"Safe Cat Food, Veterinarian Formulated
Watch the online movie and listen to the voice recording by Dr Jane Bicks, and you will know what items on the ingredient and nutrition labels of the cat food you buy are NOT good for your cat or kitten - such as corn, soy, wheat, gluten, animal byproducts, and unhealthy chemical preservatives. Did you know that wheat and corn can cause skin problems and diarrhea and vomiting in cats and dogs?
Cats should live for 30 years - unless you don't feed them healthy food! The longest reported cat life span was 37 years. It's so sad and shameful that our beloved pets are dying far too soon. A primary cause of poor pet health and the much shorter life span of North American cats is poor nutrition! (This is also true for humans.)
The average cat or dog in North America rarely reaches even half of its potential life span. The average life span of a cat in the USA is only 12 years (some studies say 14). Yet some cat breeders who are serious about feeding their cats nutritious food raise cats that live 20 years or longer. How long will YOUR cat live?
"Old age" is NOT a disease. It is a lack of healthy nutrition that is the primary cause of diseases and premature aging! A cat that is fed nutritious food does not have to be "old" at age 10 - it could still be healthy and active for many years beyond that age we have come to accept as "old age" for a North American cat.
But the dog and cat foods people are buying today are so often lacking in the nutrition a cat or dog really needs, and this robs the pet of those extra active years of its life.
Wouldn't you wish your pet a long life in good health? You know how sad it is to lose your beloved pet, and even more distressing when they are suffering from some painful, incurable disease and you have to make the difficult choice to put them down to end their suffering. Wouldn't you want them to live longer in good health and spend more happy years with you?
Do you love your cat enough to take a little time to learn how you can help your faithful feline friend avoid unnecessary diseases and live a much longer and healthier life?
All you need to do is learn a little about cat nutrition and how to read the often confusing and sometimes downright deceptive ingredient and nutrition labels on the cat food you choose for your pet - so you can avoid the unhealthy brands and choose the ones which are best for your cat's health and quality of life. Read on!
The Pet Food Recall
Check the Ingredient List of your cat food (wet AND dry types) and treats, and if it lists "wheat gluten" or "rice gluten" or "rice concentrate" you should STOP FEEDING IT TO YOUR CAT NOW!
By May 11, 2007, over 5,500 pet food products had been placed on the recall list! (reported by consumeraffairs.com)
Let's learn some life-saving lessons from the startling story of the poisoned pet food recall of 2007...
This article is about pet food sold in the U.S. and Canadian markets, but note that some of the contaminated ingredients were also sent to Europe. Melamine has also been found in corn gluten used in dry pet food in South Africa.
The U.S. FDA has also discovered that some of the Diamond Foods recalled pet products made in October 2006 in South Carolina, USA, which were tainted with aflatoxin (deadly to dogs) had been exported to at least 29 countries, including countries within the European Union.
The massive pet food recall on March 16, 2007, started when a shipment of wheat gluten from China imported by ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas, NV, USA, and already used in pet foods manufactured since December 3, 2006 by Menu Foods and labelled under more than 100 well-known brands was found to contain a toxic chemical called aminopterin - a cancer drug which was later used illegally to induce abortions in the USA (but was banned when up to 50% of the failed abortion attempts produced birth defects and malformed babies). Aminopterin is still used outside the USA as a rat poison.
Note that Menu Foods later moved that "manufactured since" date BACK to November 8, 2006. Even more pets had been at risk, and some had already mysteriously died of kidney failure before their caretakers heard of the tainted dog and cat food recall in mid March 2007.
Though first reported by the New York State Food Lab, the FDA labs were not able to confirm the presence of aminopterin in the foods that killed some cats and dogs, but later discovered the wheat gluten imported by ChemNutra of Las Vegas, Nevada, contained melamine - which by now was an ingredient in 60 million cans and pouches of dog and cat food made by Menu Foods.
In its own routine taste testing conducted quarterly by Menu Foods, out of 20 dogs and cats in the taste test, 9 reportedly had died of melamine poisoning in February 2007.
A number of cats and dogs died of acute kidney failure after consuming various pet foods containing the melamine-contaminated Chinese wheat gluten. (In April 2007 the U.S. FDA was also inspecting 12 other U.S. and Canadian pet food products (including flaked tuna, salmon, halibut and whitefish) for possible contamination with melamine, again involving Chinese wheat gluten sold in the USA and Canada by ChemNutra Inc.)
On April 10, 2007, a U.S. chain of veterinary clinics estimated that as many as 39,000 dogs and cats were injured by eating the melamine tainted wheat gluten added to pet foods manufactured by Menu Foods.
Wheat gluten or wheat flour should not even be an ingredient in your cat's food!
Glutens are glycoproteins extracted from plants like wheat, corn, oats, barley. Corn meal gluten is the most commonly used ingredient to increase the total percentage of protein in a pet food without having to include the more expensive high-quality animal protein from real meat. Other glutens often used in cheap cat food are wheat gluten and rice gluten.
Premium quality cat foods are less likely to contain any wheat gluten or corn meal gluten or rice gluten because they contain more animal protein from real meat. And some of the more health-conscious pet food manufacturers (most often the smaller independent companies not owned by multi-national conglomerates) will not put wheat or corn into their dog and cat foods because they know the health problems they can cause.
Adding cheap glutens lets the nutrition label on an inferior dog or cat food indicate a deceptively higher "protein" content even when it contains little high-quality animal protein - which is what your cat or dog really needs for optimum health.
What was exposed by the pet food recall is how the lives of many cats and dogs were put at risk by the decision to add the even cheaper Chinese wheat gluten to so many brand name pet foods. Bad enough that wheat can cause allergies in dogs and cats, and that wheat sometimes gets contaminated with a fungal mold which produces aflatoxin which has already killed a number of pets who consumed a commercial pet food containing wheat.
Recent reports revealed that adding melamine to feed products is a widespread practice in China because it raises the nitrogen level, which appears to increase the protein content of the feeds it is added to (even though it adds NO nutritional value). A commonly used method for doing a protein analysis of animal feed is by measuring the amount of ammonia that is released by the feed product when chemically treated to release the nitrogen in the protein molecules. More nitrogen means more ammonia is released, which indicates more protein was present in the feed.
Melamine is an organic chemical derived from urea. When melamine is mixed with formaldehyde it makes a pliable melamine resin which is generally used in manufacturing very hard plastics such as Melamine dishes, Formica counter tops, and whiteboards. Melamine is also used in plant fertilizers. In some countries such as China, powdered melamine is also used as a rat poison, but its use as a rodenticide is banned in the U.S.A.
The deceptively higher protein content of the adulterated feed product increases its value and gets a higher price and more profits for the greedy supplier. Apparently, adding a little RAT POISON to an animal feed product did not concern the cheating sellers of the wheat gluten that resulted in the deaths of thousands of North American pets.
Is this a classic case of "boomerang karma"? The North American pet food makers who had chosen to add cheap, low-quality vegetable proteins to their products to deceive pet food buyers into believing there was a higher level of nutritious animal protein in their pet foods had in turn been deceived by two unscrupulous Chinese producers of wheat gluten who had been routinely adding cheap, scrap melamine to grain-based animal feed products (and maybe to some human food materials) to deceive buyers of its feed products into believing that there was a higher protein content in the food - which then could be sold at a higher price.
An April 30, 2007 report by an Associated Press reporter revealed that adding ground-up scrap melamine to feed products to increase profits is a widespread practice in China that has continued for over 15 years. The manager of a feed producer in northern China confirmed the practice and stated, "Using the proper quantity of melamine will not harm the animals. Our products are very safe, for sure."
He seemed to be saying that adding a little poison will not hurt pets, but will help profits.
The potentially dangerous effects did not seem to concern the profit-hungry Chinese feed sellers who routinely cheat their customers by adding melamine RAT POISON to raw materials for products which would be fed to pets and livestock. Profits before pets and people seems to be their policy. (Bad karma brings consequences... for news reports indicate that Chinese authorities have arrested the broker who sold the poisoned wheat gluten to ChemNutra. Perhaps the processors who added the melamine will also suffer the same consequences created by their selfish choices.)
The brands of premium dog and cat foods whose health-conscious makers would never put ANY wheat or wheat gluten into a pet product remained safe to eat and were not part of the pet food recall. (Good karma brings rewards.)
Wheat gluten is used to mold the various shapes in wet dog and cat foods like chunks, cuts, slices, bites, and flakes. Wheat gluten is also used as a thickener for gravy - and some tainted wheat gluten in the gravies of many brands of cat and dog food was the first focus of the March 16, 2007 pet food recall by Menu Foods Inc.
The extruders which use the wheat gluten to form chunks of fake meat for wet cat foods or to form the kibble and bits for dry cat foods operate at high pressure and high temperatures. High heat can destroy natural enzymes and vitamins, and can break down proteins or "denature" them (i.e. mutate them). Whatever nutritionally useful protein this concentrated form of wheat contained would likely be largely destroyed by the high heat and pressure of the extrusion process.
