How to Read the Labels on Cat Food
How to Read the Labels on Cat Food .The chore of selecting food for a cat may appear to be an easy one. However, if you go down the aisle where the pet food is kept, you will notice that there are an overwhelming amount of options.
So how can you decide which product is going to be the most suitable for your picky cat? The following is what many experts told WebMD.
First and foremost, become fluent in label lingo.
The content of a cat food label is subject to the same regulations imposed on human food labels by the United States government. Labels on all varieties of cat food are required to include the identical information regardless of the packaging.
Name of the product: what sort of food is it for cats? In most cases, the product name will highlight an important component, although this is not always the case.
What is the total net weight of the contents in the container?
The following is a declaration of purpose or intent: There must to be some indication on the packaging that this particular food is intended just for cats. Cats have extremely specific dietary demands, which need them to include certain substances in their diet. This may sound like an obvious fact, but it’s important to note.
Ingredient list: In order to comply with the legislation, a list of components must be arranged from heaviest to least. However, take in mind that the amount of moisture might impact the weight. Therefore, items that contain a lot of moisture, like chicken or lamb, are put higher on the ingredient list than the same ingredient that is supplied in a dry form. This is because dry forms of an ingredient absorb less moisture.
Analysis that is certain to be: Indicates the minimal or maximum amount of particular nutrients, such as protein, fat, and fibre, respectively. Ingredients and nutrients are two very distinct things.
Instructions for feeding: Describes how the substance should be administered to the feline. These instructions are should be seen as broad recommendations rather than hard and fast regulations. Inquire with your veterinary professional for detailed instructions.
Statement on the sufficiency of nutrition: This gives you information about the precise age range and activity level of cats that the food is designed for. For instance, is it intended for kittens still in their formative stages or for adult cats?
Statement of responsibility: Identifies the firm that is accountable for manufacturing the goods and provides information on how to get in touch with them.
No. 2 Piece of Advice: Never Give a Kitten Food to a Cat (and Vice Versa)
On the back of the container containing the cat food is one of the most crucial pieces of information that you should look at while making your decision. The nutritional adequacy statement tells you whether or not the food will provide your cat with a diet that is full and well-balanced for their specific stage of life. The term “life stage” refers to a particular time period in a cat’s development.
Either “cat food” or “kitten food” will be included in the statement. It is also possible for the packaging to state that the food is appropriate for all phases of a cat’s life, including development and maintenance, growth and reproduction (for breeding cats), and potentially even for either indoor or outdoor cats.
According to pet nutritionist Angele Thompson, PhD, there is no one particular mix of food that is ideal for all cats. This is the consensus of the field. Therefore, choose with the option that will serve your needs the best.
The next piece of advice is to not judge a book by its (front) cover.
When it comes to selecting food for a cat, the brand name of the food plays a key role in the decision-making process. However, “Chicken Cat Food” is not the same thing as “Cat Food with Chicken” in terms of the amount of chicken that is actually included in the product.
When it comes to choosing a name for their product, companies that produce food for pets are required to adhere to three primary guidelines. If you have a good understanding of them, you will be able to select the most appropriate diet for your cat.
Rule number one states that a product must include at least 95 percent of the listed component, excluding the amount of moisture it contains, if the product’s name includes the words “Tuna Cat Food” or “Chicken Cat Food.” But here’s where things start to get complicated: If the name of the product contains more than one component (for example, “Chicken and Fish Cat Food”), the product must contain at least 95 percent of each of those ingredients combined, with the first item accounting for a greater proportion of the total.
Rule number two: Just because it’s called “dinner,” don’t assume that your cat will be served something with more meat. According to this law, the name of the product needs to include a qualifier such as “dinner,” “entrée,” “formula,” “platter,” and so on if it includes less than 95 percent meat or fish but more than 25 percent of either of those ingredients combined. In these situations, you should pay great attention to the ingredient list to ensure that you are feeding your cat the food that you believe you are. It’s possible that the component referenced in the product’s name accounts for less than a quarter of the final product. It’s possible that the main ingredient in something like “Chicken Cat Dinner” is actually fish.
Rule No. 3 states that if a product’s name includes the term “with,” the producer is not obligated to incorporate
more than 3 percent of the ingredient that is being listed in the product. Therefore, “Cat Food with Tuna” may include a very little amount of tuna in comparison to “Tuna Cat Food.”
No. 4 Piece of Advice: Meat Is Not a Meal.
After you have solved the mystery of the product name, examine the components to determine the position of your cat’s preferred item in the list.
The ingredients are presented in descending order of weight, beginning with the most substantial items.
The following are some of the most often used components:
Meat is the cleaned flesh of animals such as chicken, lamb, turkey, cattle, and other animals of a similar kind that have been slaughtered particularly for the purpose of providing animal feed. Nevertheless, flesh refers to more than just the skin. It is possible for it to contain muscle (including the diaphragm), fat, nerves, and blood arteries taken from the skin, the heart, the oesophagus, and the tongue.
Products derived from meat: portions of the animals described above that are not made of flesh and are clean. This may include the blood, the bone, the brain, the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, as well as the stomach and intestines once they have been emptied. Meat byproducts do not contain any hooves, hair, horns, or teeth from the animal that the meat came from. Products derived from chicken do not include feathers.
