If you’re looking for a modern alternative to Tender Vittles or similar semi-moist cat food in 2019 you’re in the right place.

Unfortunately, a few years ago a lot of the semi-moist cat foods were made from poor quality ingredients. They rightly got a very bad reputation. And in 2007 Tender Vittles was discontinued. Other brands followed soon after or changed their recipes.

The good news is today you can buy good, high quality, nutritious semi-moist cat foods from reputable producers.

Manufacturers don’t use the terms ‘moist’ and ‘semi-moist’ today and market their semi-moist cat food in different ways with different names. But they are essentially modern versions of the old semi-moist cat foods, like Tender Vittles – only, much healthier for your cat. Here are a few of the modern Tender Vittles alternatives we like.

Packed full of healthy proteins like tuna and chicken in a tasty gravy

Rich omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

Grain-free formula with added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants offer a complete and balanced meal for adult cats

Approximately 61 calories per pouch.

Can be use as a standalone diet or as a topper for dry food

Read customer reviews on Amazon
All-natural cat food made with wild-caught, dolphin-safe flaked tuna in four flavors.

Pumpkin (Pala’ai in Hawaiian) is added for fiber and digestive health.

Made with sustainably sourced ingredients and no grain, gluten or GMOs

High moisture recipe helps cats that don't drink enough water and maintains good urinary and digestive health. Choice of pouches or cans.

Read customer reviews on Amazon

Complete, balanced grain free formula

Blend of proteins and vegetables with no added corn, soy or wheat.

Increased fiber and greens helps indoor cats maintain optimal health

Antioxidant nutrients help with a healthy immune system and protect against environmental stress

Read customer reviews on Amazon

A guide to buying the right semi-moist cat food pouch for your cat

Let’s be honest, some cats are just downright picky when it comes to food and will only eat certain flavours. Maybe your cat has trouble chewing dry food. Or maybe you just love the convenience of pouch food. You just tear it open and pour it straight into your cat’s bowl.

Whatever reason you have for choosing pouch cat food you want to make sure you are giving your pet the right nutrients. Unfortunately, just as with cheap kibble or cheap canned food, cheap pouches often contain cheap, low quality, low nutrition ingredients.

One way to make sure your cat is getting the nourishment it needs is to stick to a brand you know and trust.

But you might also be able to find some good pouch cat foods being made by brands that aren’t household names. Just because they don’t have a large marketing budget doesn’t mean they don’t make good products. And if you find a good product online or in your local store please share it in the comments below to help other readers in their search.

How to know if a cat food is good quality?

It is true to say that very cheap cat foods tend to have very cheap, lower quality ingredients. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get some good deals. It is also true that the most expensive food is not always the best. So here are the Pet Care Education top tips for choosing a high quality semi-moist cat food for your cat.

The most important thing to do is ignore the marketing claims on the front of the packaging. Read the ingredients label on the back.

Basically, you are looking for high quantities of protein, a medium amount of fat and low levels of carbohydrate. Cats are carnivores so are not very well equipped to digest plant based products.

You DO want to see

MEAT – Real meat content – including chicken meal, salmon meal etc.

FATS – Mainly animal based fats – such as chicken fat, salmon oil but a small amount of plant based oils are fine.

CARBS – Digestible carbohydrates – sweet potatoes, beans and pulses. Ideally no grain, or very little.

You DO NOT want to see

MEAT – Avoid any cat food that has a carbohydrate as the first ingredient. You also don’t want to see too many plant based proteins – such as corn gluten, pea protein, potato protein

FATS – High levels of plant based oils – flaxseed and sunflower. These aren’t harmful to you cat but they won’t give them the omega fatty acid they need.

CARBS – Wheat flour or ground corn are not a great sign. These are just fillers to bulk up the product. They add no nourishment to a cat.

The guaranteed analysis section on the label will also provide you with some information about levels of vitamins and minerals. If you are still in doubt check on the manufacturers website. They should tell you more about how they make their food and where the ingredients come from. If they don’t, don’t buy their product.

Moisture Content

Another thing to be aware of is that there is no agreement about how much moisture content there should be in a ‘moist’ cat food. Manufacturers seem to make up their own rules. Moisture content could be anywhere between a pretty dry 50% up to a pretty sloppy 85%. Most of the better ones seem to have a moisture content of around 60% – 65%, but this isn’t a strict guideline.

If there’s one thing we all know it’s that cats love moist or wet food. It’s the closest thing a domestic cat gets to the food their cousins eat in the wild. And now armed with the information in this guide we hope you feel able to seek out the best, most nutritious food for your cat.

Remember if you are aware of any less well known brands that have good ingredients please share them with our readers by leaving a comment below.

More about Tender Vittles

Tender Vittles started production back in the 1970s. At that time it was made by Ralston Purina but later taken over by the food giant Nestle. Tender Vittles was the first national semi-moist cat food brand in the US. And as far as we know the first brand to sell cat food in pouches.


It became very popular with cat owners who loved the convenience of the pouches with their lack of mess and very little smell. Many cats seemed to love it too and couldn’t get enough of the stuff. The only people who didn’t share the love for Tender Vittles were vets and nutritionists.

Tender Vittles was the junk food of the cat world. It was full of sugar and salt. And while it may have tasted good (we never tried it ourselves) it caused all sorts of health problems in cats – from obesity and bad teeth to diarrhea.

The product got a very bad reputation and after the Menu Foods recall of 2007 it was taken out of production altogether in the US. It was still on sale in Canada for a while but it was also later discontinued.

The Menu Foods Recall

The downfall of Tender Vittles – and semi-moist cat food in general – came in the wake of the 2007 Pet Food Recalls (read news reports from 2007). In late 2006/early 2007 vets started to see more and more incidents of kidney failure in cats and dogs. They initially traced the problem back to a single Chinese manufacturer that was producing wet dog foods made with wheat gluten. But it soon became clear the problem was much bigger and more widespread than that.

After a few weeks of bad publicity, in mid-March 2007 a Canadian pet food company called Menu Foods issued a voluntary recall on its products (some test animals became sick and died after eating the products). This triggered more public scrutiny of other companies and the scale of the problem started to become clear.

A second Chinese manufacturer was found to have been using contaminated rice in its products leading to renal failure in pets in the US.

By the end of March 2007 vet organisations had reported nearly 500 cases of renal failure in pets. And over 100 deaths. But the scale of the problem was probably much bigger than that. It’s not easy to know exactly how many pets died in the US as a result of the poor food quality because there just isn’t a centralized record of how many animals die or get sick nationally. The FDA received reports of several thousand. And an online self-reporting website supports this with pet owners reporting 3,600 animals had died.

Pet foods generally came under much more scrutiny during this scandal and many of the low-quality products were put under the spotlight. As a result, Thrive Vittles was discontinued.


  1. Is there any kind of food available with the same texture as the Tender Vittle or is it all wet style now ? My cat is getting older and she has trouble with Hard food . I already feed her set food but she does not like the hard food mixed with wet food.

    • Hi Susan. Sorry to hear you’re having difficulties finding suitable food for your cat. As we mentioned in the article Tender Vittles was not very healthy for cats and the new alternatives are much healthier. We would suggest testing different ratios of wet to hard food in her bowl until you find the right mix for her.


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