12 Worst Cat Food Ingredients (You Must Know)

12 Worst Cat Food Ingredients (Know These Things)

Knowing what food is best for your cat can be complexing when there are so many different cat foods available on the market. They are advertised as being healthy, well-balanced cat foods with the best ingredients. But are they? In this article we give our view on what we consider to be the worst cat food ingredients.

It is important to educate yourself on cat food ingredients and then read the cat food labels carefully before deciding on a particular cat food.

The worst cat food ingredients to avoid (no particular order)

Worst Cat Food Ingredients


This ingredient is added to wet cat foods as a gravy thickener.

Carrageenan is considered to be carcinogenic and can cause inflammatory problems leading to Colitis, Arthritis and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It may also damage parts of the digestive tract and organs such as the liver and kidneys.

Carrageenan has been used in laboratories to trigger cancer in their test animals.

Carrageenan is in most canned pet foods. The manufacturers will tell you that they use the “Safe” form of Carrageenan. However, there is no real “safe” form as it converts to an unsafe form in the cat’s digestive system.

Meat Meal/By-product

Real meat should always be the first ingredient listed on cat food labels. When the meat ingredient isn’t named, then you do not know what they have put in the food.

Often by-products are organ meats such as brains, kidneys, and hearts – which are all great for cats, however, if the by-product isn’t named, then what you are getting may not be beneficial to your cats.

Meat and bone meal is generally the leftover parts of the animal after the meat has been removed. Again, it is better to know what this is.

Remember, cats are obligate carnivores. They are only meant to eat animals. In the wild they will eat pretty much the whole body of small animals, gaining nutrients from blood, bones, organs, and meat.

Too Much Fish

can cats eat fishFish, in general, should not be fed to cats – except maybe occasionally. Fish is not a natural food for cats. Cats in the wild are hunters – not “fishers” (Except occasionally).

Cats cannot Digest or Metabolize fish well – so fish leaves a lot of by-products in the blood. Which must be cleared out by the kidneys and liver – putting extra stress on these organs.

Large predatory fish like tuna can accumulate mercury in their systems. When consumed by cat’s this toxin will accumulate in the cat’s body. Not all large predatory fish will have this toxin in them, however it is better to er on the safe side and minimize how much you feed to your cat.

Avoid any foods containing salmon or salmon oils (unidentified fish or oils are generally from salmon). This is because the salmon will be farm-raised. Farm-raised salmon contain carcinogens.

It is common for cats to have a fish allergy.

Feeding fish to cats can be very dangerous for them. Check out this website that talks about why.


Avoid foods that contain Liver – unless it’s organic or from poultry. Liver can harbor toxins from the animal it’s from. Poultry does not live that long, so, liver from poultry will tend to ok.

Synthetic Preservatives

BHT (butylated hydroxy anisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin are three nasty chemical preservatives commonly found in cat foods. BHA and BHT are chemicals added to fats as preservatives.

According to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, BHT is a known carcinogens and reproductive toxicants. BHT is also a carcinogen and causes liver and kidney damage in rats.

Ethoxyquin is illegal to use in human foods in USA, however, it is still legally added to pet foods. Reports indicate that it is harmful if swallowed or if it directly contacts the skin. Ethoxyquin often enters through the ingredient ‘fish meal’ and may not even appear on the label.

Another one to look out for is Propylene Glycol (PG). It is a humectant (moistening agent) found in some soft cat foods and treats. It is derived from ethylene glycol (EG) – antifreeze. PG is toxic to animals. Note, this ingredient is touted as non-toxic and non-absorbent for your pet. But consuming ‘pet-safe’ antifreeze’ will not ensure your cat’s health.

Food Dyes

Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, have been linked to allergic reactions, behavior problems, and cancer in humans.

4-methylimidazole (4-MIE) can be found in the color caramel. 4-MIE is known to be poisonous to animals.


Can cats eat wheat productsMost cat foods will contain grains being touted as being beneficial to cats for the carbohydrates they provide. Once again, we must point out that cats are obligate carnivores.

Cats have difficulty digesting carbs from grains. Cats generally get all the carbs they require from meat.

In addition, many cats have an intolerance to wheat and corn gluten. As with humans with this condition, it can lead to itchy skin, vomiting and diarrhea.

Other forms of grain such as rice can impair taurine (an essential amino acid that cats get from meat) absorption.

