Tender Vittles


Tender Vittles. What’s for dinner? What’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What treats can I give my cat? These are some questions cat parents tend to raise when it comes to their beloved felines.

The most important question is what brand of cat food is safe for my cat? Out of all the many cat food brands available today, it will be difficult to choose the ideal one for your cat.

We will discuss one such cat food brand, Tender vittles, so that you can decide whether to give your cat this cat food or not.

Quick navigation

  1. What is Tender Vittles?
  2. How to select quality cat food?
  3. Why was Tender Vittles discontinued?
  4. Best moist and semi-moist cat foods today
  5. Alternatives to moist and semi-moist cat food
  6. Conclusion

What is Tender Vittles ?

Tender Vittles for cats

Ralston-Purina introduced a cat food in 1976, which was not dry or wet and called it Tender Vittles. It was the first national semi-moist cat food brand in the United States.

This food came in a pouch and not in cans or bags. It is most probably the world’s first cat food in a pouch. Ralston Purina was later taken over by the food giant Nestle.

This brand of cat food was highly popular both among people as well as cats. It was the leading moist cat food brand in the United States by the 1980s.

Tender Vittles was an iconic and beloved brand for over 20 years. However, it was discontinued in 2007 due to declining customer demand and low sales.It was relaunched by Retrobrands USA LLC.

How to select quality cat food ?

Choosing the right kind of food for your pet is highly important as these animals need the right nutrients. Cats also tend to be picky eaters. So, selecting the proper food for your cat can be a difficult task.

One sure way of giving your cat the correct nourishment is to stick to a trustworthy brand. It doesn’t have to be a household name to be a good brand.

Good products can also be found online as well as in the local pet store. Cheap food is most likely to be made of cheap, low quality, low nutrition ingredients.

The same can be said about some expensive ones too. Price is not necessarily the deciding factor of a quality cat food.

Here are some tips for selecting a high quality semi-moist cat food for your cat.

  • The most important thing is to read the ingredients on the label at the back, while ignoring the marketing claims on the front.
  • You should look for high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat and low levels of carbohydrate.
  • Cats are not able to digest plant matter well as they are obligate carnivores and their digestive system is designed to handle meat proteins.
  • So the cat food should include real meat such as chicken meal, salmon meal etc.
  • It should also contain animal based fats such as chicken fat, salmon oil and even a small amount of plant based oil is acceptable.
  • Digestible carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, beans and pulses in low amounts is also not a big problem. However, grains should be in very small amounts or not at all, which is ideal.
  • Any cat food that has carbohydrate as the first ingredient should be avoided.
  • Too many plant based proteins such as corn gluten, pea protein and potato protein should also be kept away.
  • Although high levels of plant based oils such as flaxseed and sunflower are not harmful to cats, they won’t get the omega fatty acids they need either.
  • Wheat flour or ground corn are just fillers to add bulk to the product. These don’t give any nourishment to cats.
  • The label will also give some information on the vitamins and minerals present.
  • You can also check the manufacturer’s website to know how they make their products and where the ingredients come from.
  • Do not buy the product if these are not mentioned.
  • There is no agreement on how much moisture should be in a moist cat food.
  • So manufacturers make up their own rules.
  • Moisture content can be anywhere between 50%, which is pretty dry, to 85%, which is pretty wet.
  • Most quality moist cat food seem to have a moisture content of about 60%-65%. However, this is not a regular level.

Cats love moist or wet food as these resemble the food eaten by their ancestors, the wild cats. You can use the above information to find the best, nutritious moist cat food for your cat to enjoy, just like their ancestors did!

Why was Tender Vittles discontinued ?

Tender Vittles cats
  • Tender Vittles was a very popular product among cat owners due to the convenience of the pouch, lack of mess and very little smell.
  • Cats too loved this product, although vets and nutritionists didn’t approve.
  • These products were full of salt and sugar causing various health problems in cats, such as obesity, bad teeth and diarrhea.
  • There were high incidents of kidney failure in cats and dogs in late 2006/ early 2007.
  • Vets traced the problem to a single Chinese manufacturer who used wheat gluten in wet dog food.
  • However, they suspected the problem to be much bigger and more widespread.
  • In mid-March 2007, a Canadian pet food company called Menu foods recalled their products voluntarily due to some test animals becoming sick and dying after eating the products.
  • This caused more public awareness and scrutiny of other companies.
  • Tender Vittles cat food also listed some ingredients that were potentially harmful to cats in their packages.
  • These harmful, severely criticized ingredients seem to have led to the disappearance of Tender Vittles.
  • Other brands also followed suit and discontinued or changed their recipes.

Best moist and semi-moist cat foods today

Although Tender Vittles was discontinued due to their use of poor quality ingredients, today high quality, nutritious semi-moist cat foods can be bought from reputable producers.

The terms ‘moist’ and ‘semi-moist’ are not used today and these products are marketed with different names in different ways.

