The Science of Feline Cat Food Formulas

Proper feline nutrition is essential for a healthy and active cat. Many commercial cat foods do not provide balanced nutrients that your cat needs and are filled with fillers offering little nutritional value. By learning what is behind cat food formulas owners can find the best diet for their pet and look beyond misleading claims on dry and canned cat food labels.

Calculating Actual Level of Nutrients

A Guaranteed Analysis should be listed on all cat food labels, which helps determine the crude nutrient levels in dry and canned foods. Canned foods may seem to have less nutrients but this is due to the higher amounts of moisture in the food. A dry food is composed of approximately 90% dry matter, while a canned food is only about 22-25% dry matter.

To calculate nutrient amounts:

Subtract the moisture percentage in the guaranteed analysis from 100 Divide this number into the crude nutrient figure to find the approximate amount of the nutrient For example, if a canned food lists 8% crude protein and 75% moisture on its guaranteed analysis, subtract 75 from 100 to get 25. 8 divided by 25 equals 32%, the crude protein amount on a dry matter basis.

Know Your Labels

According to the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), if a food has the terms "tuna for cats" or "chicken cat food" it must contain 95% or more of the ingredient in the product name.

"Chicken Entree," "Chicken Dinner," "Chicken Feast," or similar labels are required to have 25% to 95% chicken. Combinations, such as "Chicken and Beef Dinner" must contain a total of 25% to 95% of the two meats, listed in order of quantity, and the second listed meat must make up a minimum of 3% of the total weight of the product.

Names that have "with" like "Cat Food With Chicken" requires 3% or more of the named ingredient.

If a food claims to be "Chicken Flavored" there is probably little of the actual meat in the product and instead digests, by-products and additives that offer no value are added so a detectable amount of flavor is present.

Does Premium Food Live Up To The Name?

Many cat food brands advertise their products as "premium" or "gourmet" foods. These labels do not guarantee that the ingredients used are of any greater quality than other brands and they are not required to meet higher standards when it comes to complete and balanced nutrition. Foods labeled "natural" and "organic" do not have to follow any official FDA guidelines about where or how the plants were grown or the animals raised.