Some cat food companies say their products are grain free, but this doesn’t mean they are carb free. They will use vegetables such as potato, pumpkin, and peas. Cats are unable to produce amylase in their saliva needed to break down carbs.

Food labels will sometimes say the vegetables provide protein for cats (cat’s require high protein in their diets). The protein from vegetables (and legumes) is not the type of protein that cats require.

Something else to mention, grains will likely have traces of chemicals like glyphosate on them. These disrupt the gut flora and fauna that can lead to immune problems. In addition, GMO ingredients tend to have a greater load of glyphosate.

Rendered Fat

The process of rendering separates fat, removes water and kills pathogens. The fat that is removed goes into pet food as “animal fat”. This will be named as: chicken fat, beef fat etc.

Rendered products are deemed “unfit for human consumption”. If we shouldn’t eat it, then should our pets? Rendered cat food products typically have relatively high protein levels, however, the quality of those proteins is often questionable.

Rendered products may be listed as meat meal or by-product.


Legumes such as peas, lentils, soybeans, and chickpeas, are a common ingredient in commercial cat food. They are promoted as being high in carbs and proteins for your cat. Cats don’t require the carbs and the protein is not one cats can easily digest.

Legumes are known to cause diarrhoea and have been linked to kidney damage.

Small amounts in cat food will not harm your cat.

Vegetable Oils

Sunflower, canola, and olive oil in cat food offers no benefit to cats. They are unable to absorb the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.


Cellulose is used as a thickener in cat food. The cellulose used is derived from powdered woodchips. Cats cannot absorb it and it can block the digestive system causing constipation.

Vitamin C (last but not least of the worst cat food ingredients)

Cat foods formulated with added Vitamin C are offering no benefit to cats. They don’t need it like us humans. It can cause urinary blockages. Cranberries, often listed as an ingredient, is high in Vitamin C.

Final Thoughts on the Worst Cat Food Ingredients

It is almost impossible to avoid all the above worst cat food ingredients in commercial foods. Read the labels and seek cat foods that have fewer of the less beneficial ingredients.

When starting your cat out on a new food, be vigilant and note if it reacts negatively to it. Always look for natural foods with real meat as its first ingredients. Cats require lots of protein, and meat provides the best kind of protein.

Think; what would a cat be eating in the wild, and seek to offer a diet that replicates that!

If you want to check ingredients on the internet – you can usually find ingredient listings on Chewy.com


Home Cooked Diet For Cats (Feline Feast or Folly)

home cooked diet for cats

Many people question why pet owners tend to buy commercial foods for their feline rather than opting to a home cooked diet for cats, offering natural fresh meats.

The main reason is it is way easier to open a can of cat food or pour kibble, than preparing a homemade meal for a cat. But also, cat food is formulated to offer a balanced diet for felines. It has more nutrients required by cats than just ‘meat’.

The interest in homemade food for cats is on the rise. It is important to realize, however, that homemade pet food does not always mean healthy.

Let’s delve into why this is so…

Obligatory Carnivores

Home Cooked Diet For Cats vs Canned FoodsCats are obligatory carnivores. They do require essential nutrients in meat to live. Without meat they will get ill.

Cats need more than just the ‘muscle meat’. Most people, when giving fresh meat to their cats, only offer ‘muscle meat’ and think that this is all they require to survive.

When cats hunt, they do not selectively eat only the mouse steaks or bird fillets. They eat much more of their prey, including the organs, intestines and bones. Pretty much everything!

Minerals from bones

Cats get much, if not all, of their calcium from bones (and other minerals). Cat stomach acids leach these minerals out of the bones.

The bones are frequently enveloped and regurgitated in hairballs – as well as whatever fur or feathers the cat may have also swallowed. If some bones end up passing into the lower digestive tract they are typically already demineralized and softened.

That does not mean that a cat can never get harmed by bones. Or that it is a good idea to offer your cat bones from a cow, or large chicken bones – especially if they are cooked.

The bones that cats can manage to eat safely are small. They need to be small enough that they can chew through them. Think mouse sized!

What happens when giving cats a home cooked diet for cats with just meat?

can cats eat chicken bonesA mistake that well-meaning people make is the feeding of unbalanced homemade diets.

That is because when making cat food from scratch, many people fail to balance the meat with the correct amount of calcium, forgetting that in the wild, a cat would be eating both the meat and bones of their prey, thus providing a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.

