The Science Diet Adult Optimal Care Ocean Fish and Rice Dry formula is one of the numerous fish based formulas in the market. According to the science diet manufacturer, this formula comes with balanced and easy to digest ingredients that give optimal nutrition. It is also claimed to contain essential nutrients that cater for the health of the cat’s kidneys, heart and liver among other internal organs.
Is this formula as nutritionally rich as it is claimed to be?
Ingredients in Optimal Care Ocean Fish And Rice
Ocean Fish, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Lactic Acid, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, DL-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Calcium Sulfate, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic acid), Iodized Salt, minerals (Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Beta-Carotene, Phosphoric Acid, Natural Flavors.
An overview of the first five ingredients
While some ocean fish may be naturally caught fish, generally this indicates farmed fish. When ocean fish are farmed, it includes the practice of growing finfish in huge, often over crowded cages out in open ocean waters. When fish are farmed, usually the higher quality fish goes to the human food industry while the fish unsuitable for human consumption is used in the pet food industry. There is some debate about how beneficial seafood is in a cats diet, including fish, but in general it is considered a safe ingredient with a high amount of protein and an excellent source of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
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.
Whole Grain Corn
Unfortunately, whole grain corn is one of the most widely known food allergens for cats. If your cat does not have a pre-existing allergy to this ingredient, he or she should not experience any allergic reactions. However, this ingredient is also difficult for many cats to digest, so you should keep an eye on your cat for any digestion problems or stomach upset. And finally, this ingredient is normally used in cheaper cat food products as a filler ingredient. It will help make your cat feel more full and will also boost the protein percentage of the food. Since cats are obligate carnivores, however, they do not digest plant based proteins like they do animal based proteins. Overall, this ingredient is pretty lousy unless it is only included in smaller quantities. If your cat suffers from digestion issues or food allergies, do not feed this food to your cat.
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.
Chicken By-Product Meal
While this ingredient does provide a high amount of meat protein, this meat source is considered to be of lower quality than many other meat sources. Chicken By-Product Meal is produced through a process of cooking, drying and separation of fats and proteins from animal carcasses. It contains a dehydrated combination of meat (or cuts or parts) including lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, necks, undeveloped eggs and intestines. Usually, by-products are the “left overs” that can’t be used for human food consumption. The greatest fault of this ingredient is the same trait that makes it so affordable and so commonly found in pet foods. The unpredictability of what might (or might not) be included.
Other ingredients in the formula
Pork fat is also known as lard, but it doesn’t look as good to put that on the ingredients list! In general this is a good source of fat and we are happy to see a named fat source (as opposed to something generic like “animal fat”). All cats require a healthy fat source. It’s only a problem if they consume too much of it (like humans). When we compare pork fat to other named animal fat sources, there seems to be a higher instance of digestion upset with pork fat. However, in most cases, this is a quality fat source.
Lactic acid in food products usually serves as either as a pH regulator to balance the acidity of the food or as a preservative. It is also used as a flavoring agent. It doesn’t provide any nutritional value but there isn’t much controversy surrounding this ingredient, either.
Like humans and many other species, cats require choline. Almost all commercial pet food blends will contain supplemental choline. This ingredient mostly helps with cell function.
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.
Is this formula likely to cause allergies?
Yes! Unfortunately, this formula does contain corn, gluten and wheat by-products making it an allergy causing formula. It is best to avoid feeding your cat on this formula if it suffers from allergies.
Alternative Ingredients that should have been included in this formula
Fish meal – When you see fish listed as “fish meal” on an ingredients list, that means almost all of the moisture was removed from the fish prior to the cooking process. That means fish meal contains a much higher amount of protein as opposed to it’s whole fish counterpart. However, we aren’t pleased that this ingredient is an unnamed fish source. Fish meal can contain almost any type of fish, including fish waste products that are not used for human consumption purposes. Whenever we see an unnamed fish source, we get a little nervous about what may (or may not) be included.
Carbohydrates – There are four major classes of biomolecules – carbohydrates, proteins, nucleotides, and lipids. Carbohydrates, or saccharides, are the most abundant of the four. Carbohydrates have several roles in living organisms, including energy transportation. However, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have nutritional requirements that can only be met with a diet based on animal tissue. The macronutrient profile for cats is high in protein and fat, consistent with a meat-based diet. So while some carbs in a cats diet may be ok, a high carbohydrate diet is not ok. Further, many cats are allergic to certain forms of carbohydrates and may have problems digesting carbs as well. A diet with a high amount of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and even diabetes in cats.
Vegetables – This is a pretty generic ingredient and it can include virtually any vegetable. Because of this, we are unable to properly analyze this ingredient. However, since cats are obligate carnivores, they do not gain much of any nutritional benefit from vegetables. That being said, in nature, cats almost always consume the stomach contents of their prey which usually includes various fruits and vegetables. It’s unfortunate this labeling is so generic as we are unable to vouch for the quality of the vegetables included.
The Adult Optimal Care Fish and Rice formula is, unfortunately, another poor quality formula. The fish content is not sufficient and the inclusion of grain based additional protein sources is not a welcoming idea. This formula can only be consumed by non-allergic cats.