How to Read Cat Food Labels

Cat food labels can provide you with information about the various ingredients present in commercial food products. It’s very important that you, as a pet owner, know how to read cat food labels to ensure that you provide your pet with a healthy and nutritious diet that contains ingredients of the highest quality.

Cat food labels are regulated by the federal government, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture and must follow certain guidelines laid down by them.

Reading Cat Food Labels

  • Check whether the wording on the label states that the cat food is complete and balanced and is in compliance with the American Association of Food Control Official.
  • Find out if the label states the type of protein source used. It should state whether the food is chicken, lamb or beef and not just say meat. This protein source should be the first on the list of ingredients on the bag or can, of cat food.
  • You should never buy kitten food for a cat.
  • Also avoid buying the food if the label says uses general terms like meat or meal.
  • Make sure that the food doesn’t contain by-products and added sugars, corn meal or chemical preservatives such as BHA or BHT.
  • All cat food labels also need to provide the product name, the net weight, and expiration date. The list of ingredients, guaranteed analysis, feeding instructions, statement of responsibility and the nutritional adequacy statement should also be mentioned.


Product Name

The product name is the brand name of the cat food and is prominently displayed on the label. It also mentions the type of meat that is primarily used, the net weight in grams and ounces, the date of expiry and the age group for which the food is suitable. If a label states that the food is chicken cat food, it means that the food consists of at least 95 percent chicken. However, if a label states the food is cat food with chicken, it means that the food has only 3 percent of chicken.

If the amount of meat is more than 25 percent but less than 95 percent, the food should be called a dinner, platter, entrée or formula. Apart from this, if the label states "chicken nuggets" it means that the cat food contains only 3 percent chicken. However, the nuggets can also contain other meats and this can be confirmed by checking the list of ingredients.

The List of Ingredients

The ingredients must be listed according to the proportion they are used. The ingredient that forms the maximum portion of the food is listed first and the rest follow according to their proportions.

The Guaranteed Analysis

This states the minimum amount of nutrients such as proteins, fat and fiber. You can compare 2 cat foods on the basis of the guaranteed analysis of each.

The Feeding Instructions

The label must recommend the amount of food that you should feed your pet.

Nutritional Adequacy Claim

This claim advices you of the age group for which the food is suited and also whether the food is a supplement or a complete food.

Statement of Responsibility

The label must also provide information on the manufacturers of the product and their contact details.

When buying cat food, it’s equally important to concentrate on the nutrient value of the food and the ingredients that are present in any product.