We tried Instinct Raw Boost Mixers for Cats. This is what we thought.
We’re part of the Chewy Influencer program. That means that every month, Chewy.com sends us a list of products that we can choose to review. Frankly, the products are sometimes boring and don’t make us excited. That’s why we often pass on the month’s products. You wouldn’t want to see what a review about a product that bores us would look like. “And this generic cat food. Is cat food. It has more carrots than we’d like…” Yeah. That’s why we try to only review products which bring something interesting and different to the table.
This month, Chewy offered us something a little more exciting: Instinct Raw Boost Mixers for Cats. Raw? Pawesome. We’ll check that out.
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers are freeze-dried nuggets of raw food. As the name implies, these nuggets are meant to be mixed into your cat’s daily meals. They aren’t nutritionally complete and are not intended to be your cat’s main dish. Instinct sells Raw Boost Mixers on their own as well as pre-mixed into their Raw Boost Kibble. They are available in both cage-free chicken and farm-raised rabbit varieties. Rabbit food has been a hit around here, so we ordered the rabbit mixers to test and review. Read on to find out what the cats and we thought.
If you want to skip straight to our review of Instinct Raw Boost Mixers for Cats, click here.
Instinct is “the raw brand”, of Nature’s Variety®, a pet food company which prides itself on leading a movement toward better pet health. Nature’s Variety was bought by Barcelona based company, Agrolimen, in 2016. According to Nature’s Variety CEO at the time, Reed Howlett, Nature’s Variety would continue to operate as a stand-alone company and the company’s operations and philosophy wouldn’t change.
Instinct began as a raw food brand in Lincoln, Nebraska. As the company grew, so did the Instinct product line. Today, Instinct makes frozen raw cat food, kibble/raw blends, canned food, and treats. Instinct’s raw foods are still made in Lincoln at their company-owned facility.
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Review
Disclosure: “Wildernesscat received this product for free from Chewy.com in exchange for an honest review. Although the product was gratis, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.”
Our Instinct Raw Boost Mixers promptly arrived in the mail. I hadn’t done any research on the mixers before receiving them and wasn’t sure how we were supposed to feed them to the cats. Let’s take a look at the bag.
Do you see that? Top Your Kibble With RAW.
You know we like biologically appropriate cat food, and that doesn’t mean kibble. Biologically appropriate essentially means that the closer a cat food is to a fresh mouse, the better. We know that preparing raw food at home isn’t for everyone. Making raw food can be scary, and rightly so—nutritional deficiencies, unsafe handling practices, and time constraints are all a real thing. One solution is to purchase a premix for making raw food, another is to purchase commercial raw.
It looks like Instinct is trying to reel in yet another customer segment with the Raw Boost Mixers by keeping kibble in the equation. These are the people who have heard about the benefits of a raw diet but don’t want to commit entirely to something foreign and unknown. Instinct is promoting the idea that you can add these freeze-dried mixers to kibble and harness the “pure, real nutrition of raw”. That leads us to ask the question:
Are Instinct Raw Boost Mixers really a great way to add raw to your cat’s diet, or is it good marketing?
In theory, Instinct is making raw food accessible to more people, and that’s great. Yay, more people are becoming aware of and seeking out a biologically appropriate diet for their cats. However—adding a tablespoon of raw food to an otherwise unhealthful kibble is not the way to make a difference. Before you write me off as the Grumpy Anti-Dry-Food Nazi, please click over to our article: Everything You Need to Know About Dry Cat Food. While many cats may live long and healthy lives on a dry diet, it’s not ideal.
Harnessing the nutrition of raw is about a lot more than adding some raw to your cat’s usual meals. Raw food has a high moisture content, gnawing uncooked bones can increase dental health, and ripping at raw meat can be a psychologically-beneficial challenge. You’re not going to get any of these benefits by adding a tablespoon or two of freeze-dried raw to your cat’s crunchies.