Vegetable proteins are among the poorest sources of protein, and are often used in the lower quality cat foods.
Cats are most at risk for melamine poisoning (and other toxins and chemical poisons) because they evolved in a desert environment in Africa and have the unique ability to highly concentrate their urine to preserve water. Ancient cats didn't drink water, but got all they needed from their prey. Cats have less water in their kidneys and have less ability to flush out toxins through urination.
So the kidneys of cats are less well adapted to filtering out potentially toxic waste or poisons, which is why they are more susceptible to kidney damage. Dogs, pigs, and humans drink more water and urinate more, which helps them flush out toxins.
Is Any Pet Food Safe?
Pet owners who checked their pet food brand against the long list of 101 recalled brands made by Menu Foods in March 2007 may have been reassured to see they were not feeding their cat or dog a pet food in a can or pouch which contained Chinese wheat gluten poisoned with melamine. Some switched to a DRY dog or cat food to avoid the suspect wet foods.
When later notifications extended the recalled cat foods list to some dry pet foods and then to some dog and cat treats, they checked the recall list again. And worried if the next recall would tell them they had been poisoning their pet.
On April 27, 2007, the U.S. FDA began to seize and detain all shipments of the following food products imported from China. Note that some might be used in human food products such as food bars and protein powders. It may be wise to err on the safe side and avoid any products for pets or people which contain these items, until you can be sure they were NOT imported from China.
Wheat Gluten, Rice Gluten, Rice Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Corn Gluten, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn By-Products, Soy Protein, Soy Gluten Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates), and Mung Bean Protein.
Testing by the U.S. FDA forensic chemistry labs later revealed that the so-called wheat gluten and rice gluten products were actually just wheat flour with melamine added to make the products appear to possess a higher protein content.
Now cat owners are being tortured by the uncertainty of it all. Will the NEXT list of recalled pet foods tell them they have been feeding poisoned cat food to their beloved pet for months now? Will it be too late to save them?
How will they ever feel that the food they feed their pet is safe?
One way to feel the most safe and achieve some peace of mind is to look for brands of cat food which DO NOT and NEVER DID contain any wheat gluten or rice gluten - the two ingredients which were found to contain the melamine which was killing pets.
The chances of melamine being found in those cat foods would be close to zero. They were not recalled in March 2007 and are not likely to be recalled next week either. You can stop worrying that you will find you have been poisoning your pet for months before you found out. You won't have to check batch numbers or production dates, because those safe pet foods never contained wheat or rice glutens at all.
Better yet, look for brands that never contained ingredients imported from China. But, alas, reading the pet food label will not tell you the country of origin for each ingredient, so you won't see "China" on the label unless the whole product was made in China. With this one, you have to decide if the producer of your chosen cat food is more motivated by profits than pet health, for if that's the case, they are more likely to have been motivated to increase pet food profits by substituting cheap glutens from China for some more nutritious but more expensive ingredients.
You need to carefully examine the Ingredient List on the label of the cat food you have been serving your pet.
You won't see "melamine" on the label, but you might see "wheat gluten" or "rice gluten" or "rice concentrate". If you do, that pet food might be one which contains the Chinese wheat or rice glutens tainted with toxic melamine. To be on the safe side, look for "wheat" or "wheat meal" too, especially if you don't see those other ingredients.
Don't assume that unprocessed whole rice itself is something to avoid. Brown rice or whole brown rice is a very healthy food with lots of good nutrition, and many millions of humans eat it regularly. It doesn't need to have its nutrient content "boosted" artificially with additives like melamine, so the risk of it containing melamine is zero to very low. It's only the processed "rice concentrate" and "rice gluten" from China that were found to contain melamine.
Wheat can cause allergies in cats, so even if it's not poisoned with melamine (or aflatoxin), you may want to stop feeding your cat any product containing any form of wheat. It's a cheap filler and it's not really good for a cat. Same goes for corn and soy. Whole brown rice (not rice gluten) is about the only grain that provides some good nutrition for a cat or dog and doesn't cause allergies or digestive problems for your pet.
If you are worried about the recalls due to aflatoxin poisoning (such as the Diamond Pet Foods recall in December 2005 or the Doane Pet Care recall in 1999) look for cat foods which DO NOT contain wheat or corn or soy or peanut hulls.
These are plants that are MOST likely to become contaminated with the fungus mold that produces potentially deadly aflatoxin. Peanut hulls are often used as filler in cheap pet foods, and may appear on the Ingredient List as "vegetable fiber".
We know one brand of safe cat food which was NOT a part of the 2007 pet food recall because it has never contained any wheat or wheat gluten - so there is no chance that any of the contaminated wheat gluten from China would be in this company's cat food. This company's cat and dog foods and treats contain only ingredients sourced in the U.S.A.
Their pet foods contain whole brown rice because it is a good source of nutrition that is well-absorbed by dogs and cats, but it has never contained any rice gluten. So there is no chance that this independent U.S. company's cat food would contain any of the contaminated rice gluten from China.
This cat food is NOT made by Menu Foods or American Nutrition. It is made in the USA in a processing plant which is also APHIS certified to sell to the European market, where quality and safety standards for pet foods are much stricter than in the USA. This same government-inspected processing plant also makes food for humans.
Better yet, it is formulated by a famous U.S. holistic veterinarian, Dr Jane Bicks, who inspects each shipment before it is distributed directly to pet owners in the USA from the nearest center in Florida or California. Her name is on the label and her reputation is on the line, so quality and safety are always a priority with Dr Jane.
This independently-owned U.S. company manufactures its pet foods in small batches so that their dog and cat foods are never more than 6 weeks old when they arrive fresh at your door. They use safe natural preservatives, not harmful chemicals like BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin. (Those mass-produced supermarket brands of pet foods can be 12 to 18 months old before they are sold to you and fed to your cat.)
With Dr Jane, pet health comes first before pet food profits. NO cheap Chinese glutens appear in her formulations. NO wheat, no corn, no soy, no "byproducts", no fillers, no artifical colorings, no GMOs - and NO unhealthy chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin. Her good name and professional reputation is riding on the safety and quality and life-enhancing effects of the pet foods she formulates and recommends.
So if you want to end the torture and feel reassured that you are feeding a safe cat food to your precious pet, take a look at this brand, check the ingredients, and request a FREE SAMPLE of their nutritious cat food. On their web site you can listen to Dr Jane Bicks speaking about pet nutrition, and watch an online video about what really goes into most other commercial pet foods these days.
Does a high-quality cat food like this cost more? Yes, because it costs more to include only high-nutrition ingredients like real meat instead of cheap corn and wheat and rendered byproducts. It may cost more per bag, but it may cost less per daily feeding.
Why? Because your pet will instinctively eat more of a cheap cat food that provides less of the nutrients it needs. You may find your cat needs much LESS of this more nutritious food. That tends to equalize the cost per serving or cost per month, so the cheap cat foods may not save you as much as the purchase price alone would indicate. With NO fillers, byproducts, wheat, corn, or soy in nutrient-rich Life's Abundance dry cat food, the daily serving size for the average cat is only one-half cup, while it may be one cup or more for comparable brands.
When your cat gets healthier food, your furry friend could enjoy better health, live a significantly longer life, and die peacefully of old age instead of from some painful disease like cancer. And you will likely save a lot of money on vet visits when you have a well-fed and healthy pet. Any extra you may pay for a healthy premium cat food, you could consider as a "health insurance" premium.
The Pet Food Recall (continued)
It soon became public knowledge that one single pet food processing company headquartered in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada, near Toronto (Menu Foods) with two U.S. processing plants in Emporium, Kansas and Pennsauken, New Jersey, manufactured and packaged a "cuts and gravy" type of wet dog and cat food (in pouch or can) that was labelled under 101 familiar pet food name brands - 47 cat foods and 54 dog foods.
The intitial Menu Foods recall on March 16, 2007, included all these brands of wet cat food made in its two American plants:
These unsafe pet foods were sold in major supermarkets, chain stores and pet stores throughout the USA and Canada - including some higher priced brands of dog and cat food that unsuspecting pet owners had previously assumed to be of premium quality that would be safe and healthy for their pets.
According to staff at the office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois), a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Menu Foods first noticed a potential problem on February 20, 2007, but did not contact the FDA until March 15, 2007. They also mentioned that the U.S. FDA had never inspected the Menu Foods plant in Emporia, Kansas, because the FDA relies on the individual States to do inspections.
The Chief Financial Officer at Menu Foods, Mark Wiens, says he sold half of his shares in the company just three weeks ahead of the massive recall involving 95 different brands. Wiens said it's simply a "horrible coincidence".
Why did Menu Foods wait over three weeks to report the problem with the poisoned pet foods, after seeing their own test animals die from eating their pet food? Each day, more dogs and cats were being fed those foods with the potential to kill them. How many pets might have been spared injury or death if the manufacturer had announced a recall as soon as they assessed the risk?
This initial Menu Foods recall included 60 million cans and pouches of cat and dog foods. Would 9 out of 20 dogs and cats who might have eaten those recalled pet foods also have died from melamine poisoning? By May 2007, the estimates of actual pet deaths ran as high as 14 thousand!
