Black Hawk Grain Free Cat Food Review

Available fromPet Circle   Lucky Pet

Black Hawk had a very loyal following being a home-grown Australian brand, but having made the mainstream were bought up by New Zealand’s Masterpet. At the time the company said the food wouldn’t change, but once the talk died down they changed the formulas. The protein dropped slightly and the carbs went up slightly, and instead of sweet potato they opted for potato and tapioca as cheaper inclusions.

Compared to other cat food brands it still reads pretty well from the ingredients and analysis. Chicken Meal and Turkey Meal make up the first two ingredients which is really good to see, and what your cat will benefit the most from.

Black Hawk Grain Free Cat Food Review

Potato and tapioca are used to bulk up and bind the food, but as cats are carnivores it’s not a necessary part of the diet. It also keeps the cost of production down, but this is something you’ll find with all dry foods.

Field peas are common in grain free foods as they’re high in protein and fibre. They bulk up the protein in the food which, despite being better than carbs, still isn’t as good as meat proteins. They also add vegetable protein and mung beans which again aren’t an ideal substitute for meat proteins. Still, compared to other cheaper dry foods these are better inclusions than many.

I’ll write some further interesting analysis of the food, but before I do so I’ll rate the food as 8 out of 10. It’s much better than most.

Black Hawk offers us some slightly misleading information about the food. They state 56% is Meat, Legumes, and Pulses and 44% Vegetables, fruit, and oils. This is designed to make the food sound really good, but let’s consider these interesting classifications a bit further…

Given cats are carnivores it would be better to see Meat as its own classification, but the reality is the percentage wouldn’t look appealing. They’ve included field peas and mung beans in this category. Let’s say the top five ingredients are equal distributions of 18%. That would make the meat content approximately 36%, so only a third of the food – not so appealing (but a more realistic reality).

Black Hawk Grain Free Cat Food Review

With the 44% vegetables, fruit, and oils, most of this will be the potato and tapioca. The fruits and oils are all in very small amounts further down the ingredients.

So there you go, there’s some labelling trickery for you. All manufacturers do it, so it’s not something bad about Black Hawk par se.


Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato, Tapioca, Field Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols [source of Vitamin E], Rosemary Extract and Citric Acid), Vegetable Protein, Mung Beans, Beet Pulp, Canola Oil, Pumpkin Seed Powder, Eggs, Flaxseed, Cranberries, Pineapple Pulp, Chicory Root, Kelp, Salt, Alfalfa, Lecithin, Yucca Schidigera, Brewers Yeast, Whey Powder, Fish Oil, Probiotic (Bacillus Coagulant), Natural Antioxidants, Coconut Oil, Tomato Powder, Cinnamon, Yoghurt Powder, Carrot, Emu Oil, Essential Vitamins and Minerals.

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8 Total Score
One of the better "affordable" brands

  • Good meat content
  • No nasties
  • Less meat than you would think

  1. Maybe you could address the increased thirst in cats after eating Black Hawk?

  2. Hello,

    Could we update this review- the ingredients list has completely changed. I’m Curious if it’s better off now

  3. Wet food is best! I wet feed twice or more for cats with illnesses and only ever use dry as an extra, if I am going to be out for a while. Dry causes kidney problems when they get older. Fact

    • Totally agree! We give our cats dry as a treat only, but otherwise feed raw meat. Most dry foiod is like McDonalds – just because your cats/kids gobble it up and crave for it dorsn’t mean it is good for them and you should be feeding it to them all the time. As others have observed, changing from junk (dry) to healthy (wet raw meat) may be difficult at first, but if they are hungry enough they will eat it and get over their ‘addiction’ in time.

  4. Thank you for putting up the new review! I recently purchased a bad and my Siamese gobbles it up. Disappointed to see it wasn’t as good as I though, but I will throw it in my rotation.

  5. Hi PFR: Blackhawk appear to have a new range out and it looks great. I’m happy there’s no natural flavours. Could u pls review? 🙂

  6. My rescue cats all like this and they are fussy eaters. Super shiny coats.

  7. Have you done a review on the new range of black hawk cat
    food? It’s apparently a completely new range

  8. We’re in the process of switching from Hills to Black Hawk grain free.
    I found the size of the kibble is huge compared to the science diet (they were feeding her this at the shelter so we bought it initially but want to change). Its about 3 times the size. The other thing is since she tried our younger cats Science diet kitten dry food, thats all she wants.
    So its hard to switch gradually as shes largely refusing to eat the old and the new food.

