The Science Diet Kitten Homestyle Chicken Entrée is one of the many wet cat formulas in the market today. According to the brand company, this is a kitten formula made with natural ingredients in a delicious source. It is also claimed to be corn free and to have the required nutrients for healthy kitten development.
Is this the best formula for your tiny feline?
The ingredients in the formula
Water, Chicken, Animal Liver, Wheat Flour, Brown Rice, Carrots, Wheat Gluten, Soy Protein Isolate, Pork Plasma, Rice Starch-Modified, Spinach, Poultry Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Oat Fiber, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil, Titanium Dioxide (color), Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Guar Gum, Magnesium Oxide, Caramel (color), Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganous Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadoine Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of vitamin K3).
An overview of the first five ingredients
As you might expect, water is mostly added for moisture and cooking purposes. It does not add any nutritional value to the food.
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.
While liver provides some excellent nutrients for cats, this is an unnamed meat source. Since this is labeled as animal liver, this liver could come from just about any animal and that leaves a lot to the imagination. It also could indicate that this ingredient is inconsistent over time. They may include liver from one animal one month and another animal the next. So while we generally have no problem with liver in cat food, the fact this is an unnamed animal source has us a bit untrusting.
Wheat flour is a powder made from the grinding of wheat. It helps with the cooking process and also helps to increase the nutrient values of the food. However, cats do not digest wheat in the same way they digest other meat based products. Wheat does not provide much nutrition to cats and is considered a lower quality ingredient. Some cats have problems digesting wheat and others may experience allergic reactions to this ingredient. In lower quantities, this is considered to be a safe ingredient for cats, but it isn’t considered to be a high quality or nutritious ingredient, either.
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.
Other ingredients in the formula
Carrots – A good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, carrots are becoming more common in pet foods. This ingredient is also known to boost the immune system and help promote healthy eyes in cats as well as providing a good source of fiber.
Wheat Gluten – We don’t think any grain is “good” for your cat. It doesn’t mean wheat gluten is “bad” for your cat, either, but the fact it provides almost no nutritional value makes us question the quality of the ingredient. Wheat gluten can be a decent protein source for animals with digestive systems that can break it down, but as obligate carnivores, cats are not one of those animals. Their digestive systems produce only the enzymes necessary for processing animal-based proteins. There are also some allergy risks associated with wheat gluten. In addition, too much of this in a cats diet can potentially lead to weight gain and diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes in cats is a very serious health problem, so it is important to keep a close eye on your cats weight and diabetic risk when feeding a cat food containing ingredients like wheat gluten.
Soy Protein Isolate – Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free. It can be found in both human and pet food products. This ingredient is typically added to pet foods in order to boost the overall protein percentage of the food. Unfortunately, cats do not gain much of any value from plant based proteins. As obligate carnivores, cats require meat proteins. Soy products are also known allergens for many cats and many have trouble digesting soy based ingredients. This is a pretty low quality ingredient.
Pork Plasma – Get ready, because this ingredient might gross you out a bit. This basically consists of pork blood and blood products. They just don’t like saying that on the label. Now, as unappetizing as that sounds, animal blood and in particular, plasma, does provide some nutrition to cats and isn’t unhealthy. In fact, it may provide some benefits including assisting in digesting food properly. The nutritional advantages of plasma as an added ingredient beyond that which is naturally in meat is partly due to immunologic fractions, including IgG, similar to what is found in the colostrum in breast milk. Plasma also contains haptoglobulin, growth factors, other proteins and peptides, and transferrins. The protein fraction of plasma is highly digestible and plasma also increases digestibility of other ingredients, including fiber.
Is this an allergy causing formula?
This formula is likely to cause allergies in your kitten. It contains wheat extracts. Therefore, this formula is most suitable for non-allergic cats and those with very mild allergies.
Other harmful ingredients used on cat formulas
Corn – Unfortunately, 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.
Artificial coloring 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.
Animal by-products – One of the worst meat ingredients found in pet food today is animal by product. It’s true that this ingredient provides a very high amount of meat protein that cats need to thrive. However, animal by products are considered to be the lowest form of meat and it isn’t even approved for human consumption. Animal by-products are carcasses and parts of carcasses from slaughterhouses, animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians, and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including catering waste. Legally, this ingredient can even contain roadkill or euthanized animals. This ingredient may also contain what is called “4D meat” which is what the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) calls cattle that is dead, dying, disabled or diseased. This meat is considered unfit for human consumption, but is typically found in many pet food products. This is not something we recommend you feed your cat or any other pet.
Apart from a few allergy related ingredients, this is a kitten formula that contains all the required nutrients for your kitten to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. The allergens, however, make it somewhat risky especially since it is meant for kittens.