A cat diet too heavy in tuna, liver, or liver oil (such as cod liver oil), can lead to vitamin A toxicosis, resulting in bone and joint pain, brittle bones, and dry skin.

A diet too rich in raw fish can destroy vitamin B1. This can cause muscle weakness, seizures, or even brain damage. If a cat owner wishes to make their pet’s food, they need to understand and follow a properly balanced recipe.

This is similar to well-meaning people rescuing and raising wildlife. For example, with baby owls: when fed just meat, the owlets’ bones don’t develop properly. There have been instances where hand raised owlets have been found to be in such a poor state that their soft boned legs are unable to support them. Owls eat a similar diet to cats in the wild. They also consume all parts of their prey’s body.

Rather than a home cooked diet for cats, what about a raw diet?

In addition to the risk of nutrient deficiencies, raw diets pose other risks for cats. Any bones not completely ground up could cause intestinal blockages or even lacerations.

Plus, raw foods are more likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. The food requires careful consideration with storage and refrigeration.

A true home cooked diet for cats

A true homemade diet for cats must include much of what a feline in the wild would eat: muscle meat, organs and bones. Uncooked wild prey is high in protein and moisture. It also contains essential substances that are found in meat, such as taurine, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Are all commercial cat foods good for your cat?

Throughout our website we review many different cat foods. When looking at ingredients it is clear that there are many excellent commercial cat foods on the market carefully formulated by animal nutritionists and provide a full spectrum of nutrients to keep cats healthy.

Also, there are some that we feel don’t offer a healthy balanced diet, or have ingredients that are not naturally found in a cat’s diet. Some cat foods are bulked-up using grains and vegetables, which are not ideal for carnivorous cats.

It is important to read the ingredient list to identify what is in the food and where it is sourced from. Artificial coloring, flavors and preservatives may also be harmful. Seek foods with natural additives.

The first ingredient should always be a quality real meat. Avoid meat meal substitutes.

Also, seek foods that include organ meats and have a range of essential ingredients such as amino acids, minerals, taurine and vitamins.

If giving your cat tinned foods with oily fish, then look to also provide foods that don’t contain fish. This will reduce the risk of vitamin deficiencies.

Refer to our ‘Cat Food Appraisal Tool’ to better understand what to look for in a quality cat food – and more importantly, what to avoid!

Final thoughts

Whether you choose to buy a quality commercial pet food or decide that a home cooked diet for cats is best, it is essential to do your homework to ensure the food is safe and offers a well-balanced diet.

To add variety to your cat’s diet, you could consider offering your pet a mixture of home cooked and commercial foods. That way you’ll cover all bases and keep your cat interested!


What to Feed Cats (Cat Feeding Advice Guidance)

cat feeding advice

As any cat owner knows, cats can be picky eaters. Moreover, each cat has unique dietary needs based on age, health, and activity level. Therefore, knowing what to feed cats and having access to the best cat feeding advice can be challenging.

The food you give them, how much you feed them, and when you feed them can impact their health. That’s why it’s essential to have some basic knowledge about cat feeding.

By understanding the basics of cat nutrition, you can ensure that your cat gets the nutrients they need to stay healthy. This article will give you tips for caring for your feline friend. Keep reading for more information.

What to Feed Cats

Knowing what is healthy for cats is just as essential as being aware of ingredients that are harmful for cats.

Some cat food manufacturers compromise their pet products in order to keep costs down for the consumer. They may incorporate into their cat food formulas such things as inferior meats, artificial flavoring and grain fillers. All of these can be harmful to your cat’s health.

We strongly suggest that pet owner’s carefully read the cat food labelling of commercial cat foods to establish whether or not the food is right for your pet.

To help our viewers we have developed a simple to use Cat Food Appraisal Tool that presents a 16 point checklist. Use this tools when shopping for cat food. Our appraisal tool is available in PDF form HERE. To see a detailed breakdown of cat food ingredients view our article ‘What to Look for in Cat Food- the Good and The Bad’.


7 Cat Feeding Advice Tips

Assuming your cat is healthy and has no special dietary needs, here are some tips to help you choose the right food and feeding schedule.

1.     Type of Food

What to feed catsYou first need to consider what type of food to feed your cat. The two main options are dry food and wet food.

Dry food is typically cheaper and easier to store but has less moisture than wet food. If your cat doesn’t drink enough water, dry food can lead to dehydration.

On the other hand, wet food is more expensive but contains more moisture. It’s also generally closer to a cat’s natural diet.

