Honest Wellness Core Cat Food Review

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Wellness Core cat food review

Score: 8/10

Bottom Line

Our cats loved this food…and want more! Nutrition and ingredient quality is solid, but could be a little better.

PROS

  • Great for fussy cats
  • High in animal based ingredients
  • Dry food option is lower in carbs than most

CONS

  • A little pricey
  • May irritate digestion
  • Need more senior and kitten options

Wellness Core is a higher protein version of the popular Wellness pet food brand. In this cat food review, I’ll find out whether this food is the best choice for your cats health.

The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions.

The advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

Wellness Core Cat Food Review: A Short Summary

In short, Wellness Core is a good brand for cats. They use named meat ingredients in their foods without by-products. Most of their products are wet food, which is the best choice for cats.

However, their labelling is a little on the misleading side. This may lead to getting a product that doesn’t match your cats need. More on that in the review.

One thing we did find is the taste…our cats loved the Wellness Core Tiny Tasters pouches we offered. So if you have a fussy cat, you might find this food hits the spot.

There’s a lot of products in the Wellness range (let alone the CORE range). It’s an absolute sea of information to wade through but this article will break it all down for you.

In this article, I’ll break down the products in the Wellness Core range. I will compare the following:

  • Ingredient quality
  • Nutrition
  • Taste results from testing

Finally, I’ll go over some frequently asked questions about Wellness Core cat food.

Wellness Core Cat Food Range

Wellness Core offers a range of dry and wet cat food as well as treats.

Here are the categories of options available to buy and some details about each of them (excluding the treats).

Wellness Core Product RangeFood TypeDescription
Wellness Core signature selectsWet (Shredded)Shreds of meat in a sauce.
Wellness Core tiny tastersWet (Pate)Wet cat food in pouches.
Wellness Core digestive healthWet (Pate) & dryFood with added prebiotics and ‘superfoods’.
Wellness Core classic pateWet (Pate)Wet pate canned cat food.
Wellness Core grain-freeDryA grain-free kibble with 65% animal protein.
Wellness Core simply shredsWet (Shreds)A moisture rich high-protein topper with 4 ingredients or less.
Wellness Core Hearty CutsWet (Shreds)Thick meaty cuts with a gravy.
Wellness Core 95Wet (Pate)A grain-free wet canned cat food with 95% animal protein.

Phew, that’s a lot of cat food categories to go through.

Let’s break down the ingredient quality and find out more about these products.

Wellness Core Cat Food Ingredients

Based on our scoring system, Wellness Core product ingredient quality is decent. All products contain a wide range of animal based ingredients high on the list.

Our best rated product in the Wellness Core range is the ‘Core 95’ range of products. The second best rated product is the Wellness Core Signature Selects range.

Most products are using the ‘recipe’ and ‘entree’ descriptor. This means only 25% of the product needs to contain the named ingredient/s.

Wellness Core tend to use meat broth as one of the named ingredients. Whilst cats need water in the diet, and broth is great – it’s taking advantage of the weighting system. By using a meat broth, you have less meat in the tin.

There is no grains or soy in the products which is great, however Wellness Core do add a few filler ingredients. They tend to put more fruit ingredients and other functional foods.

Although these ingredients sound great, there’s no evidence they benefit cats. The fruit based ingredients can raise the carbohydrate content.

The best pick is the Core 95% as it’s going to contain more meat in the tin than the other options. Their turkey 95% is a good choice for cats with allergies.

One problem with cat food is gums. Gums can decrease the absorption of taurine, and irritate digestion. Any presence of these ingredients can be a problem regardless of weight.

Wellness Core tend to use some gums in their wet food range. Use some caution if your cat has a sensitive stomach.

We score cat food out of 100.

A higher score is a sign of a better quality food. I take into account relative weighing of ingredients based on the labelling words (e.g. recipe, dinner) as these words equate to different quantities of food.

Read more about what that means over in my cat food labelling guide.