These are actually modern versions of the old semi-moist cat food such as Tender Vittles, with much healthier ingredients.

Here are some alternatives to Tender Vittles in today’s market.

  1. Wellness healthy indulgence morsels
  • This is a chicken and chicken liver in savory sauce, grain free wet cat food pouch.
  • It contains robust chunks of meat set in a light gravy without any additives harmful to cats.
  • In addition to chicken and chicken liver, it also contains potato starch, eggs and carrots.
  • It comprises 23% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis, making it a starchy food, which is the downside of this product.
  • Cats love the taste as well as the chunky texture.
  • It is a food recommended as a standalone meal or a topper for dry food.
  • This food can help can help you wean off your cat from dry food, making the transition easier.
  • It is a popular food among elderly cats as well as ones suffering from chronic kidney disease.

2. Wellness morsels chicken entrée

  • This is a canned food that consists of cubes of chicken and other ingredients set in a light gravy.
  • It does not contain any chemical preservatives, artificial colors or excessive salt.
  • The main ingredient is chicken with some peas and other trace fruits and vegetables.
  • This food is relatively low in carbohydrates, being 12% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis.
  • Cats seem to love the chunky texture, especially elderly ones with missing teeth.
  • The only problem is it can be rather expensive.

3. Weruva cats in the kitchen love me tender chicken and duck in gravy recipe

  • This comes in pouches with each pouch containing shredded chicken, tuna and duck in plenty of gravy.
  • The meat has a stringy texture which most cats like.
  • However, it is rather high in carbohydrates due to the addition of tapioca starch as a thickener. It is 17% carbohydrates on a dry matter basis.
  • It is free from artificial flavors, colors and preservatives that can harm cats.
  • According to the company, this food is made from human-quality ingredients in a human food facility in Thailand.
  • Being rather expensive is the drawback.

4. Instinct by Nature’s variety frozen raw bites grain free cage free chicken recipe

  • This is a rather different product, being a frozen raw food.
  • It is made primarily from chicken and chicken organs.
  • The chopped, bite sized raw meat and organs are frozen to keep fresh.
  • All you have to do is defrost the chunks and let them soften when ready to serve.
  • It is a food rich in animal protein and fat and relatively low in carbohydrates.
  • Salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids is present in this cat food.
  • The problem with this product is that some cats may refuse to eat it due to the rawness.

5. Wellness core air dried natural grain free original recipe dry cat food

  • Although a dry food, it is not extruded.
  • Instead, it is air dried, a process that allows the use of more meat and less starch.
  • This process can also leave more nutrients intact.
  • It has 20% water, which is about twice the amount of water found in traditional dry food.
  • The product is rich in animal protein and relatively low in carbohydrates.
  • It does not have any salt, sugar and preservatives found in semi-moist food.
  • However, some cats might not like the texture of the food.

Alternatives to moist and semi-moist cat food

You can also try other options to give your cat instead of the commercially made moist and semi-moist cat food. Let’s take a look at these options.

Moistening kibble

  • You can add water, tuna juice or bone broth to your cat’s kibble.
  • This can improve the texture of the food and make it easier to chew.
  • Remember to refrigerate it or discard after an hour.
  • This is because dry food that contains wheat corn and other cereal grains are prone to aflatoxin mold growth.
  • So, it can be dangerous to leave out moistened kibble than fresh, canned or raw food.
  • Either give them a single serving at a time and throw away the remainder or refrigerate leftovers.

Other food with an intermediate texture

  • Freshly cooked food that are soft and chewable, but not wet is another option for moist food.
  • Raw food is another option you can consider. These are available in different consistencies and styles and can be soft.
  • Another candidate is freeze-dried food. These are foods that are rehydrated and mashed. You can also rehydrate without mashing.

If your cat refuses to eat wet or dry food, try sprinkling some moist and tender treats on top of the wet food it doesn’t like.


Cat food are available in a wide range of flavors and textures from different brands. How do you choose the best cat food for your fur baby ?

You can try a reputed brand, but reputation is not always a sure thing as Tender Vittles has shown us. It was a popular brand of semi-moist cat food in the USA for about 30 years before being discontinued due to low sales.

The use of certain ingredients that harmed pets is the reason for the discontinuation. However, it was the first national semi- moist cat food brand in the USA and also the one to introduce convenient pouches for cat food in the world.

Remember to give your cat food rich in meat proteins, moderate in fat and low in carbohydrates. Semi-moist cat food is ideal for elderly cats with teeth problems.

Although the original semi-moist food is non-existent today, there are certain products available commercially that come close to the semi-moist cat food sans the harmful ingredients.

You can also try to wet kibbles or give them raw food or even try some freshly cooked food such as chicken or fish.

Remember to consult your vet if you are in doubt about what food to feed your cat. These are some suggestions that you can try out if you think they are suitable for your cat.

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