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by Doug Hines

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What's in Your Cat's Food Dish? ®

- Reject 2 - Bad Stuff -


Reject #2 - The List of Bad and/or Questionable Ingredients - Not for My Cats

I reject any product containing: 

  • animal digest  (Wikipedia describes this as "a cooked-down broth which can be made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from almost any source and no control is in place over quality or contamination)
  • animal fat  (rendered or extracted fat. Restaurant grease is a major component of feed-grade animal fat)
  • artificial colorants & flavorings  (see next page - reject #6)
  • ascorbic acid  (source of Vitamin C, but origin and acidity are suspect.)
  • barley  (see next page - reject #3)
  • beet pulp  (residue from sugar beets - an unnecessary filler with little nutritional value)
  • BHA  (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) (artificial preservatives used to maintain food odor, color and flavor. Both are linked to cancer. It is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” according to The National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services (source). While it is labelled as being safe in low doses, it has been shown to cause tumors in lab animals.)
  • BPA lined cans  (see next page - reject #7)
  • brewers rice  (low quality grain containing few nutrients)
  • by-products  (see next page - reject #4)
  • caramel  (see next page - reject #6)
  • carrageenan  (red seaweed, binder & thickening agent - One of it's forms, degraded carrageenan can create inflammation leading to fetal toxicity, ulcerative colitis, immune suppression, and yes - cancer)  "While the degraded form is not used in food applications, some people have concerns that the ingredient could become degraded from a cat's stomach acid, therefore potentially increasing cancer risk. It is likely fine, but with so many other options on the market, many people choose not to take the risk." Emily Parker - Catological.com. Read more by Ms. Thixton - 'Why Carrageenan Can Be Dangerous to your Pet.'
  • cellulose  (a filler high in insoluble fiber which can interfere with digestion and inhibit nutrient uptake. It's typically made from sawdust. Want that for your cat(s)?
  • cereal food fines  (waste from breakfast cereal production)
  • cheese and cottage cheese  (cats can be lactose intolerant) 
  • copper sulfate  (linked to liver disease, copper storage disease and cancer) For more about copper sulfate read these articles, again by Susan Thixton, TruthAboutPetFood.com: Deal Breaker Pet Food Ingredients and A Veterinarian Takes A Stand Against A Common Pet Food Supplement
  • corn, corn bran, cellulose, flour, meal, gluten, starch   (see next page - reject #3)
  • dried egg product, dried egg whites  (potential allergens)
  • ethoxyquin  (a chemical that helps preserve food to give it a longer shelf life. Can contribute to urinary, kidney and other problems in cats.) Read more from TruthAboutPetFood.com here and here.
  • ethylenediamine dihydroidide  (poor source of iodine - better would be kelp or calcium iodide)
  • flaxseed & flaxseed oil (also called linseed)  (cat's cannot convert the fatty acids in flaxseed to beneficial fatty acids   (see next page - reject #3)
  • garlic, onions  (can be incredibly toxic to cats. can lead to anemia, organ damage and/or failure, and even death. And unbelievable as it may seem, these are ingredients in cat foods produced today)
  • gelatin  (made from horses, cows or calves hooves)
  • glucose/dextrose/sugar  (nutritionally unnecessary additive which may cause obesity and diabetes)
  • gluten  (contains no nutritional value - comes from high-allergen sources such as corn - can trigger adverse inflammatory, immunological and autoimmune reactions in some pets)
  • glyceryl monostearate  (an emulsifier in lower grade cat foods - may contain BHA and BHT)
