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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
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Rice, Whole Brown Rice, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavors, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Soybean Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Salt, DL-Methionine, 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
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.
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.
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.
Additional Ingredients Of Interest
Whole Brown Rice
Brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates. The main differences between the two forms of rice lie in processing and nutritional content. When only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (the husk) is removed, brown rice is produced. To produce white rice, the next layers underneath the husk (the bran layer and the germ) are removed, leaving mostly the starchy endosperm. While many cat owners like to stay away from grain based ingredients, rice in general is easy for cats to digest and is not likely to cause allergic reactions. The rice will expand in your cats stomach helping him or her feel more full. So while this ingredient may not be especially nutritious, it does have value in the food and is unlikely to cause major problems. You should still avoid this ingredient if your cat has suffered from grain allergies in the past, but overall, this is a very low-risk ingredient even though it is a grain.
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.
Whole Grain Oatmeal
This ingredient will provide some fiber for your cat, but for the most part, it is simply used as a filler to help make your cat feel more full. Many cats seem to enjoy the taste of oatmeal and since there are no major health concerns associated with it, this ingredient makes for a great alternative filler ingredient instead of using corn and other grains. Some cats are allergic to all grains, but as far as grain ingredients go, this is a pretty safe bet in smaller quantities.
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 causes any problems at all. 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.