Menu Foods did a "voluntary recall" on March 16, 2007, of the 101 brands of wet dog and cat foods made in its two U.S. plants from December 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007.
It is interesting to note that the U.S. FDA did not require them to recall the pet foods that were already killing people's pets. And something you may not know is that the FDA does not do regular periodic testing of pet foods or inspection of the processing facilities. They test and inspect if some reason arises to suspect a problem (like this one).
Symptoms of Melamine Poisoning in Cats and Dogs
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advice to dog and cat owners is:
Because cats originally evolved in desert areas and still concentrate their urine and live on less water, they are more susceptible than dogs to kidney failure due melamine posioning. If your cat shows signs of the above symptoms, DO NOT DELAY in getting veterinary treatment! Intravenous fluid therapy might save your cat's life if the kidney damage has not been too extensive.
It would also be prudent to stop feeding your cat any food that lists wheat gluten or rice gluten in the Ingredient List on the label, whether or not the cat food appears on any recall list.
It was discovered that the tainted wheat gluten imported from China by ChemNutra of Las Vegas, Nevada, contained ground-up melamine, an organic chemical made from urea which can be mixed with formaldehyde to make a pliable melamine resin which is used to form very hard plastics such as Melamine, Formica, and Arborite. Melamine is also used in plant fertilizers, and also as a rat poison in some countries such as China (but its use as a rodenticide is banned in the USA).
In the USA the use of melamine as a rodent poison is illegal, so any made-in-America wheat gluten would not have been contaminated by any deadly melamine - unless it were added on purpose.
Pet owners probably thought they were buying a particular brand of dog or cat food that was different and perhaps better than the other brands they did not choose. They probably thought that when they chose a different brand they would get a different product.
Now every cat owner in North America can see that all those 47 major "name brand" cat foods involved in the Menu Foods pet food recall were essentially similar cat food products made in the same two processing plants in the USA.
The 101 brands of pet food ALL contained a cheap filler ingredient imported from China that contained a toxic chemical which could kill their pets!
Some of the most popular and previously trusted brands involved in the initial March 2007 Menu Foods recall included:
Science Diet is often recommended (i.e. promoted) by some veterinarians. Why would they recommend a cat food that contained wheat gluten? That is a question you should ask your vet.
There have been other recalled cat foods which were contaminated with different poisons.
In February 2007, the FDA advised consumers not to feed Wild Kitty raw cat food to their pets after Salmonella bacteria were detected during routine testing performed by the FDA. Wild Kitty eventually recalled the product.
In December 2005, Diamond Pet Foods initiated a voluntary recall after aflatoxin was discovered in its cat food product which contained wheat. In 1999, Doane Pet Care recalled a dry dog food made at one of its plants and packaged under 54 brand names, including Ol' Roy (a Wal-Mart house brand). The fungal toxin in their contaminated wheat killed 25 dogs.
Already shaken by the March 2007 recalls that were only for WET pet foods sold in cans and pouches, cat owners were further tortured by some additional pet food recalls of pet treats in April.
In April 2007, Del Monte recalled some dog and cat treat products:
And Ol' Roy (a private label sold by Wal-Mart) recalled its Beef Flavor Jerky Strips and Beef Flavor Snack Stick dog treats.
More recent recalls (April 23, 2007) involve a rice protein concentrate known as rice gluten from China, delivered to five pet food manufacturers. It was found to contain melamine, a chemical derived from urea which can be combined with formaldehyde to make a pliable melamine resin used in making very hard plastics such as Arborite and Formica. Melamine is used to make plant fertilizers, and is also used as a rat poison in some countries other than the USA - including China.
On April 26, 2007, Diamond Pet Foods announced a voluntary withdrawal of three of their canned dog food and cat food formulas manufactured by American Nutrition:
Who knows what new poisoned pet foods will be announced next month? How can you protect your cat? One way is to watch for the early symptoms of melamine poisoning and take your cat for treatment as quickly as possible before their kidneys suffer permanent damage. Cats are MOST susceptible to melamine poisoning and resulting kidney failure because they concentrate their urine and drink less water.
Early Symptoms of Melamine Poisoning in Cats. Is There a Link to Cyanuric Acid?
Early symptoms of melamine poisoning in cats and dogs include:
After ingesting sufficient quantities of melamine, this poison can be fatal to cats and dogs - and ESPECIALLY to cats. So if you see these symptoms, IMMEDIATELY stop feeding your pet the usual brand of cat food and have your cat examined by a veterinarian WITHOUT DELAY.
A scientist, Perry Martos, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, began analyzing the crystals found in the kidneys of animals which died of melamine poisoning. He found them to be approximately 70 percent cyanuric acid and 30 percent melamine, and extremely insoluble. Tests where melamine and cyanuric acid in samples of cat urine were mixed resulted in a nearly immediate formation of crystals that were identical to crystals found in the kidneys of poisoned animals. Two other substances (ammelide and ammeline) which are related to melamine are also under investigation. This may be the mechanism by which melamine causes death through kidney failure - a chemical reaction between the two substances which forms hard crystals in the kidneys (and which may also form in urine ducts and block the flow).
Cyanuric acid is a man-made chemical commonly added to swimming pools as a stabilizer to keep chlorine from breaking down. How did this chemical get into all the cats and dogs that died after ingesting pet foods containing the melamine? Did they all drink water from swimming pools - or did the cyanuric acid enter the feed supply before the melamine got into the pet foods? Cats don't drink much water, so the more likely answer is the latter.
Richard Goldstein of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine says that it was likely the result of bacterial metabolism of melamine. Cyanuric acid is a known intermediate byproduct of bacterial metabolism of melamine. So is he saying that bacteria in the body break down melamine to form cyanuric acid, which then interacts with newly ingested melamine to form the hard crystals? Has the mystery been solved?
The Recall List Gets Longer - Rice Gluten contaminated with Melamine
By May 11, 2007, over 5,500 pet food products had been placed on the recall list of dangerous pet foods, involving an estimated 130 brands (reported by consumeraffairs.com).
Pet owners are left wondering if ANY brand of dog or cat food is safe to feed their pets. And they are wondering why so many brands ALL contained the same contaminated wheat gluten, rice gluten, or rice concentrate imported from two dishonest manufacturers in China who purposely "spiked" their material with melamine to deceive buyers into thinking it had more protein content.
And now more and more pet owners are wondering why any kind of "gluten" was being added to dog and cat food - and why government agencies and the affected pet food manufacturers were unable to protect their pets from being poisoned by it.
Two of the suspect pet food makers, Royal Canin USA and C.J. Foods, were inspected by the FDA and initiated voluntary recalls of cat foods which contain rice gluten sold under the following brands:
Another manufacturer, Natural Balance Pet Foods, was inspected and initiated a voluntary recall of food containing rice protein concentrate which was contaminated with melamine. The recalled cat food was Venison and Green Pea dry cat food.
On March 30, 2007, Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. voluntarily recalled Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food. This cat food is sold exclusively through veterinarians!
The 2007 pet food recalls were a shocking "wake up call" to pet owners! But the deaths of thousands of beloved pets were perhaps not in vain... for now many cat and dog owners might start to pay more critical attention to the kind of food they feed to the precious pets that depend on them.
Read on... and you will learn some important facts about cat nutrition and health, what many supermarket brand name cat foods are actually made from, how to interpret ingredient labels on cat food, how to avoid the cat foods with low-nutrition or unhealthy ingredients, and how to choose the healthiest foods your your cat.
Cats are obligate carnivores that need to eat real meat and fowl and fish, such as the kind that comes from healthy cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, and fish - not diseased dead animal carcasses, chicken heads and feet, wheat products, corn products, soy products, byproducts, bone meals, feathers and fillers.
Wondering what "obligate" means? Think of the similar word "obligation" or just add a "d" and get "obligated". Cats are obligated or "required" to be carnivores. They are strictly meat eaters. They are NOT like those omnivore dogs which eat meat, vegetables, fruits, and a wide variety of foods.
Yes, cats are "obligated" to eat mostly meat. If they don't live up to this obligation, they will not live very long. They might make it to 11 or 14 years, when they really should be living to the ripe old age of 30 years.
What? You say you've never met a cat over 20 years old? Or 15? That's because ever since someone started selling commercial cat food, cats have been getting less and less high-quality meat - and getting less and less years of life. Something is stealing those precious pet years, and the prime suspect is poor quality pet foods.
Today, the average American cat is lucky to live to less than half of his potential life expectancy - only 12-14 years. You may think that 12 years of life is "normal" for a cat - but it really isn't. It's abnormal for a well-fed cat to live for just 12 years. It's only "normal" for a cat that is NOT well fed, a cat which isn't getting all the nutrition it needs to live a healthy and long life.
It would be good if you remembered that word "obligate" - because being the provider of your pet carnivore's "prey" kind of makes you "obligated" to provide your cat with animal meat which contains animal proteins and some animal fats.