While I don’t agree with Instinct’s marketing angle, I need to give them some credit. These mixers do make excellent treats or toppers to encourage your cat to eat. All we ask is that you don’t start mixing them into your cat’s food thinking you’ll get all of the benefits of raw.
What are Instinct Raw Boost Mixers made of?
Let’s turn the package over one more time and take a look at the ingredients list.
Rabbit (including Ground Rabbit Bone), Pork, Pork Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Carrots, Apples, Butternut Squash, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Kidney, Rabbit Lung, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Dried Kelp, Broccoli, Mixed Tocopherols, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salmon Oil, Rosemary Extract, Blueberries, Dried Chicory Root.
If we’re going by the first three ingredient rule of thumb, there’s not much to criticize about the mixers. We’re looking at a primarily meat-based topper. The rest of the list includes a variety of plant ingredients, likely incorporated as fillers. Ground flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, but be aware that these omega-3s are in a form which cannot be utilized by a cat’s body. Cats are only able to process animal sourced omega-3s, such as the salmon oil which you’ll find further down the list. While the mixers certainly don’t fall into the carnivores-only limited ingredient treat category, the ingredients are pretty clean.
Instinct recommends that you handle their freeze-dried raw as you would any raw meat—but they do take precautions against contamination. All of Instinct’s raw pet foods are subjected to high-pressure pasteurization (HPP). HPP is an effective method of killing bacteria and other harmful invaders without damaging the integrity of the raw food. Many raw feeders avoid feeding their cats pork due to the possibility of a Trichinella spiralis infection— rest assured that HPP also eliminates T. spiralis in infected meat.
After treatment, Instinct sends their foods to a third-party testing facility to check for Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. They have the food re-tested after 7 days to ensure the food is safe.
What did the cats think?
After looking over the package and making our initial assessment, we brought Wessie and Forest in to make the final judgment. Are these things delicious or not?
Wessie gives Instinct Raw Boost mixers an 8/10.
Wessie fell in love with these raw chunks at first bite. They were good enough to sit and high-five for. He also enjoyed them on top of his food. Wessie woke me up at 3 AM by batting at the bag. The sound of crinkly noises and the thump of cat food toppers being knocked off of a table can be very annoying. They’re only getting an 8/10, however, because after a couple of days his enthusiasm for the mixers died down—they were lowered from “epic” to “moderately good treat” status.
Forest rates the mixers a 10/10.
Forest is picky about her food and these toppers were an instant hit with her. She likes rabbit-based food and these mixers were no exception. It was a lot of fun tossing freeze-dried chunks across the room and watching Forest run around to find them. She is a great hunter.
Customer reviews on Amazon and Chewy are majorly positive.
If there’s one thing Instinct has going for them, it’s customer satisfaction. Out of the 82 reviews on Chewy, 72% are 5 stars, and 92% of customers say they’d recommend the product to a friend. On Amazon, the story is the same—out of 259 reviews, Instinct Raw Boost Mixers average 4.3 out of 5 stars.
According to the reviews, many picky cats or cats who were refusing to eat due to illness found a new appetite when the mixers were added as a topper to their food. The few negative reviews generally described their cats refusing to eat the mixers—remember, all cats have different tastes.
While we disagree that mixing these freeze-dried raw meat chunks into dry food is a good way to feed raw, Instinct Raw Boost Mixers made a satisfying treat which our cats enjoyed. They were a fun way to add an extra dimension to our cats’ meals.
The mixers contain more fruits and vegetables than we’d like but the ingredients are not bad overall. They aren’t carbohydrate-heavy and meat is the most significant ingredient.
If you’re looking for a healthful treat with better ingredients than Temptations, I would give these a try.
Where can I buy Instinct Raw Boost Mixers?
If you make your purchase of Instinct Raw Boost Mixers through our links, Wildernesscat will receive a percentage of the sale. It doesn’t cost any extra but helps us to continue sharing the radical cat parenting message. Thank you for your support!
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers are available from Chewy.com and Amazon.com, as well as Instinct’s other partner websites. and in many local pet stores. If you like to shop locally, you can use Instinct’s store locator.