Many a cat owner knows that their cats love their canned food. They hear that can opener start or you pulling back that lid and you will see them motivated to wake up and come running from whatever snuggly warm sleepy spot they were in like nothing else could. Then you pour that wet goopy food either chunks or puree with gravy on top into your cats dish. To us it looks awful and smells even worse but oddly enough, they gobble it down like it’s their last meal. Have you ever stopped to really look at the label of that can of food or really consider how it is made? Or maybe you have tried to read the label but are unsure what you are reading and what is good for your cat and what is not? Well let’s shed some light on Canned Cat Food… What is that mysterious meat in the can?
The first thing you should know is how canned cat food is processed. Wet or canned food begins with the raw materials being rendered. Rendering is “to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting.” In other words, raw materials are dumped into large vat and boiled for several hours. Rendering separates fat, removes water, and kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other organisms. Well that sounds good right? We all know that bacteria can make us sick. However, the high temperatures used (270°F/130°C) can alter or destroy the natural enzymes and proteins found in the raw ingredients. The flesh products are reground after initial cooking to produce a more uniform consistency. This meat mixture is then blended with other additional ingredients and added vitamins to fortify it. Measured amounts of the product are packaged into appropriate containers vacuum sealed to reduce the oxygen content and prevent spoilage of fats in the food. The cans of food 2are then heat processed again to be sterilized by passing them through a heating chamber which reaches a temperature of 250°F. The cans are quickly cooled, dried, labeled, boxed and shipped off to your local pet store and that’s a wrap.
Now let’s dive right into what ingredients are contained within this mysterious brown mush our cats seem to love so much. Let’s begin by looking at one of the most popular cat foods available today on the market, Hills Science Diet. Just the name alone makes you feel like this must be a good quality food because they use “science” to formulate their diets and therefore they must be healthy right? Unfortunately that could not be further from the truth. So I choose to investigate the commonly purchased flavor of “Homestyle Chicken Supper” for adult cats. The fact that there is a particular formulated diet for kittens, adults, and seniors is something disturbing of its own accord but that will be a later blog article. First let me list the ingredients in this can of food and then we will investigate what each ingredient actually is and break it down.
“Water, Chicken, Animal Liver, Wheat Flour, Brown Rice, Wheat Gluten, Carrots, Dextrose, Rice Starch-Modified, Spinach, Pork Plasma, Chicken Liver Flavor, Oat Fiber, Calcium Carbonate, Soybean Oil, Titanium Dioxide (color), Fish Oil, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Guar Gum, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Caramel (color), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Zinc Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganous Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadoine Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of vitamin K3).”
Right off the bat I am concerned with the fact that the foods first ingredient is water, the first ingredient should always be the advertised food on the label of any product, in this case chicken. It is just like when you want to buy apple juice for your children you wouldn’t want the first ingredient to be water because you would know that the juice is diluted and not very good quality right? You want it to be nothing but what it is supposed to be; apple juice from real apples! Moving on; the second ingredient is actual chicken, not just by products of chicken found in many other products, so that is a plus. Animal liver is good because there are many nutrients vitamins and minerals provided to the body from liver; however it scares me to no end to wonder just what kind of “animal” livers these are. It could be anything from the four “D’s: dead, dying, diseased or disabled livestock, to road-kill, to believe it or not there have been reports in the past that some pet food companies in the past have used dead dogs and cats!
Scary enough already I know right… but we must move on. Next we have wheat flour, brown rice, and wheat gluten. All of these products contain a very commonly known food allergen protein you may know of called gluten. Gluten can be very difficult for even many people to process and we are Omnivore’s meaning that we have the ability to eat just about anything. Felines are strict carnivores known as obligate carnivores so their bodies are designed to digest meat, not at all meant for complex carbohydrates like grains. This can create havoc on your cat’s digestive system leading to many problematic symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, vomiting, can weaken their immune system and may even cause neurological symptoms and problems leading to death. Getting even scarier isn’t it??? Again moving forward we have carrots, not bad right carrots have good things in them so that’s a good one, however if you know much about your veggies you know that carrots are very sweet and contain a high percentage of sugar. Therefor the next ingredient is worrisome; they then add dextrose which is extra sugar, and we all know too much sugar can lead to many health problems associated with obesity like diabetes. Remember that ingredients on a label are listed in order of percentage within the product so the main ingredients we have your cat eating is chicken, mixed with rice and flour and carrots with water and sugar on top; sounds really healthy right.?