  • goat milk  (cats can be lactose intolerant)
  • grains  (see next page - reject #3)
  • iron oxide  (coloring additive which is derived from rust)  (see next page - reject #6)
  • lard  (from swine fat - typically hydrogenated which produces trans fats as a by-product - often treated with bleaching and deodorizing agents, emulsifiers and antioxidants such as BHT)
  • linseed (see flaxseed above)
  • maize  (corn)   (see next page - reject #3)
  • maltodextrin  (derived from corn - has a high glycemic index which can contribute to diabetes and other problems)
  • meal  (see next page - reject #5)
  • menadione sodium bisulfite complex  (a cheap and artificial form of Vitamin K that can interfere with glutathione resulting in oxidative damage to cell membranes. Toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes)  Read more by Susan Thixton - 'Toxic Menadione' and 'A Pet Food Ingredient to be Wary of: Menadione Sodium Bisulfate.'
  • milo  (another name for sorghum)
  • montomorillonite clay  (a thickener and anti-caking agent believed to provide resistance to environmental toxins, though research is far from conclusive, and it sounds more like 'hype' to me. Nonetheless does that sound like something you want to feed to your cat?) 
  • oats, dehulled oats  (see next page - reject #3)
  • oils: vegetable/grain fatty oils  (corn, canola, flax, safflower, soybean, olive, 'vegetable' oils - which can be allergenic - cats have difficulty converting these to the appropriate fatty acid.)
  • porcine plasma  (pig blood)
  • propyl gallate  (synthetic chemical preservative linked to liver damage and may cause cancer)
  • rice  (see next page - reject #3)
  • skim milk (dried)  (residue obtained by drying defatted milk - contains lactose which cats cannot digest properly)
  • sodium carbonate  (used as an acidity regulator, anti-caking agent and helps kill mold)
  • sodium hexametaphosphate  (from phosphoric acid - potential allowable heavy metal/arsenic content)
  • sodium nitrate and nitrite  (unnecessary synthetic chemical preservatives and color enhancers known to be carcinogenic)
  • sodium propionate  (synthetic preservative)
  • sodium pyrophosphate a/k/a tetrasodium pyrophosphate, a/k/a tetrasodium phosphate  (often called sodium acid pyrophosphate) (buffering agent, emulsifier, thickening agent - twice as toxic as regular table salt)
  • sodium selenite  (linked to liver disease. The only real danger with sodium selenite comes if it is overdosed, i.e. if the manufacturer (mistakenly or not) uses too much of it. An overdose can kill a cat. I guess you either have to blindly trust that the manufacturer will use the correct amount or reject this ingredient altogether. I won't take that kind of risk with my cat's health. I have found sodium selenite in 57% of the products that I have reviewed. I also wonder about the cumulative effect of continued feeding of sodium selenite. Does that equate to an overdose over time? Someone smarter than I will have to answer that question for us.)
  • sodium tripolyphosphate  (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (a division of the CDC), suspects sodium tripolyphosphate may be a neurotoxin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes it as an insecticide, fungicide and rodenticide.)
  • sorbitol  (sugar substitue usually derived from corn - highly processed and unnecessary)
  • sorghum  (grass which is indigestible for pets)
  • sucrose (sugar)
  • sugar  (addictive, no nutritional value, contributes to immune problems, cancer and diabetes)
  • tetrasodium phosphate, a/k/a sodium pyrophosphate, a/k/a tetrasodium pyrophosphate  (often called sodium acid pyrophosphate) (buffering agent, emulsifier, thickening agent - twice as toxic as regular table salt)
  • titanium dioxide (potentially carcinogenic artificial color used as a white pigment - see next page - reject #6)
  • wheat  (see next page - reject #3)
  • yeast  (common allergen for pets - completely unnecessary)

