If you feed cats homemade food or packaged food, it is very important that you check for the ingredients and the positive as well as negative effects of these ingredients on their health. In case of packaged cat food, reading the label carefully at the time of purchase is always a wise thing to do. That, however, will be no use, if you are not aware of the pros and cons of those ingredients. Of all the ingredients, artificial preservatives and flavors can be easily detected by reading the label.
Cat Food Ingredients You Need to Know
Protein is one of the most important ingredients in cat food. Both meat protein and vegetable protein play a vital role in the growth and development of a healthy cat. Protein derived from chicken, pork, whole eggs, dried whole eggs, turkey, ducks, etc., is the best source of nutrition for cats. Vegetable protein, on the other hand, can be derived from corn, rice, wheat, oatmeal, rye, wheat germ, beet pulp, etc.
Other than vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B complex (especially vitamin B12), vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin B2, vitamin B9, vitamin K, even canned and extruded taurine, cysteine, arginine, and arachidonic acid are packed with antioxidants and thus, they are some of the most important ingredients of feline food. Antioxidants are essential to keep cats safe from most of the diseases.
Fats and Fibers
Healthy fats are very beneficial for cats; the importance of fiber-rich food cannot be denied either. Don’t get surprised if you come across some animal fat as the major ingredient of your pet’s food. These fats don’t just add to the flavor of the food, but also play an important role in skin care. An important source of fats and essential fatty acids for cats is fish oil. At the same time, high-fiber cat food also plays a major role in preserving their overall health. Hulls of various grains are also the best source of fiber for them.
Ingredients to Avoid
Byproducts, artificial flavors, artificial colors, food additives, artificial preservatives, etc., can really harm the cat’s health and hence, should be strictly avoided. The American Artificial Food Control Officers (AAFCO) has drafted some norms on the use of artificial ingredients and also compiled a list of ingredients that must not be included in cat foods. These include …
Dry Cat Food Preservatives
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and ethoxyquin are popular food preservatives used in dry cat food. They make the food last longer, but they are also suspected to be one of the primary causes of cancer in cats. So you need to search for products in which vitamins like vitamin C and E are used instead of these harmful preservatives.
All the other parts of animal, except meat are harmful when used as ingredients in packaged cat foods. These include low temperature fatty tissues that are partially defatted, lungs, spleen, blood, bone meal, etc. These are far from healthy for cats. In fact, these ingredients are more likely to cause problems like diarrhea, stomach problems, and kidney diseases in these felines.
There are many cat owners who feed regular human food to their cats, which is not advisable. These foods maybe healthy for humans, but are destructive for cats when served as pet food. These include chocolate, garlic, onions and various root vegetables, raw potatoes, green tomatoes, raisins, grapes and other fruits, legumes, etc. As a matter of fact, cats that are fed on a highly nutritious diet don’t even require milk.
There is nothing wrong in feeding cat packaged food, but before doing that you need to ensure that the ingredients used in it are not harmful for your pet cat.