Cat food labels explained: 8 tips to decipher them


Cat food labels may sound as an easy task, but going down the aisle of pet food would make you change your mind. You’ll be faced with loads of choices and options. Below is eight tips which may help you decipher cat food labels.

Learn the label lingo

All cat food labels are regulated by the government and have the same information. They provide:

  • The product name
  • Net weight
  • Statement of intent
  • Ingredient list
  • Guaranteed analysis
  • Feeding directions
  • Nutritional adequacy statement

Don’t mistake kitten food for adult cat food

On the back of cat food containers you find information to consider before you purchase them. The nutritional adequacy gives you information about whether the product serves as a complete and balanced meal for your cat. It specifies at which stage of your cat’s life the product is given. It may say cat food, kitten food or for all stages of life.

Never judge the box by its front cover

Products’ names have a crucial role in picking cat foot. When picking names their products, manufacturers follow three rules:

  • If the product name contains two ingredients, the container will be filled more of the first ingredient.
  • The ingredient in the product name might make up only ¼ of the product. So you have to check the ingredient list carefully.
  • The word “with” consists only 3% of the name of the ingredient that follows it.

Meat is not a meal

Manufacturers always list ingredients by weight. The following are the most common ingredients found on cat food labels:

  • Meat: lamb, turkey, and some related animal which were slaughtered for animal feed.
  • Meat by product: clean and non-flesh parts of the animals mentioned above
  • Beef tallow: fats made from beef
  • Meal: fine grounded tissue
  • Bone meal: fine grounded bone from animal destined to feed
  • Fish meal: fish pieces that might contain oil
  • Corn glutton meal: it’s made from the syrup of corn and starch

Concentrate on nutrients, not ingredients

Since animals require nutrients, you really don’t need to waste your time focusing on that long list of ingredients. This is the role of guaranteed analysis. It lists all nutrients found in the end product. Some of the nutrients you need to watch include: protein, water, carbohydrates or fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Preservative are crucial

While they are perceived by most people as bad elements, preservatives serve a very important role in dry cat food. They are antioxidants which prevent fat from spoiling. When fat is spoiled, nutrients lose their value and become seriously dangerous sometimes.

Natural doesn’t mean organic

Actually there’re no definitions for natural and organic when it comes to cat food. We can draw the distinction between the two by saying that organic refers to the source of food and how its grown and processed while natural indicates that the food doesn’t contain any flavors or colors.

Premium means only pricey

This is one of the cat food labels which are tricky. When you find the word premium, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is made from healthier sources. It might, in some cases, refer to more digestible ingredients only.

If you find any difficulty choosing your cat’s food, you may contact your veterinarian for some help, he/she may know better than you.


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