After this we again have rice starch, more gluten a cat should never eat, then spinach okay a plus on that one, then pork plasma. What is pork plasma you might wonder? Well plasma is the pale-yellow liquid component of blood that normally holds the blood cells in whole blood in suspension. So why is there blood from pigs included into your cat’s food? Well the manufacturer would tell you it is because the blood plasma has a lot of good nutrients in it, which is true and in nature your cat would eat an entire animal source it had killed including its blood. However we have to ponder why it is pork blood and not chicken blood as this is a chicken based product. Well the answer is because the chicken included into the canned food is not a whole source of chicken; it is just parts of the chicken left over from processing and packaging for human consumption. Also because pork is the one of the highest processed meat products in the US only next to beef. Regulations prevent against using the spilled waste blood from beef due to mad cow disease, but manufactures are allowed to use the spilled waste blood from pigs and add it to your pet’s food along with other products. Believe me when I say the bottom line for the manufacturer is NOT what the best nutrition for your pet is, but what is best for their pocket. They are not including pork blood plasma for the great nutritional factors but because it makes the canned food taste better to the cats so they will eat more and they will sell more of their product. Sorry but we must continue on. Let’s just make a list shall we to make it easier to see what each additional added ingredient is purposed for.
Chicken liver flavor: an artificial flavored chemical added again just for taste instead of using real chicken liver because that is more costly.
Oat fiber: again cats are not designed to eat oats; they just add this fiber to add substance and weight to the product.
Soybean oil: is added to provide essential amino acids; but again from a source cats should not eat. Cats are definitely not designed to eat soybeans, and similar to gluten, soy s very hard to digest even to non-carnivores. Also soybeans are now the number one crop in the world which has been genetically modified, to which there is no knowledge of how this modification will effect consumers either human or animals long term.
Titanium Dioxide (color): This is just an added potentially carcinogenic chemical to add white coloring to the food.
Fish Oil: This is of course better than the soybean oil, there is less of included than the soybean of course because it is more costly. However it doesn’t say what kind of fish oil it is. It is likely a mix of many kinds of fish conjugated together and likely from the cheapest source which can be farmed fish which are unnaturally produced and are dangerously high in levels of mercury, or waste fishes which are rancid and not suitable for human consumption.
Guar Gum: an added soluble fiber made from the guar bean which is known to cause digestive gastrointestinal symptoms including excessive gas and abdominal discomfort even in humans.
Caramel (color): additive food coloring chemically derived.
All of the remaining ingredients are necessary nutrients; vitamins and minerals essential to your cat’s immune system health, metabolism and cellular functions. All of these are from standard sources and promote proper function essential to your cat’s health which is a good thing. However the point to look at is how MANY of these nutrients need to be added back into the food just to make it a “balanced” enough diet that your cat will not fall into a deficiency of these essential nutrients. The big picture to look at is IF the food was from healthy whole natural food sources the cat food would not need to add all of these nutrients individually into the food they would already be there. What little nutritional value is derived from the main ingredients within this food are so overly processed that many of the nutrients are actually destroyed and rendered useless. Think about it; in the wild your natural cat doesn’t need to take 20 vitamins with their mouse to stay healthy do they?
“Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Guar Gum, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Caramel (color), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Zinc Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganous Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadoine Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of vitamin K3).
All of this being said please note that a diet of canned cat food is a better higher quality diet as apposed to dry food only diets. This is because the food is actually not exposed to the same extent of processing which allows the meat and other ingredients to retain more of their natural properties than those in dry foods. Also a canned food diet contains more water and moisture which is healthier for cats since they are prone to chronic dehydration. Also I want to be sure to note that the quality of ingredients put into the canned cat foods can greatly vary among different brands. There are brands of much lesser quality than the Science Diet food investigated here, and there are also foods that contain better whole sources of food ingredients which are much healthier options for your cats. We can look at Nature’s Variety which is, through my countless hours of research, the top pet food brand currently on the market. You can see the ingredients listed are from more whole food sources and not as many vitamins and minerals have to be added back into the food to make it balanced.
“Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Ground Flaxseed,Montmorillonite Clay, Chicken Eggs, Peas, Carrots, Lecithin, Vitamins ( Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Taurine, Minerals ( Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale,Parsley.”
We here at LiLNudists Sphynx and Bambino cattery promote the use of natural ancestral raw food diets for our beloved hairless cats; but we understand that not everyone is going to be willing to feed this type of diet to their cats for various reasons. Although, PLEASE if you are considering making the change to a raw food diet and have questions or concerns about how; just contact us for some guidance we are always happy to help! If you are not going to feed your cat a raw food diet for your own individual reasons then please at least consider feeding your cats a high quality canned-food only diet like the natures variety. These foods do come at an additional cost at the counter of your local pet store; but trust me when I tell you that your savings will be quadrupled at home and at your vet’s office in the long run. Your cat will enjoy a much longer, healthier, more active and satisfying life thanks to you being an informed cat parent and outsmarting the pet food marketing techniques and false advertising. You may be wondering now after learning all of this information, why any of these foods are sold and promoted at your vet’s office, and more over why are they recommended by your veterinarian? Well there is a good reason, which of course once again is not because of its great health benefits to your cat… but that is a whole separate issue I will unveil in my next blog post!
Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible. A raw food diet may not be appropriate for all cats in all stages of health and we always recommend having your cat examined and discussing diet changes with your veterinarian.
Keep those Hairless Kitties Healthy and Happy Everyone!!!
Text: Copyright © April Arguin RDH, Founder of LiLNudists Sphynx, Bambino, SphynxieBob & BamBob Cattery. All rights reserved.