Wellness Core Product RangeSelected FoodLabel TypeIngredient Quality ScoreIngredients
Wellness Core signature selectsShredded Boneless Chicken & TurkeyEntree75/100Boneless Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Chicken Liver, Eggs, Turkey, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Guar Gum, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement], Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite]
Wellness Core tiny tastersTiny Tasters Chicken & Turkey PateRecipe 68/100Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Turkey, Natural Flavors, Tapioca Starch, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum, Potassium Chloride, Guar Gum, Salt, Sodium Carbonate, Taurine, Xanthan Gum, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Magnesium Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide
Wellness Core digestive healthChicken pate wet cannedRecipe70/100Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Turkey, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Apple Powder, Cranberry Powder, Pumpkin Powder, Taurine, Salmon Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Inulin, Choline Chloride, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Blueberry Powder, Papaya Powder, Pomegranate Powder, Vitamin E Supplement, Peppermint Leaf Powder, Cinnamon, Fennel Powder, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid
Wellness Core classic pateTurkey & Duck PateRecipe73/100Turkey, Pork Liver, Turkey Broth, Duck, Cranberries, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid
Wellness Core grain-freeOriginal deboned turkey, turkey meal, & chicken mealRecipe46/100Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Herring Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Ground Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salmon Oil, Cranberries, Chicory Root Extract, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (added to preserve freshness), Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract
Wellness Core hearty cutsChicken & TurkeyRecipe67/100Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Dried Egg Whites, Pea Fiber, Potato Starch, Carrots, Guar Gum, Cranberries, Natural Flavor, Spinach, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Inulin, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Taurine, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
Wellness Core 95Turkey95%+ turkey96/100Turkey, Water Sufficient For Processing, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid

Below is our grade for Wellness Core’s ingredient quality.

Good…but could be a little better.

Ingredient Quality Grade: B

Wellness Core Cat Food Nutrition

Most of the nutrition in the Wellness Core range is great. These products line up well with what a cat needs as an obligate carnivore.

When given the choice, cat’s choose a food with around 52% protein, 12% carbohydrate, and 36% fat.

Our analysis shows Wellness Core products hover around this mark, although the carb content is a tad high in a few offerings.

Cats are carbohydrate intolerant. A high carbohydrate diet can negatively affect blood sugar control and digestion.

The following products are a tad high in carbohydrate:

  • Wellness Core signature selects (13.3%)*
  • Wellness Core grain-free original dry food (14.2%)
  • Wellness Core hearty cuts (19.0%)

*Carbohydrate on a dry matter basis

One thing to note is whilst the dry food is a little high in carbs, it’s far better than many alternatives. Most dry cat foods are egregiously high in carbohydrates, usually over 30% on a dry matter basis.

A dry food that’s 14.8% is pretty good all things considered. Whilst I still don’t recommend only feeding your cat dry food, this is a good option.

Most of the products are only AAFCO approved for maintenance. This means the nutrition might not suit kittens or senior cats needs.

This is the main issue I have with this range of cat food…but the foods would do well for senior cats due to the nutritional breakdown.

This includes the calcium to phosphate content. All of the products barring one (Wellness Core classic pate) had a ratio higher than 1:1. This is a good target to help protect the kidneys in adult and senior cats.

The calories per g on a dry matter basis are also very high in most products. Research suggests giving senior cats food with >4.5 kcal/g dry matter basis to maintain weight.

Here is the nutrition information for the selected products from the Wellness Core range:

Wellness CORE cat food options TypeCalories/kgKcal/g dry matter basisProteinFatCarbohydrateFiberAshMoistureTaurineCalcium: Phosphate Ratio
Wellness Core signature selects chicken & turkeyWet (shreds)8505.653.3%*13.3%13.3%10.0%10.0%85.0%0.3%1.4
Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkeyWet (pate)1,3415.644.8%39.7%5.9%0.3%9.3%76.4%0.8%1.7
Wellness Core digestive health chickenWet (pate)1,1714.950.0%36.6%3.5%1.4%8.5%76.5%0.7%1.1
Wellness Core grain-free originalDry3,9774.351.4%21.3%14.2%2.9%10.2%8.0%0.4%1.3
Wellness Core classic pate chicken turkey & duck pateWet (pate)1,1944.649.6%31.4%8.0%1.2%9.9%74.3%0.4%0.8
Wellness Core Hearty Cuts chicken & turkeyWet (shreds/gravy)8343.644.4%21.9%19.0%5.0%9.7%77.3%0.4%1.2
Wellness Core 95 turkeyWet (pate)1,3895.646.8%42.0%0.3%1.6%9.2%75.3%0.4%1.5
*on a dry matter basis #estimated ash content

Our nutrition score for Wellness Core is below (I know that rhymes…really not intentional).

Nutrition Score: B+

Wellness Core Taste

Our cats loved Wellness Core Tiny Tasters…paws down their favorite food we’ve tested. Online customer reviews also appear positive.

The lowest rated food is Wellness Core hearty cuts chicken & turkey (78% recommended). The best rated option is Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & beef pate (92% recommended).

I tested two Wellness Core products with my 5 cat review panel to see what they thought.

5/5 cats enjoyed Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey cat food.

5/5 cats enjoyed Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate cat food.

