According to the company that manufacturers this formula, this grain free dry formula contains balanced nutritional ingredients to nourish the cat’s system and also support its immunity. On the science diet website, you’ll find a list of benefits your cat is supposed to get from this formula.
The big question is, does this formula live up to the hype?
Ingredients in Science Diet Adult Grain Free
Chicken, Potatoes, Yellow Peas, Pea Protein Concentrate, Chicken Fat, Potato Starch, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Choline Chloride, Iodized Salt, Fish Oil, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors.
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.
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.
We are beginning to see a big increase in the usage of peas in cat food products, specifically among grain-free, holistic, and natural pet food products. While not a grain, it acts in much the same way. Peas are mostly used as a filler ingredient and do not provide nutrition to your cat. There is also very little known about the long-term effects of cats consuming peas. In dogs, there is some evidence that it could cause some stomach upset or digestion issues, although this is rare. In all likelihood, this ingredient is perfectly safe for your cat, but will not aid in providing your cat with nutrition.
Pea Protein Concentrate
Pea protein concentrates are made by separating the protein fraction of pea seeds from the fibre and starch fractions. Several processes exists, yielding products containing from 50 % to 90 % protein. This ingredient is likely added to boost the protein percentage of the food, but unfortunately, this protein is mostly wasted. Cats do not process plant based proteins like they do meat based proteins and in fact, gain very little nutritional value at all from this protein source. While this is not a grain based ingredient, it is being used in much the same way. The long-term effects peas have on cats are still a bit unknown, but we do know peas can sometimes cause digestion issues in dogs.
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.
Other ingredients worth looking at
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.
Dried Egg Product
Derived from shell free eggs, this is a cheaper source of protein used in place of higher quality meat proteins. Normally, this ingredient is derived from waste products associated with the egg industry or egg products that have been deemed unfit for human consumption.
Dried 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.
Is this an allergy causing formula?
From the list of ingredient, it is clear that the adult grain free dry formula contain no allergens. This makes this formula ideal for adult cats with food sensitivities.
Harmful ingredients found in cat formulas
Corn, soy and wheat – 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 color and flavoring – Both artificial and natural flavor ingredients are considered to be lower quality ingredients. Artificial flavor is usually derived from petroleum. Most have not been studied for safety or toxicity. They are all synthesized chemicals that don’t even have common names. Most artificial flavors actually contain many chemical ingredients, not just one. Many of those chemicals are volatile. Both natural and artificial flavors are chemical based ingredients and we don’t get all that excited when we see either one of those ingredients listed. Both of these ingredients have potential allergy risks and other possible health problems in cats.
We also find it quite irresponsible to include artificial coloring in pet food since the health concerns about these added colors are so controversial. Your cat does not care what color their food is and the only reason artificial coloring is added to this product is for marketing purposes. It makes the food look better to you YOU, the human consumer. Of course, many cat food brands are very defensive about their use of food coloring. Here is an example of how the Purina brand defends their use of fool coloring. Notice how even in their explanation, there is no perceived benefit to these ingredients other than changing the color. There is also a growing amount of evidence to suggest food coloring may be linked to cancer in not just dogs and cats, but also humans. Here is an article that explains a bit further. In short, since there is some controversy surrounding this ingredient, we find it a bit strange that cat food companies would spend money adding this ingredient into a product when at best, it has zero nutritional value for your cat and only has marketing value. At worse, it could pose health risks. It just doesn’t seem like the risk of including this ingredient is worth it.
Gluten – This ingredient is associated with causing allergies in cats. It is also known to raise sugar levels in cats. Over time, this can lead to diabetes. Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm which is a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour. Many pet food manufactures will use this ingredient to help boost the protein percentage of the food.
Luckily, none of these harmful ingredients are in this formula.
From the ingredients list and the numerous reviews on this formula, this is an above average cat formula. It contains healthy, natural ingredients that offer all rounded nutrition to your cat. This makes it a recommended formula for any adult cat. The only down side is the lack of adequate animal protein.