The best option is to feed your cat a combination of both dry and wet food. This way, they can get the benefits of both types of food.

2.     How Much to Feed Them

Most cats need around 20 calories per pound of body weight per day. So, if your cat weighs ten pounds, they need about 120-180 calories daily.

Of course, this number will vary based on age, activity level, and other factors. Talk to your veterinarian if you’re unsure how much to feed your cat. They can help you figure out the right amount based on your cat’s individual needs.

3.     When to Feed Them

The best feeding schedule for cats is two or three small meals per day. If you only feed them once a day, they’re more likely to gorge themselves and then not eat again until the next meal.

However, some cats do better with one big meal per day. It depends on your cat’s individual preferences. Experiment to see what works best for them.

Generally, it’s best to feed them in the morning and at night. This way, they have food in their stomachs overnight.

If you work long hours and can’t be home to feed them twice a day, consider investing in an automatic feeder. This way, their meals will be dispensed on a schedule, even when you’re not home.

4.     Water

In addition to food, cats need plenty of fresh water. So make sure they always have a clean bowl of water that’s easily accessible.

Some cats don’t like to drink from a bowl and prefer running water. In this case, you can need a cat water fountain, and  Tomxcute Cat Water Fountain is one of the best for your cat. These fountains filter the water and keep it circulating, so it’s always fresh.

Cats typically need around five ounces of water per day. This number will increase if they eat primarily dry food or live in a hot climate.

5.     Feed them a Balanced Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need to eat meat to survive. Meat contains an essential amino acid (Taurine), that cats require in their diet and are unable to synthesise themselves. Therefore, their diet should be high in meat protein and low in carbohydrates.

That said, not all cat foods are created equal. For example, some contain more fillers and by-products than others. So, it’s essential to read the labels carefully before buying anything. Refer to our Cat Food Appraisal Tool which provides a simple checklist on what to look for in a healthy cat food.

The best cat foods will list real meat as the first ingredient. Avoid anything that contains grains, corn, or soy. These are challenging for cats to digest. Here is a sample of grain free cat foods.

6.     Treats

In addition to their regular food, you can also give your cats treats. However, treats should only make up around five percent of their diet. The rest should be high-quality cat food.

When choosing treats, look for something high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You can give them small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey as a healthy treat.

You can also find commercial cat treats specifically designed to be healthy and nutritious.

7.     Keep Better Hygiene

It’s essential to keep your cat’s food area clean. Wash their bowl with soap and water every day.

Every week or so, you should disinfect their bowl with a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water. This will help kill any bacteria that could make them sick.

After washing and disinfecting their bowl, rinse it well and dry it before adding fresh food.

Interesting Facts About The Cat

Cat Feeding Advice GuideCats are fascinating creatures that have been domesticated for thousands of years. They are known for their independent nature, as well as their Hunter’s instincts.

Despite this, cats are excellent companions and affectionate towards their owners. Here are some fun facts about our feline friends:

Cats have been domesticated for over 4,000 years. The first recorded instance of cat domestication comes from Ancient Egypt, where they were revered as gods and kept as pets.

  • There are over 500 million domestic cats in the world.
  • Cats sleep for around 12-16 hours a day.
  • While most cats are right-pawed, around 50% are left-pawed.
  • The average lifespan of a domestic cat is around 12-18 years, although some can live into their 20s.
  • Cats have excellent night vision and can see six times better than humans in low light conditions.
  • A cat’s hearing is much sharper than ours, and they can detect high-frequency sounds we cannot hear.
  • Cats have whiskers on their face which are extremely sensitive and help them judge distance and navigate in the dark.
  • Cats have a powerful sense of smell and can remember smells for long periods.

Common What to Feed Cats Questions

You may be interested in articles we have provided that answer the following what to feed cats questions:

Can cats eat chocolate?

Sharing a  bar of chocolate with your pet cat is a bad idea as it is harmful to them. Chocolates present a severe health risk to cats and may be life-threatening if consumed excessively. Read on here…

Can cats eat dog food?

It is one of those reoccurring questions veterinarians hear from cat owners. Although the straightforward answer to this common question is yes, there is more cat owners need to know. Read on here…

Is human food OK for cats?

Your cat’s affection may motivate you to share that snack with your little friend. However, there is more to understand before submitting to the urge of feeding your cat human food. Read on here…

Can cats eat fruit?

