What is cat food made of?

One look at a bowl of dry kibble and one would presume it is made the same way as cereal for humans. Only, instead of loading up on sugars, kibble must be made with some meat and vitamins. A can of wet cat food may look more appetizing with chunks of what looks like beef, chicken, or fish. These are the common presumptions but research would unveil more.

The making of cat food

Experts claim that making cat food with optimal nutritional value is not an easy feat. It is said to require much scientific research. Pet food companies come up with a list of ingredients that, according to research will provide optimal health for our cats. The scientific study is passed on to pet food manufacturers who source meat and other ingredients from various suppliers.

While there are laws that dictate what should and should not go into pet food, enforcement of such laws is questionable. Inspection of pet food facilities, ingredients, and final product are not done on a regular basis. When faced with complaints due to illness or death of a household pet, the pet food company may be “strongly encouraged” to recall the product following investigation.

The ingredients list

Meticulous consumers or those that are just curious will check the ingredients, listed from most to least at the back of the label. When it comes to cat food, our carnivorous pets need more meat so that should be listed first on the ingredients. As more meat is required to keep our pets full, some products may contain “fillers” like corn meal also to make the product more affordable.

Grains and plant ingredients like corn, potatoes, and peas add to the carbohydrate content of the product as a source of energy, but cats in particular need meat as their main source of energy. Nevertheless, pet food makers add glutinous food to bind the kibbles together.

Vitamins and minerals may also be sprayed on or added into cat food. For instance, dry kibble is often sprayed with Taurine before sealing. This is supposed to help with nutrient deficiency causing blindness and heart disease in cats. Animal and vegetable fat oils may also be added before sealing the product.

While most of the ingredients should be instantly recognizable, others like preservatives and stabilizers are not so common. Some cat food ingredients are hidden hazards to cats—leading to cancer and renal failure, among others, as an article from My Feline Buddy points out.

What kind of meat is used in pet food?

Meat must be cooked to destroy harmful bacteria. However, the quality of meat is not something consumers are allowed to know. While the label may show juicy steak or roasted chicken, the actual meat used are often not fit for human consumption and uncomfortable to some for animal consumption.

Meat can come from cattle, pigs, horse, goats, sheep, chicken, fish, and sometimes from birds. Pet food may contain meat by-products or entrails from slaughtered animals including the tongue, heart, lungs, kidney, liver, brain, skin, muscle tissue, and fat portions.

A little known fact is that while the law prohibits pet food to contain meat from the carcasses of animals as well as the dying, euthanized, or those killed other than by slaughter, compliance policies by the ones who are supposed to enforce the law do consider such meat as fit for animal consumption.