I recently reviewed Merrick’s Purrfect Bistro line, and mentioned at the end of that review that I was excited about their brand new Limited Ingredient Diet line, which wasn’t available yet at the time. Why was I so excited about it? Because it is made by a company who, in my opinion, does almost everything right when it comes to pet food sourcing and manufacturing, with one exception: the Purrfect Bistro line contains carrageenan. The new Limited Ingredient line does not.

Sourced and manufactured in the USA, no ingredients from China

All of Merrick’s diets are manufactured in the United States (in Hereford, TX.) The majority of ingredients are sourced from family farms across the country unless not regionally available. Merrick does not source any ingredients from China. Somehow, Merrick manages to do all this with fewer warehouses and distributors, so that the ingredients make it from farm to your cat’s bowl fresher and faster. It is difficult to find a food that meets all of these conditions.

Premium ingredients

All of Merrick’s formulas are free of corn, soy, wheat and gluten. They do not contain any by-products or artificial preservatives.

Optimal nutrition from the fewest, most essential ingredients

The Limited Ingredient Diet line is formulated for cats with food sensitivities with a limited number of carefully selected ingredients. All recipes contain a single source of animal protein and easily digestible carbohydrates. The formulas do not contain grains, corn or gluten. The canned formulas come in chicken, turkey, duck and salmon flavors. They do offer two dry formulas, but I do not recommend any dry food for cats.

The taste test

But the real test of any food is whether your cats will eat it, right?

I don’t feed fish flavors to Allegra and Ruby, so we tested the chicken, turkey and duck varieties. It’s hard to say which flavor was the favorite: the girls both inhaled all of them. The foods are paté style. They are a bit softer than the Purrfect Bistro line, and contain a bit more “gravy,” which the girls really liked. Even Ruby, who can be a bit fussy at times, didn’t hesitate to scarf up all the varieties.

Single protein, no carrageenan

I love that this line uses single proteins and is carrageenan free. It’s a little lower in protein than I like to see, but the limited ingredients, palatability, and sourcing and manufacturing practices make this a food I am comfortable recommending.

Please visit for more information.

FTC Disclosure: I received this product for review at no charge. I also received a fee for writing this review. Receiving the free product and the fee did not influence my review. All reviews on The Conscious Cat will always reflect my honest and unbiased opinion. Or, as the case may be, Allegra and Ruby’s honest and unbiased opinion.

81 Comments on Review: Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet

  1. I’m hoping you’re still responding to comments on this article and can offer some advice. I switched my cat over to this because of chronic diarrhea (nothing the vet gave us would help). His diarrhea stopped and he loves the food, gobbles it right up and begs for it. However, his behavior has changed. He had become an absolute food obsessed beast, going around and beating up the other cats. He’s really cranky and quiet frankly, has become a terror. All his blood work is normal and the vet finds nothing wrong with him medically. There have been no other changes in the home. Does this stuff have cat crack in it?? Seriously, have you ever heard of a cat’s behavior changing negatively due to food. It’s the only connection I can make!

    • All canned foods will have some kind of binder and while none of them are ideal, guar gum seems to be a safer choice than carrageenan and, according to some studies (in humans,) may actually have some benefits such as providing better glycemic control and alleviating digestive issues.

  2. My cat has the same issues, hairballs voiting,I had him on royal king rabbit and P he seemed to have had less hairballs but then he came tired of it. I was trying to switch him to Fancy Feast beef and that was the biggest mistake I ever made he has a very sensitive stomach. Cannot eat any fancy f. He became a diabetic on dry food andHills products. Got him off of the dry and on MD and he came off of the insulin 3 months ago I am now trying to find a food high-protein low-carb which I was told about the Natural Balance I’m now currently feeding him duck and duck liver and peas also has the caregreena. He’s only been on it a few days but I have noticed on the duck from the Royal Canin was duck meal..smelled like peas..and I can’t afford it.he stopped eating it. My question is has anybody used the Natural Balance and how is it working for them.

