
Ingredients Changes in main ingredients:
- It replaces “deboned chicken” with “chicken”. “Deboned chicken” is free of bones and lacking the nutrients that bones provide. “Chicken” is the whole chicken including bones, providing vitamins, minerals and also adding palatability. The downfall is that adds more phosphorus and calcium to the formula. I must mention that any meat, boneless or not, contains water weight, and its proportion in the formula is drastically reduced after being cooked. All in all, this is a good change in the ingredients.
- It replaces “deboned turkey” with “turkey”. Bones provide calcium, magnesium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and arginine to the cat’s diet. Turkey meat contains water weight that after being cooked puts this ingredient further down the list. In general, this is a good change in the formula.
- It replaces “eggs” with “whole mackerel”. This change has its pros and cons. Eggs are high in proteins and a natural ingredient that cats eat in the wild, but usually when they are cooked the cholesterol in eggs can oxidize if the food doesn’t contain the appropriate preservatives. On the other hand, whole mackerel is a fish with good nutritional properties for the cat’s diet since it includes, eyes, bones, and others. However, bones in fish add more calcium to the cat’s diet. Eggs instead, don’t include shells. As I have said in the past, I don’t like too much fish in cat foods, they add some mercury and can create allergies, so I don’t like this change.
- It replaces “flounder” with “turkey giblets”. This is a good change. Cats’ natural diet includes liver, heart, gizzard. Since in this new formula they eliminated eggs and replaced them with mackerel, they put this second fish, flounder, further down the list.
- It replaces “Whole Atlantic Mackerel” with “flounder”. In the new formula, Mackerel is an ingredient with a larger proportion on the list, so flounder replaces the 5th position on the list of ingredients. I would have preferred chicken liver in this position instead of flounder.
Guaranteed Analysis Changes:
In general, the guaranteed analysis didn’t change very much, but as expected, the Phosphorus and calcium levels increased. Including chicken, turkey, and fish with their bones, will obviously increase the level of these minerals. Phosphorus level went from 0.1% to 1.0% min. This increase of 0.9% is pretty big considering we are talking about the minimum guaranteed. Calcium increased from 1.2% to 1.4%. I will stay on the fence on the Phosphorus increase. To me, it’s too much.
Analysis of the First 5 Ingredients of Orijen Original Cat
Chicken: Good source of protein for cats but chicken as an ingredient to be cooked, it loses weight in the proportion of the formula. 3 stars
Turkey: The same as chicken, turkey meat contains water weight that after being cooked, reduce the proportion of turkey in the formula. 3 stars
Whole Mackerel: A bluefish like Mackerel is a good source of protein and essential fatty acids. However, fish contain some amount of mercury and could create allergies. Plus, the whole fish includes all parts of it, gills and fins. 3 stars
Turkey giblets: Excellent source of proteins, minerals, and vitamins that mimic the natural cat’s diet. 4 stars
Flounder: It adds proteins and essential fatty acids. Since the formula already has Mackerel, adding flounder in the first 5 ingredients is not ideal. 3 stars
What are the Pros and Cons of the New Orijen Original Cat Formula?
The most important elements are the following:
- Grain-free formula, which means no corn, soy, wheat, or rice.
- The formula only contains natural flavor or preservatives. Artificial ingredients are carcinogens so natural ingredients are always welcomed.
- The formula contains a total of 88% animal proteins. The main seven ingredients on the list are animal-sourced proteins.
- Vitamins or minerals are not synthetic, they naturally occur in the ingredients.
Kibble is coated with raw freeze-dried liver, highly palatable for cats.
- Carbohydrate content is a little less than 20%. This is a high percentage for a cat formula. And from this percentage, less than 14% corresponds to legumes. This is too many legumes for a cat.
- Phosphorus content is high.
- Calcium was increased by 0.2%
- Natural sources of vitamin B1, B6, and B9 are not local.
- The formula contains two types of fish in the main 5 ingredients. Fish add mercury to the cat’s diet and could create food allergies in cats.
- Since kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw meat, it needs to be stored always in a cool place. It could be hard to find a good storing location at home during hot summers.
Orijen made some changes in the animal ingredients but kept most of the guaranteed analysis percentages. However, the new ingredients added more Phosphorus and calcium to the cat’s diet. Also, it added more fish instead of eggs. More fish means more mercury, even though Mackerel is a low-mercury fish, it still increases mercury in comparison to eggs. This formula is still a high-quality one, don’t take me wrong. But I am not fond of cat foods with too many fish in the first ingredients. The other downfall of this recipe is its high content of legumes, totaling a little less than 14%. This means high in calories. The calories in one cup as fed are 515 which is on the high side.
I can’t say if the new Orijen Original Cat formula improved regarding its previous 2016 version. I believe this cat food is still a Premium high-quality one, providing a good percentage of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fats, but if I have to choose, I would go with a formula containing less fish and legumes (and certainly less Phosphorus).
However, one good thing about a formula that contains fresh and raw fish is that your cat’s skin and coat will be shiny and healthy. On the other hand, long-term feeding with cat food with high fish content poses some risk of developing food allergies in your cat. Also, considering the number of calories in the recipe, your indoor cat may get a little chubby. All in all, if you want to try this formula with your cat, I recommend feeding your feline a small amount of it and complementing it with chicken/turkey-based wet food. I would say about 60% wet and 40% dry.
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