While on vacation I stopped at the local grocery and saw the food I like to feed my cats was now available in the as opposed to my regular pet store. So I scooped up a few cans and headed to the register. The cashier was a young girl who scanned one of the cans through, looked at the price that it revealed and then took a moment to stop and read the ingredients on the back. She looked up at me and asked, “Is this just a Christmas treat or do you always feed your cats this nice?”
I hadn’t even thought about it but I realized that yes, Overly Inquisitive and Borderline Sarcastic Checkout Gal, in fact I do always feed my cats that nice. I mean, I like to eat (fairly) clean myself so why wouldn’t I want for my cats to? Of course, it’s not always the most cost effective way to live but it’s a personal choice everyone has got to make for themselves and one that I committed to when I adopted my first cat, Henry. Alright, in the spirit of the new year I’m letting you all know right now (after 3 years of as a Pawesome contributor) that my name is Jolene and yes, I purchase my cats a somewhat pricey but what I deem high quality food for my cats that okay, yes, sometimes looks so good I want to eat it myself. Stop judging me.
Anyhow, because of my naturally Pawesome curiosity I then went back to the pet food aisle to read through the labels of some of the more lower-priced, mainstream cat foods to see if the food that I choose to buy was truly all that different. So this week Raise A Paw is zooming in on a listing of common mainstream ingredients to help you understand what’s in your cats food. No seriously, what is that.
While this isn’t a full list of ingredients it is a listing of ones that I saw repeated on several different brands and types of food that seem to be found in a lot of mid-to-lower brands and types of food. In case you had not learned by now the ingredients are always listed in order by how much of that ingredient can be found in the product. Typically then the protein source should be the first listed ingredient, then a secondary protein source (if applicable) then whatever carbohydrate fillers are included, oils or fat, other ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables, a form of preservative, and added vitamins and minerals, including taurine.
I then took my top 14 repeat ingredients list to the library and to the internet to decode exactly what the USDA, FDA, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and a whole host of scientists consider these ingredients to each be comprised of:
- Chicken: This typically means (for a mid-to higher end brand) the combo of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination of the two excluding heads, feathers, feet and any entrails.
- Brewers Rice: The dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops
- Corn Gluten Meal: The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran.
- Poultry By-Product Meal: The ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur “unavoidably” in good processing practices.
- Wheat Flour: The powder made from grinding wheat.
- Beef Tallow: Beef Tallow is obtained from the tissue of cattle in the commercial process of rendering and is a saturated fat added for flavor.
- Whole Grain Corn: Corn. Straight up. Like, what you would munch off the cob. It contains the bran, cereal germ, and endosperm.
- Sodium Caseinate: A biochemical name for caesin which is a type of protein found in the milk from all mammals.
- Fish Meal: The clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil. Here is an odd, fun little fact: In order to be accurately labeled as “fish meal” it must contain not more than 10% moisture. If it contains more than 3% salt (NaCl), the amount of salt must constitute a part of the product name, provided that in no case must the salt content of this product exceed 7%.
- Egg Product: Eggs that are dehydrated, liquid, or frozen (and labeled per USDA regulations regarding eggs) and there must be no shell included.
- Potassium Chloride: Potassium salt of hydrochloric acid. This is Raise a Paw, not Raise Mr. Wizard – Get your textbooks out or as the kids today say, Google it.
- Phosphoric Acid: A mineral supplement most densely composed of phosphorus.
- Brewers Dried Yeast: Made from a single-celled fungus, called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is a very rich source of B vitamins and supplies minerals and amino acids.
- Natural Flavors: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.
Phew. Some of these were a mouthful. Now, what you do with this information is up to you as this is a post meant to do just that: inform. How you choose to feed your pet is something you as the owner or you in conjunction with your vet should to decide. What I’m offering you here are just the fact, ma’am.