Fruit form a healthy and needed part of the human diet, but is it the same for our feline friends? While you can include a little fruit in your cat’s diet, you must stick to safe fruits. Unfortunately, not all fruit is safe for cats. Read on here…

Is cows’ milk healthy for cats and kittens?

Images of cats lapping a bowl of milk have imprinted the impression that cow’s milk must be good for every cat. While most cats crave a little milk, the supposed love between cats and cow milk is exaggerated. Read on here…

Can cats eat canned tuna?

The short answer is Yes, canned tuna is considered safe to feed cats. Read on here…

What meat can cats eat?

can cats eat raw meatBy nature, cats are carnivorous meat-eaters with meat forming an essential part of their diet. However, it would help to consider what meat cats are best to eat before offering your pet that morsel of meat. Read on here…

Can cats eat raw meat?

Absolutely. Cats are obligate carnivores. So it is understandable when pet owners want to give a raw diet to their cats. However, some experts say that placing your cat on a diet of raw meat causes a significant health risk for you and your pet. Read on here…

Final thoughts on what to feed cats 

Now that you know what to feed cats, it’s time to start. Choose the right food, create a feeding schedule, and clean their bowl. With this cat feeding advice your cat will be healthy and happy for years.

Go check our article on what we consider to be the worst cat food ingredients found in cat foods.



Fish Allergy In Cats (causes and symptoms)

cats allergic to fish

Like humans, the immune system of cats defends itself against anything it perceives as a threat. Food ingredients such as fish, beef, eggs, and milk are well-known allergens to felines. However, fish allergy in cats is quite prevalent compared to some food ingredients.

According to a study of 56 cats with identifiable fish allergies, fish was accountable for 13 (23%) of the cases. The study further revealed that fish comes third in potential allergic reactions trailing only beef and dairy products.

What Is Fish Allergy in cats?

fish allergy in cats

A fish allergy occurs when a cat’s immune system overreacts to the protein in the fish. Pet owners commonly use fish as a healthy protein source for their cats.

However, in some cases, fish can cause contaminants like mercury to accumulate in your cat’s system. In addition, fish allergy could cause uncomfortable skin conditions for some cats.

You would require an elimination diet to determine the specific allergen affecting your cat. Although the elimination diet method is time-consuming, knowing which particular protein your cat could be reacting to is needed.

How do you distinguish between food allergy and food intolerance?

A food allergy is a cat’s immune system response to defend itself against something it views as a threat.

An allergic reaction does not occur the first time an individual cat gets exposed to the food substance but begins to show after continuous consumption.

On the other hand, food intolerance does not involve the immune system, and it mainly causes gastrointestinal responses, including;

  • Changes in the color of the cat’s stool.
  • Unusual sound from the cat’s digestive system.

Symptoms of fish allergy in cats

Fish Causing Allergy in Cats

The following are symptoms of fish allergy in cats;

  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Scratching, biting, or licking her skin.
  • Inflammation around the paws
  • Blisters/skin ulcerations
  • Swelling in the face/ limbs
  • Crusty papules

Symptoms of food allergies are typically on the head and neck of cats. Some cats can experience respiratory symptoms such as coughing and breathing problems.

Food intolerance frequently comes with and sometimes precedes a full-blown allergy to the food. It also comes with gastrointestinal discomfort and bubbling sound from the digestive system.

Causes of fish allergy in cats

Fish allergy in cats is caused by a severe defensive response to a protein that your cat perceives as an invasive material.

Most of the cat’s immune system cells are found in their digestive system. During digestion, protein food substances are broken down into amino acids.

These amino acids are then absorbed by specialized white blood cells and immune cells known as enterocytes before being transported into the bloodstream.

If proteins are not adequately broken down, the enterocytes would perceive the food fragments as intruders rather than nutrients and attack. Unfortunately, the reaction of these cells becomes more aggressive over time, and the symptoms worsen.

Diagnosis of fish allergy in cats

Allergy symptoms in cats may appear similar to that of other disorders such as bacteria or mite infection.

Your veterinarian may likely collect skin scrapings to be examined under a microscope in a process known as cutaneous cytology.

If the skin cells fail to indicate any other microorganisms, your cat could be experiencing an allergy. Although serum and intradermal testing are available for cats with allergies, they are not very efficient in detecting food-related allergies.

The standard for cat food allergies is the elimination diet or food trial. Beginning an elimination diet entails changing your cat’s daily diet to a limited ingredient or, in some cases, a diet of unseasoned human food.

