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Are you in search of the most ideal grain free cat food? The best cat foods are those made from 100% natural ingredients and are grain free. These do not come with health risks and hence ensure that your cat remains healthy throughout its life. There are a lot of grain free formulas in the market and choosing the most suitable one for your cat can be a challenge.
The Natural Balance Chicken and Green Pea is one of the many grain free cat foods. According to the Natural Balance website, this cat formula supplies your cat with quality nutrients to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
Is this the best grain free formula for your cat?
The ingredients in this cat food
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Pea Flour, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Cranberries, Dicalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Flaxseed, Parsley, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Carrageenan, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement.
An overview of the first five ingredients
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.
While chicken broth does not add much nutritional value to the food, it does add flavor and is considered to be a better alternative to water. The main reason for adding this ingredient is simply to add moisture.
Here is another ingredient you probably wouldn’t want to see on your own dinner plate, but most cats seem to enjoy the taste of liver. Uncooked liver, or liver in very high quantities, can actually be toxic to cats. However, in this food, it is clearly provided well within safe limits. In fact, this ingredient is a pretty high quality ingredient overall. It provides a good source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients your cat can benefit from.
Peas are becoming more and more common in pet foods today, especially those listed as grain-free, holistic, or natural pet foods. While peas are certainly not grains, they serve much the same purpose. It mostly acts as a filler and a cheap way to increase the protein percentage of the food. However, cats receive almost no nutritional value from peas. Since cats are obligate carnivores, they require proteins from meat based ingredients. There is very little research that has been performed on the long term effects of cats consuming peas. We do know that peas can cause runny poop or digestion issues in dogs, but the full effect on cats remains a bit of an unknown. Since the peas in this case are added as a flour, the ingredient is probably added to help with the consistency of the food and the cooking process.
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.
Other ingredients in this cat food
As grain-free cat food becomes more popular, so does the inclusion of peas and pea fiber. That’s because peas can be used as a filler ingredient in similar ways grains are used, but they can still label the food as grain-free. Unfortunately, the full effect on a cats health from pea fiber is largely unknown. There have been some studies shown to suggest pea fiber can cause many dogs to have a runny stool, there is very little research that has been done on how cats are able to digest this ingredient. Overall, it probably will not harm your cat but it will not add much nutritional value to your cats diet, either.
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.
Any type of fish oil will produce some very high quality fatty acids, namely omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Even though cats do not digest many sea food ingredients in the wild, most people consider this to be a higher quality ingredient. There is some concern about the mercury levels in fish, but so far the FDA claims mercury levels in fish are safe for humans and pets.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and fiber. This ingredient may assist with urinary tract infections and help with dental hygiene by killing certain bacteria. While cats are obligate carnivores, wild cats do consume a small amount of fruits and vegetables. Ingredients like cranberries will not provide a large amount of nutrition, but do supply some vitamins, help make the food taste better, and act as an easily digestible filler.
Is this cat food likely to cause allergies?
Judging from the list of ingredients, this cat food does not contain allergy causing ingredients. This makes it ideal for cats with food sensitivities as it cannot cause allergies. It is always advisable to read through the ingredients list of any formula to avoid feeding your cat on harmful ingredients.
Harmful cat food ingredients to look out for
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.
Artificial coloring and flavoring – these are used to enhance the taste and color of cat foods. They are made from chemical compounds, which can cause toxicity in cats.
BHT – Both BHA & BHT are preservatives that have been banned in human foods in many countries due to cancer risks. However, they remain approved for use in pet foods. A growing number of pet owners are becoming aware of the potential dangers these ingredients bring and are shunning all foods containing BHA and BHT. A quick internet search on these preservatives will show that the backlash is gaining steam with many cat food companies abandoning these ingredients. BHA and BHT are extremely controversial ingredients in all forms of pet food.
Fortunately, none of these ingredients are in this cat food.
The Natural Balance Chicken and Green Pea (wet) cat food is a very good cat food. It is made with all natural ingredients and contains real meat protein. This cat food is ideal for all cats in different life stages.