  3. I just wanted to notify everyone that if you get any cans of the Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet that are not pate, I have confirmed with Merrick they have not made any changes to this food and these cans contain the wrong food. There are 2 lot numbers I have received (total of 4 cases) with the wrong food (16 335 CL 2 01801 0150 and 16 335 CL 2 01801 0151 with exp date of 30 NOV 18). Since they have not issued any communication to make others aware of this issue, I thought I would at least try to let some others know here. I have a cat with GI issues so I know it’s important to get the right food.

    • I haven’t received the wrong food, but starting a month ago, the canned Merrick Limited Ingredient Turkey started including black spots, hard white pieces, and dark feathery looking string-like pieces. Of these, the brittle white pieces concern me the most. I don’t know if they are bone or plastic, but the product says it’s deboned. The white pieces are my major concern, so I will be contacting Merrick and looking for another brand, if any, that doesn’t include sweet potato, to which our foster is allergic.

      • Hi Barbara:
        I quickly discovered that there were certain “problems” with Merrick and I decided to keep searching and searching, exhaustedly, until I finally found the company that was closest to perfect for my wee ones (no company is actually purr-fect!)
        They both took to Tiki Cat Puka Puka Chicken (now called Luau Chicken) and they really scoop it right up.
        The only problem is that the darned stuff is expensive but nothing is to good for my little angels.

  4. Can someone explain why Merrick is the only company that doesn’t offer a 3 oz. can of limited ingredient canned chicken cat food as well as the 5.5 oz can?

      • I did. The very kind rep was astounded herself that the limited ingredient canned chicken did not offer a 3 oz can.
        She said she’d pass it on.

        • I’m wondering if they don’t offer the 3 oz. can because the large can is only 5 oz. By the time they got a 3 oz can out to market it would barely be cheaper than the 5 oz can.

          • Well don’t all their other varieties have a 3 oz can? I think the limited ingredient is the only one that doesn’t. And I believe all the others are 5 oz cans too.

          • I also buy the Merrick’s Turkey Pate and I believe that’s still 5.5 oz. The can is actually full of food.

    • They actually do offer smaller cans!
      Maybe your provider isn’t carrying them, as they are more costly. I buy mine at Pet Valu and they carries lots of variety in the small cans of Merricks, as well as the 5.5 0z.

      • Sorry, my mistake – I just realized you said ‘limited ingredient chicken”. I was referring to Merrick’s general line of wet food.

      • Yes Flo, it seemed strange to me (and to their very own representative) that the limited ingredient line doesn’t offer the 3 oz. cans.
        So as a result, I have been pushing the Tiki Cat Puka Puka chicken that one of my 2 babies adores and wonder of wonders, the other one saw her sister eating it and decided she felt deprived and wanted the same thing so now the puzzle is remedied.
        I divide 1 6 oz. can of puka puka chicken between them twice a day and, voila!! problem solved.
        Fingers crossed it continues. (you know cats!)

  5. I’ve been a Merrick’s fan for a while. My Halley was getting tired of the regular patte flavors so I tried mixing in the Limited Ingredients Diet in Turkey, Chicken and Duck. We’ve been pretty happy with it but there have been some quality control issues. The texture seems to vary from batch to batch, and the current batch of Chicken seems to have shorted the quantity – the cans are only about 3/4 filled. I still think it’s a good food, but I’m concerned about the quality control. Has anyone else been seeing consistency problems with this food?

    • I have been concerned about Merrick since they were bought out by Purina, Al. So far, I have not seen any changes in quality. I’ll be meeting with a representative from Merrick next week, and I’ll bring this concern up with her.

      • Thank you. I’ll check back. You’re kitty looks a lot like mine. She’s a tort with an almost completely black face with a gold ‘comet’ on the top of her head (hence the name ‘Halley’). She has long hair though.