By so doing, well-known allergens are gradually eliminated from the diet. Novel ingredients are usually required when selecting the proper diet for your cat.

Any protein or carbohydrate that has just been introduced to the cat’s diet is considered a novel ingredient. Therefore, if you suspect a fish allergy, look for additional commercial diet ingredients.

Once the allergy symptoms have been eliminated, slowly reintroduce new ingredients into the diet to determine which one is causing the reaction.

It is commonly advised that cat owners stick to a mono protein or duo protein diet containing safe proteins.

Treatment of fish allergy in cats

The elimination diet may take several weeks to reveal the particular allergen affecting your cat.

During this period, your cat may continue to experience allergy symptoms. Your vet may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce swelling and antihistamines to relieve itching.

Both medications may mask the allergy symptoms, making it more challenging to determine which ingredient in your cat’s diet is causing the reaction.

As a result, many veterinarians prefer to use the elimination diet before introducing these medications into the treatment plan.

Minor skin infections are also common in cats suffering allergy symptoms. In this case, antibiotics are prescribed to treat and also prevent complications.

You would have to eliminate the allergen from your cat’s diet immediately after it is identified.

Other supplements such as probiotics and non-fish-based Omega 3 oils are recommended for all types of allergies as they help support the immune system.

The aim is to help your cat’s body handle any accidental allergen exposure and prevent the development of new allergies.

Can cats eat canned tuna?

If you are thinking of sharing your favorite canned tuna with your feline friend, you need to consider it. Although cats love the smell and flavor of tuna fish, it can harm their health. So, while a single tuna bite may not hurt your cat, excluding it from their diet is best.

Tunas are nutritionally unbalanced as they contain a high amount of unsaturated fat and are not supplemented with Vitamin E or other antioxidants.

Similarly, canned tuna also causes fish allergy in cats leading to allergic reactions such as itching, hair loss, swollen skin, etc.

Tuna also contains high amounts of mercury, a toxic metal. So regular tuna consumption can lead to mercury poisoning, which could be pretty lethal to your cat’s health.

Fish-free Cat Foods

Does your cat have a fish allergy? This shouldn’t stop your feline friend from having a healthy and tasty meal. Here are some fish-free cat foods.

1.      Instinct limited cat food

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet for cats

This is a grain-free cat food carefully made for sensitive cats. This meal includes protein and vegetables and is free from grain, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives.

It is crafted for cats with food allergies and contains simple and easy-to-digest ingredients such as cage-free turkey and digestible protein.

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2.      ZIWI Peak canned cat food

Ziwi Peak cat food lamb

This high-protein recipe provides for allergy relief, improved digestion, and weight maintenance. It doesn’t contain added carbohydrates and is perfect for food-sensitive cats. It is also free from grain, potato, and rice.

This nutrient-rich meal features 92% free-range lamb, organs, and bone. In addition, it is moisture-rich and contains omega fatty acids for reduced shedding.

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Final Thoughts

Fish allergy in cats is not curable. However, symptoms are likely to disappear when the allergen is eliminated.

Note that exposure to the allergen could prompt a relapse, so you must be careful of the treats and flavoring you offer your cat.



What to Look for in Cat Food- What’s Good and What’s Bad Checklist!

what to look for in cat food

 16 Point Check List of What to Look for in Cat Food

Commercial cat foods come in all kinds of recipes formulated by companies keen to dominate the pet food market. The virtues of these cat foods will be plastered across their marketing. It is left to the consumer to plod through this information and the ingredients lists to determine what is best for their cat. In this article we point out, in layman’s terms, what to look for in cat food. We also provide a useful infographic tool for our viewers.


Dry vs Wet

Whether cat owners should be buying dry cat food as opposed to wet, or visa versa is not the aim of this discussion. In our view, both have merit, and both can have flaws.

It isn’t whether the food is dry or wet that is important, but rather the quality of the ingredients and formula. There are some excellent dry cat foods and there are some excellent wet cat foods.


What is Considered a Quality Cat Food?

what to look for in cat foodA quality cat food will be a well-balanced meat-based formula providing all the nutritional requirements that cats require, without the inclusion of harmful additives.

The Cat Food Advisor Team have researched and analyzed countless cat foods. By reading the ingredient’s lists of the different products it is a relatively simple task to determine which offers the best cat nutrition.


Checklist of What to Look for in Cat Food

Here is a useful check list designed to guide our viewers with assessing and selecting a premium cat food.