It's time to check the label of that bag of dry cat food or can of wet food to see if you really are providing your carnivore kitty with any real meat - you know, "muscle meat" like the kind you may be eating yourself. Not just rendered animal "byproducts" like the kind you would NOT be eating yourself.
The average cat in the wild would have only about 6% to 9% of its diet consisting of carbohydrates.
We are not just talking about lions and leopards here - but also about feral felines like the kind you see in back alleys or even hanging out at your back door to mooch a meal. Even a former house cat turned out to fend for itself will be hunting birds and mice and rats for some meaty protein, rather than skulking around the outdoor grocer's shelves in a search for some starchy carbs.
Yet these days the average dry cat food contains 35% to 50% carbohydrates! This is NOT what Nature intended for cats. Some of the cheaper dry foods contain even higher levels of carbs. Who will stop this insanity? Hopefully, YOU will - for the sake of your pet carnivore who may be starving for real meat.
A high quality canned cat food would consist of about 3% to 6% carbohydrates. Now, that's about the right proportion of carbohydrates for a cat. But will the other 94% to 97% be nutritious animal protein from the meat of animals, fowl or fish? Probably not. In the cheap supermarket brands of canned cat food there will likely be lots of low-quality vegetable proteins and not very much high-quality animal protein.
The label may indicate a high percentage of protein, but it won't tell you if the protein is of high quality or low quality. It's the quality of the nutrition that counts, and that has to mean nutritious FOR A CAT - not for a rat.
Your cat is a carnivore that needs to eat animal proteins, not vegetable proteins. Cats can't break down and absorb vegetable protein very well, because the cat digestive system evolved to process animal protein obtained from fresh killed animals. What little vegetable protein and carbohydrates a wild cat would get would come from the partially digested contents of the stomach of its prey - and some of that prey would be animals that are able to digest plants and grains. Like a mouse or a gopher or a gazelle.
All you need to feed your carnivorous cat is a lot of meat protein, some animal fat, and a bit of carbohydrates that are easiest for it to digest. That would NOT be wheat, corn, or soy. Whole brown rice is a grain from which cats are able to absorb nearly all the nutrients. White rice is not, because most of the nutrients were stripped away when the outer hull was removed from the brown rice. A continual diet of white rice could cause a cat or dog (or human) to develop diabetes.
So remember, cats need mostly meat that provides animal protein.
Cats don't need artificial food colorings that fool you into assuming that inferior animal byproducts and cereals are fresh red meat. And they don't need meat from animals that were fed steroids and artificial hormones.
Cats do not need many carbohydrates in their diet. Yet far too much is added to many or most commercial cat foods. So carbs could be considered as generally useless "filler" in cat foods, and you may not wish to pay good money for cat foods full of things your cat does not really need. They fill the can or bag with useless fillers and leave little room for the meat a cat really needs.
Carbohydrates and "Fat Cats"
A recent trend among commercial pet food manufacturers is to market "low-carb" pet foods which use potatoes, peas, and other starchy vegetables as a substitute for high-carb grains like corn and wheat. Unless your cat or dog is allergic to grains, the dry low-carb diets offer no real advantage to your cat - and they tend to be very high in fat (as are some human "low carb" packaged foods).
The "good fats" from animal sources are utilized to produce energy in your pet's body, and animal fats are essential to the health of a cat or dog - and actually help reduce overall obesity. But dogs, and especially cats, have bodies designed to eat mainly animal proteins. Remember, cats are obligate carnivores - "meat eaters".
The diet of dogs and cats should contain only about 15 to 25 percent fats, and between 5 and 20 percent carbohydrates. Too many commercial cat foods contain way too many carbohydrates in the form of grains like corn and wheat, and not enough protein from animal sources.
Excess carbohydrates are stored as fat, while most of the good fat consumed is utilized to produce energy. Fats supply 9 calories of energy per gram, but carbs only 4 calories per gram.
But many dry pet foods, especially the cheap ones, contain little of the quality fats and proteins from birds and mammals and fish. They contain mostly grains like wheat and corn which were unfit for human consumption, and the bland vegetable-based kibble would normally be rejected by most cats. But to make them seem tasty to your cat, the dry foods are often sprayed with cheap vegetable oils previously used for frying and recovered from restaurant waste, and flavored with "animal digest" recovered from rendering vats. The used restaurant cooking oils were subjected to high heat, and may already be going rancid (both of which form the unhealthy cancer-causing trans-fats we all try to avoid) - which is often obvious from the offensive smell you notice when first opening a bag of cheap dry cat food. They may seem tasty to a cat or dog, but they are not healthy for you or for them.
It may seem convenient to leave quantities of the low-carb dry cat food in a bowl for your cat to eat anytime, but that tasty extra fat sprayed onto the dry cat foods will entice it to eat more, and cause your cat to gain weight. Also, because the cat foods which contain too much wheat, corn, potatoes or peas lack enough calories to meet a cat's energy requirements, your cat will instinctively over-eat those foods which contain too much vegetable matter and not enough animal fats and proteins.
Cats do not digest corn or wheat very well, so they don't get much real nutrition from them (and dogs cannot digest corn at all). Of the grains, brown rice is more easily digested and provides better nutrition for cats and dogs.
Wild cats do not eat grains or vegetables. They get the 5 to 20 percent of carbs they need in their diet from consuming the partially digested carbohydrates in the stomachs and entrails of the prey they feed on, which is often a mammal or bird that can actually digest grains, grasses, or other vegetable matter. You don't see an outdoor cat raiding the neighbor's vegetable garden, do you? Or a farm cat eating chicken feed? No, you see it hunting birds and mice and squirrels, because that is the kind of food it needs.
You can tell that a cheap cat food contains too much grain and fillers simply by looking at the recommended daily feeding amount on the label. The labels on cheap cat foods tell you to feed a much larger volume per day than the more nutrient-dense quality cat foods - sometimes twice as much! So you don't really save money with the cheap cat foods, and since excess carbohydrates get stored as fat, all those extra carbs just make your cat fat.
The makers of the trendy "low carb" dry cat foods are just substituting some cheap starchy vegetables like potatoes for some of the wheat and corn to lower the calorie count on the label. But they still don't provide enough energy and useable nutrition from animal fats, so your cat will still tend to eat more of that "diet" food. If you rely on the "low carb" diet cat foods to keep your cat lean, you may find they do the opposite.
Obesity in cats and dogs can lead to the same diseases that afflict obese humans, such as diabetes. In cats, diabetes is very difficult to control, and can reduce their life span by years.
Remember, cats need less than 20 percent carbohydrates in their diet, and excess carbs get stored as fat. So for optimal health and longevity give them cat foods with more meat, and less grains or starchy vegetables.
When you see 2 or more of the top 5 ingredients on a cat food label are grains like corn and wheat, that cat food likely contains too much vegetable protein and carbohydrates, and not enough animal protein and animal fats to keep your cat healthy and lean.
Why Cats Don't Want To Be Vegetarians
Cats need a few specific nutrients found only in animal meat and organs, such as...
Taurine is one of the essential amino acids for cats, and is needed for normal heart muscle function, eye health, and reproduction. It is also required to create the bile salts in the digestive tract which help digest food. Dogs can produce sufficient Taurine from other amino acids, but cats cannot create enough Taurine, so they must get it from the meat they eat.
A Taurine deficiency can eventually cause retina degeneration and blindness; a weakening of the heart muscle leading to heart failure; and impaired reproductive function and less than normal growth in newborn kittens. (Thus your queen cat should be fed wet food with meat while pregnant, and while breast-feeding kittens.)
Your cat won't get these essential nutrients from vegetable sources.
Yet in most brands of dry cat food the protein comes mostly from vegetable sources like soy and grains like corn and wheat - not meat. Cats have little need for vegetables or carbohydrates, though they do need a small amount of certain grasses (which is why you may sometimes see your cat eat grass). Wheatgrass and alfalfa sprouts are highly nutritious and are digestible by cats.
Raw Meat for Cats?
The digestive tract of cats is designed to process mainly proteins and fats found in animals and birds and fish. Their diet needs lots of proteins and about 5 to 20 percent fats.
Cats and dogs have a higher concentration of hydrochloric acid in their stomachs, which kills bacteria and other microbes much better than the much lower concentration of this acid found in human stomachs.
That is why wolves and wild dogs can dig up a rotting carcass and not get sick from eating it. A pet dog can bury a bone and dig it up weeks later and eat the rotting meat from the bone. Cats and dogs have a very short intestinal tract, so any decaying flesh does not stay in them long enough for many toxins to be absorbed.
Pet owners often wonder if it's safe to feed their dog or cat raw meat. Don't worry, it's what their digestive systems were designed for!
However, cats are more susceptible to Salmonella bacteria (which cause "food poisoning" and diarrhea) than dogs, and raw chicken or turkey (and eggs) often have some Salmonella present. Salmonella bacteria is harmlessly carried in 36% of healthy dogs and 17% of healthy cats. But animals (or humans) who are unhealthy or debilitated and have a lowered immune system response can be seriously injured by Salmonella toxin if the bacteria get into the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning (septicemia).
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include: fever, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. And like humans poisoned by this toxin, your cat or dog may become listless and very weak.