        • I’ve had my first issue with the limited ingredient Turkey. Two of the cans had not the slightest bit of moisture – the food was bone-dry. The Duck formula was exactly the opposite, I literally wanted to put the food through a strainer. There are lots of inconsistencies.

          • I heard from Merrick a couple of times and other than offering me replacement cans of the food an telling me to expect inconsistencies because of the natural ingredients. Give me a break.
            They asked for codes, use by date and, get this, a picture of the cans. I need to find other LI food for my Mia ASAP.

          • Please post if you do find another LI food that you are pleased with. I was not happy about them replacing the egg protein with pea protein. I have looked around but not found anything as of yet.

          • My boys were not thrilled with the chunks of veggies in NVLI food. It’s been a while since they had it tho, maybe I’ll try it again. Also can’t recall if that one has carrageenan, I’ll have to check that. Thanks 🙂

          • I really would like to find an LI food that has no peas in it at all. I know that a couple of the pet food manufacturers make LI dog food with sweet potatoes and have been wondering why this option is not available in cat food. Guess, I’ll continue with the Merrick though until I find something better that Mia will actually eat.
            Sometimes I feel trying to find an acceptable food is my full-time job.

          • Pure frustration with trying to find a food for Mia that was consistent in quality, moisture content and didn’t contain a lot of what I consider fillers, made me pick up the phone to talk to someone at I had almost decided on Newman’s Own but found out it contains egg and carrageenen. After asking tons of questions, I wound up ordering a case of Wild Calling (Trotin’ Turkey) although it’s not a LI diet. The young man with whom I spoke read me list of ingredients and I didn’t hear anything I was concerned about. Just hoping Mia will like it and eat it. The nutritional yeast I sprinkled on her food yesterday and today did nothing for her – absolutely no enthusiasm for the food and she ate just about what she usually does.

          • Thank you Ursula for posting this. I read some of the comments at Chewy (that is where I buy the Merrick also) and it looks like it is a thinish consistency which is fine as I always add a bit of water and pumpkin so they are already used to that consistency. I look forward to trying it. I’ll just try a couple cans first. Thanks so much again, I never thought to touch base with Chewy, good call on your part.

          • You said you would try a couple of cans. Where can you get individual cans?
            Mia also likes a lot of water in her canned food, so a thinner consistency hopefully won’t be a problem. I just hope she’ll eat this or I’ll be in real trouble. I’m still trying to find out if cats can eat sweet potatoes and, if so, I might just add a bit of that to her food. None of my cats would ever eat pumpkin.

          • There are stores in my area that do sell it but as of yet I don’t know what flavors or if they sell single cans. If need be I will get a case as I can always donate it to others if it doesn’t work out. Ours did not take to pumpkin at first and I almost gave up then read an article saying to introduce it very slow. Just start with the tip of a tine of pumpkin on a fork and ever so slowly increase. I was so thankful because our boys had pooping issues, not going nearly enough. They are quite regular now. It’s funny because ours did not take to nutritional yeast like Mia. They now get probiotics for cats and love it. You are so right, it takes a lot of research a and failed attempts to get the right combo. These two are in synch pretty much and both have the same needs.

          • Pennie, here’s an update. Mia gobbled up the first three cans of the Wild Calling Trotin’ Turkey I had ordered from like it was absolutely the best stuff ever. It looks good and smells delicious. She then became completely disenchanted and would eat no more then a few bites at a time and walk away. After 3 days of that nonsense, I offered her the Merrick LI turkey again (at this point I had 1 can left), which she ate. We went back and forth a couple more times, but now are back just on the Merrick. It just doesn’t matter how much you research and find the absolutely best food for your furry babies, if they don’t eat it you’re back to the drawing board

