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Are you concerned that your cat will soon start looking old and ‘wrinkled’? What if there was a way to control your cats aging process? Well, this is what some cat formula manufacturers are promising. Whether or not they work is a whole other matter.
The Senior 11+Indoor Age Defying dry formula is a product under the Science Diet brand that promises to slow down your cat’s aging process. This formula claims to supply the cat’s system with nutrients that nourish it and fight age related ailments. This is said to keep your cat feeling and looking younger.
Does this formula really have the capacity to turn back the effects of aging?
The ingredients in the formula
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Brewers Rice, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, 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, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas.
Reviewing 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.
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.
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.
Other ingredients in the formula
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for normal heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in cats. Since cats are unable to create proper levels of taurine in their body naturally, it must be supplemented in their food. That’s why you’ll see this ingredient listed for so many different cat food blends. For cat foods that contain enough high quality animal based proteins, a taurine supplement may not be needed. However, most cat foods will need to add in additional taurine in the form of a supplement to the food. Even when included as a supplement instead, there is very low to almost zero health risk associated with this ingredient. In fact, a lack of taurine can cause a slew of issues, so it’s very important to make sure your cat is receiving enough taurine in his or her diet.
While cranberries are pretty acidic for cats, in lower quantities, it is unlikely to cause any harm. This ingredient helps to add some vitamins and minerals to the food, but cats really aren’t able to digest or process cranberries well. Even though this isn’t a lower quality ingredient, the nutritional benefit of this ingredient is highly questionable.
While this ingredient may appear to be healthy and safe because it is “natural”, we believe this is a pretty poor quality ingredient. While it might be a harmless flavoring sprayed onto the food, natural flavors can be obtained from almost anything deemed “natural”. Not all things natural are good and some “natural flavor” sources can be downright harmful. Without being able to verify what chemicals are included into this ingredient, we feel a bit apprehensive about it.
Oat fiber is produced from food-grade oat hulls and is mostly added for texture and binding purposes. It is sometimes used to help give food a lighter and browner color as well. Cats and dogs have no absolute physiologic need for this ingredient, although animals eating processed commercial foods appear to benefit from the addition of fiber.
Can my allergic cat consume this formula?
No! It is not advisable to feed your allergic cat on this formula. It contains wheat and corn, which can trigger allergic responses.
Ingredients that would have been used in the place of the allergen based ingredients
Real meat protein sources – Here is another ingredient that causes us to raise an eyebrow and lose a bit of trust in this food. While meat protein is essential and extremely beneficial to cats, the way this ingredient is labeled does cause some concern. As an unnamed meat protein source, we have no idea what kind of animal this is coming from. The fact they added the word “real” to this ingredient also raises some questions. It appears they only add that word for marketing purposes. Most experts would agree, this is one of the most questionable sources of animal based proteins that could possibly be added to a cat food. We’re not impressed with the gimmicky labeling or the quality of this ingredient.
Potatoes – 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.
The use of these ingredients instead of the grain based ingredients would have made this a non-allergy causing formula.
This is yet another allergy causing cat formula. While it may contain ingredients that may help in slowing down the aging process, the use of allergens could actually kill your cat.