Allicin - a sulphur compound created when fresh garlic is cut or crushed - is effective against the Salmonella bacteria and has also been known to neutralize toxins produced by some bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli. Allicin is also effective against many yeast and fungus organisms such as the Aspergillus mold which produces potentially deadly Aflatoxin. Refined and stabilized pure Allicin powder or capsules can be safely consumed by humans and dogs and cats, but dogs should not eat whole garlic.
So take precautions with raw poultry meat and eggs - the same as you do when preparing human food. Keep raw fowl or eggs refrigerated and do not leave them at room temperature or in a warm place for long, or the bacteria will quickly multiply to a dangerous level. And thoroughly wash or disinfect counters and utensils that have come into contact with raw chicken or eggs.
If you feed your cat raw or wet foods, serve them in stainless steel bowls and wash them after each feeding. Plastic bowls or wooden bowls may be porous and provide hidden places for bacteria to grow. If the food sits where the temperature is greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, discard any uneaten raw or wet food after 2 to 4 hours, because bacteria grow rapidly in warm conditions.
If you choose to cook the chicken or turkey you feed your cat, be sure the meat gets heated above 180 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes to kill the Salmonella bacteria and neutralize its toxins. Any warm temperature less than that only helps it multiply faster!
And when refrigerating fowl, be sure the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the growth of the bacteria is sufficiently slowed down. This applies to fowl (and eggs) used as human food too. The more bacteria that are present in the food, the more likely your cat (or you) will suffer from Salmonella food poisoning. Bacteria are capable of doubling in number every 30 minutes!
Note that cooking degrades the quality of the nutrients found in raw foods, and very high heat can not only destroy the enzymes which aid digestion, it can alter or "denature" proteins into mutated forms which can cause health problems.
You can buy your cat some cheaper pork or veal or beef that has been marked down in price because it shows some off-color patches that do not appeal to humans, but is still safe to eat, especially for dogs or cats. We are not talking about moldy or contaminated meat here, just the still-fresh but somewhat discolored kind of red meat you see in the supermarket.
If you want to avoid feeding your cat meat from animals that have ingested too many pesticides, GMOs, hormones, or steroids, a better choice would be to buy meat from animals raised on organic farms and from free range chickens. Buy a big freezer and get to know your local farmers. Be aware that the liver of animals and birds is where most of the toxins get concentrated.
Feeding your cat or dog some raw meat is a healthy choice, but most people do not have the time to prepare a complete meal for their pet, or simply cannot afford it.
A healthy but cheaper alternative is to buy a high-quality, healthy and safe canned cat food for everyday feeding and then occasionally supplement it with some cheap cuts of fresh beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey you add to the commerical pet food. Don't add a lot of fresh meat until your cat gets used to the change in diet, since sudden changes in diet can cause temporary digestive problems like diarrhea or vomiting.
Fresh de-boned fish is another healthy choice for cats. Cold-water fish like tuna and mackerel are a good source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. If you feed your cat tuna fish, choose the "light" tuna rather than the Albacore tuna because it will contain less mercury.
But a diet consisting of only canned tuna or salmon is NOT a healthy diet for a cat because they need taurine from animal meat. And be aware that many kinds of fish now contain mercury, so a continual diet of fish could cause a build-up of mercury and poison your cat.
Catfish are a source of fish which is less likely to contain mercury because it is a fish raised on land in fish farms, not caught in polluted rivers or open seas.
Does Better Nutrition and Better Health Really Cost More?
If you are concerned about the cost of feeding your cat healthier food, you may be surprised to learn that a more nutritious cat food brand with high-quality fresh ingredients and no unhealthy fillers can actually cost the same or LESS per month than an unhealthy cat food with less nutrition and more unhealthy ingredients - because you don't need to feed your cat as much of the nutrition-rich food as the cheap cat food with a lower nutrition value.
Your cat will tend to keep eating to try to get enough real nutrition, and thus will often eat MORE of a cheap cat food with lots of cheap carbohydrate fillers like corn and corn meal, just to get enough of the nutritients it needs from real meat, fowl, and fish.
Your pet will tend to eat LESS of the premium quality cat food which contains mostly meats or fish and does not contain useless fillers, so your actual cost of feeding your cat may be the same or even less when you buy a high quality cat food.
And feeding your pet the most nutritious food may save you lots of money in veterinarian fees over the long term. Not to mention keeping your animal friend healthy and active, and able to live longer.
Even if you do pay a little more for high-quality, fresh, and nutritious pet food, consider the extra cost as "health insurance" premiums for your cat or dog!
Feeding your cat a more nutrient-rich and all-natural cat food helps keep your pet free of disease, with a healthy and shiny coat and efficient digestion - and helps keep your cat lean and active, not fat and lazy.
Obesity in cats, like obesity in humans, increases risk of serious diseases and shortens life span.
Yet feeding your cat low-quality cat food with too many carbohydrates and cereals and not enough quality meat proteins and other nutrients only helps make them fat or obese. Your cat will not only eat more of the cheap cat food to try to get the nutrition it needs, but will also eat MORE of the carbs that make your cat FAT.
Many chain store brand cat foods are up to 12-18 months old before you buy them, and contain unhealthy chemical preservatives like Ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT. These additives are only there to extend shelf life and increase profits - not to help your cat be healthy and well-nourished.
The BHS and BHT preservatives can cause allergies, and with long term consumption have been found to cause liver disease and other health problems. They may potentially cause cancer, and their use in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied. Both BHA and BHT are known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction, brain damage, and respiratory problems, and are banned in some European countries. In the USA the permitted levels are low, but long term consumption could create a build-up that may prove to be harmful to your pet.
Some veterinarians consider ethoxyquin a major cause of skin problems, diseases, and infertility in dogs. Some pet owners have attributed allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, behavior problems, and cancer to the use of ethoxyquin in the commercial foods eaten by their pet. Others claim that Ethoxyquin is a safe additive, yet seem to be ignoring the fact that the U.S. FDA does not allow Ethoxyquin to be added to human foods.
Ethoxyquin has never even been tested to determine its safety for use in cat food. In Japan, the Department Of Pathology at Nagoya City University Medical School recently conducted a study that found ethoxyquin promoted kidney carcinogenesis, enhanced bladder carcinogesis, and significantly increased the incidence of stomach tumors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists it as a pesticide.
Though it was banned in Australia, Ethoxyquin was approved by the U.S. FDA in 1956 for use in pet foods. But the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) lists it as a hazardous chemical which may cause skin and eye irritations, gross changes in the liver and kidneys and thyroid, and a reduction in the survival of offspring.
Ethoxyquin is made by Monsanto (the same politically influential corporation which makes GMOs) as a rubber stabilizer, and is also sold as an herbicide and pesticide. What is this poison doing in ANY kind of food? You should avoid feeding foods which contain Ethoxyquin to your cat or dog!
U.S. regulations do not require pet food manufacturers to list preservatives which were already included in the raw materials used to produce the dog or cat food - only if they add it to the food themselves. Ethoxyquin is often used in some of these materials, yet may not be listed on the label of the cat food! But the cat foods which have a "best before" date which is more than 6 months from the manufacture date or the date you bought them is very likely to use Ethoxyquin as a preservative, because the healthy cat foods which use only safe natural preservatives like Vitamin E and Vitamin C and certain spices will have a "best before" date of 6 months or less, and an "expiry date" of less than 12 months from the date they were manufactured.
Propylene glycol (also used as a less toxic automotive antifreeze) was banned in cat food because it causes anemia in cats. Yet it is still allowed in dog food, where it is used as a humectant in semi-moist dog foods to give these products their unique texture and taste.
Keep your cat away from open containers or spilled puddles of automotive antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. Cats and dogs find it tasty and will keep drinking it or licking it up. A cat which just walks through a puddle of spilled antifreeze then licks its paws can get enough to cause kidney failure within a few days. One tablespoon can kill a 12 pound cat.
Early signs of antifreeze poisoning include: sudden depression, vomiting, staggering and perhaps seizures, drinking lots of water, and frequent urination. Only IMMEDIATE veterinary treatment within 4 hours (8 hours for dogs) of ingestion may prevent death by kidney failure that can occur in just a few days or much sooner, depending on the dose. Cats rarely recover.
Signs of kidney failure in cats and dogs and include: severe depression, sores in the mouth, a noticeable increase in bad breath, decreasing amounts of passed urine, then coma and death.
There are safer forms of antifreeze available which use propylene glycol, and pet owners should use them! Also be careful if you use antifreeze in the plumbing of a cottage or house that was vacant in winter. Flush the system thoroughly so that your cat or dog does not drink any antifreeze still in the tap water or toilet bowl!
Responding to concerns of pet owners, some independent pet food manufacturers who do not mass-market their dog and cat foods through supermarkets are using safe natural antioxidants such as Vitamin C (ascorbate) and Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or rosemary, clove, and other spices as the preservatives in cat and dog foods.