          • Hi Ursula, thank you very much for the update. It is true when they say the best food for your cat is the food they will eat, right? I have not bought the Wild Calling food yet, but I did do a google search and there is a whole lot of info on the company, manufacturing problems, etc. From what I saw tho, it has been worked out and the company does seem sincere in trying trying to rectify issues and concerns. The only reason I have not bought it as of yet is because I did not want to make any changes with our boys. We recently had an in home euthanasia for our beloved 20 year old Pretty Kitty which they were both very close to. She went very peacefully on my husbands lap in her favorite chair and after I layed her in her bed and set her by the boys so they wouldn’t be left wondering what happened to her.
            Also, they both have had checkups and urinalysis, both are in tip top condition. At this time I chose not to make any dietary changes, because it seems to be working for both and they do enjoy the food. The only changes I made was ordering pedestal bowls and adding a probiotic to their food. So this is where we are at now.
            Again thank you so much for the update 🙂

          • Sorry for the loss of your 20 YO pal.

            I’ve decided to give up on the Limited Ingredients Chicken because of the consistency issues. The last batch I bought was far too liquid. I’m going to stick with the Duck and Turkey versions, and put Merrick’s pate back in the mix. My Halley has also been eating the Merrick’s budget brand Whole Earth Farms Duck and Turkey. I’m not sure it’s as good as the regular Merrick’s, but I like that it doesn’t have carrageenan (it does have dried peas and dried eggs though).

          • Hi Al, thank you. I agree with the comments regarding the LI chicken. It does vary and seems more watery than before and the can seems not as full. This is since the company was bought out.

          • I’ve never fed Mia the Merrick LID chicken since chicken is what she appears to be allergic too. But, she’s back on the Turkey and yesterday I had to go to Petso for some Natural Balance (ugh, the peas again) and since they do not offer Turkey, I got the duck which right now she will eat. I’m looking for a third food so that I can rotate – she gets tired of eating the same food for any length of time. Just wish someone would offer a LID diet for cats that included sweet potatoes rather then the nasty peas. Oh well, guess I can’t always get what I want.

          • Actually, if it’s between peas and sweet potatoes, peas may be a better choice because they have at least some protein, whereas sweet potatoes are mostly carbs.

          • Thanks, Ingrid for pointing this out to me. For some reason I feel like I’m punishing Mia when I feed her anything that contains peas. I myself just can’t get past the smell.

  6. Does anyone else have a problem with standard cat food lids not fitting the 5oz cans. I have a ton of lids, but none of them fit. I even called Merrick – they had no answers.

    • I found this rubber lid at Petco that fits a few can sizes, and it has been working for this food. Mine is hot pink, 4 or 5 bucks I think.

  7. At first I was thrilled that Merrick limited ingredients can cat food without carrageenan. However, I was bit disappointed that its weight is 5 ounces instead of 5.5 ounces. I prefer 5.5 ounces even though if price is bit higher. I wonder why. By the way, my two male cats ages at 13 and 5 love eating this product.

  8. I just recently switched Mia to the limited ingredient Turkey and she absolutely loves it. I’m still in shock, because she wouldn’t eat anything beside Fancy Feast for the longest time. To say I’m thrilled to finally have found a good food that she likes, would be an understatement.

  9. I opened a can of limited ingredient turkey formula and found a hard piece of something in the food. I believe it was a piece of plastic. I called Merrick and was told to send it to them; which I have done. I asked them to let me know the results. I will keep you informed.

      • It may have been mentioned elsewhere, sorry for duplication if so, but Merrick was just bought out by PURINA. According to Purina, no changes are planned for Merrick’s management or operations. Their “operations” may not change, but from where will they be sourcing ingredients?. Purina will have ultimate decision-making control. Just as I was about to try this new limited ingredient food…..

        • I spoke with my contact at Merrick about this earlier this week, Cindy, because I share the same concerns as you about the Purina buyout. My contact assured me that there are no plans to change sourcing and production for Merrick’s foods; both will remain in the US. I will be keeping a very close eye on this situation, and will update as I get new information.

