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Are you concerned about the health risks involved in feeding your feline on low quality formulas? Just like humans, cats need to feed on formulas that support their overall health. Even so, a lot of cat food manufacturers are keen on manufacturing low quality formulas in an effort to save on the cost of production and to make quick money. However, there are a few cat food companies that go out of their way to ensure that they offer nothing but the most nutritious formulas because they care for your cat’s health.These are the types of formulas you should go for.
The Purina Company is amongst the many pet food companies. They offer the cat chow cat food brand which they say is specifically blended to meet your cat’s nutritional needs. This formula is claimed to contain high levels of protein from real chicken and whole grain ingredients. It is also said to have other healthy ingredients for the great health of your feline.
Is this formula able to deliver, or is it another case of overhyped low quality formulas?
Ingredients in Purina Cat Chow Naturals
Chicken meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, brewers rice, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), corn meal, chicken, salmon, powdered cellulose, ground whole wheat, natural flavor, soybean hulls, malt extract, phosphoric acid, salt, dried spinach, choline chloride, taurine, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, potassium chloride, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite. C-4521
An overview of the first five ingredients
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.
Corn gluten meal
This is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. The expression “corn gluten” is colloquial jargon that describes corn proteins that are neither gliadin nor glutenin. Only wheat, barley, rye and oat contain true gluten. For the most part, this ingredient is normally only found in cheaper “grocery store brand” cat foods. Corn is frequently used as a filler ingredient to help make your cat feel more full, but it does not add much of anything to the nutritional value in the food. In addition, this is a common allergen for many cats and corn based ingredients can often be difficult for cats to digest. That’s why we can’t recommend this food for cats with food allergies or sensitive digestive systems.
This ingredient is created after grinding the soybean to extract soybean oil. In addition to being used in dog and cat food, it is widely used as a filler and source of protein in other animal diets including pig, chicken, cattle, horse, sheep, and fish feed. This ingredient can often be found in “hairball relief” cat foods as it is believed to help eliminate hairballs. While some cats are allergic to soy based ingredients, the pet food industry is pretty defensive of this ingredient claiming that despite the attempts of researchers to prove a link between soy and bloat, no studies to date show this link. Rather, breed, body type, weight and stress level are significant risk factors. The pet food industry also claims that soy products are a superb source of bodybuilding protein, coat-nourishing vegetable oil and healthful fiber for cats. As long as your cat isn’t allergic to soy based ingredients, this ingredient shouldn’t pose any problems, but it isn’t included without controversy.
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.
Animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)
Animal fat provides essential fatty acids, energy, and fat soluble vitamins. This ingredient can also support a healthy skin and coat. Unfortunately, when it comes to fat sources, animal fat is considered to be a lower quality ingredient. This is because it is an unnamed fat source. Usually, we like to see a named fat source (such as “chicken fat”). In this case, we are forced to guess what animal or animals this fat source comes from. Animal fat, also called tallow, is a product of rendering. In the rendering process, pieces, parts, and even whole animals are put through a gigantic grinder, then boiled in vats for 30 minutes to several hours. High heat is necessary to kill bacteria, viruses, molds, and other pathogens. The boiling process also allows the fat to separate and float to the top, where it is skimmed off for use in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants, and, of course, pet food.
Tocopherol is a naturally occurring chemical element found in a variety of foods. It is commonly called vitamin E in a generic sense, as vitamin E substances are made up of tocopherol and similar elements. The main purpose of this ingredient is to provide a natural preservative for the food. Since this is a natural preservative, it is generally considered safe.
Other ingredients in this formula
Considered a low quality ingredient, corn meal is usually used as a “filler ingredient” but provides almost no nutritional value to cats. This ingredient is also a known allergy causing ingredient for many cats. We aren’t all that thrilled to see this ingredient listed.
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.
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.
Powdered cellulose is a cheap filler ingredient. It is obtain as a pulp from fibrous plant material and highly refined. Once processed, it looks and feels very similar to sawdust. Cellulose is used in a wide number of ways. In addition to being added to pet food, it is used quite a bit in human foods, but can also be used for things like insulation, rope making, and textiles. Just like in humans, this ingredient is indigestible for cats. There is no hard evidence to suggest this ingredient is unhealthy, but it wouldn’t be considered a higher quality ingredient, either.
Is this formula likely to cause allergies?
From the list of ingredient, this formula does contain allergens. This makes it only ideal for cats with no food sensitivities.
Other harmful ingredients to look out for
Wheat – Most cat food brands that use wheat in their products will tell you that wheat is a grain used as a high-quality carbohydrate source in dry dog and cat foods and biscuits. They will tell you that it provides energy for daily activity, as well as processing characteristics for the food. And finally, they will tell you that the allergy risk associated with wheat is low. However, many experts not associated with the pet food industry will seemingly say the opposite. From them, you’ll hear that wheat and wheat by-product is a very common allergy for dogs and cats. You’ll even find sources that claim wheat has also been linked to epileptic seizures and celiac diseases. Cats are not able to digest grains nearly as well as humans or dogs, so many cats may also experience digestion issues if given too much wheat. In general, wheat is considered to be a very low priced filler ingredient with essentially no nutritional value for cats. As the debate rages on, you be the judge.
Artificial flavors – While it might seem obvious, we have some concerns about the use of artificial flavoring in cat food. This ingredient is usually derived petroleum and there have not been many studies done on the effects it has on cats. Unfortunately, artificial flavor can come from a very long list of sources and there is no way we can verify how safe this ingredient is. We generally recommend not feeding your cat any “flavors” even if it is natural flavor. In the case of artificial flavor, we don’t see any benefit to having this included.
The Purina cat chow naturals (dry) formula is an average formula. It contains both healthy and low quality ingredients. The use of real meat and fish is commendable. The only disadvantage is the use of allergens, which classify this formula as only ideal for cats that do not suffer from allergies.