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Looking for the perfect pet food for your cat? With the influx of cat formulas from different brands, it has become somewhat tricky to settle on a pet formula for your cat. This is especially so if you’re a newbie cat owner. To get the best formula for your furry little friend, you should take some time to do some research on the type of nutrition cats need.
The Meaty Bits Chicken Dinner in Gravy (wet) from Friskies is one of the many cat formulas available. According to the manufacturer, this formula is made with moist, bite-sized chunks that are nutritious and quite flavorful. It has also been advertised as being 100% balanced thus ensuring proper growth of your kittens and maintenance of your adult cat’s health.
Is this all true or just marketing talk to get you to buy this formula?
Ingredients used to make this formula
Water sufficient for processing, chicken, liver, meat by-products, wheat gluten, turkey, soy flour, corn starch-modified, artificial and natural flavors, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, Taurine, added color, salt, choline chloride, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, biotin, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide.
A closer look at the first 5 ingredients
Water sufficient for processing: For canned foods, water being at the top of the ingredients list is normal. As you could probably guess, water doesn’t do anything in the way of providing nutritional value, but it does help to keep the food moist. Sometimes a broth will be used instead of water, but all canned foods will require a high amount of moisture content.
Chicken: Chicken is a very popular ingredient for pet food and in this case, they are referring to whole chicken. This is a very high quality meat source and we are pleased to see it listed. However, whole chicken loses about 80% of its content during the cooking process since the majority of whole chicken is water. After the cooking process is complete, the amount of whole chicken remaining is substantially reduced. Therefor, while whole chicken is a great source of meat protein, this ingredient alone is not enough to provide sufficient levels of meat protein in a cats diet.
Liver: In the wild, cats almost always eat the liver of their prey. It is a rich source of vitamin A which cats must obtain from their food since they can’t make it in their bodies. This is also a good secondary source of protein. If cats consume too much liver, it could cause toxicity, but the amount needed for liver to become toxic to cats is very high. Liver is provided in safe quantities in this cat food blend.
Meat by-products: This is about the lowest quality meat product that can be included in any cat food. We are very disappointed to see this ingredient listed. Meat By-Products are parts of slaughtered animals including the lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomach and intestines freed of their contents. In addition, meat by-products can also legally contain animals that were dead, dying, or diseased before slaughtering. Many times, animals with tumors are ground and processed, meaning, ground up cancerous tumors could legally be included in your pets food. While unlikely, it can even legally include road kill. Perhaps worst of all, this ingredient COULD include meat from euthanized cats, dogs, horses, or other animals. Meat by-product is an unnamed meat source and you never know for sure where it is coming from or what animals are being used. Also note that meat by-products are not approved for human consumption. It consists of unwanted parts only acceptable in the pet food or feed industries. This is one of the most controversial meat ingredients that could be included and there is much to be concerned about when purchasing any pet food that includes meat by-products.
Wheat gluten: We don’t think any grain is “good” for your cat. It doesn’t mean wheat gluten is “bad” for your cat, either, but the fact it provides almost no nutritional value makes us question the quality of the ingredient. Wheat gluten can be a decent protein source for animals with digestive systems that can break it down, but as obligate carnivores, cats are not one of those animals. Their digestive systems produce only the enzymes necessary for processing animal-based proteins. There are also some allergy risks associated with wheat gluten. In addition, too much of this in a cats diet can potentially lead to weight gain and diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes in cats is a very serious health problem, so it is important to keep a close eye on your cats weight and diabetic risk when feeding a cat food containing ingredients like wheat gluten.
Other ingredients used
Turkey: As a whole meat ingredient, turkey is a fantastic source of very healthy animal based proteins. We are extremely pleased to see this ingredient listed. Unfortunately, in dry kibbles, there is not as much of this ingredient included as you might initially think. Ingredients are listed by weight prior to the cooking process and since whole turkey is about 70% moisture, the vast majority is cooked off. So while we think this is an excellent and nutritional ingredient, it does need to be complimented by other high quality meat protein ingredients when used in dry kibbles. In wet cat foods, however, this is not nearly as much of a concern.