However, this reduces the freshness limit of the pet foods to about six months, so you should be careful to look for expiry dates on your cat foods. Tocopherols are a source of Vitamin E, which is a strong antioxidant that retards the degradation of other vitamins. Used as a preservative in pet foods, they can preserve freshness for up to six months ("best before" date), and safe usability (expiry date) for up to 11 or 12 months.
HealthyPetNet cat food and cat treats are made from fresh ingredients processed at low temperatures (to preserve the nutrients) in small batches (to ensure the products are always fresh) in a third-generation, government-certified, human quality plant in the USA which is also APHIS certified to sell to the European market, where standards for pet food quality and safety are stricter than in the USA. All ingredients are sourced only in the USA (none are from China).
Each batch of the HealthyPetNet "Life's Abundance" dog or cat food is never more than 6 weeks old when shipped "fresh" to your home from the nearest distribution center in Florida or California. And it contains natural antioxidants, so it doesn't need to contain any artificial chemical preservatives.
That reference to "human quality" means that the HealthyPetNet dog and cat foods are made in the same government inspected manufacturing facility which also processes food for human consumption! The chicken used to make the chicken meal is actually from human-grade chicken meat, not poultry byproducts.
Life's Adundance pet foods contain high quality animal protein from eggs and real meats such as human-quality chicken and turkey, chicken liver, and catfish. Eggs are one of the few "complete" foods (breast milk is another), which is why so many wild and domestic animals love to eat them.
Life's Abundance also contain potent antioxidants like grapeseed oil (known to reduce risk of many diseases, including heart disease and cancer), flaxseed (to promote a healthy coat of fur, as another source of antioxidants, and for potential anti-tumor activity), fish oils and fish meal (for healthy Omega fatty acids), chelated minerals (for better absorption), and five helpful bio-friendly bacteria like acidophilus (which improve natural digestion and nutrient absorption).
Life's Abundance dry cat food is nutrient-rich and contains no wheat, corn, fillers, byproducts, or sugars, so the recommended daily feed for the average cat is only one-half cup. Compare that to daily feeding amounts of one to one-and-a-half cups for other dry cat foods, and you will see how serving this premium cat food can even cost less per day than many cheaper, low-quality cat foods that appear to cost less per bag. (And you'll find the absence of undigestable grains and fillers means less smelly kitty poop to clean out of the litter box!)
Click to COMPARE Ingredients and Cost per Feeding to Cat Foods like Eukanuba, Flint River, IAMS, Natures Recipe, Nutro Natural, Purina One, Purina ProPlan, and Science Diet.
What's Wrong With Cereals and Soy?
Many supermarket brands of dog and cat food contain a high proportion of cereals (wheat, corn, soy) as the source of protein. Did you know that wheat and corn have been known to lead to severe digestive tract problems such as diarrhea in cats and dogs?
Soy contains plant estrogens which act in similar ways to animal estrogens. In fact, plant estrogens like estriol are used to treat symptoms of menopause in women, since the animal estrogens like estradiol were found to greatly increase the risk of cancer in humans. Feeding soy meal to your cat or dog may affect their ability to breed.
By 2006, 89% of the soy produced in the USA was genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticide use. It's bad enough that the soy may be a GMO, and worse that it might contain higher levels of pesticide residues.
Note that grains which are deemed unfit for human consumption by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to unsafe levels of pesticide residue are still legal to use without limitation in pet foods.
About 50% of supermarket pet foods contain soy as the primary source of protein. Your cat or dog does not need soy protein, it needs high-quality meat protein. And a cat needs the amino acid taurine which is only found in animal proteins. The more soy and cereals in the cat food, the less meat your cat gets. The less meat your cat eats, the less taurine it gets.
Soy beans can cause gas in some cats and dogs, making them rather smelly companions! (And soy causes bloating in dogs.)
Many supermarket brands of cat and dog food contain a high proportion of cereals (wheat or corn) as the PRIMARY source of protein (because the pet food manufacturer is often a producer of feeds and grains for cattle).
In many supermarket brand cat and dog foods, two out of three of the top-listed ingredients are usually some form of grain or cereal, especially in the dry pet foods. And they will likely be grains that were graded as unfit for human consumption. Again, the more grains and cereals in the cat food, the less meat your cat will eat. Remember, cats are meat eaters. Wild cats do not eat wheat or corn.
Here's the problem with feeding grains instead of meat. The nutrients in a few grains, such as rice, can be almost completely absorbed by cats and dogs, but up to 20% of the nutrition from other grains will not be absorbed at all.
The bio-availability of nutrients in corn and potatoes is far less than nutrients in rice - and absorption of the nutrients in wheat, oats, and beans like soy is quite poor. "Corn meal" likely contains the cobs as well as the corn. Corn is not even digestible by dogs, and it passes right through them. Corn is better utilized by cats, but is still an inferior source of nutrition for a cat.
Peanut hulls, often used as a filler in pet foods, have virtually no nutritional value. They are often disguised on the Ingredient List as an unspecified "vegetable fiber". Some vegetable fiber is good for digestion, but a good fiber like beet fiber will be specifically named on the label.
Although rice is a good source of bio-available nutrition for cats and dogs, do not be fooled by an ingredient called "brewers rice". It's name looks deceptively nice, but actually it is made out of the sweepings from the floor of feed mills and has almost zero nutritional value. It is little bits of the rice grains broken off during the milling process. You should also avoid "rice gluten" which has been another source of melamine poisoning.
The GOOD rice is whole brown rice, so look for "brown rice" on the ingredient list. Whole brown rice is much better for humans and dogs and cats than refined "white rice" because most of the healthy nutrients are in the outer shell of the grain of rice, which is stripped away when refining white rice.
A continual diet of refined white rice can cause diabetes in animals (and humans too), so use only whole brown rice if you cook rice to feed your cat, and avoid pet foods which list "white rice" instead of whole "brown rice".
Did you know that the main reason for making white wheat flour and white rice is so that the rodents and insects will not eat the products while they are in storage? It seems that the rats and bugs know better than most humans that there is little nutrition to be found in these over-processed products. "Refining" these grains does not make them "finer" foods you or your pet, but does make them finer for preserving products and profits for the food manufacturers.
One surprising thing you should be aware of is that on both human and pet nutrition labels in the USA, what is listed as "100%" of the "recommended daily allowance" (RDA) actually refers to the minimum amount required for "adequate" health - not optimal good health! A "100 percent" rating is really about a MINIMAL nutrition level, and not about "the best nutrition".
Some might say that's the difference between "not being diseased or slowly starving to death" and "being healthy and fit and full of life". You may want to do a little more for yourself and your pets than get just the minimum level of nutrition.
Unhealthy Ingredients to Avoid in Cat Foods
Some things often found in supermarket brand cat foods are NOT healthy for your cat - or are simply not needed in its diet (like cereals and soy). Note that cats have different nutritional requirements than dogs, and should NOT be fed commercial dog foods.
Some things on cat food ingredient lists you may wish to AVOID are:
Words such as...
Don't confuse these similar-sounding items...
"Beet pulp" (BAD) is a source of unnecessary sugars added to keep a dog or cat from having diarrhea when fed the rancid fats that are often added to inferior pet foods - while "beet fiber" (GOOD) is just the vegetable fiber from the sugar beet plant (which remains after all the sugar has been extracted from beet pulp) which aids digestion in a gentle way.
If the "Best Before" date is MORE than six months later than the present date, or the "Expiry Date" is more than 12 months from now, the cat food is likely to have artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, or Propyl Gallate added to extend its shelf life to a year or more. The safe natural preservatives like ascorbates and tocopherols (Vitamins C or E) and certain spices like rosemary can only preserve freshness for up to six months, so the safe and healthy pet foods which use them will have "best before" dates that extend only six months or less into the future.
Under U.S. regulations, preservatives do NOT have to be shown on the dog or cat food label IF they were previously added to the raw materials but NOT added by the pet food manufacturer. BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin and Propyl Gallate are all unhealthy chemical preservatives known to create health problems, so you may wish to avoid pet foods which likely contain them, even if they are not listed on the label. The extra long shelf life ("expiry date" 12 months or more from present date) is your clue that the pet product may contain one or more of these toxic chemical preservatives.
Here's another clue for you. The mass-market pet food brands sold through supermarkets and chain stores are manufactured in mass quantities and sometimes sit in storage for up to 12 to 18 months before you buy them, so they are the dog and cat foods most likely to contain those unhealthy chemical preservatives. You will find the safe natural preservatives used more often by independent pet food producers who make small batches of their pet foods and ship them fresh to your door within a few weeks from the date they were made.
About Animal Byproducts - The Horrible Truth!
First, you need to know what animal "byproducts" really are.
About 50% of every healthy animal raised for human consumption does not get used in human foods, because humans would refuse to eat it. In the slaughterhouse, the prime pieces of muscle meat and a few other edible parts like liver, tongue, and tripe are stripped off for human consumption. Then whatever remains of the cow, pig, sheep or goat carcass — heads, hooves, bones, blood, intestines, udders, testes, lungs, spleens, fat trimmings, totally undigestible parts like ligaments and cartilege, and other parts not generally consumed by humans are often used in pet foods and in feeds for cattle, pigs, and poultry.
