As much as you would hate to admit it, feeding your cat can be a chore. This is because choosing a formula that your cat loves and at the same time meets its nutritional needs can be an uphill task. Chances are that you probably have come across numerous brands all promising to satisfy your cats craving for chicken and turkey. However, most formulas never live up to their billing.
The Natural Balance Alpha Chicken Turkey Meal and Duck (dry) cat food is a poultry based cat formula that promises to meet your cat’s nutritional needs. The formula is a grain free food blend with high quality protein, vegetables and fruits. In other words, it is well balanced and suits all cat breeds from kittens to adult.
Ingredients in the formula
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Pea Protein, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Duck, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Sweet Potatoes, Dried Egg, Alfalfa Meal, Pumpkin, Salmon Oil, Carrot Pomace, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Celery Pomace, Cranberries, Blueberries, Vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A acetate, thiamine Mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), Kelp Meal, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Insulin, Taurine, Minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodide), Beet Pomace, DL-Methionine, Ascorbic Acid (source of vitamin C), Choline Chloride, Parsley Pomace, Lettuce Pomace, L-Lysine, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Watercress Pomace, Spinach Pomace, Citric Acid And Mixed Tocopherols (preservatives), Rosemary Extract.
A closer look at the main ingredients in the formula
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.
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.
Turkey is a fantastic source of very healthy animal based proteins. Since this is listed as turkey meal, that means almost all of the moisture was removed prior to the cooking process. This is actually a good thing as it will contain many times more protein than turkey that was cooked without the moisture being removed. As one of the best protein sources for cats, we are very pleased to see this ingredient listed here.
Potatoes provide a lot of carbs and unfortunately, cats do not digest carbs well and it can also lead to weight gain. This ingredient is becoming more popular in “grain-free” cat foods because while potatoes are not grains, they serve much the same purpose by acting as a non-nutritious filler. The good news is potatoes are complex carbs. These complex carbs are easier to digest than whole grains and also don’t spike blood sugar levels like the simple carbs do. But, anyway you cut it… carbs are carbs and cats don’t need them. This is a rather non-nutritious ingredient.
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.
Other ingredients in the formula
Sweet potatoes provide a great source of potassium, vitamin B, and beta-carotene. This ingredient also provides antioxidant agents that specifically help to fight against cancer causing agents. This is a higher quality ingredient with no known negative side-effects.
Eggs are healthy for cats and supply quite a bit of protein. Some cat owners prefer only feeding egg whites because the yolks can add a fairly high amount of cholesterol. In addition to the protein content, eggs also supply potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and iron. In moderation, this is considered a healthy ingredient for cats.
Alfalfa is a rich mineral food that has trace minerals such as zinc, iron, and manganese. It also includes vitamin A, vitamin C, as well as other nutrients that are beneficial to cats such as chlorophyll.
While this ingredient will not provide much nutrition to your cat, pumpkin is quite tasty to cats and seems to aid in healthy digestion. Pumpkin is often a natural remedy that dog and cat owners use to help ease stomach or digestion discomfort. This is also a filler ingredient to help make your cat feel more full after a meal. Unlike many other filler ingredients, there are very few allergy or health risks associated with this ingredient.
Is this an allergy causing ingredient?
From the ingredients list, it is rather apparent that the Alpha Chicken Turkey Meal and Duck (dry) contains no known allergens. This is a safe formula for all cats unless they are allergic to one of the ingredients.
Harmful Ingredients You Should Watch Out For
Wheat, Corn and 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.
The Natural Balance Alpha Chicken Turkey Meal and Duck (dry) is a great formula that suits both kittens and adult cats. It is allergen free so you need not worry about allergic reactions.