Special Kitty Cat Food Reviews: Good or Bad?

special kitty cat food reviews cat on a couch

After receiving a couple of emails from readers, we decided to review Special Kitty Cat food. Wondering if it’s any good? Then it’s a good thing you’re here.

Although a lot of people aren’t familiar with it, Special Kitty Cat Food is one of Walmart’s brands of cat food. The range offers wet and dry food products, as well as pouches and variety packs. And as you would expect, it’s an affordable option.

But to get right down to it…we still would recommend this cat food by American Journey, it’s carefully crafted in the USA with ingredients from around the world, and no poultry by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy or artificial preservatives. It’s a healthy and affordable alternative to Special Kitty cat food.

So, who makes Special Kitty Cat Food? The J.M. Smucker Company is responsible for the manufacturing of Special Kitty Cat Food, as well as other brands including 9Lives, Rachel Ray Nutrish, Nature’s Balance, and Nature’s Recipe. 

While you’ll be hard-pressed to find the exact ingredients used in their range of cat food, there are reports that Walmart initially commissioned Mars Corporated to create it according to the standards of 9Lives. So, for all intents and purposes, the two foods are almost identical, bar the packaging.

Special Kitty Cat Food Reviews

But what about the cat food itself? Looking at a couple of reviews, some customers swear by it and claim their cats thrive on Special Kitty Cat Food, while others reckon it is great to use if you are feeding feral cats, strays, or lots of cats, like in a shelter, because of its low price. And then there are a few that say you should steer clear of the product completely.

We thought we would check out a few Special Kitty Cat Food products for ourselves.

Special Kitty Gourmet Cat Food

Special Kitty Gourmet Cat Food is described as a premium food. According to the packaging, it contains crab, lobster, shrimp, tuna, and chicken flavors. This sounds delicious and definitely worth the ‘gourmet’ label, but it is important to keep in mind that using flavors isn’t quite the same as using real meat.

The recipe does contain taurine, which is essential ingredient cats need, but in the same breath, it also has artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Corn is listed as one of the ingredients too, so for cats with sensitive stomachs or that suffer from food allergies, this probably isn’t the best choice.

Like with any dry cat food, it’s convenient to store, easy to serve up, and it lasts for a long time. 

Special Kitty Gourmet Cat Food has over 400 reviews, with about 4.1 stars out of 5. While it’s fair to say there’s room for improvement, it seems to be tasty, offers some nutritional value, and is very friendly on the budget.

What’s to like:

What’s not to like:

Special Kitty Mixed Grill Dinner Canned Cat Food

The first thing we noticed is the Guaranteed Analysis on the label, as well as the statement: Special Kitty Mixed Grill Dinner Premium Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for growth and maintenance. This means that Special Kitty wet cat food has been checked, and has met the same manufacturing standards as other brands.

Marketed as 100% balanced and complete nutrition for cats of all life stages, the wet food contains protein, fiber, moisture, and taurine. And there are feeding Instructions for adult cats and kittens. For us, this is a bit of a problem, simply because kittens have different nutritional needs to older cats and require a formulated diet to meet their specific needs.

Unfortunately, an animal protein is not listed as the number one ingredient, and the food contains artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

What’s to like:

What’s not to like:

Special Kitty Kitten Food

The Special Kitty Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food packaging has a list of ingredients and a Guaranteed Analysis. This shows it contains protein, fat, fiber as well as essential vitamins and minerals kittens need, including DHA for cognitive and eye development.

The kibbles are bite-sized and full of flavors that kittens enjoy. On the downside, it doesn’t have a high-quality real meat protein as the number one ingredient, and it contains artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Wheat and corn are also included, so it isn’t recommended for kittens with wheat allergies or sensitive stomachs.

According to happy customers, it is a nutritional, tasty, and economical option for kittens and pregnant or nursing adult cats.

If you want to read more about kitten food go check out our in depth blog post here.

What’s to like:

What’s not to like:

Special Kitty Recall History

According to various reports, there have been a few recalls of Special Kitty Cat Foods in the past. These include one in 2008 when there was a concern that some of the products had possible salmonella contamination. And one year before that, in 2007, there was a recall on various products affected by melamine, although we couldn’t find anything on the FDA website regarding this.

The most recent recall was in 2018, when the company, J.M. Sucker did a voluntary recall on products including Special Kitty, 9Lives and EverPet. The recall was done because of low levels of thiamine or vitamin B1 in the canned cat foods. The low levels were picked up by the company’s Quality Assurance team, and while there have been no illnesses reported, they decided to do a recall as a precautionary measure.

An essential vitamin for cats for their overall health. If a cat does not get sufficient levels of thiamine over a period of time, it can lead to gastrointestinal and neurological issues. Initial symptoms include:

In more severe or advanced cases, symptoms may include:

If thiamine deficiency is diagnosed early on and treated accordingly, it is reversible. 

Although product recalls are never a good thing, it’s good to see a company taking responsibility and alerting the public to any potential problems. It’s also important to point out that recalls have been done on a number of pet food products across all price ranges, including what a lot of people consider to be premium brands.

