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What to Look For (and Avoid) in Cat Food


Last updated: May 3, 2018
What to Look For (and Avoid) in Cat Food

Choosing the right cat food can be complicated. This is especially true because convenience seems to be everything, right now. We can get almost anything, from produce to toilet paper, online or at a nearby grocery store in minutes. However, convenience can come at a cost. Many convenient or popular cat foods contain controversial or harmful ingredients and may not have a high-quality source of protein as an ingredient.

Look for an identifiable meat as the first ingredient in your cat food

Ingredients are listed in order of highest content (by weight) to lowest content. An identifiable meat source should appear first. Avoid formulas that include “meat meal” or “meat byproduct.” Those phrases mean that the protein source isn’t one specific animal.

Look into the company or brand’s origin and recall history

Pet foods made in the US, Canada, and New Zealand must abide by strict guidelines for pet food manufacturing. That doesn’t mean all other sources are unhealthy. It is hard to know how foods from other countries are made, because they don’t have to follow the same guidelines.

Considering a new brand? Check out the company’s recall history here to ensure they don’t have a recent or recurring issue with recalls. It’s a good idea to do some good old fashion internet searching on the topic as well because not all safety issues end in a formal recall. This article from Huffington Post discusses some of the important recent controversy and lobbying surrounding pet food regulation in the US.

Avoid artificial ingredients, preservatives, and dyes like:

  • BHA: This preservative increases risk of certain types of tumors.
  • BHT: This preservative increases risk of cancer in animals.
  • Caramel Coloring: Many types of caramel color dyes contain 4-Methylimidazole, known to increase lung cancer.
  • Ethoxyquin: The side effects of this chemical preservative are hard to identify. Rates of Ethoxyquin in pet foods are hard to determine. FDA has a set level that they allow for human consumption, but it’s hard to know if pet foods exceed this threshold.
  • Sodium Nitrite: Can create carcinogenic compounds in processing.
  • Vitamin K3/Menadione: It’s a synthetic vitamin and can be toxic to the liver and other organs over long periods of time.

Avoid controversial or questionable ingredients:

  • Brewers Rice: a milling byproduct used as a filler, may deplete cat’s taurine stores, leading to taurine deficiency.
  • Carrageenan and Carrageenan Gum: suspected inflammatory and carcinogenic effects
  • Garlic: can damage red blood cells and lead to hemolytic anemia in cats.
  • Gluten: may cause GI issues, allergies, and asthma.
  • Meat byproduct and meat meal: the meat source is undetermined.
  • Ocean Fish: one of the top cat food allergens and may contain mercury and other toxins.
  • Rendered fat: may come from any number of animals.
  • Soybean: may cause food allergies, GI issues, bloat, etc.
  • Sugar: is not an essential nutrient for pet food, and can contribute to obesity and diabetes.
  • Xanthan Gum: is not an essential nutrient, may cause diarrhea in high doses.

These guidelines are a means by which to find a great pet food. In addition to that, you should consult your veterinarian with any questions about your pet’s unique dietary needs, and consider what works best for your budget, your cat’s preferences (texture and flavor), and your pocketbook.

For more information about choosing a cat food, or to see which formulas the team at Reviews.com recommends, you can take a look at the full article here: https://www.reviews.com/cat-food/




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