Here are the results below:

Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Mimi testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Mimi testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Cat Reviewer: Mimi

Mimi enjoyed both Wellness Core tiny tasters products.

Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Jojo testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Jojo testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Cat Reviewer: Jojo

Jojo loved both Wellness Core tiny tasters products.

Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Midnight testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Midnight testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Cat Reviewer: Midnight

Midnight enjoyed both Wellness Core tiny tasters products.

Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Storm testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Storm testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Cat Reviewer: Storm

Storm enjoyed both Wellness Core tiny tasters products.

Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Misty testing Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
Our cat testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Misty testing Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Cat Reviewer: Misty

Misty enjoyed both Wellness Core tiny tasters products.

Here’s what Wellness Core tiny tasters cat food looks like out the pouch.

Both products have a firm chunky pate texture. They don’t have a strong smell and aren’t watery.

A look at Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate.
Wellness Core tiny tasters chicken & turkey pate
A look at Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate.
Wellness Core tiny tasters duck pate

Taste Score: A

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wellness cat food made in China?

Wellness Core gets their products from Thailand. It is not known how much of their ingredients are from this country.

What is the difference between wellness and wellness core cat food?

Wellness Core is a higher protein line of pet food products for cats and dogs. All Wellness Core cat food products contain at least 40% protein on a dry matter basis.

The Wellness Core range are also grain and soy free.

Is Wellness Core Better?

Yes, Wellness Core is a little better due to the higher protein content. Cats prefer a diet with around 50% protein on a dry matter basis as they are obligate carnivores.

A cat uses protein as a main source of energy as opposed to carbohydrate.

Does Petco sell wellness cat food?

Yes, Petco sells Wellness and Wellness Core cat food.

Does wellness cat food have taurine?

Yes, most of the Wellness cat food products have added taurine. This amino acid is also found in animal based products, especially shellfish products.

Wellness and Wellness Core is high in animal protein. The products contain enough taurine per AAFCO nutrition recommendations for your cats health.

Wellness cat food complaints (What do customers think of Wellness)?

Most customer complaints center around the taste, which some cats don’t enjoy. Our 5 cats tested two Wellness Core tiny tasters products and loved the flavor on the other hand.

Overall, the majority of cats enjoy Wellness Core products.

It’s important to look at your cats likes and dislikes before purchasing a product. Think about the following things:

  • Texture (does your cat prefer a pate or shreds?)
  • Flavor (what meats does your cat like?)
  • Smell (is your cat put off by strong smelling products?)
  • Moisture (does your cat prefer a dry chunky loaf or watery product?)
  • What did they eat as a kitten?

Remember that cats are neophobic. This means they are hesitant to try new foods off the bat.

Give them time and remember to heat your cat food to a warm temperature before serving. Cats prefer warmer meat.

Learn More:

Wellness cat food recall history

There have been two recalls of Wellness cat food products. In 2017, there was a recall of a few flavors of canned Wellness cat food products due to quality control issues.

In 2011, there was a recall of canned Wellness cat food products due to a lack of thiamine. A deficiency of this vitamin can cause drooling, weakness, and loss of appetite.

Wellness have addressed these safety and nutrition concerns.

Learn More:

Do cats need grains in their diet?

No. Cats are obligate carnivores and get their nutrition from animal based foods. Grains have no nutritional or health benefits for a cat.

Grains are high in carbohydrate. Cats have a limited ability to tolerate carbohydrates in their diet.

It’s best to limit your cats diet to less than 12% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis. This may prevent digestive issues and problems relating to high blood sugar.

Learn More:

What is the healthiest brand of food for cats?

The healthiest brands of cat foods include the following:

Learn More:

Conclusion

Overall, Wellness Core is a good cat food choice for health. Wellness use a lot of great animal based ingredients. Our cats loved the taste as well.

The main downsides are the high price of the product. Wellness also adds a few too many plant based ingredients than optimal for a cats needs.

Wellness Core is a product line from the privately owned Wellness brand. It’s a higher protein cat food include wet and dry cat food products.

Our Top Wellness Core cat food pick

Wellness CORE 95% Turkey Grain-Free Canned Cat Food, 5.5-oz, case of 12

Wellness CORE 95% Turkey

Our top rated high protein Wellness Core pick for your cats health. Ultra low in carbs for easy digestion. Helpful for food allergies and intolerances.

Key Features

  • AAFCO approved for adults
  • High in protein (46.8%)*
  • Low in carbs (0.3%)
  • Carrageenan-free
  • High calcium to phosphate ratio for kidney health (1.5:1)
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free

*dry matter basis

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