So when you buy cat foods which list the phrase "animal byproducts" on the label, your pet will be eating animal parts that you would hate to eat yourself - including heads, hooves, hair, skin, bones, and entrails (intestines that probably contain some fecal matter).
Since sheep and goat production in the USA is minimal compared to cattle and pig production, the "animal byproducts" will be mostly cattle and pig parts. (These unwanted body parts are sometimes called "offal" - and as human food they would be considered "awful"!)
And there are even worse things that may be found in a pet food that has "byproducts" on the label. (See generic "animal meal" below.)
"Chicken byproducts" consist of the rendered parts of the carcasses of slaughtered chickens after the human quality meat is stripped away. Chicken byproducts can include necks, beaks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, but does not include feathers except in small amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices. This is a nutritionally inconsistent ingredient because of the multiple organs used and their constantly changing proportions in each batch.
"Chicken byproducts" are much less expensive and less digestible than "Chicken Meal". (The "chicken meal" in Life's Abundance dry cat food is actually human-quality chicken meat slowly baked at low temperature to remove the water content while preserving the nutrient value. It is not processed in a rendering vat at high temperatures.)
When you see a pretty picture of a chicken on the label of your cat's favorite cat food, do you think of the tasty chicken parts that you eat yourself? That's not what your pet is likely to be eating from the typical bag or can of cat food, if it lists "chicken byproducts" on the label.
U.S. regulations allow "poultry meat" to include bones, so the "turkey" or "chicken" in pet food usually consists mainly of backs - the spine and ribs - after the desirable breast meat has been removed to become human food. Your dog or cat gets the ground up bones with little bits of meat that still stick to the ribs.
If the label does not specifically say "poultry meat" or "chicken meat" or "turkey meat" then your cat is probably getting those awful byproducts, which may include chicken heads, feet, feathers, and all the parts you would never eat yourself. Even if product name on the label says "with chicken" the product only has to include 3% or more by weight of real chicken ingredients.
Some of the "premium" brands of cat food do not contain ANY byproducts. However, whatever "meat" they contain could be the leftover scraps after the slaughtered animal carcass has been stripped of the human-quality meat.
It gets worse. Now you are about to learn about "animal meal" and "animal digest" and what really goes into those horrible rendering vats.
A Generic "Meal" = Rendered Rotting Garbage
The next ingredient you need to watch out for is animal meal. Dry pet foods like kibble and biscuits commonly contain meat and bone meal, poultry meal, fish meal, or byproduct meal. The term "meal" when applied to animal (including poulty or fish) sources most often means that these animal materials are not processed when fresh, but have been "rendered" to remove water and fats (see below).
Meal is generally a substance which has been pulverized and dried or dehydrated to create a more concentrated form of the material, and to allow it to be used in extruders which form kibble and also the pre-formed pieces of fake "meat" in wet pet foods.
The exception to "meal" ingredients which should be avoided may be meals made from a specifically NAMED species of animal, bird or fish. Some examples are ingredients named... chicken meal, turkey meal, duck meal, lamb meal, beef meal, or catfish meal. These rendered ingredients will be made from the named source, but not from rendered "byproducts". An animal meal will not contain the natural fats present in the animal meat, for fats are removed in the rendering process.
Named meals are acceptable additions to pet foods which list a named "meat" as a MAIN ingredient (near the top of the list). But when the "meal" is listed higher than the named "meat", or if no specifically named "meat" is listed at all, then that pet food is an inferior product.
Real, non-rendered meat is the most expensive ingredient in a dog or cat food, and including more meat reduces profit margins for the manufacturer. It also reduces the chance your pet is getting too many vegetable proteins and carbohydrate, but too often making profits comes before making pets healthy.
The makers of premium quality pet foods will be proud to NAME the specific "meat" and any "meal" in their product to indicate better quality and better nutrition for your dog or cat. It is the pet food makers which use generic names like "animal" and "poultry" and "fish" that have something to hide - and that may be some poor quality, unhealthy, or just plain disgusting things they don't want you to know you are feeding to your pet.
You would be wise to AVOID any generic meat meals that do NOT name the species of animal. Examples are ingredients that just say... meat meal, meat byproducts, meat byproduct meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, glandular meal, liver meal, fish meal, poultry, poultry meal, poultry byproducts, or poultry byproduct meal. These will likely be made from "byproducts" composed of slaughterhouse waste (or worse) that have been processed in a rendering vat.
The other term "digest" - as in "animal digest" is just rendered "meal" that has undergone further processing with heat, enzymes and acids to make a concentrate that can be used to add meat flavor to pet foods that are lacking in real meat.
You are more likely to find the words "byproduct" or "digest" or a generic "meal" (i.e. the specific animal source is not named) on the ingredient lists of the pet foods which are most frequently advertised on television. Don't just believe the hype in the ads or be fooled by attractive but misleading images. Read the product label and you will see the truth.
Your cat needs food that contains fresh "meat" - not some generic "meal" made from rendered bones and feathers and rotting 4D animal carcasses.
Rendering Vats = Destroyers of Proteins and Preservers of Garbage
The rendering process separates fat, removes water, and kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other organisms. But the very high temperatures used in the rendering vats (130°C or 270°F) can alter or destroy the enzymes and proteins naturally present in the raw meat. It does NOT destroy the hormones that may have been present in parts of the dead animals. And it does NOT deactivate the drug pentabarbitol which may have been used to kill some of the dead animals thrown into the rendering vats.
In the past it was not uncommon for pet foods to contain rendered "road kill", dead animals and birds, and even the rendered bodies of euthanized cats and dogs!
This is not as common today, and pet food manufacturers deny that their pet foods contain the remains of abandoned or diseased dogs and cats.
But the fact remains that the so-called 4D animals (dead, dying, disabled or diseased) were only recently banned for human consumption - but still ARE legitimate ingredients for pet food.
What remains suspicious is that residues of the barbiturate drug pentabarbitol used to euthanize (to "put to sleep", to kill) diseased, dying, or unwanted pets has still been found by the FDA to be present in some pet foods. The FDA believes the concentration of this poison is too low to be considered unsafe - though some veterinarians disagree.
But how did the pentabarbitol drug get into pet foods if euthanized dogs and cats are not being sent to rendering plants and then processed into byproduct "meals" which are put into pet foods?
Even worse than the possibility that you are turning your pet into a "cannibal" by feeding your cat or dog the remains of diseased cats and dogs is that the poison used to kill those pets and strays is NOT deactivated by the rendering process, so you may be feeding your cat or dog some food which contains the same poison used to kill cats and dogs! Another reason to avoid pet foods with "byproducts" or "meat and bone meal" on the ingredient list.
It is not cost-efficient for the rendering plants to take time to remove collars, metal dog tags, flea collars, or even the bags the dead animals are transported in, so all that is thrown into the vat along with the animal and bird carcasses - fur or feathers included. Some traces of lead and pesticides have been found in some pet foods, probably from the metals and flea collars thrown into the rendering vats.
Things like chicken and turkey feathers and animal fur that are not digestible are "hydrolyzed" to turn waste into profits. Though it sounds like some harmless process involving water, this is another word to avoid on the label of your pet's food. What "hydrolyzed" means is that heated sulfuric acid under high pressure is used to break down the undigestible material into base sugars, which then are added to livestock feeds and pet foods.
Is this what you want to feed your pet? If not, avoid all cat foods with the word "byproducts" or "digest" in the ingredient list on the label.
What's Wrong With Dry Cat Food?
Proteins are very vulnerable to high heat and can become damaged (or "denatured") when cooked or when processed in rendering vats.
This is more of a problem with cheap dry pet foods because the ingredients may be cooked twice - first during rendering (at very high temperatures for one to several hours) and then again in the extruder which uses high heat and pressure to form the dry food into various shapes and sizes.
Proteins which become denatured may contribute to food allergies, food intolerances, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The extrusion process used to shape various formulations of dog and cat food into dry kibble or the shapes of fake meat used in some wet foods requires the presence of starch to hold the material together, so all dry foods will contain starch. Cats do not need starch, and it will likely be stored as fat. Dry cat foods, with the added starch and usually more cheap carbohydrates than wet cat foods, tend to make your cat fat.
Note that dry cat foods may contain as much as 50% grains by weight. Cats are not vegetarians, they are 100% carnivore! Cats don't need grains and cereals, and some of those (like corn) are not healthy for them and can cause allergies. (Dogs cannot even digest corn.) And grains like wheat and corn (and soy beans) are sometimes tainted with a mold which produces potentially deadly Aflatoxin. Some pet foods have been recalled when the FDA found them to contain unsafe levels of Aflatoxin (which is especially deadly to dogs) in the wheat or corn they contain.
You may want to avoid cat foods which list an excessive amount of carbohydrate "fillers" from grains and cereals such as wheat and corn or legumes such as soy beans. The more carbs in the cat food, the less room for real meat.
Cat bodies are designed to get glucose from proteins and fats, not carbohydrates. Cats have little need for any carbohydrates at all.
