Cat Food Reviews & Comparisons From The Cat Food Insider

History Of Commercial Cat Food: A Cat Food Comparison

History Of Commercial Cat Food: A Cat Food Comparison

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Most of us believe that bags and cans of food for kitties have existed since the days of Cleopatra, but this isn’t so. Perhaps we take for granted the feeding of our pets. We grab a bag off the shelf during our grocery run and pour the food into the bowl when we get home. But it goes much deeper than that and if you were to do a cat food comparison, you might be surprised at your cat food selection.

Catching Their Food

When humans used to grow and store their own grain, having a cat in the household meant that grain supplies were protected from rodents and other interlopers. Cats ate the rodents and this provided much-needed protection for us and much-needed nutrition for the cat. Sometimes they got table scraps from the thankful owners, but mostly their diet was as natural as one could get.


Commercial pet food manufacturing began in the UK in 1860 and arrived in the US by 1890. Canned cat food was created and sold in the 1930’s, and dry cat food came about during WWII when meat was rationed. By the 1960’s, dry cat food was made by several companies who already made foods for humans and the boom began.

People no longer stored grains, cats were less likely to catch their meals, so humans provided it for them. As time went on, warnings were issued that people should stop feeding table scraps to their pets and leave nutritional duties to the pet food industry. Companies came out with complete dinners and prescription diets. Today, there are endless options for what you should feed your pet and most people assume that if it’s sold on the shelf, it’s okay to feed your cat.

But is it?

A Cat Food Comparison

In the last several years, pet owners have realized that there is more to their cat’s food than meets the eye. With several recalls of the bigger brands and smaller companies creating organic offerings, there is even more to think about when you decide what brand to choose. The important thing to understand is that the ingredients in the food are far more important than the brand name.

Important Ingredients – The Good Guys

When looking at cat food, you want to look at the first 5 ingredients on the list. Those ingredients make up about 90% of what’s in the bag (or can). Ideally, the first ingredient should include meat or fish, such as chicken or salmon. Don’t worry if you see an ingredient listed as “meal” (for example, chicken meal or salmon meal). Meal is actually ground up meat that has been dried to a very low moisture content and it provides a higher amount of protein and nutrients.

When doing a cat food comparison, you’ll see that the first five ingredients in Blue Wilderness Adult Chicken are:

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Turkey Meal
  • Potato Starch
  • Fish Meal

If your kitty prefers the fishy side of life, one look at the top 5 ingredients in Orijen’s Six Fish will have her purring in perfection:

  • Whole Salmon
  • Whole Herring
  • Salmon Meal
  • Herring Meal
  • Pollock Meal

These are excellent offerings to meet your kitty’s needs for meat.

Second String Players

There are some ingredients that are included by certain brands, excluded by others. Sometimes they are in the top 5, sometimes lower on the list, but it’s good to know about them.

  • Peas (and pea proteins) are a form of healthy fiber that is used as a filler instead of corn or wheat.
  • Brown rice is an easy grain for cats to digest and is unlikely to cause problems.
  • Brewer’s rice provides carbohydrates and is a neutral ingredient, unless your cat has grain allergies.
  • Alfalfa meal is a rich mineral food that provides essential nutrients.
  • Montmorillonite clay is a newly recommended ingredient as it helps strengthen bones, joints, and immune systems.

One important ingredient in your cat’s food should be taurine. Taurine is found in most meat-based cat foods, but seeing it on the ingredient list is very important so keep an eye out for it. It is essential for good eye health in your cat and helps with heart strength as well.

In a cat food comparison, even if the first 5 contain something other than meat, it can still be a good choice. Nature’s Variety Chicken Meal includes:

  • Chicken Meal
  • Chicken Fat
  • Tapioca
  • Salmon Meal
  • Natural Chicken Flavor

This meal provides plenty of meat-based protein. Plus, additional ingredients further down on the list include taurine, alfalfa meal, and montmorillonite clay.

Try To Avoid

  • BHA/BHT. These are preservatives that have been banned for human consumption due to cancer risks.
  • Artificial dyes and colors such as Red 40, Yellow 5 or 6, Blue 1 or 2. There is a loose connection with dyes and cancer in cats.
  • Corn, wheat, and soy. All of these are known allergens for many cats and can cause problems with their digestion. They are cheap fillers and even if your cat has no known allergies, they can still cause sensitivity. Many store-brand cat foods contain too many of these ingredients and this is why you should read the labels to make the best decisions.
  • Meat by-products. This can include any part of the animal that is unfit for human consumption (brain, blood, bone, intestines, etc.) and you never know just what part of the animal your cat is getting.

If you look at popular grocery store brand 9 Lives Daily Essentials, you’ll see:

  • Whole Ground Corn
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Soybean Meal
  • Whole Wheat

It also includes BHA, and a multitude of dyes. Not the best thing for your precious pet.

Now that you know what to look for in your cat’s food, you’ll be able to stick with high quality ingredients to keep your cat healthy and happy for a long, lively lifetime.