Do you want your feline companion to look young forever? Aging brings with it a lot of complications. For this reason, cat food manufacturers have gone out of their way to make foods that are formulated to fight signs of aging.
The Science Diet Senior 11+ Age Defying dry formula is one of the many formulas claimed to fight aging in senior cats. The product’s website states that this formula can fight up to 4 aging signs within 30 days. This is said to be facilitated by the nutritive ingredients used to manufacture this formula.
Can this formula really conceal the signs of aging in your feline companion? There is only one way of finding out.
The ingredients in the formula
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Wheat Gluten, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Soybean Oil, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, 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), L-Carnitine, Iodized Salt, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas.
The first 5 ingredients of any formula represent the most nutrition composition. It is therefore important to check the nutritional benefit of these ingredients.
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.
Whole Grain Wheat
Whole grain wheat is a grain based product that may cause some digestion issues. In addition it is also a known food allergen for many cats. Grain based ingredients like this one are usually used by pet food companies because it is a cheap way to boost the protein percentage of the food. That said, it provides almost no nutrition for cats because cats do not have a digestive system designed for plant based proteins or nutrients. They are designed to consume and process meats. While this isn’t a bad ingredient in moderation, in higher quantities, it usually reflects a lower quality cat food.
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.
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.
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.
Other ingredients in the formula
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.
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.
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the soybean (Glycine max) and is one of the most widely consumed cooking oils. Soy is a plant protein used by pet food companies to boost protein content and add bulk. Because plant proteins are less expensive than meat proteins, pet food manufacturers use them to increase profit margins. The majority of experts on pet nutrition agree soy isn’t good nutrition for cats or dogs. It is considered a low-quality, incomplete protein well known to create food allergies in pets. Many cat food companies take a hard stance against the “negative publicity” that soy products receive and defend the use of soy strongly, claiming that soy helps add nutrients and improves a cats coat and skin. However, we do not find soy products to be reminiscent of a high quality cat food.
Flaxseeds (also called linseeds) are a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA or omega-3. The seeds come from flax, one of the the oldest fiber crops in the world. It is not only a source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research has found evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The health risk associated with this ingredient is low and in general, flaxseed is considered to be a beneficial ingredient for cats.
Can my allergic cat feed on this formula?
Unfortunately, this formula is not a great choice for allergic cats. It contains corn and wheat extracts giving it a high possibility of triggering allergic responses. It is only suitable and recommended for non-allergic cats.
Other ingredients to watch out for
Soy – Soy is another common food allergen for cats and is also known to cause gastric upset. This ingredient is considered a very low priced filler ingredient. While it will certainly help make your cat food more full, the full nutritional benefit in this ingredient is questionable at best. Many cat food brands will tell you the allergy risk is very low with soy, but it is one of the most well known food allergens that cats deal with in commercial pet food. Overall, this is a pretty low quality ingredient.
Excess liver pieces – This is an interesting and unusual ingredient. Liver is typically considered to be ok for cats in lower or moderate quantities. It provides some essential vitamins, minerals, and is a great source of iron. However, we are left scratching our heads a bit with how this ingredient is listed. Firstly, we do not know what animal these “liver pieces” are coming from. We usually don’t consider unnamed meat sources as higher quality. In addition, we’re not sure what they mean by saying this ingredient consists of “excess” liver pieces. It almost sounds to us like this could be some sort of slaughterhouse waste product. Since we can’t verify the animal this ingredient is sourced from or what exactly this labeled item means, we remain skeptical.
If you own a cat that does not react to allergens, this formula is an option. However, even with non-allergic cats, feeding it on too much corn or wheat can trigger allergies.