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February 12, 2020

Decoding Cat food labels will help you determine what is high quality cat food and what is economy lower end cat food.  When it comes to labeling cat food, there are some rules that manufacturers must follow.  Understanding these rules will help you determine its quality.

The 95% Rule

A pet food that says on the label “Chicken Cat Food” or “Salmon for Cats” must contain 95% of more of the named ingredient by total dry weight.  Counting the added water, the named ingredient must comprise 70% of the product.  Because the ingredient list must be in the order of predominance by weight, chicken, salmon should be the first ingredient listed, followed by water and then other ingredients like vitamins and minerals.

If two ingredients are listed “Tuna and Salmon” then the two named ingredients together must total 95% of the weight.

They can only apply this rule to ingredients of animal origin.

The 25% or Dinner Rule

If the named ingredients comprise at least 25% of the product, not counting the water, but less than 95% the name must include a descriptive like dinner, platter, entrée, or formula.  When more that one ingredient is included then it must total 25% and each individual ingredient must make up 3% of the total weight.

The 3% or With Rule

If a product has with in its name, it only needs to include 3% of that product.  It was originally intended to apply only to ingredients highlighted on the principal display panel, but outside the product name.  Now they are allowed to say with, and the 3% rule applies.  It is something as a pet owner that you need to be aware of so that the wording on cat food does not get you confused as to what is really in it.

Check the First 5 Ingredients

They list ingredients in cat food from most abundant to least, the first 5 will make up the majority of the food.  A high quality cat foodwill have a specific animal protein listed first. 

Water or moisture will be listed high on the list as wet food contains 70-80%.

You should also see taurine and magnesium listed on the label.  However, it may not be in the top 5, which is absolutely fine.  It just needs to be on the label and in the food.

You do not wand to see soy, corn, rice, listed in the top 5 or anywhere on the label.  These are cheap fillers that a cat’s body cannot process.

Also scan the label to make sure it does not say by-products.  By-products are the remaining parts of an animal that is left over once the meat is removed.  This too, is a filler and mean it is not a high quality cat food.

Decipher Quality from Non-Quality

A pet food label contains a wealth of information, if you know what all the rules for reading it are then you will be able to decipher quality from non-quality cat food.  Brands like Snappy Tom do not have fillers and cheap substitutes.  They care about your cat just like you do.