    Is it possible that its the smaller kibble size, as opposed to any taste, that she likes?
    Are their other grain free kibbles that might be a better size for her

    • I’ve noted that Hills and Royal brands and maybe others douse their kibble in a soy smelling oil to increase its palability likely without this the food is probably bland as cardboard.
      This oil doesn’t work with Angel she sees through it I guess haha.
      It’s also hard to get off the food because of that, one chihuahua we got one time was being fed Royal chihuahua and she didn’t really want to eat anything else because unlike the oil the other stuff didn’t really have much smell or taste.

      From what I’ve read of cats it can be extremely hard to change them over to better foods, but that you simply have to stick with it even if it takes several years, that’s literally what I heard from someone.

      Susan sent me Canidae and their kibble is small, I could see that cat version being small also.
      I don’t remember the size of taste of the wild but I don’t think it was big as I’d remember that.

      You would also do well to either add water to the kibble or add a canned food, feeding only dry is a sure way to end up with expensive vet bills once your cat gets urinary problems especially stones which almost always form from a lack of adequate water intake.

      I’ve also taken notice that cats seem to be more prone to diabetes when fed dry for a long time, you hear new problems all the time, unlike for dogs where you don’t hear them as often you hear about cancer more, of course feline diabetes is curable unlike dogs version by feeding a raw diet without carbs and then cancer can be treatable with a ketogenic diet also raw but high fat, although not every cancer was cured this way, but at least there’s hope.

      • thanks! We feed holistic select wet food as well, especially with her refusing to eat dry food at the moment.
        I might try Canidae if she doesnt take to this one. that was the other main one I was tossing up between so if its smaller then that might be better. Our other cat will eat pretty much anything so it shouldnt upset him too much to be switched across slowely

        • Totally just sent that and forgot to reply further lol.

          Was going to say that holistic select is a fantastic brand so that’s good for wet, you could also if interested buy solo cans of stuff like Ziwipeak on my pet warehouse to see if she might like them, I like that choice to be honest, I don’t want to buy whole slabs.
          There’s plenty of choices out there but switching cats based on that website is a whole other playing field to switching dogs.

          It also doesn’t mean to switch completely but rather to offer a variety of wet foods with different vitamins, minerals and proteins from real whole foods, not talking about the vitamin packs.

          Good luck!

        • There’s a very handy cat website that tells you how to transition foods for cats who are addicted to dry, however I could see this going both ways as in switching from one kibble to another and for wet foods also if the need arises.

          Now you can’t do a link on here as it needs to be approved and that could take days, so I will do it like this.

          Cat info together then a . and then org

      • Sizes of a few laying around here:

        Taste of the wild ~12mm x 4mm
        Stay Loyal regular ~12mm x 3mm
        Stay Loyal puppy ~8mm x 3mm
        Ivory coat ~15mm x 4mm
        Farmers market puppy ~8mm x 6mm

        I wonder if it’s worth adding rough sizes to the reviews here for the people specifically looking for something large or small.

        • I think it would be a good idea to be honest, I guess also that the foods size for dogs reflects the size for cats, the one thing Royal does well is to have different kibble sizes for different breeds, something that more companies should do.

          If their machines don’t allow it then have a multiple sizes machine installed instead :p.

        • Off the top of my head I think Meals for Mutts were also offering at least one formula in a choice of sizes? Which is handy because it’s always a bit alarming watching a larger dog sucking down the itty bitty kibbles intended for use right down to tiny miniature breeds. I’d guess a large number of the reviews here could have size data included just through crowdsourcing and digging the info out of the websites of those few manufacturers who mention size.

  9. Hi, I have a 5 month old kitten and he has a sensitive stomach. The vet suggested i feed him a hills diet, it has worked great for him but it’s nearly $50 for a 2kg bag and he goes through a bag fortnightly so it’s a bit too expensive for me. I’ve had a look at Blackhawk and reviews are good for it, do you recommend i try this product for my kitten? Thank you.

    • Which Hills formula are you using? If you mention it here maybe one of the kibble gurus can suggest a similar formula that doesn’t carry the Hills price premium they apply to their specialised formulas.

      • No idea why they even do that there’s like no need the food doesn’t contain anything special and if it did I could buy it online in a jar for less then half the price of the kibble and add it to raw or freeze dried tada! 😛

        • That’s the most outrageous part huh. They have all these niche formulas that claim to specifically address everything from liver failure to ingrown toenails, yet when you look at the ingredients they just seem to be minor variations on the same old cheap junk.

