Are you considering moving from fish flavored cat formulas to real fish formulas? This is one of the best decisions you can make for your feline companion. The flavor based formulas are not half as nutritious as the real fish based formulas. This is precisely why they are cheaper. Healthy cat nutrition starts with feeding your cat on real meat protein.
The Whiskas tuna entrée is one of the wet cat formulas that claim to offer real fish chunks in their formula. According to the company, this formula contains real tuna flakes and chunks in natural juices. They claim that it supplies your cat with all the nutrition it needs for healthy growth.
Does this formula live up to the hype? There is only one way to find out.
Ingredients in Whiskas Tuna Entrée
Sufficient Water for Processing, Tuna, Soy Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Cassia Gum, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Glycine, Disodium EDTA, Vitamins (Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate [Source of Vitamin E], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Folic Acid, Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2]), Minerals (Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate), Sodium Nitrite (for color retention), BHA/BHT(a preservative).
Reviewing 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.
This ingredient is a well known saltwater fish. There is some debate about whether fish products should be included in cat food at all, because cats by nature do not eat much sea food. A lot of cat owners would rather see meat from other animals such as beef, chicken, turkey, or other meat sources. However, tuna does supply a good amount of protein and also contains an excellent amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the soybean. It is one of the most widely consumed cooking oils. As you can see in this article, the health risks associated with humans and soy oil is questionable. We have no reason to believe it is any better for cats, especially since cats are obligate carnivores designed to process meat based ingredients. In addition, many cats are allergic to soy ingredients or may have problems digesting soy ingredients. If your cat has food allergies or a sensitive stomach, you might not want to feed this food.
This is an additive extracted from red and purple seaweeds, consisting of a mixture of polysaccharides. It is used as a thickening or emulsifying agent in food products. There is still much research being done on this additive and while it is generally considered safe, there is room for caution as carrageenan has produced intestinal damage and ulcers in some animal studies. If you would like more information about the ongoing research of this ingredient, you may reference this research study.
Dicalcium phosphate is a compound that is present in bone. It is a calcium salt. Usually, when people break their bones, the need to enrich themselves with this compound in order to help bone regeneration. For cat food, it is mostly used as a part of the processing of the food. While this ingredient sounds scary and doesn’t provide any nutrition for cats, it is considered safe and is usually included in very low levels.
Other ingredients of interest
Both BHA & BHT are preservatives that have been banned in human foods in many countries due to cancer risks. However, they remain approved for use in pet foods. A growing number of pet owners are becoming aware of the potential dangers these ingredients bring and are shunning all foods containing BHA and BHT. A quick internet search on these preservatives will show that the backlash is gaining steam with many cat food companies abandoning these ingredients. BHA and BHT are extremely controversial ingredients in all forms of pet food.
The term “natural flavor” is extremely vague and can mean just about anything. In human foods, natural flavor is usually MSG or some similar flavor enhancer. When pet food companies are asked what is in their “natural flavor ingredients, they usually refuse to answer. There are a lot of things in the world considered “natural” and they almost all have a flavor. Such generic terms can be indicative of poor quality ingredients. While that’s not always the case, the fact is, we don’t really know what this ingredient consists of and that is worrying.
Only two vitamins (A and C) and two minerals (calcium and iron) are required on the food label. Food companies can voluntarily list other vitamins and minerals in the food. When vitamins or minerals are added to the food, or when a vitamin or mineral claim is made, those nutrients must be listed on the nutrition label. So while we don’t know exactly what vitamins are being included here, it is unlikely that this ingredient contains anything of lower quality.
This ingredient is commonly used as a sweetener and taste enhancer in both pet foods and human foods. According to WebMD, this ingredient is safe even in large doses. However, there is still much research that needs to be done as far as how safe this ingredient is in human food, let alone pet food. That being said, so far there is no real evidence to suggest this ingredient is bad for your cat. There does seem to be some evidence to suggest this ingredient helps with hairball control in cats.
Does this formula cause allergies?
Judging from the ingredients, this formula is unlikely to cause allergic reactions. It does not contain the common allergens like soy and corn.
Ingredients to avoid
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 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.
BHT and BHA – Both BHA & BHT are preservatives that have been banned in human foods in many countries due to cancer risks. However, they remain approved for use in pet foods. A growing number of pet owners are becoming aware of the potential dangers these ingredients bring and are shunning all foods containing BHA and BHT. BHA and BHT are extremely controversial ingredients in all forms of pet food.
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.
Unfortunately, this formula contains BHT and BHA.
Useful ingredients missing in this 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.
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.
The main protein source of this formula appears second in the list of ingredients meaning it is not as abundant as it should be. Moreover, there seems to be quite a number of low quality fillers in this formula as well as some potentially poisonous ingredients.