Do you own an adult cat that’s picky when it comes to the food it eats? Just like humans, there are cats that will eat just about any formula, and there are others that won’t. Picky cats can prove to be a handful in terms of ensuring it remains healthy. This is because your cat might enjoy feeding on formulas that provide it with little nutritional value while it hates feeding on formulas packed with nutritional goodness.
The Special Diet Classic Pate Beef and Chicken Entrée (wet) from Friskies is one of the formulas that has been advertised as being nutritionally beneficial to your cat. According to Friskies, this wet cat food is not only formulated to provide your cat with optimum nutrition, but also helps to maintain the health of your adult cat’s urinary tract by reducing its urinary pH. It has also been advertised as being made using finely ground chicken and beef.
So is all this true?
Ingredients used to make this formula
Meat by-products, water sufficient for processing, poultry by-products, beef, chicken, brewers rice, guar gum, potassium chloride, tricalcium phosphate, salt, Taurine, carrageenan, added color, zinc sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, niacin, manganese sulfate, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, 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
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.
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.
Poultry by-products: This ingredient is made from grinding clean, rendered parts of poultry carcasses and can contain bones, offal and undeveloped eggs, but only contains feathers that are unavoidable in the processing of the poultry parts. The quality and composition can change from one batch to another. For the most part, this ingredient contains the “non-meat” poultry products like feet, beaks, and bones. While you probably wouldn’t want to eat poultry by-products on your own dinner plate, cats tend to love this stuff. This ingredient does provide a high amount of protein, but we are unable to tell exactly what parts of the animal they are using and that is a bit troublesome.
Beef: Beef is considered to be a higher quality ingredient. It is an excellent source of animal protein and contains many other nutrients that are very important for a cat to survive and thrive. Since this is not in “meal” form, that means this ingredient still contains all of its moisture content prior to cooking. Once fully cooked, most of this ingredient will have evaporated due to its high moisture content. That means, even when this ingredient is ranked highly, it will usually only provide a small percentage of the overall protein in the food. There is no dismissing this ingredient, though. It is high quality and we are pleased to see it listed.
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 of interest used in the formula
Brewers Rice: 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.
Guar Gum: This ingredient is also sometimes called guaran. It is primarily the ground endosperm of guar beans. The guar seeds are dehusked, milled and screened to obtain the guar gum. It is typically produced as a free-flowing, off-white powder. This ingredient is mostly used to thicken the food and give it more texture. It is an FDA-approved, all natural GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredient used by the food and cosmetic industries. It also is used to improve the shelf life of the food and helps lower the glycemic index of food. Many cat food companies claim this ingredient also aids in digestion and weight loss. There is some minor debate about the benefits of this ingredient with some claiming negative impacts, but in general, this is thought to be a relatively non-nutritious yet safe ingredient.
Carrageenan: This is an additive extracted from red and purple seaweeds, consisting of a mixture of polysaccharides. It is used as a thickening or emulsifying agent in food products. There is still much research being done on this additive and while it is generally considered safe, there is room for caution as carrageenan has produced intestinal damage and ulcers in some animal studies. If you would like more information about the ongoing research of this ingredient, you may reference this research study.
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.
Will my cat suffer from allergic reactions?
There is no reason why your cat should suffer from allergic reactions after feeding on this formula. None of the ingredients used have been linked to allergic reactions in cats.
Ingredients to avoid
Corn, wheat, soy: 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.
Artificial preservatives and colors: Both artificial colors and preservatives are very controversial ingredients in both human foods as well as pet foods. Artificial coloring provides no nutritional value for your cat and is only used for marketing purposes. It may also have links to serious illnesses like cancer. Artificial preservatives are also thought to be lower quality ingredients that may pose a health risk to your cat.
Friskies Special Diet Classic Parte Beef and chicken Entrée (wet) is a formula that will give your cat all the nutrients it needs to stay strong and vibrant. It is, however, short on animal protein. Cats are obligate carnivores and should be ideally fed on animal protein. The animal protein sources in this formula appear lower in the ingredients list meaning the quantities are low. Nevertheless, this is a great formula.