    • If your vet’s charging that much it’s ridiculous –

      Not only that, but if you read the ingredients you’ll see it’s brewers rice and corn gluten meal, which is not and never will be a good diet for a carnivorous cat! It’s as simple as asking your vet “What should I feed a carnivorous animal?”. I don’t think rice and CGM would be their answer.

      Most sensitive stomach issues are caused by grains, particularly wheat. Feeding any decent grain free would be a good start, and in any case cats shouldn’t be eating grains.

    • Feeding cats (or dogs) dry food only will likely lead to kidney damage. A raw meat diet is best. If you’re going to give them dry food, avoid those with grains used as fillers as cats don’t eat these things naturally in their diets. Hills is very poor quality – vets get kick back to spruik Hills products.

      • So true. Everything you said, I agree with

      • That and their foods along with Royal are disastrously priced, like why would a cat food called “fit” require a $178 price tag? if I want a food that lowers my dogs weight or cat if I had one I’d buy raw or freeze dried whatever I can handle, I can handle it all but there’s people who will just not feed raw, makes you kind of wonder what they eat for dinner as meat usually always starts out raw unless you buy meals on wheels or other pre cooked foods.

        At the very least I guess that food was 14kg, I once saw a 6.8kg bag of wheat and soy for $130 mega disaster.

    • It all comes down to what he’s sensitive to, if you don’t know that puts you in a tough spot because no matter the food you buy if the ingredient is in the food he will react to it.

      Don’t simply go by reviews, you need the whole story to find the cure.

  10. My cats 6 cats are on Black Hawk Chicken and rice i buy the 20kg bags and are all doing well on this dry food they also get fresh Kangaroo meat and fancy feast or dine wet food and are all healthy.

  11. From the ingredients I felt that it is a great food. And my cats love it.
    But their coat is losing the shine compared to when they are fed wellness salmon dry. So I’m considering another food now. (maybe earthborn)

  12. My 16 year old girl has lived off of supermarket cat food for 16 years. About 3 years ago she started looking old and decrepit, and began to lose weight and be uninterested in dry cat food. About 6 months ago she started randomly vomiting yellow bile, not just occasionally regurgitating fur balls as normal. It got to be every day vomits, and she was getting so bony it was frightful. About 8-9 months ago my 8 year old girl started ripping out chunks of fur, scratching and licking certain spots until she was covered in large bleeding sores. Both have acute sensitivities to their food now, the 8 year old has an obvious allergy, and we think that the 16 year old’s pancreas was packing it in. In the past month I have started feeding them black hawk and I’m putting feline digestive enzymes on their food. The change could not be more miraculous. It’s unbelievable. I’m supplementing their diets with a little bit of human grade kangaroo, and they’re so much healthier. I don’t know what they’ve done to supermarket cat food in the past few years, but it’s messed up BOTH my cats, one whom had lived quite well on it for well over a decade before developing problems. Both of them were miserable. Now they are perky. The 8 year old has been a little slower to respond but is still much better, there might be another health issue she’s dealing with too, so it might be back to the vet shortly. The 16 year old looks half her age, has put weight back on, and the grumpy old ***** is veritably perky. I’m very relieved for her.

    • Hi Jasmine, this is 5 years in the future, but I liked your comment. I was feeding my then 10 year old rescue cat Cookie, Royal Canin for Obesity as she was 8.7kgs! at the RSPCA shelter! It made her fatter! All the carbs and grains just didn’t agree with her. Tried every Royal Canin product my old vet recommended, but she was not improving. She had flakey skin and other issues. Was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism at age 7. The shelter only ever fed her Hills dry food, as they do for all the cats. Cookie was put back on the supermarket food, mostly wet like Dine and then Advance. Advance made her loose too much weight, and vomit. Today she has just finished with more blood tests for her thyroid and the Vet recommended I put her on Royal Canin Sensitive and Indoor dry. Well, back to the Vet, as she had bad diarrhoea from the RC!! Also her thyroid was high again! She’s now 13 and much better as she has stopped eating all dry in that brand and only wet food. Extremely fussy and difficult to feed, I have her on Dine Daily wet again and raw Kangaroo mince twice a day with her medicine hidden inside. She also has some Feline Naturals as a topper with her Roo for extra vitamins. She’s much healthier now. I plan to try this Black Hawk food as a treat and to add to wet food if she’s being picky. Thanks for your review. Jacqui

      • Reply
        Pet Food Reviews (Australia) March 8, 2022 at 6:10 pm

        Hi Jacqui, I’m sorry to read about your cat’s varies troubles with pet foods over the years. I think it goes to show how these vet endorsed brands of food made of grains for carnivorous cats really don’t work, and it makes you wonder why vets endorse them.

