Looking for a formula to feed your aging mature cat on? You can be sure you’ll get exactly what you need, but the tricky part is finding the most suitable one. This is because there are dozens of cat food brands to choose from and each one claims to be the best there is.
One of the formulas available for your mature aging cat is the Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Mature Chicken and Brown Rice (dry) formula. The manufacturers have hyped this formula as having been holistically formulated to meet your mature cat’s needs. This formula has also been advertised as being made using ingredients that will promote the cat’s skin and coat health among other things.
So, is this formula as nutritious as it has been advertised to be?
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Whole Ground Barley, Salmon Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Potatoes, Peas, Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acid), Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Blueberries, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Chicory Root, Rice Bran, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C),Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.
The first five ingredients
Deboned Chicken: Chicken is a very popular ingredient for pet food and in this case, they are referring to whole chicken with the bones removed. This is a very high quality meat source and we are pleased to see it listed. In dry cat foods, whole chicken loses about 80% of its content during the cooking process. This is because chicken consists of about 80% moisture. After the cooking process is complete, the amount of whole chicken remaining is substantially reduced. However, in wet cat foods the cooking process is a bit different so this is much less of a concern.
Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is ground up chicken meat that has been carefully dried to a moisture level of 10%. The protein content is 65% and the fat level is 12%. Many pet owners feel that chicken is a superior ingredient to chicken meal. It would seem logical that feeding a pet a whole, non-rendered chicken would be good. However, whole chicken still contains its moisture content prior to cooking and since whole chicken consists of about 80% moisture, after the cooking process is over there isn’t much left. With chicken meal, the moisture was removed prior to cooking. That means, chicken meal actually has a much higher protein percentage and provides far more beneficial nutrients to your cats than whole chicken. Meals consist of meat and skin, with or without the bones, but exclusive of feathers/hair, heads, feet, horns, entrails etc. and have the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio required for a balanced diet. It’s also important to note the quality difference between “chicken by-product meal” and “chicken meal.” While we do take exception to chicken by-products, chicken meal is actually a very high quality and nutritious ingredient. We are happy to see this listed.
Oatmeal: This ingredient will provide some fiber for your cat, but for the most part, it is simply used as a filler to help make your cat feel more full. Many cats seem to enjoy the taste of oatmeal and since there are no major health concerns associated with it, this ingredient makes for a great alternative filler ingredient instead of using corn and grains.
Whole Ground Brown Rice: Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates. The main differences between the two forms of rice lie in processing and nutritional content. When only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (the husk) is removed, brown rice is produced. To produce white rice, the next layers underneath the husk (the bran layer and the germ) are removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm. While many cat owners like to stay away from grain based ingredients, rice in general is easy for cats to digest and is not likely to cause allergic reactions. The rice will expand in your cats stomach helping him or her feel more full. So while this ingredient may not be especially nutritious, it does have value in the food and is unlikely to cause major problems. You should still avoid this ingredient if your cat has suffered from grain allergies in the past, but overall, this is a very low-risk ingredient even though it is a grain.
Whole Ground Barley: With barley being a starchy carbohydrate, it supplies healthy nutrients such as fiber to the cat. Barley also gives your cat sugar level stability. Ground or pearled barley is produced from whole barley seeds that have been scoured to remove the seed hull and bran. This is a common ingredient in weight control pet foods due to its slow digestibility, starch, and soluble fibers.
Other ingredients used
Chicken Fat: Chicken fat is a quality source of essential fatty acids and an excellent source of energy. Fat has a positive effect on the immune system and plays a beneficial role in stress response. Essential fatty acids are required for proper growth, reproduction, normal skin structure and a healthy coat. Because chicken fat contains virtually no protein, it’s use does not cause allergic reactions associated with the use of fresh chicken or chicken meal which contain high amounts of protein. Many times, mixed tocopherols, which are a natural source of Vitamin E activity, are used as a natural preservative to maintain freshness. This is considered a higher quality fat source in pet food.
Whole Potatoes: Potatoes provide a lot of carbs and unfortunately, cats do not digest carbs well and it can also lead to weight gain. This ingredient is becoming more popular in “grain-free” cat foods because while potatoes are not grains, they serve much the same purpose by acting as a non-nutritious filler. The good news is potatoes are complex carbs. These complex carbs are easier to digest than whole grains and also don’t spike blood sugar levels like the simple carbs do. But, anyway you cut it… carbs are carbs and cats don’t need them. This is a rather non-nutritious ingredient.
Peas: Peas are becoming more and more common in pet foods today, especially those listed as grain-free, holistic, or natural pet foods. While peas are certainly not grains, they serve much the same purpose. It mostly acts as a filler and a cheap way to increase the protein percentage of the food. However, cats receive almost no nutritional value from peas. Since cats are obligate carnivores, they require proteins from meat based ingredients. There is very little research that has been performed on the long term effects of cats consuming peas. We do know that peas can cause runny poop or digestion issues in dogs, but the full effect on cats remains a bit of an unknown. At best, this ingredient will act as a filler and will not provide much nutritional value, if any, to your cat.
Will my cat suffer from allergic reactions?
All the ingredients used to make this formula are nutritious, and none of them have been linked to allergic reactions. Your cat will, therefore, not have any allergic reactions after feeding on this formula.
Other nutritious ingredients used
Dried Chicory Root: Commonly known as a soluble fiber, the inulin derived from the Chicory Root is a fructooligosaccharide added to help maintain digestive tract health and function in humans, although the full benefits in cats is not well known. Chicory root is a common coffee substitute in various cultures. It is used as a sweetener in the food industry with a sweetening power 1⁄10 that of sucrose. While the nutritional benefits of this ingredient might be a little questionable, there does not seem to be any reason for concern when feeding this ingredient to your cat.
Rice Bran: Rice bran is what makes brown rice brown. It is the fibrous outer portion of the rice grain. Unfortunately, a study done about 10 years ago found that rice bran depletes taurine when fed to cats. The fact that rice bran specifically depletes taurine in cats is less widely known than it should be. Although rice bran or whole rice products are included in commercial cat foods at levels between 5 and 20% diet (DM), feline diets containing these materials may need a higher content of taurine than that in similar products without them. If you would like to read more about this, here is an excellent article with more detail.
Oil of Rosemary: This ingredient is normally listed pretty low on the ingredients list and is usually listed as rosemary extract, but is very common in pet foods, especially with higher end and “natural” pet foods. This ingredient has been mostly used as a taste enhancer and natural preservative. Recently, there have been some growing concerns that this ingredient may increase the risk of seizures in cats, but so far there is no conclusive evidence to substantiate these claims.
The Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Mature Chicken and Brown Rice dry formula is a great option for your cat. It’s both nutritious and safe.