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by Doug Hines

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What's in Your Cat's Food Dish? ®

- Not Rejects But Close -


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These Ingredients Aren't Bad Enough to be Rejected, but I do Reduce Their Letter Grades

Don't get all twisted out of shape. Dropping an ingredient's grade one or two letter-grades isn't the same as rejecting it altogether. Dropping the grade is an indication that the cat food has ingredients which are of questionable value.

I Drop it One Letter-Grade if it has:

Next, I don’t reject them, but I reduce any product by one letter-grade rating (A through E) should the product contain: 

  • major food combinations, i.e. the mix of different, broad food ingredients within the same product (like meat combined in the same can with fish). Now, admittedly, this is more of my own personal preference rather than some scientific fact. One could think... I eat surf & turf (meat & fish), why can't my cat eat it? Imagine if you took your surf & turf and ground it all up and dumped it onto a dinner plate. Not as appetizing now is it? Said another way, I prefer only foods of ‘single-sourced’ products - only seafood , or only poultry, or only meat. I guess my point is that there are plenty of other cat food products to choose from without mixing major food combinations. --  (While I’m on the subject, many cat food can labels are simply deceiving. For example, you might think a food called “Salmon & Trout Formula” would be good for your cat. Problem is, the first ingredient in the can is chicken. How about a product called "Real Beef Recipe"? The first ingredients are chicken broth and chicken. These are true, real-life examples that are on store shelves right now.)
  • liver. Liver is a heavily disputed cat food ingredient. Some people believe the liver has many beneficial properties, while I, and many others, think that there is no way to separate the liver from the liver contents. The liver’s purpose is to filter toxic materials and protect the body. As far as I am concerned, if you feed your cat(s) liver, you feed your cat(s) toxins.  --  Listen very carefully when Dr. Justin Shmalberg of NomNomNow talks about liver in this video Why Doesn't NomNomNow Use Organ Meats?  ---  There's also another devious practice by unscrupulous cat food manufacturers using the word 'liver.' They don't always tell you what kind of 'liver' is in the can. You're reading down the list on a can of seafood... "Whitefish, Salmon, Fish Broth, Liver, etc., etc." You make the assumption that the 'Liver' is from a fish. WRONG - Not necessarily so. --- Having said that, it's almost impossible to avoid liver. It's in 53% of the products I have reviewed.  (Back to Ratings - A Quick Look page)
  • clams, mussels & squid (I don't think I want to feed my cats anything that lives at the sea bottom and filters toxins for a living. Besides that, have you ever seen a cat in the wild go diving for exotic seafood?)
  • dried egg product, dried egg whites (potential allergens)
  • salt (I wonder why manufacturer's feel that added salt is a necessary ingredient in cat food. If salt is high on the ingredients list it may be of greater quantity than many of the important vitamins, minerals, etc.)


I Drop it Two Letter-Grades if it Contains:

I don’t reject them, but I drop a product two grades (and three grades if high in the ingredients list) should it contain: 

  • gums - xanthan, locust bean (carob bean), ghatti, polysaccharide, cassia or guar gum (These fructooligosaccharides (FOS), used as a gelling agent, stabilizer and food thickener, are highly processed and have no nutritional value. They are actually too high in fermentability, and can cause gas, diarrhea and nutrient loss. Some research has shown that gum had a significant negative effect on apparent protein digestibility and tended to depress apparent fat and energy digestibilities. Interestingly, the FDA has banned guar gum as a human weight loss pill ingredient due to reports of the substance swelling and obstructing the intestines and esophagus.
  • starchy vegetables - carbohydrate/starches such as pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, tapioca, sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, beet pulp, turnip, aubergine/eggplant, zucchini etc. (All starches are used as filler ingredients, and are not biologically appropriate for cats. The fact is, cats have zero carbohydrate/starch requirements, and both can be bad for a cat's blood sugar/insulin balance. In general, plant protein sources are processed inefficiently by the cat's body, increasing the burden on the liver and kidneys.) Besides all of that, potato's consistency is little more than gooey wallpaper paste which can, in fact, inhibit nutrient absorption.
  • legumes - such as peas, chickpeas, soybeans, fava beans, garbanzo beans, alfalfa or clover (Peas or pea protein or pea starch or pea fiber). Peas and pea fiber are inexpensive fillers and highly insoluble. Peas contain lectin proteins which carnivores like cats cannot digest well. Peas are mostly used in place of grains, and are linked to gastrointestinal issues (can block nutrient absorption). Soy (soy, soy protein, or soybean meal contains phytoestrogens and negatively affects the thyroid gland) etc.)
  • fruit - like cranberries, blueberries, apples, papaya, pomegranate, mangoes, raspberries, avocado, coconut, tomatoes and tomato pomace (cranberries and tomatoes are both very acidic). (avocados have been found to be toxic to cats.) (the benzoic acid in cranberries has been proven toxic to cats.)