  13. I have a senior cat and was at my wit’s end in finding a food that wouldn’t make her spew or constipated. I adopted her only 2 years ago, but apparently the poor girl has suffered from stomach problems her whole life (if her vet records are anything to go by) so after much experimentation with different food brands (dry foods, wet foods, raw foods – you name it!) I was thrilled that Black Hawk Grain Free has not only settled her stomach, but has made her a much happier and brighter cat. You’d never guess she was 14 years old. She plays like a little kitten now! I suspect it’s the first time in her life she hasn’t had a belly ache or a sore bum. I’m so happy with Black Hawk and would recommend it to any cat owner who has issues with their digestion.

  14. My elderly cat is on Black Hawk grain free, and I haven’t noticed a huge difference in her water intake. Though I do also give her Artemis wet food, so she might be getting enough hydration from that too.

    Her coat is definitely shinier and her poo smells A LOT nicer now that she’s on.

  15. I contacted Black Hawk about their salt content in their cat food and this is an excerpt from their reply

    “Thank you for your query.

    Our sodium content is quite low and sits around 0.1%.”

    So perhaps not the salt content that causes thirst. I know that VIP brand has a salt content of 1.2% which is quite a lot higher.

  16. After reading up and switching our dog onto another brand recommended here I decided to do the same for the cats too. We have tried all three types of Blackhawk with the seafood and grainfree the most popular (nothing left for later). Coats have become even softer and shinier (which we didn’t think was possible as they were pretty damn good to start with). However following on what people are saying above regarding increased water intake, this has definitely increased with all three of ours as well. Might be something for Blackhawk to consider if they want people stay loyal with their product.

    • Hi all, I have just acquired my first feline (I’ve always had dogs, horses and fish- all of which I still have), a 13 week old from RSPCA. I’ve been doing all this research on the best possible food I can give my kitten to give her the best life with least amount of health problems (and future vet bills!). So I’ve been reading all these blogs, research, opinions etc to help me make up my mind. My kitten is still on science diet kitten (as that’s what she was eating at RSPCA) and Nuturo for kittens as that’s what the pet store people said was good (so blindly I believed it). But after all the research Ive done, I’ve finally decided on a diet and have slowly started her on it (but will finish the small bag of science diet and Nuturo ive already got). But in terms of why I’m replying to this post, it’s because of all these concerns about your cat drinking more with this food. From what I’ve read, there is a major concern about dry kibble causing long term kidney and urinary issues (I personally know 4 friends who has had to pay over $3000 for kidney or urinary issues in their cats- hence why I started doing this research!!). The concern has to do with either (or a combination of) a lack of fluid, high protein, grains, causing change in ph level of the urine because of all of that… So if Black Hawk doesn’t have a high salt content, and your cat is drinking a lot and they are eating dry kibble, isant that a good thing??? … As the more they drink, the more they urinate, hence a more healthy ph level therefore reducing potential kidney and urninary issues because of the lack of fluid in the kibble? I could be wrong though.

      Incidentally, I have chosen not to go with Blackhawk (I was tossing out of Blackhawk Grainfree, Earthborn Grainfree, Holistic Select grain free- though their only Grainfree option isant suitable for kittens so can’t use this). In the end, I have decided to go with Wellness Core Grainfree for the dry food and K9 freeze dried feline for wet food (I will also give raw fresh human grade chicken, lamb, kidney, liver sometimes). But the reason I have decided not to go with Blackhawk is because I can’t call them to get more specific info from them. The number that you’re suppose to contact them with comes back as disconnected. I’ve called one of their distributors who couldn’t answer my questions, so they said they will send an email to the rep about my questions… But kind of bad if I can’t get answers to questions.

      Sorry this is such a long post.

  17. All my cats have been raised on Black Hawk Chicken and Rice. They really love it and I haven’t noticed any issues with increased thirst.

  18. I was just googling about the thirst issue with my 1 1/2 year old male cat. In the last 3 days I have changed one of his canned meals a day to raw kangaroo and introduced 1/8 cup of this grain free black hawk a day.

