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Nutro ultra cat food is a product of Nutro Products, Inc., a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated. The company was originally founded by John Saleen in 1926, making this one of the first commercial pet food products in the United States. Since that time, Nutro cat food products have grown into one of the largest brands available and can be found in most grocery and pet stores.
Unfortunately, Nutro products have a mixed reputation. Perhaps the most damaging allegation occurred in 1998 when trace levels of pentobarbital were found in two separate sampling of Nutro pet food products. Pentobarbital is the chemical used to euthanize pets, raising questions about where their meat by-products are sourced. Issues continued in 2007 as Nutro was included in the deadly melamine recalls that killed thousands of pets, then again in 2008 when a flood of illnesses were reported and linked to Nutro pet foods. Additional recalls were issued in 2009.
In spite of their shaky reputation, this brand continues to be a top player in the pet food industry. Below, you’ll find our analysis of the top 10 ingredients in this food. Please let us know what you think by using the rating system above this article and leave a comment below.
List Of Ingredients In This Cat Food
Salmon, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Dried Potatoes, Potato Starch, Split Peas, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavors, Soybean Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Manganese Proteinate, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Calcium Pantothenate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract, Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract
Top 5 Ingredients Analysis
Salmon is an excellent source of high quality proteins for cats and is extremely rich in healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Some people worry about mercury levels in fish. It’s true that all fish contains some degree of mercury, the level in salmon is much lower than other types of fish and the FDA doesn’t believe it is cause for concern. Most salmon in cat food is farmed salmon, but higher end cat food (especially those labeled “natural”) can often times be fished from natural lakes and streams. The biggest problem with fish ingredients, including salmon, is if the fish includes an antioxidant called ethoxyquin (EMQ). It is believe that ethoxyquin could be very harmful to cats and other animals. Always make sure you are using “Ethoxyquin free” cat food blends when they include fish ingredients. When in doubt, call the customer service number and ask.
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.
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.
Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols)
Chicken fat is a quality source of essential fatty acids and an excellent source of energy. Fat has a positive effect on the immune system and plays a beneficial role in stress response. Essential fatty acids are required for proper growth, reproduction, normal skin structure and a healthy coat. Because chicken fat contains virtually no protein, it’s use does not cause allergic reactions associated with the use of fresh chicken or chicken meal which contain high amounts of protein. Many times, mixed tocopherols, which are a natural source of Vitamin E activity, are used as a natural preservative to maintain freshness. This is considered a higher quality fat source in pet food.
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.
Additional Ingredients Of Interest
Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes and is usually only included to assist with the consistency and texture of the food. Cats generally do not receive much nutritional value from this ingredient, although it may sometimes aid in proper digestion.
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. At best, this ingredient will act as a filler and will not provide much nutritional value, if any, to your cat.
Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal
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.
We find it interesting they listed potato protein here, since cats do not receive much of any benefit from potato protein. It is unlikely to cause any specific health concerns, but this appears to be an inexpensive way to boost the protein percentage of the food. Unfortunately, since cats are obligate carnivores, this added protein will mostly go to waste as cats are unable to properly utilize plant based proteins. Their protein must come from meat based sources.
Dried Plain Beet Pulp
Beet pulp is a by-product from the processing of sugar beet and is a source of fiber and energy. It is popular among many pet food companies due to its high availability and low price. The most common complaint about this ingredient is that it causes digestion problems, most commonly a very hard stool or diarrhea. It has also been known to cause bloat in some dogs and cats which can be very serious if left unchecked.