Simply, copy and print the infographic or save it to your device, then utilize it when reading ingredient cat food lists.

We have elaborated upon the details of this Checklist below.

Cat Food Assessment Checklist Tool

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What to Look for in Cat Food- 6 Must Haves!

  • Meat Protein/Amino acids

Cats are obligate carnivores deriving their protein from meat. Adult cats require above 25% protein dry weight from meat in their food.

Protein is broken down into amino acids. There are many amino acids essential for cats. An important one, which cats are unable to synthesize, is Taurine.


  • Omega Fatty Acids

Fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties and are essential nutrients for skin and coat health.

They need to be present in the correct ratio/balance in cat food. This ratio is 5 to 1 for Omega-6 to -3. Health problems can occur if the ratio is out.

-Omega 3 Commonly found in oily fish meat.

-Omega 6 Commonly found in chicken fat.


  • Real Meat

The #1 ingredient on the ingredient’s list should always be named real meat. The better meats are poultry, beef, lamb, rabbit, or fish (in moderation).


  • Minimal Processing and Cooking

In the wild, cats derive all their nutrients from raw meat.

The process of cooking destroys many nutrients such as vitamins, probiotics, and essential amino acids such as Taurine.

Very high temperatures during cooking will alter the molecular structure of proteins, making them harmful for cats. Slow cooking and baking are better cooking methods.


  • Balanced nutrition

Ensure a range of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and prebiotics are present in cat food. Probiotics can help with digestive tract health, and vitamins and minerals maintain overall health.


  • Conforms with AAFCO Profiles

The Association of American Feed Control Officials regulate the production and sale of cat food. Look for the nutritional adequacy statement located on the pet food label to see if a product conforms to AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.


10 Things to Avoid in Cat Food!


  • Grains

Avoid food with soybean, corn, wheat, barley, or rice. Carnivorous cats’ digestive systems are not geared for them.

Mycotoxin, a by-product of fungi and mold that forms on contaminated grains is damaging to organs, especially the liver.

Pet food companies use grains as a binder, especially in dry kibble. They will validate grains as a requirement for high fiber and essential carbohydrate, however, cats get these from meat.


  • PH Out of Balance

The ideal PH range for cats is 6.3 – 6.7. A PH above or below this range can cause crystal formation in the urinary tract resulting in painful infections.


  • Unnamed Meat By-products/Meat Meal

Meat by-product is the offal discarded in meat processing. Meat Meal is similar. Unnamed by-product could include anything from road kills, deceased pets to deceased zoo animals.

By-product meat is usually fine for cats, so long as you know what is in it.

  • Food Coloring

Food colorings are problematic to cat health. The main colors added to some cat foods are:

-Red 40: contributes to cancers

-Blue2: linked to brain tumors

-Yellow 5: causes allergies and genotoxicity


  • Preservatives

Chemical preservatives like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) are very effective at preserving dry cat food but are suspected to be potentially cancer-causing agents. These chemicals are often added to oils and fats.

Look for natural preservatives such as Vitamin E and C.


  • Flavor Enhancers

Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate– synthetic palatant can cause dehydration, organ damage, cardiovascular disease and bone and tooth damage)

MSG Mono Sodium Glutamate– tricks the brain into thinking the food tastes good and can lead to obesity and brain cell damage

These will be disguised as “Natural Flavors’ or “hydrolyzed protein”


  • GMO

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) have been linked with diseases of the liver, pancreas, renal and reproductive system.

Look for non-GMO, or better still, organic ingredients.


  • Legumes

Enzyme inhibitors found in legumes like peas and beans can interfere with digestion. These may be responsible for taurine and other amino acid deficiencies in cats.


  • Excessive Oily Fish and Fish Oil

Not an acceptable food for daily feeding. Fish contains high levels of fatty acids, which can lead to a vitamin E deficiency in cats, and painful conditions. Some cats develop allergies as a result of eating too much fish based cat foods.


  • Starchy Tuberous Vegetables

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are included in many cat foods as a binder. Although not toxic, it is unnecessary to feed cats excessive carbohydrates as this leads to weight gain.


Final Thoughts

Being confident in knowing what to look for in cat food will relax cat owners when buying cat food. Please use our ‘What to Look for in Cat Food’ infographic to assist you.

Viewers are welcome to share the infographic with their friends who have cats. They may well appreciate this simple guide.