Where Can You Buy Special Kitty Cat Food

We actually recommend buying American Journey cat food, it’s a healthy alternative to Special Kitty. 

You can buy all of the Special Kitty Cat Food products online from Walmart. If you look online, you’ll see that there is a lot to choose from within the range, including a new Naturals formula. You can also buy it from Amazon, and if you look around, you’ll see some websites that offer Special Kitty Cat Food coupons.

A healthy alternative for Special Kitty cat food

We have recently been feeding our cats American Journey grain-free high protein cat food. You can just tell by the ingredients that it will be healthy cat food. 

What You Need to Keep in Mind When Buying Special Kitty Cat Food

If you are thinking about feeding your cat Special Kitty Cat Cat Food, it’s worth considering a few important facts.

Easy on the budget

The Special Kitty range of cat food products provides cat owners with an affordable option when it comes to feeding their cats. 

Wide range of products

The brand offers a wide range of wet and dry food products, including a new natural formula. They also have specially formulated options for kittens, which contain essential vitamins and minerals, including DHA.

Guaranteed Analysis

The Special Kitty Cat Food with the Guaranteed Analysis on their labels indicate that the food contains protein, fat, fiber, moisture as well as taurine, which are all essential for a cat’s overall health.


Not all their products include a list of ingredients on the labels, but the ones that do show the food contains all the essential vitamins and minerals cats need for their growth and development.

AAFCO approved

Some of their products, like Special Kitty Mixed Grill Dinner Canned Cat Food, have the AAFCO statement on the label, which states that the food manufactured in line with their Nutritional Profiles for a cat’s growth and maintenance. 

Well-known manufacturer

J.M. Smucker, the company behind Special Kitty Cat Food, is a well-known and trusted manufacturer that also makes other pet foods, including Rachel Ray Nutrish, Nature’s Recipe, and Nature’s Balance.

Product recalls

While there have been several product recalls on some of the foods, we think it is a positive sign that the company has a Quality Assurance team in place, ensuring specific standards are met. We also appreciate their transparency, especially with a voluntary recall.

Protein source

Special Kitty Cat Food contains the protein a cat needs along with carbohydrates. Unfortunately, as we have already mentioned, the protein is often not real meat, and it isn’t the number one ingredient.

Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

While it seems cats enjoy the rich flavors of Special Kitty Cat Food, these are generally artificial. Also, the recipes include artificial colors and preservatives, which aren’t suitable for cats with food allergies or sensitive stomachs.

There’s no denying that Walmart’s Special Kitty Cat Food is one of the cheaper foods available on the market. But from what we can see, it provides many people with a nutritional, tasty, and affordable option when it comes to feeding their cats.

We know, and we’ve said it ourselves, the quality of cat food should never be judged on price alone. Marketers use smart words like ‘gourmet’, ‘premium’ and ‘holistic’ to make you think you’re buying the very best product out there, but there are other ways you can make sure. 

The Guaranteed Analysis is always a good place to start, as is checking the list of ingredients. And then there is the AAFCO seal of approval or nutrition statement that tells you the food has been tested according to their regulations. 

Some people might cite the product recalls as a reason to avoid Special Kitty Cat Food, but you should keep in mind that there have been recalls on other well-known and trusted cat foods

Deciding to feed your cat Special Kitty Cat Food will come down to your personal needs and budget, as well as your cat’s preference and his overall health. For cats that are in good health and don’t have food allergies or sensitive stomachs, this seems like an economical choice. We would suggest, like with any food, if you do notice that your cat is experiencing any adverse reactions like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or weight loss, you consult with your vet immediately. Also, always make sure your cat has access to clean drinking water at all times.

We want to hear from you. Are you feeding your kitty any of the Special Kitty Cat products? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.

Carmen Scott
Carmen Scott
I’m the “Mom” behind The Cat Mom. I adopted my two kitties back in 2014 and since they’re the heart and soul of our home so we decided to share our experiences and tips with everyone who share the same love for their furry friends as us.

27 thoughts on “Special Kitty Cat Food Reviews: Good or Bad?”

  1. Thanks for this. I am feeding feral cats and worry about how good the cheap stuff is and this clears up a lot of my questions.

      1. I have three feral cats and one of them just had 6 babies so I’m taking care of them and I would like to ask if a cat is pregnant or is breastfeeding is special Kitty wet cat food okay to give her and her growing babies.

        1. Hi Christina,

          To be certain – I would check with your Veterinarian. From personal experience however, I can tell you that Oscar and Joey thrived off Special Kitty dry kitten food until they were about a year old!

          Thank you for your question and all the best to you and your new additions!


        2. Marilyn Sheffield

          Please help the homeless cats more important …to get them all fixed…..or at least have the MALE CATS NEUTERED…….there are just too many homeless cats n new horns….n live a rough short lives n cat fights etc…. please call your Human Society n ask them the days a math they Do FREE NETURING N SPAYING…..N IF THEY OR OTHER CAT LOVERS CAN USE OR BORROW A CAT TRAPPER…..all done for 🐈 n kittens w animal love……signed by one such person ……Marilyn on big island Hawaii……w love n aloha……

          1. I have serval cats and I have been buying them Special Kitties dry food and wet food in the biggest cans, but having a hard time getting the bigger cans from Walmart can someone please help me find where I can get them from and does the company do coupons at all if so can I please have some mailed to me ?? Thank you very much

        3. Try trapping her and getting her spayed. Shelters often have low cost services or even free services. There are too many cats; spaying and neutering stops the suffering of homeless cats.
          This is budget food and probably not as good as canned Friskies, etc. but certainly better than nothing.