    I noticed at the end of day 2 he was lapping at his water bowl. This is unusual for him. In the entire year we have owned him we barely see him do anything with his water bowl other than play in it. We actually bought a water fountain to try to encourage him to drink more.

    Today is day 4 at 1/8 cup and I’ve seen him at his water bowl 3 times drinking furiously. I was googling to try to find out if it was the kangaroo meat but everything I’ve read says that should reduce water consumption. The only other change to his diet has been this food so I was interested to read I’m not alone in noticing this.

    • My 7yr old cat only eats dry food & licks the liquid off other tin foods she refuses to eat tin foods, not sure why but has been like that since a kitten. She has been eating Black Hawk for almost 2yrs now & I too noticed her drinking more then usual. I am worried about this & trying to find a dry food that she loves like black Hawk but without making her very thirsty, to the point where she will wake me up in the middle of the night to fill her water bowl 🙁

      • Annette, I was recently told my a breeder that Black Hawk is high in salt. I switched my boy from the grain free to the chicken and rice but he’s still in the water bowl more than usual.

        I too am trying to find something he’ll actually eat that doesn’t have this effect. I’m almost desperate enough to go back to the royal canin breed specific my breeder says to put him on. So far I’ve tried Holistic Select, Wellness (he seemed to choke on the little round pellets), Canidae grain free (they do samples btw!) and the Applaws. He’ll eat the VIP pet foods but I’m not sure it’s very good 🙁

        Good luck! You sound like you need it as much as I do.

  19. My 7 month old kitten loves the taste and is very happy with Black Hawk Grain Free. She is growing well and her coat is shiny. I found it also reduced faecal odor. Whilst I loved the cost and the grain free benefits of this food, I notice my love is drinking a LOT more water than when she has tried other options. The salt content is questionable and I worry down the track, this is not good for her health, especially in her developmental stages. My sister actually brought this to my attention as her 16 year old tabby was meowing at her water dish for more water and lapping for ages, after trying this food also.
    I’ve now switched to Canidae, which is a shame because the affordabilility and how much my Kitty loved eating the Black Hawk was definitely a plus.

    Pros: Price, Taste, Reduction in Faecal Odor.

    Cons: Too high in Salt, potential for health issues down the track.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) May 21, 2015 at 12:36 am

      Thanks for your contribution Kathy 🙂

      • Can you please address the possible excess salt issue as mentioned by Kathy.
        The AAFCO standards say .2% is OK, but no percentage is on the package,
        However the ingredients list does note Sodium Bisulphate and Selenite. I also use Royal Canin and it does not have sodium in the ingredients list,is this typical?

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) June 4, 2015 at 6:41 am

          Hi Denise, it’s not compulsory to list salt % on the packaging, although they are governed by AAFCO standards. A number of ingredients can contain salt, so not having salt (or sodium) listed on the ingredients doesn’t mean a product isn’t higher in salt than other foods.

          In respect to Kathy’s comment, it may well be true the salt in the food is causing her cat to drink more, but it’s an observation and there could be other causes – life stages, activity levels, other sources of water, and so forth. If other people have made similar observations then it’s definitely worth hearing about – the comments are as valuable as the review itself.

        • I have three cats one seems to be excessiveky thristy after switching to this food. But its only him. He eats a lot as hes still a kitten. Not sure if it is related.

  20. Unfortunately Black Hawk is no longer ‘Australian Owned’ Is now New Zealand.

    • We would like to take the time to officially announce some changes that have occurred over the last two weeks and also address some concerns people have about Black Hawk the brand.
      An announcement was made on 31st October 2014 that Black Hawk had been sold to Masterpet Australia (part of the EBOS group of companies). This was a difficult decision to make, but one that we feel is a positive step forward for Black Hawk.
      We are still proudly Australian made and owned. Masterpet Australia has a sister company called Masterpet NZ, which is also where Masterpet originally began their amazing journey. We understand there is some confusion about Black Hawk being made or owned “off shore”. We can assure you this information is from an uninformed source, who may have had only half the story.
      All Black Hawk products will continue to be manufactured here in Australia, in the same factory as before the sale. All our recipes will remain unchanged and we will continue to deliver new product extensions as needed.
      The same team will be managing the brand from our Victorian head office and we will still have the same passion for the brand as always. Our sales team will remain the same and will now have an added support structure from Masterpet Australia’s sales teams.
      All our distributors will remain the same and they will still have direct access to our office as needed, so business as usual there.
      So, apart from ownership, nothing has really changed, but we will have an opportunity to give our customers more benefits moving forward.

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