Monday 10 March 2008

Cat Food Jelly

cat food

Cat food jelly is a bit of a mystery and very tasty (to a cat). What is it about cat food jelly that makes cats lick it off, almost completely? What is it about the "meat" chunks in the jelly that makes cats leave it (sometimes almost completely)? This seems so wasteful to me. It seems unnatural as well. This post raises more questions than answers.

It seems that my cats eat about 2/3rds of a sachet and leave the rest - the dry, scrubbed (with their tongues) "meat" bits. Sometimes they eat much less of the sachet. If you add that to the bit that is left in the sachet when the food is squeezed out of it, you get a lot of waste. You also create an artificial need to buy more of it. Is this a cat food manufacturer "profit making exercise"?

I am researching the matter and it's hard to find answers. However, we know this. The food in the sachet is 82% "moisture". This is another word (a more acceptable word to the manufacturer) for water. Sure cats need water but it seems odd that it costs so much when in cat food. Maybe cat food should be dry and we then add water, wouldn't that be cheaper for us and better?

Of course if a cat was in the wild he would eat other animals and animals are made up of about 90% water (is that correct? - I understand that animal cells are composed of 90% water). So the cat food does in some regards mimic the real world in the wild where animals eat other animals.

Back to the jelly. It must contain something that tastes great to a cat. And the bit in the middle must be tasteless. This food only contains 4% of "meat and animal derivatives" (this refers to Whiskas complete pet food for senior cats, an example).

This is not 4% of chicken (meaning whole chicken flesh). What's a "derivative"? The EEC has described it as, "a material obtained from an animal tissue by a manufacturing process such as collagen, gelatine, monoclonal antibodies". It is not necessarily strictly speaking animal tissue, therefore but derived from it.

Conclusion: The bottom line is this. There is not much actual meat that we think of as meat in cat food of this type ("with chicken) , say about 2% (guess) of the sachet.

There is nothing on the packet that tells me what is in the jelly that makes it taste so good to a cat. It seems that the taste is improved by "palatability enhancers". These are reducing sugars and amino acids. An example of a reducing sugar is glucose. My guess is that cats like the jelly because it is sugary. I also think that the entire sachet is tasteless without the palatability enhancers. Is that good for the cat?

They don't eat the chunks because they are tasteless. The idea is that the cat will eat the jelly and inadvertently eat the tasteless bits at the same time. The chunks are probably tasteless because the food is rendered and processed to the point where is becomes a product far removed from what we would think of as "food".

Sources: Various inc.
Photo: copyright Whiteleaf

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