Finding the information that you are looking for on cat food labels can be challenging for both new and seasoned pet owners. Understanding cat food labels will help you make the best high-quality food choices for your cat’s diet.
Stamps of Approval – Whose Counts?
Don’t let catchy phrases or “seals” of approval throw you off when looking at a label. The Food and Drug Administration is the most important when it comes to labels and requirements. The FDA stated that a cat food label has the proper identification of the product, net quantity statement, name and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor, and the proper listing of all the ingredients in the product in order from most to least, based on weight.
Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AFFCO) puts time and resources to help set the standards for animal and pet foods in the United States. For a cat food to be labeled Complete and balanced it must meet the nutritional standards established by AAFCO. It does not mean that it is the best choice on the market for your cat.
Ingredients versus Nutrients
Reading ingredients seems straightforward, but ingredients and nutrients are not the same things. Ingredients are the way nutrients are transported. Ingredients on cat food labels are listed from heaviest to lightest by weight.
Protein and fat are legally required to be listed on pet foods; however, minerals and vitamins are not. So understanding the nutrients your cat needs is important. Taurine is a critical nutrient for cats, so you want to be on the lookout for that. High-quality cat foods have a mix of protein, fats, oils, and vitamins C, A, E, and taurine.
Reading the entire ingredient list and understanding the individual components is a great way to evaluate the diet.
Meat – Meat can include chicken, cattle, lamb, salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc. It is the meat parts of the animal that you want to feed your cat.
Meat By-Products – The clean parts of the animal, not including meat.
Poultry By-Products – These are the clean parts of poultry that do not include the meat.
Fish Meal – It is the ground tissue of undecomposed fish or fish cuttings, with or without the oil extracted.
Ground Corn – The entire corn kernel ground or chopped.
Corn Gluten Meal – The by-product after the manufacture of corn syrup or starch, and is the dried residue after the removal of the bran, germ, and starch.
BHA – Butylated hydroxy anisole, a fat preservative.
Ethoxyquin – A chemical preservative that is used to prevent spoilage in pet food.
Tocopherols – Naturally occurring compounds used as natural preservatives, like Vitamin E.
The guaranteed analysis on the information panel of the label lists the minimum levels of crude protein and fat present, as well as the maximum levels of fiber and water. The protein and fat are listed as crude sources and not digestible sources. For cats, the meat and protein sources are more readily digestible than vegetable protein sources. The guaranteed analysis can help you determine if the food is high-quality cat food or not.
Choosing High-Quality Cat Food
Choosing high-quality cat food will give your cat the best life. It should contain all of your cat’s dietary needs to utilize efficiently. Understanding the labels will help you make a good choice. If you are still unsure about what is best for your cat consult with your veterinarian. The easiest part to understand is that your cat needs a clean animal protein that matched their wild diet. The fewer fillers and by-products, the better.
If you are looking for great food, then check out our product line. At Snappy Tom, we take cat food seriously and want your cat to live their best life.