As has been repeated many times before, cats are obligate carnivores and get their protein from animal sources, not plants (grains, legumes and vegetables). Cats have zero carbohydrate requirements. To paraphrase Dr. Andrew Jones, Online Veterinarian, "Cats lack certain enzymes such as salivary amylase. These are enzymes that are there [in humans, for example] to help break down carbohydrates. Cats don't have those. Cats are uniquely designed for short, more frequent meals that are protein based." 

"Because cats are carnivores, the short length of their long intestines limits their ability to ferment fibers that are found in many carbohydrates."  - Your Cat's Nutritional Needs, published by the National Research Council of the National Academies, pg4

*This quote is from an article on the HappyCatsHaven.org website: "... cats have a relatively short digestive tract with a smaller stomach... Cat's livers are also lighter and much more simple...Because they lack essential enzymes and amino acids, [cats] simply don't have the capacity to digest other food sources, like vegetable matter or fruit."

And another thing... "... in pet food any vegetable or fruit listed on a label could be sourced from spoiled, damaged, or even contaminated (such as with pesticides) vegetables and fruits that cannot be sold as human food." - Susan Thixton, TruthAboutPetFood.com - Learn the Truth about Pet Food Ingredients Part 4

(By the way... Think cats need vegetables, legumes or fruit? Let me know the next time you see a cat digging up someone's garden to eat their potatoes. Let me know the next time you see a cat shucking peas or shimmying up a tree to eat mangoes. lol)

I Drop it Three Letter-Grades if From China

 I also drop a product three grades if it is know that the ingredients are sourced from China or Thailand. Ingredients can be substandard, and there is the risk of poor quality control.


And What About Fish?

Fish - Intermittent, Supplemental, Occasional Food

One of the greatest myths out there is that somehow fish is a better food for cats than is beef or poultry. Cats didn't evolve historically by fishing in a mountain stream or by going for a day's cruise on the ocean. Fish would be a good food, but for the fact that it contains contaminants. Resultant health problems can occur with a predominantly fish based diet - problems associated with mercury toxicity and the fact that fish have alarming levels of toxins from swimming in polluted waters. It's best to use fish as a periodic supplement to beef or poultry meals, not as a dietary staple.

I also must inject a comment here about farmed fish. Some people believe farmed fish are superior to wild fish, but nothing is farther from the truth. Farmed fish are often 'fed' poultry feces when poultry is held in nets above the fish tanks.


Fish - From someone else's perspective

As expressed elsewhere on this website, because of it's natural propensity for contamination, fish/seafood should not be used as a primary daily food. Feeding your cat(s) fish often/regularly is not a good idea. 

Writing for Feeding Fido and Fluffy, Carol North has just published an article titled 'What You Must Know About Fish-Based Cat Food.' This article, while zeroing in on the subject of fish in cat food, is also reflective of specific ingredients in all cat food. Read as Carol describes 'Contaminants in Fish that Could kill Your Pet.'

Here's a detailed article by Jean Hofve, DVM in Little Big Cat titled 'Why Fish is Dangerous for Cats.'  Again, I'm not saying don't feed cats fish. I'm saying don't have fish be the predominant meal in their diet.

Here's yet another message warning us to curtail our use of seafood. The article is Mercury in Fish-Based Cat Food: What You Should Know - from Ingrid King in The Conscious Cat 



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Information on this website is provided for general purposes only. It should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, care and treatment. Nothing herein is intended to treat, heal, or otherwise be considered as medical advice or treatment. Contact your veterinarian with any questions regarding your cat's diet or health. See additional details here.

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