Sunday 19 June 2011

Grain Free Cat Food

You search on the internet for "grain free cat food". You want to find good grain free cat food. Do you know why you want that kind of food for your cat and why cat food that contains grain exists? You probably do but this page sets out my spin on this huge issue.

Dry cat food emerged onto the pet products market about fifty years ago. Before that canned cat food was around for up to one hundred years or so, I am advised.

Dry cat food (and dog food) is a relatively recent innovation. It's creation is born out of the need for convenience and I am not talking about the convenience of our cat, but of us.

The pet food manufacturers have two customers, us and our cat. They have an obligation to provide palatable and nutritional food for our cat and to provide inexpensive and easily handled food for us. These are competing goals. As we buy the food for our cat, our actions take priority and so the pet food manufacturers found a great market in dry cat food.

Dry cat food is highly convenient for the cat caretaker and can be left for feeding all day  - free cat feeding. Ideal for the busy cat caretaker. Whereas wet cat food goes off rapidly and smells quite quickly (a sign of poor quality?)

In order to make the pellets or kibble (so called in the USA) carbohydrates are required as this binds the rendered dry material together. Grains are a cheap source of carbohydrates. If grains such as wheat are not used potato, for example might be. Apparently, peas are also used.

Cats don't have a taste for sweet foods - they can't taste it so the only advantage to a cat of the carbohydrates is as a source of energy. But a cat is not designed to digest carbohydrates.

This can lead to the cat developing illnesses such as feline diabetes. The 12% water content leaves the cat in a permanent state of mild dehydration as cats don't fully compensate by drinking more water. The classic prey for a cat and ideal balanced diet is the mouse that contains about 60+% water and 3% carbohydrates. Dry cat food has 20-50% carbohydrates.

Some enlightened pet food manufacturers have created grain free dry cat food. The material is not bound together by carbs. One such dry cat food is Wysong Epigen Starch-Free Dry Dog & Cat Food (so claimed). The binding is carried out by "nutrient-rich protein sources" the manufacturers say. If this is possible why don't they all do it?

The obvious answer is cost. There are two criteria for promoting sales to people: cost and convenience. Some people simply are not aware of the dangers to health of permanently and solely feeding their cat dry cat food and so buy the cheapest while ignoring the high grain content.

Indeed, my vet some years ago recommended that I bought the dry cat food he was selling and to feed my cat permanently with it. He got his commission of course. It was Hills and Hills have a close relationship with vets promoting their food as the veterinarian's choice.

In the USA the best example of grain free cat food that is dry is Innova Dry Cat Food as it has received the most positive reviews over many sites. Another is Wellness Core. Another is Wysong as mentioned above. And yet another is Canyon River Feline Formula. Some will replace grain with some other source of carbohydrates as stated. Is that any better? Well I say it is not. The problem is not getting rid of the grain but the carbohydrates.

In the UK an example of grain free cat food that is dry is Arden Grange Sensitive - Ocean White Fish and Potato. I would check if there is a substitute for carbohydrates. In this case potatoes are used. And they announce that openly. Not sure about that. It seems like a trick to me  - reverse psychology.

Here is a little fun video I made about trying to obtain a balanced cat diet:

I wrote an earlier post about this subject, which covers slightly different ground.

Wet can food might also contain carbohydrates but premium brands contain little or not carbohydrates in the USA.

Incidentally one of the main causes of pet food recalls is due to the poor quality of the grain. This is an added benefit of buying grain free.

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  1. Cats are carnivores, so their main dietary source should be meat and not grains. I feed my cats a combination of premium wet and dry food. When buying both dry and wet cat food, cat owners should make sure that the first 2-3 ingredients are real meat and not grains or fillers. Here's a great article on choosing the healthiest dry cat food,

  2. Thanks aliecia for your input - appreciated.

  3. Grains are a very cheap source of protein and are the main ingredient in most commercial pet foods.Grains in cat food are a major cause of diabetes, kidney failure, thyroid problems, cancer, liver failure, heart disease and dental problems.


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