  2. Elizabeth Willard

    My kitties love Special Kitty canned food, and flourish on it. Not only does it nourish them, but they REALLY go after it.

    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      Thanks for reaching out to us. So glad your cats love Special Kitty and that its working well to feed that to them.
      When I adopted Oscar + Joey – Special Kitty was what the lady at the bait shop where they were born was feeding them… so I continued to do so until they were ready for adult food. It worked great for them also, and they loved it.

      Have a great weekend!!

  3. I have a couple of outside cats. One was born feral the other is a “drop off”. They both seem to do fine on the Special Kitty(mixed grill dinner). The cats seem to prefer this variety over other Special Kitty kinds. I also feed them dry food as well. Keep fresh water available too. Winter is a harder time for them. The one cat has inside h e ate d s p ace in the garage. The feral will not stay in the garage so she has own custom house, well insulated and protected. No heat though.

    1. Hi James!

      My cats loved Special Kitty too. I’m glad that it’s a brand that is working well for your outdoor kitties and thank you for giving them a safe space.

      best wishes,


  4. I have three feral cats and one of them just had 6 babies so I’m taking care of them and I would like to ask if a cat is pregnant or is breastfeeding is special Kitty wet cat food okay to give her and her growing babies.

  5. I was glad to find these reviews as I am on a fixed income and initially skeptical. My cats got excited when I opened the bag of the Special Kitty food. For now I am mixing it with the remainder of the Purina. I think I will try the wet food next.

  6. I feed 13 Feral cats both dry and wet Special Cat food. They seem to really like it. For awhile I was getting the dry kitten food since a lot of them were young. Now most of them are spayed/neutered and I am still feeding them the gourmet dry cat food along with the wet food. They seem to be doing well. I just did see a recall on the mixed grill wet can cat food so I will no longer give it to them. Other then that I have not had any problems. If you have any other suggestions what to feed my ferals to keep them healthy please let me know. Thank you.

  7. I am trying to take care of 27 cats, they are all at least 16 years of age or older. I have been feeding the friskies can food for several years now along with purina one hairball formula dry food. I really cant afford to feed the wet food everyday and especially now that purina has decided to quit making the 13 oz. cans. I need to buy the big cans because it seems to be much cheaper and I know older cats don’t drink enough water. Will Special Kitty be about the same for them?

    1. stephen a BAKER

      It’s not been available since Feb 15th. Some
      cases showed up 6 days ago online and
      they let me order 1, not the 6 I usually buy.
      Then it disappeared again.

    2. My friend had 8-10 outside cats die back in January 2020. He lives in the country & has outside buildings & a big shop. They kept the ray/mouse population under control. They all died within a 7-10 day period. Dragging the back hind quarter then within hours they died. Some appeared to have had seizures. He fed them Special Kitty Gourmet from Walmart. They changed the bag a couple of weeks ago. He called Bentonville Arkansas and gave customer service the barcode & information but the representative said there was no recall. They sent him a $10 gift card. Sad considering that they had been there since they were born and he was attached to each of them.

  8. add m0re gravy to the foods that claim to have gravy that way i will not have to buy friskeys with gravy or buy extra jars of gravy to add to your cat food

  9. Hi folks,
    3 1/2 years ago, I took 3 ferals, Momma and 2 kittens, to be neutered by the SPCA. Ever since, I’ve fed each of them 1/6 can of Purina Pate’ (5.5 oz) mixed with a scoop of Dry twice a day. They each have their own dish and consume it all. The “budget” brands of dry cat food seem to be acceptable to them including dry Special Kitty Kitten (3.15 lbs) which I purchase every other time because of the 40 %protein analysis. I mix in 1/8 tsp of brewer’s yeast each time and keep a clove or two of raw garlic in the gallon of water for topping up. They have no problem with either; I have yet to find one tick or flea. On occasion, one will consume a mouse or bird (they’re feral). They’re happy. Momma lets me pet her at dinner time; Grey Boy give me “love bites” … ouch! … and Sissy…she’s still a scaredy cat!

  10. Bill, I too feed Feral Kitties and get them fixed but I was wondering if I should try Garlic for flea repellent instead of Chemicals?
    What do you guys think?😳

  11. my cat loves special Kitty treats that are in the bag they’re green they’re in a pink bag and I can’t find them at Walmart no more is there anybody that can help me find a new order I’m online or something like that

  12. Giannina Combina

    I feed about 10 feral cats and this brand is within my budget. I hope I am doing the right thing.

  13. I am feeding feral cats, and they don’t like this cat food, so I will be changing it. Thanks for the information!

  14. Is there anyway the source of protien can be given. My three cats love the PATE. I give it to them in the am and another grand dry in the pm.

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