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Does your cat love feeding on fish? There are dozens of cat formulas that have fish as part of the main ingredients. Fish is great for cats as they are packed with nutritional goodness. Even so, the type of fish used will greatly determine the nourishment your cat will get because not all fish have the same nutritional value.
Friskies is a cat food brand that makes a variety of cat formulas, among them the Plus with ocean Fish in Sauce. According to the manufacturer, this cat formula has moist bits of ocean fish sauce that will see your cat purr in utter delight. The formula has also been advertised as having additional health benefits that support your cat’s coat and skin health.
Are all these things true or is it just a marketing gimmick?
Ingredients used to make this formula
Water sufficient for processing, ocean fish, turkey, wheat gluten, chicken, meat by-products, liver, soy flour, corn starch-modified, artificial and natural flavors, corn oil, potassium chloride, Taurine, added color, salt, calcium phosphate, choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, biotin, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide.
A closer look at the first five 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.
Ocean fish: While some ocean fish may be naturally caught fish, generally this indicates farmed fish. When ocean fish are farmed, it includes the practice of growing finfish in huge, often over crowded cages out in open ocean waters. When fish are farmed, usually the higher quality fish goes to the human food industry while the fish unsuitable for human consumption is used in the pet food industry. There is some debate about how beneficial seafood is in a cats diet, including fish, but in general it is considered a safe ingredient with a high amount of protein and an excellent source of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
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.
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.
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.
Other ingredients used
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.
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.
Potassium chloride: This chemical compound sometimes goes by the name “trace minerals.” It is a “metal halide salt” composed of potassium and chlorine. It is used in medicine, scientific applications, and food processing. Since potassium is an important nutrient for cats, this is a good way to supply it. It is also commonly used as a replacement for salt and to balance the pH level of the food to meet various requirements. Not only is it used in cat food, it is frequently used in human foods and medications as well. There is some evidence to suggest small intestinal ulcers may occur in cats after prolonged exposure to this ingredient, but this has yet to be proven or disproven.
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.
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.
Will my cat suffer from allergic reactions?
The presence of ingredients that have been associated with allergies in cats might raise a few brows. There is a possibility that your cat will suffer from allergic reactions after feeding on this formula.
Ingredients to avoid
Artificial preservatives: Artificial preservatives are a group of chemical substances added to food, sprayed on the outside of food, or added to certain medications to retard spoilage, discoloration, or contamination by bacteria and other disease organisms. These additives are man-made, though some do exist in some forms in nature. They are generally considered safe despite the fact that some are known to be carcinogenic and toxic. Many side effects and illnesses are related to their consumption. What’s even more unfortunate is that we are not given full information here. The label “artificial preservatives” could include any number of man-made chemical based preservatives. While it doesn’t necessarily mean this ingredient is harmful, it could be. We just don’t know which specific preservatives are being used here. Without adequate labeling and information for cat owners, we remain skeptical.
The presence of allergy causing ingredients might be a cause for concern for cat owners. However, it is worth noting that the allergy causing ingredients have not been used in their pure form. There is a possibility that the allergy causing factor is not present. Consult your vet before feeding this formula to cats that have previously suffered from allergic reactions. This formula can be termed as being average.