Tallow derived from beef is a kind of animal fat.
Tissue that has been finely pulverised into a meal.
The term “bone meal” refers to the finely pulverised bones of animals that have been killed for food.
Meal from fish refers to fish that has been cleaned, decomposed, and pulverised into a powder. There is a possibility that the fish still has some oil in it.
Corn kernels that have been chopped or crushed into a powder.
Corn gluten meal is a by-product that results from the production of corn syrup or corn starch.
No. 5 Piece of Advice: Pay Attention to the Ingredients, Not the Nutrients
Try not to spend an excessive amount of time attempting to understand that ingredient list. According to Sherry Sanderson, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, “nutrients are what animals need, not chemicals.” “The nutritional content of the finished food should be your primary focus, rather than the individual components that went into its creation,”
The phrase “Guaranteed Analysis” appears on the bottle at this point in the game. It provides a list of the nutrients that may be present in cat chow.
Protein, water, carbohydrates (fibre), vitamins, and minerals are just some of the essential elements that cats require in order to be healthy and live long lives.
The particular nutrients your cat needs are determined, among other things, by the stage of its life. However, the manner in which nutritional information is provided has frequently been the subject of dispute. Some people believe that the labels on currently available pet food are often deceptive and confusing, and one consumer advocacy group has advocated for a comprehensive revision of the standards governing labelling.
Why is there so much debate? The minimum and maximum levels of only four nutrients—protein, fat, fibre, and moisture—are something that manufacturers of cat food are required to include on their product labels.
They are required to disclose the minimum quantity of crude protein as well as the minimal amount of crude fat.
They are required to state the maximum quantity of moisture and crude fibre content.
On a package of cat food, for instance, you may see the following: “Crude protein (max) — 32 percent.” That indicates there is at least that much protein present in the item. It was possible for there to be more, but not less.
On the other hand, if it says “Crude fibre (min) — 20 percent” on the package of cat food, this indicates that it is assured to include at least that much fibre but no more than that amount. Keep in mind that the numbers are not stated in grammes, but rather as a proportion of the total (weight).
The information on other nutrients, such as ash, magnesium, and taurine, which is required for cats, can be included in cat food by the manufacturers on a voluntary basis.
Preservatives are Crucial, as Mentioned in Tip No. 6
According to Sanderson, although preservatives in dry pet food have a reputation for being problematic, they really perform a number of duties that are of critical significance. Antioxidants are a type of preservative that keep food from going rancid due to the presence of fat. When a fat goes rancid, it no longer has any nutritional value, and on top of that, eating it might put your health in jeopardy.
Both natural and man-made substances can serve as preservatives. Vitamin E (tocopherol) or vitamin C are examples of popular natural preservatives that can be discovered in cat food (ascorbic acid). Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are both examples of synthetic versions of vitamin E. These are examples of man-made antioxidants.
There are websites that make the allegation that BHT and BHA can cause cancer in animals. However, our specialists claim that they are not aware of any studies that have ever been validated by peer review that demonstrate the dangers of preservatives at the levels that are present in pet meals. They say you should never choose a dry cat food that doesn’t contain preservatives because the risk of feeding a potentially rancid diet outweighs any perceived risks associated with preservatives. This is because the risk of feeding a potentially rancid diet is much greater than the risk of feeding a diet that contains preservatives.
If you want to provide your cat a diet free of preservatives, the specialists who were consulted for this article advise you to only give them canned food that does not include any preservatives.
No. 7 Piece of Advice: Natural Is Not the Same Thing as Organic
When it comes to food for pets, the labels “natural” and “organic” do not have any specific meanings that are recognised by the government. However, they are not the same thing at all. The term “organic” refers to the cultivation and preparation methods used for a food source. The development of criteria for the application of the term “organic” on the packaging of cat food is now under discussion.
If a product is labelled “natural,” it can signify that it does not include any artificial tastes or colours. Only sometimes will you find artificial tastes in pet food. The only reason that artificial colouring is used is to satisfy the owners’ desire for the goods to have a more alluring appearance. Again, you should exercise extreme caution in this regard if you are shopping for dry cat food from a manufacturer that uses the phrase “natural” to signify that their product does not include any artificial or added preservatives.
Another label that you should look out for is one that says “100 percent all natural.” However, according to the Pet Food Institute, virtually all complete and balanced cat meals have vitamin and mineral supplements, the majority of which are manufactured. These vitamin and mineral additives are included in the food. However, labels may state that the product is “Natural with additional Vitamins and Minerals.”
No. 8 Piece of Advice: Premium May Just Mean Expensive
Be Warned: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cat meals that boast phrases such as “premium” or “ultra-premium” do not have to be manufactured of any superior or healthier ingredients than a typical complete and balanced cat food.
On the other hand, these terms could suggest that the product is made out of food sources that are easier to digest.
Your cat might benefit from this, but it’s hard to say for sure. Before deciding on a premium food, it is important to check with your veterinarian to see whether or not your cat requires a diet that is higher or lower in volume.