Soy flour: Many pet food companies seem pretty headstrong about defending their use of soy products, even calling health concerns associated with soy to be a myth. Wysong is one of those companies and to be fair, you can read their opinion about this ingredient here. However, we tend to agree with many of those outside the pet food industry that see major problems using any form of soy in cat food. There is no doubt this ingredient has been the subject of much controversy over the years and the benefits claimed by pet food companies is questionable at best. Why would pet food companies insist on using such a controversial ingredient? They claim it’s for health benefits, but we think it’s rather convenient that soy four is so cheaply made. It’s safe to say this is not considered a high quality ingredient by most experts and at best, it is a mediocre ingredient that we, in general, do not recommend for cats.
Artificial and natural flavors: Both artificial and natural flavor ingredients are considered to be lower quality ingredients. Since we are looking at two different ingredients here, let’s check out what natural flavor is first. The actual definition of natural flavor is very long and confusion, but basically states that the flavor of an item can be extracted, then sprayed onto other products. Natural and artificial flavors are produced in the same factories these days. Both are considered safe, but artificial and natural flavors alike can be dangerous depending on what they are. It is actually best to avoid flavoring altogether, both natural and artificial.
Artificial flavor is usually derived from petroleum. Most have not been studied for safety or toxicity. They are all synthesized chemicals that don’t even have common names. Most artificial flavors actually contain many chemical ingredients, not just one. Many of those chemicals are volatile. In short, both natural and artificial flavors are chemical based ingredients and we don’t get all that excited when we see either one of those ingredients listed, let alone both together. Both of these ingredients have potential allergy risks and other possible health problems in cats.
Taurine: Taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for normal heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in cats. Since cats are unable to create proper levels of taurine in their body naturally, it must be supplemented in their food. That’s why you’ll see this ingredient listed for so many different cat food blends. For cat foods that contain enough high quality animal based proteins, a taurine supplement may not be needed. However, most cat foods will need to add in additional taurine in the form of a supplement to the food. Even when included as a supplement instead, there is very low to almost zero health risk associated with this ingredient. In fact, a lack of taurine can cause a slew of issues, so it’s very important to make sure your cat is receiving enough taurine in his or her diet.
Will my cat suffer from allergic reactions?
This formula contains traces of known allergens Though the quantities are not sufficient to cause alarm, it is best to steer clear of this formula if you have an overly sensitive cat. Nevertheless, you can safely feed a cat that’s not prone to allergies on this formula.
Other ingredients worth mentioning
Added Color: There is absolutely no reason to included added color into any cat food, ever. It’s extremely disappointing to see this ultra-low quality ingredient included. Added color is used for marketing purposes only. They want their product to stand out sitting on the shelf at the store, so they add coloring to their product. Essentially, the coloring is added to entice YOU (the human) to purchase the food over other brands. Your cat could care less what color the food is. Unfortunately, added color is quite controversial as there is growing evidence suggesting cancer in cats from too much food color exposure. At worse, this is a harmful ingredient and at best, it is a marketing ploy with no nutritional value or positive benefit to your cat. We usually have a tough time recommending any cat food that includes such a controversial ingredient.
Salt: Salt is necessary for a cats body to function properly, but too much salt can be dangerous and even deadly. Usually, salt is added to pet food in order to meet AAFCO nutritional requirements. Salt, or sodium chloride, is indeed necessary so cat food that doesn’t contain enough will have a bit of it included. Salt helps your cats cells move nutrients and waste products where they need to go, and it helps his or her tummy make the right amount of acid to digest food properly. According to the Journal of Nutrition, average-sized cats need about 21 milligrams of salt per day. Many cat foods have higher concentrations than that. The National Research Council recommends no more than 42 milligrams per day. Most of the time, salt in commercial cat food products poses no danger and does have some nutritional benefit.
Choline Chloride: Like humans and many other species, cats require choline. Almost all commercial pet food blends will contain supplemental choline. This ingredient mostly helps with cell function.
Thiamine Mononitrate: Thiamine mononitrate is a stable nitrate salt form of thiamine (vitamin B1). This ingredient us usually added as a supplement in dog and cat foods. Thiamine is a required nutrient for cats but most thiamine is lost during the cooking process and that is why you see it added as a supplement here. If you have a cat with pre-existing kidney problems, you should avoid this ingredient. Otherwise it is considered to be relatively safe and thiamine mononitrate is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) per the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Meaty Bits Chicken Dinner in Gravy (wet) is a nutrient rich formula that falls short on its promise. Despite the wide variety of nutrients it contains, it features traces of soy, wheat and corn. These three ingredients are a recipe for disaster in cat foods. This is because they can cause allergies in cats. It is best to stay away from this formula if your pet is sensitive to any of these ingredients.