Nutritional Qualities of Typical Cat Food Ingredients

Even some of the "healthier" cat food brands contain unhealthy cat food ingredients. With skyrocketing feline diabetes and cancer rates, it's important to pay attention to your cat's diet. You may be impairing your cat's health inadvertently because of the poor cat food nutrition content.

Cat Food Nutrition: Proteins and Vitamins

Cats need protein to survive. Protein aids a cat in many ways, including:

  • Cellular growth
  • Digestive health
  • Immunity
  • Metabolism
  • Skin and fur
  • Vision
  • Weight maintenance

This is only the beginning. Unlike other mammals, cats' bodies simply cannot manufacture some of the nutrients critical to survival. Cats' bodies do synthesize vitamin C, but they need foods rich in:

  • Arachidonic acid (Blood clotting)
  • Arginine (Kidney health)
  • Cysteine (Kidney health)
  • Niacin (Digestive and oral health)
  • Taurine (Eye and heart health)
  • Vitamin A (Reproductive health and vision)

Animal Fats Prove Valuable for Skin Health

Many pet foods include animal fat in the cat food ingredients. Animal fats are rendered from tissues of cows, poultry, lamb and fish and usually act as a preservative. Animal fats add flavor to cat foods in many cases and increase palatability. High quality animal fats help enhance a cat's skin health.

However, animal fats also spoil over time and when exposed to bright light. It's important to keep cat foods with animal fats in airtight containers and out of direct lighting.

Fillers and Carbohydrates No Good for Diet Cat Food

Fillers are the worst ingredient in organic cat food. Fillers are simply carbohydrates that save companies money. By adding inexpensive fillers to their cat food products, they use less protein. When checking labels for a cat food comparison, avoid these ingredients:

  • Corn or wheat gluten
  • Cornmeal
  • Ground wheat
  • Cellulose
  • Brewer's rice

Fillers offer no nutritional value. They simply make a cat feel fuller for longer.

Good Protein Sources

When reading a cat food ingredient's label, look for a quality protein source to first on the list. Chicken is the meat and skin of a chicken without any organs, entrails or feathers. This is a great source of protein. The same is true of fish beef or lamb. It's just the meat and skin.

Chicken or fish meal is ground, dehydrated poultry or fish. It's still an okay source of protein, but should be secondary to something like deboned chicken.

Poultry and Meat By-Products

Avoid by-products. By-products are the ground up remnants of meat and poultry after the meat is packaged for human consumption. By-products contain things like ground intestines, spleens, beaks, tails, feet, etc. They are poor sources of protein.

Some of the biggest names in pet foods, such as Hills and IAMS, are owned by large manufacturing companies like Proctor and Gamble. Their goal is to save money creating pet foods that meet government standards. The cat food ingredients they use, like chicken by-products and cellulose powder, offer poor nutritional benefits and cost them little to manufacture. Researchers believe the increase in cancer and diabetes correlates to high carbohydrate, low protein diets.

Danger of Diet Cat Food and Fillers

Weight control cat food ingredients make a cat feel fuller. The problem is these high-carbohydrate ingredients reduce the amount of protein a cat ingests. Hill's Science Diet's top five ingredients include:

  • Brewers rice
  • Chicken by-products
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Ground corn

Unless you are purchasing a prescription diet cat food, avoid diet foods.