          • Thank you, Ingrid. It’s so hard to bird-dog every little thing, glad you have a contact there! Also, just learned that Wild Calling has switched most of their manufacturing from Evangers plants to Simmons Pet Foods. This is, I hope, a step in the right direction!

        • The limited ingredient now includes pea protein in place of the dried egg product. I’ve researched and can’t find anything good about pea protein. Disappointed.

          • My Merrick rep explained that they removed the dried egg product to ensure there were no chicken-based ingredients in the non-chicken recipes. Even though the website still lists “dried egg product” with the turkey and duck recipes, in the “first five ingredients” list, it has been removed from these products.

          • I see. Is pea protein good for anything or just a useless filler? I have a cat with sensitive tummy issues, wondering how he will do with the pea protein. At any rate thank you so much for your quick reply, truly appreciate!

          • Oh dear, now to also rule out those recipes with “pea flour” “dried peas” and “pea fiber”

  10. Does anyone know what the carb count is in the Limited Ingredient duck? I got a can of this from Petco and I am so happy that my cat likes it! She needs novel proteins, and suddenly refuses to eat the one I’d been feeding her for 3 months. I don’t know how long she will like this for, but all I could get her to eat before this were fish-based foods and 9 Lives (eek!), so the fact that she likes this is saying something! I just hope it’s ok for cats with chronic health problems who are overweight.

    • You can calculate approximate carbohydrate content for any food by simply adding all of the listed nutrients and subtracting the total from 100% – this will give you a fairly accurate number.

  11. All Merrick cat foods contain carrageenan, and after being off foods that have it, my cat will throw up after eating food that does.

    • I did not know this!!! I never saw it Oon the ingredient list, but I haven’t looked at it for years. They must have added it recently. I won’t touch anything with carageenan. Thus is very disappointing. It’s usually only in dairy like items, but it kills the colon. So much for merricks

  12. Is this food available in stores yet? I have looked at petco for it and they didn’t have it and on amazon it says there is a 3 to 6 week wait.

  13. This sounds yummy except for one small problem: neither of my cats will eat pate. If it’s not chunky they walk away. Both of them. Also, I didn’t see a price anywhere. Did I miss it? I am happy for the fowl variety since I do not feed fish products to my guys either.

  14. This all my guys would get if I had the money. It’s pricey, but so worth it. Been using it since 2010

  15. “dried egg product”….if my cat is on a duck only single protein diet, will he have issues with the dried egg product if it is not duck egg product?

      • It’s a very good point Cindy brought up. The other two LID products on the market, Nat’l Balance and Nature’s Variety do not use any eggs whatsoever. I just emailed Merrick about this, let’s see how they respond. I’m not sure how they can get away with saying “single protein”, at least for the turkey and duck flavors, while including a chicken protein. Maybe they figured most people won’t bother to look at the ingredients.

  16. Why is the meat “deboned”? Right now I’m feeding Primal raw and Instinct raw and they both include bones.

  17. On your recommendation, I bought some of the duck pate for Annie. She loved it! But, within minutes, she threw it all up. After a couple attempts that week with the same result, I called Merrick, gave them the info from the can to check if there had been a recall or some other issue. Their suggestion was that the food was too rich for her. What do you think?

    • It could also be the carrageenan in the food, Brita (the Purrfect Bistro line does contain carrageenan.) There’s absolutely no scientific basis for this, but I have seen this happen occasionally with some of my clients’ cats. Once they switch to a food that doesn’t contain carrageenan, the vomiting stops.

      • Annie’s other foods do contain carrageenan and she does fine. I was able to exchange the duck pate for the limited ingredient turkey. Haven’t tried it yet, though.

  18. Ingrid I am so eager to try this. Sounds perfect. Do you know the calorie count per 3oz. And one more thing what is the appropriate calorie intake for a large size indoor only adult cat? The jury is out depending on what I read. YOU I trust!

      • From Merrick’s website under “Feeding Guide” for turkey recipe:
        978 kcal per kilogram or 139 kcal per 5 oz. can ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated).

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