Also see the Not Rejects But Close page for these items:

Remember, cats cannot digest/process carbohydrates. There is evidence that carbohydrates lead to pancreatic disorders.

  • aubergine  (another term for eggplant)
  • carrots
  • clams, mussels & squid
  • fruit
  • gums
  • liver
  • major food combinations
  • potatoes
  • pumpkin
  • quinoa
  • salt (added)
  • soy, soybean meal, etc.
  • squash
  • starchy vegetables
  • sweet potatoes
  • tapioca
  • turnip
  • zucchini

Here's an even more in-depth Ingredient Analysis from Dr. Lisa Newman

"This is a wonderful analysis of ingredients found in most pet foods. The list was produced as a collaborative effort between pet food formulator Dr. Lisa Newman, N.D., Ph.D. (www.Azmira.com), Mike Adams (www.HealthRanger.org) and the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (www.ConsumerWellness.org). Mike Adams and the Consumer Wellness Center compiled the following list of 448 ingredients found in pet foods available to the US market, and Dr. Newman has provided nutritional analysis and a description for each ingredient.

Dr. Lisa Newman has over 20 years experience in pet nutrition and nutritional therapies, and neither her nor Mike Adams were funded for this research."  Read Dr. Newman's list here.

[Doug's note: Dr. Newman and I have our differences over the benefit of feeding certain ingredients. I advise you to gather information from many sources before you decide what to feed your cat(s).

Just how prevalent are these bad ingredients?

In trying to get an overview of the industry, it is interesting to note what percentage of products contain some of the worst elements. Here are just a few:

  • menadione sodium bisulfite complex   20%
  • copper sulfate   46.9%
  • carrageenan   15.5%
  • salt   60.5% (which, at first glance, doesn't seem that bad - except add it to the next one on the list to see how much salt is really in cat food.)
  • other sodium ingredients  69.1%  (now how could there be more than 100% salt/sodium ingredients? These are percentages of each thing quoted in the can. In other words, manufactures double up on the salt by calling it other names.)
  • by-products   16.3%
  • ethylenediamine dihydroiodide   6.3%
  • natural flavors   12.5%
  • sodium, tripolyphosphate   12.2%

And Whoever Thought of Putting Ground Pecan Shells in Cat Food? It's Real Folks!

It's right there in black and white on the can's ingredient list. It figures... Hill's® Prescription Diet® 'Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care'®   Ground Pecan Shells is the least horrible ingredient in this cat food. It also contains  • rice starch  • wheat gluten  • chicken liver flavor  • flaxseed  • soybean oil  • whole grain barley  • dried citrus pulp  • dried beet pulp  • natural flavor  • pressed cranberries  • powdered cellulose  • guar gum  • oat fiber  • sodium tripolyphosphate  • fructooligosaccharides  • copper sulfate  • and menadione sodium bisulfite complex. And this product is so special that it's only available via prescription. What B.S.



I got it. Cats in the wild eat insects. But replacing my cat's diet with insects?

Roger Harrabin, a BBC environment analysts, reports the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging the public to consider insect-based pet food - all in the name of the ongoing battle against climate change. "Advocates say insect protein provides a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional pet food" - BBC News

Here's what I have to say about that... "Buzz Off"


This next one goes under the category --- "How low can humans go?"

Plans to Extract Pet Food From Chicken Poop

Again, I refer you to an article by pet food safety consumer advocate Mollie Morrissette from her website PoisonedPets.com.  "Just when you think the pet food industry can't stoop any lower - they do. This time, plans are in place to recycle poultry industry sludge into - you guessed it - pet food. The plan is to develop a "novel recycling operation,"... upcycling poultry sludge into proteins and fats from poultry processing wastewater sludge for use in the pet food industry."

We Pet Parents Really Need To Do Something To Stop This Nonsense. To learn more (and possibly loose all faith in humankind) see Ms. Morrissette's article here.

More Evidence of Sub-Human Decisions to Allow Poop, Garbage, & Others in Cat Food

Here’s an article about the (shady at best) 'arrangement' between the FDA and the Association of American Feed Contol Officials (AAFCO) which talks about 'approved' cat food ingredients such as poop, dust, plastic, breakfast cereal, donuts and others. It's difficult to believe that humans could rationalize using such horrid ingredients, but then look at the 'quality' of some humans. Again by Susan Thixton, TruthAboutPetFood.com -  "Dehydrated Garbage" and Other (absurd) Legal Feed Ingredients

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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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