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When looking at the cat food label, choosing the right cat food may seem like a simple task but stroll down the pet food isle and you become faced with an overwhelming number of choices. So how do you choose the best product for your finicky feline?
Cat food companies are required by law to provide nutritional information on the cat food label. This helps consumers make better informed choices about the product. The label must reveal whether the food provides complete and balanced nutrition. Complete and balanced are important words when reading labels. Complete means the food has all the necessary nutrients that your kitty needs for good health. Balanced means that the necessary nutrients are present in the proper proportions. Look for both of these words if complete and balanced is not on the label, assume that it isn’t.
Ingredients are supposed to be listed by predominance in descending order, but this can be misleading. Meat (or protein) may be listed first leading you do believe that the main product is meat. In reality the summation of the separately listed grains (carbohydrates) makes up the predominant ingredient. These carbohydrates are listed as corn meal, corn gluten, maize, ground yellow maize, wheat flour, soybean meal, and brewers rice. The ingredients listing is often split which gives the consumer a false impression of the true proportion of carbohydrates to protein. Basically, cats do not need carbohydrates, but carbohydrates make up the majority of both can and dry food and are used as fillers.
When looking at the labels make sure:
• That the protein source is named, look for chicken, lamb, or beef rather than meat, protein, or meat by products.
• The protein source, especially on canned food should be the first ingredient.
• Avoid chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propyl gallate.
• Avoid excess of carbohydrates as fillers.
• Meat: Cleaned flesh from chicken, lamb, turkey, cattle, and related animals that have been slaughtered specifically for animal feed purposes. However, flesh means more than skin. It may include muscle, (including the diaphragm), fat, nerves, blood vessels from the skin, the heart, esophagus, and the tongue.
• Meat by-product: Clean, non-flesh parts from the same animals mentioned above. This can include the blood, bone, brain, liver, lungs, liver, kidneys, and emptied stomach and intestines. There are no hooves, hair, horns, or teeth in meat byproducts. Chicken by-products are feather-free.
• Beef tallow: A fat made from beef.
• Meal: Finely ground tissue.
• Bone meal: Finely ground bone from slaughtered feed animals.
• Fish meal: Clean, ground undecomposed whole fish or fish pieces. The fish may or may not still contain fish oil.
• Ground corn: Chopped or ground corn kernels.
• Corn gluten meal: A product that forms after corn syrup or starch is made.