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Are you in search of an ideal cat food for your feline companion? When it comes to choosing cat foods, you can easily get carried away since there are numerous brands that offer different nutritional benefits to your cat. The best way to ensure you make the best choice is to read through cat food reviews.
The Friskies Natural Sensations with Real Chicken (dry) is one of the many cat foods in the market today. According to the Friskies Company, this cat food contains vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to support the health of your cat.
Is this the most ideal formula for your feline friend? Let’s find out.
The ingredients in this cat food
Chicken meal, brewers rice, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), corn gluten meal, natural flavor, chicken, malt extract, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, brewers dried yeast, salt, choline chloride, sunflower meal, dehydrated seaweed meal, dried carrots, dried peas, Vitamin E supplement, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, manganese sulfate, citric acid, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.
An overview of the first five ingredients
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.
Brewers rice is the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice. It is a processed rice product that is missing many of its nutrients, but does provide a source of carbohydrates. It is a by-product of rice milling and considered a lower quality filler ingredient usually used in lower priced cat food blends. Usually, brewers rice is used to make rice flour, but if the quality is too poor for rice flour, it will then be sold to pet food or dairy feed companies. For many cats, this ingredient can cause allergies or digestion issues. Most cats will not have any problems processing this food, but it’s not one of the better ingredients, either.
Animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)
Animal fat provides essential fatty acids, energy, and fat soluble vitamins. This ingredient can also support a healthy skin and coat. Unfortunately, when it comes to fat sources, animal fat is considered to be a lower quality ingredient. This is because it is an unnamed fat source. Usually, we like to see a named fat source (such as “chicken fat”). In this case, we are forced to guess what animal or animals this fat source comes from. Animal fat, also called tallow, is a product of rendering. In the rendering process, pieces, parts, and even whole animals are put through a gigantic grinder, then boiled in vats for 30 minutes to several hours. High heat is necessary to kill bacteria, viruses, molds, and other pathogens. The boiling process also allows the fat to separate and float to the top, where it is skimmed off for use in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants, and, of course, pet food.
Tocopherol is a naturally occurring chemical element found in a variety of foods. It is commonly called vitamin E in a generic sense, as vitamin E substances are made up of tocopherol and similar elements. The main purpose of this ingredient is to provide a natural preservative for the food. Since this is a natural preservative, it is generally considered safe.
Corn gluten meal
This is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. The expression “corn gluten” is colloquial jargon that describes corn proteins that are neither gliadin nor glutenin. Only wheat, barley, rye and oat contain true gluten. For the most part, this ingredient is normally only found in cheaper “grocery store brand” cat foods. Corn is frequently used as a filler ingredient to help make your cat feel more full, but it does not add much of anything to the nutritional value in the food. In addition, this is a common allergen for many cats and corn based ingredients can often be difficult for cats to digest. That’s why we can’t recommend this food for cats with food allergies or sensitive digestive systems.
The term “natural flavor” is extremely vague and can mean just about anything. In human foods, natural flavor is usually MSG or some similar flavor enhancer. When pet food companies are asked what is in their “natural flavor ingredients, they usually refuse to answer. There are a lot of things in the world considered “natural” and they almost all have a flavor. Such generic terms can be indicative of poor quality ingredients. While that’s not always the case, the fact is, we don’t really know what this ingredient consists of and that is worrying.
Other ingredients in this cat food
Sunflower meal is the by-product of the oil extraction process. Oil is the majority value of sunflower seeds and meal is considered a by-product. It very frequently used in livestock feed for its high protein percentage. However, since cats are obligate carnivores, they do not receive the same nutritional benefit as cattle would. The protein mostly goes to waste and this is a way to boost the protein percentage of the food at a very low price to the manufacturer. It is also probably added as a filler ingredient to make your cat feel more full. While there is a very low health risk to this ingredient, it isn’t going to supply your cat with many, if any nutrients.
Brewer’s dried yeast
Brewers dried yeast is made from a single-celled fungus, called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is a very rich source of B vitamins and supplies minerals and amino acids. It is known to support a normal healthy coat. This is also an old remedy for flea and tick protection. This ingredient is generally a by-product of alcohol production and there are no major health risks associated with this ingredient.
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.
Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as “malting”. Malt can be further processed to produce liquid or dried sweeteners called malt extracts. Interestingly, malt extract has been shown to be a possible laxative for cats, but with the quantity of the ingredient found here, it is unlikely to cause any messy digestion issues. More likely, this ingredient is included to make the food taste better to your cat. While it does not provide any nutrition to your cat, it doesn’t appear there are any known health risks associated with this ingredient.
Is this an allergy causing cat food?
The Friskies Natural Sensations with Real Chicken is a cat food that contains several allergens. It is, therefore, not suitable for cats with food sensitivities.
Other harmful ingredients in this cat food
Soy, wheat and corn – All three of these ingredients are known allergens for many cats. In addition, many cats have problems digesting these grain based ingredients. Since cats are obligate carnivores, their digestive systems are designed to digest meat and not grains. All of these ingredients will help to boost the protein percentage in cat food, but not all protein is created equally. Cats do not digest plant based proteins in the same way as meat proteins and in fact, gain little to no nutritional value from these grains. Several “grocery store brand” cat foods include these products to keep the price down as it is a cheap filler to help make your cat feel full as well as a cheap way to add protein to the food.
Gluten – This ingredient is associated with causing allergies in cats. It is also known to raise sugar levels in cats. Over time, this can lead to diabetes. Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm which is a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour. Many pet food manufactures will use this ingredient to help boost the protein percentage of the food.
Animal by-products – One of the worst meat ingredients found in pet food today is animal by product. It’s true that this ingredient provides a very high amount of meat protein that cats need to thrive. However, animal by products are considered to be the lowest form of meat and it isn’t even approved for human consumption. Animal by-products are carcasses and parts of carcasses from slaughterhouses, animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians, and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including catering waste. Legally, this ingredient can even contain roadkill or euthanized animals. This ingredient may also contain what is called “4D meat” which is what the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) calls cattle that is dead, dying, disabled or diseased. This meat is considered unfit for human consumption, but is typically found in many pet food products. This is not something we recommend you feed your cat or any other pet.
Artificial coloring and flavoring – Both artificial and natural flavor ingredients are considered to be lower quality ingredients. 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. 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. Both of these ingredients have potential allergy risks and other possible health problems in cats.
We also find it quite irresponsible to include artificial coloring in pet food since the health concerns about these added colors are so controversial. Your cat does not care what color their food is and the only reason artificial coloring is added to this product is for marketing purposes. It makes the food look better to you YOU, the human consumer. Of course, many cat food brands are very defensive about their use of food coloring. Here is an example of how the Purina brand defends their use of fool coloring. Notice how even in their explanation, there is no perceived benefit to these ingredients other than changing the color. There is also a growing amount of evidence to suggest food coloring may be linked to cancer in not just dogs and cats, but also humans. Here is an article that explains a bit further. In short, since there is some controversy surrounding this ingredient, we find it a bit strange that cat food companies would spend money adding this ingredient into a product when at best, it has zero nutritional value for your cat and only has marketing value. At worse, it could pose health risks. It just doesn’t seem like the risk of including this ingredient is worth it.
The Friskies Natural Sensations with Real Chicken (dry) should be fed to all cats. It contains a blend of healthy and low quality ingredients making it ideal for cats without food sensitivities.