In the wet cat foods that come in a can our pouch, ingredients like real meat (beef, pork, lamb or goat, which should be listed FIRST on the ingredient label of cat food because cats NEED real meat) always contain water, which adds to their total weight without adding any nutrition. Thus some of the mostly useless cheap dry ingredients like corn meal, ground corn, wheat gluten, and bone meal may actually comprise a higher percentage of the total ingredients (if you didn't count the water weight) than their lower position in the list would indicate.
This is because U.S. government regulations for pet foods require that all ingredients must be listed by percentage of total weight in descending order. If the regulations required listing by actual protein or nutrient content instead of by total weight (or did not include water content in the calculated weight of the meat), you might see the high-nutrition meat appearing lower on the list than some of the low-nutrition fillers - and then you could avoid buying wet cat foods which listed too much filler and grain content and not enough real meat. (See the labelling regulations concerning "meat" below.)
Cats Need To Get More Water From Their Food Bowl Than Their Water Bowl
Note that IT IS VERY IMPORTANT for house cats to get a lot of water from the meat and other foods they eat.
Wild cats have always consumed most of the water they need from eating the meat of fresh-killed prey, and thus cats tend not to DRINK much water. But dry cat food like kibble typically contains less than 10% water.
Cats obtain water from three sources:
When a cat eats wet cat foods (canned food or fresh meat or fish), it receives more than its normal water requirement from the water in its diet - and thus the cat will not drink water, or will drink very little. This is NORMAL for a cat.
But when a cat eats only dry cat foods, it may have to obtain 95% or more of its water requirement from drinking water. It is not in the cat's nature to drink much water, and cats also tend to be finicky about what water they will drink, so cats fed only dry cat foods may end up in a constant state of dehydration and have more highly concentrated urine than normal.
Compared to dogs and other animals, cats are able to concentrate their urine considerably more (average density is 1045, compared to 1015 in dogs and humans). But if the urine becomes too concentrated, the risk of crystal precipitation and urinary stone formation increases. (Speculation: Does this also make a dehydrated cat more susceptible to melamine poisoning than a well hydrated cat? The cats which have died during the 2007 pet food recall were found to contain crystals in their urine and kidneys.)
Cats can lose water in three ways:
Cats fed only dry food diets will drink more water, but the total water intake of a cat eating moist canned food is twice as great.
Wild cats don't eat dry cat food, and your pet cat shouldn't eat too much of it as its sole source of food.
Many cheap, extrusion-processed dry pet foods made with cereals and grains are so bland or distasteful that cats would normally refuse to eat them. They will eat those products only because the manufacturers spray their dry cat foods with animal fats to make it more appealing to cats.
Those fats are likely to come from "restaurant grease" - all the discarded oils that were used in deep frying and have since gone rancid. Or it may be other fats and oils that were deemed unfit for human consumption. We have learned in recent years that rancid fats contain transfats which have been linked to a higher risk of cancer.
Canned cat food typically contains 78% or more water. This is a good thing. However, some of the brands with little or no real meat, fowl or fish in them may also have the same fats added to make the mixture of cereal grains and byproducts taste better to your cat. Animal digests may also be added with the fat to add a meat flavor.
If you have switched to serving ONLY dry cat food to your cat because all the initial 2007 pet food recalls were on the can and pouch types of "wet" pet products, be aware that you might not be letting your cat get enough water in its diet!
Your cat may not DRINK much extra water to compensate, because it is not in the nature of cats to do so. Thus your cat may end up being dehydrated (without you noticing) and experience health problems as a result (which also happens with a significant percentage of humans who don't drink enough pure water daily). Constipation and painful bowel movements are two likely problems caused by lack of hydration (in both cats and humans), and crystals forming in the urine or kidneys of cats is another.
If you have been feeding your pet only dry cat food simply to save money - which often happens with first-time cat owners who do not know any better - be aware that the possibility of incurring extra costs when health problems require more veterinarian visits could more than offset your immediate savings on dry cat food.
Makers of dry cat foods often claim that breaking apart the bits of kibble helps clean a cat's teeth. This is a hotly disputed claim, and may prove to be just a myth created as a marketing ploy when dry cat foods were first introduced.
Chewing on real meat provides a natural cleansing action on the teeth of a dog or cat. (Wild cats don't eat kibble.) Without this cleaning, bacteria will build up in the mouth of your dog or cat and cause grossly smelly breath and possible infections of the gums. Feeding your pet dry cat food but no real meat is asking for trouble.
Dirty "Tricks of the Trade"
Also be aware that to disguise the actual high content of carbohydrates and fillers - and lack of real meat - the manufacturers of cat foods often include different forms of the SAME low-quality ingredients.
So even though the individual items - such as corn AND ground corn AND corn meal - then appear lower in the list because individually each now comprises a smaller percentage of the total weight; the actual TOTAL amount of "corn" would have appeared higher on the list if only ONE form of corn were included in the food. Then you would have clearly seen that "corn" comprised a significant percentage of the total weight of the cat food, and might have chosen NOT to buy that brand because it contained too much corn and not enough meat. But they don't want you to see that!
The same "trick" is used in human foods to hide the true amount of "sugar" added to a processed food product, by including several different forms of sugar such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and corn syrup solids. Even when you KNOW about this sneaky trick, you still have to add up some odd numbers to reveal the true total amount of the ingredient they are trying to hide.
Just be wary when you see several items listed which appear to be almost the same thing, for their combined weight might have put them near the top of the list, where you could see that you didn't want such a high percentage of that particular thing in your human food OR your cat's food. A pet food with 2 or more of the top 5 listed ingredients being grains or cereals is likely to contain too much vegetable protein and not enough animal protein.
Pet Food Product Names on the Label Can Be Revealing
The label may not tell you exactly what "meats" a cat food contains. So WHAT IS the "mystery meat" in these products?
The actual name of the pet food product provides good clues as to what is in a pet food. Under U.S. regulations for pet products made or sold in the USA, the names of ingredients are legally defined. If the ingredient list states "meat" it can refer only to specified muscle tissues from cows, pigs, goats, or sheep (not waste products, byproducts, or offal). That's good to know. Look for "meat" at the top of the list of ingredients on your cat food label!
But the "with" rule allows an ingredient name to appear on the label - such as "with real beef" - as long as each named ingredient comprises at least 3% of the food by weight (excluding water used in processing). That 3% is not very much, and such a label can be quite misleading to the pet owner. A product named "Dr. Don's Cat Food with Chicken" might contain only 3% real chicken! But "Dr. Don's Chicken Cat Food" has to contain 95% real chicken.
Under the same U.S. regulations, when a product is labelled as a "dinner" (such as "Chicken Dinner") any named ingredient or a combination of named ingredients must comprise at least 25% of the weight of the product (excluding water used in processing), or at least 10% of the weight of the dry named ingredient.
The product name is usually a named meat followed by the usual qualifier "dinner". But other commonly added "qualifiers" are: platter, entree, formula, and nuggets.
A combination of ingredients listed in the product name is allowed (e.g. Chicken and Turkey Platter") as long as the percentage of total weight is 25% as before, AND each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight (excluding water for processing), AND all ingredient names appear in descending order by weight. Thus a Chicken and Turkey Dinner could contain only 22% chicken and 3% turkey and still meet the labelling requirement.
Again, that 10% or 25% by dry weight is not very much, and what you think you see on the label may only be a small part of what your pet will get! At least you know that your pet will be getting at least that much, but what ELSE would you be feeding your cat or dog with that OTHER 90% or 75% of the content of that food?
Would YOU want to buy and eat a "chicken dinner" that contained only 25% chicken and, say, 75% corn? Would you buy a dry "oatmeal" cookie that contained only 10% oatmeal?
Even more misleading is the word "flavor" in the name of the dog or cat food. The label may say "Beef Flavor Cat Food" but that pet food could contain NO beef at all! The regulations only require that the animal is able to distinguish the flavor as beef and not some other meat flavor. The food may only contain some beef extract, beef fat, or beef digest to make it TASTE like beef.
Life's Abundance pet foods are "holistic" and "natural" and do NOT contain corn, soy, wheat, or gluten meal.
Their dog and cat foods do NOT contain: byproducts from diseased animals or fowl, renderings from road kill, renderings from euthanized animals (with the killer drugs still in them), unhealthy chemical preservatives, steroids, artificial hormones, food colorings or dyes, or toxic residues.
All the HealthyPetNet dog and cat food products are veterinarian formulated by well-known and respected U.S. veterinarian, Dr. Jane Bicks DVM - author of three books on pet nutrition, and someone who actually CARES about providing the best nutrition for your cat or dog. With Dr. Jane, pet health comes before pet food profits. That's why there were NO cheap Chinese wheat or rice ingredients poisoned with melamine in any of the Life's Abundance or Instinctive Choice pet foods and treats. All ingredients are sourced in the USA.
Trilogy International donates a portion of its net profits to the Dr. Jane HealthyPetNet Foundation, Inc., a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion, establishment, maintenance and management of animal rescue groups committed to rescuing abused animals in the U.S.A.
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