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What’s In Your Cat's Food? You Won't Believe What I Discovered!

Donna has been a cat parent and writer for many years and her passion is to share her love for cats with others.

Organic? Natural? You Decide!

Organic? Natural? You Decide!

What’s In Your Cat's Food? You Won't Believe What I Discovered!

Exactly “What’s in Your Cat’s Food? What about the ingredients that are printed on the label and what do some of those foreign words mean?

We all know that companies should include nutritious ingredients in pet food, when in fact it’s the opposite! Unless someone has the time to make all the food for their cats, the general population must rely on pet food manufacturers to make the best food for their cats!

But the real problem is the lies and deception of the industry as to what pet food consists of and how it can make pets ill. Unfortunately, they don't seem to care!

In This Article

  • The Truth Will Shock You!
  • Labels - Organic? Natural?
  • Smaller Companies Make a Name for Themselves
  • Wordplay on Labels
  • What's in Your Cat's Food?
  • AAFCO - Association of American Feed Control
  • Who is AAFCO?
  • AAFCO Definition of "Meat"
  • "Meat" Label Definitions
  • Let's Put it Another Way
  • What Are They Really Saying?
  • What is A Cat Parent to Do?
  • Are We Listening

The Truth will Shock You!

Feline parents always strive to feed their indoor cats nutritious/healthy food! But how much is known about the ingredients that are used in cat food? There’s more to what manufacturers are putting in cat food than we know about and how do they get away with it?

The Shocking Truth!

Well-known brands use meat-by-products and meal-by-products ingredients to make pet food, and though it's not listed on the labels as such, the question is what are the health “benefits” of those ingredients?

Labels - Organic? Natural?

From 1996 to 2002 pet food companies jumped on the “natural” and “organic” train! And the companies were moving fast down the track since the recall of the melamine pet food crisis hit all manufacturers of pet food.

Every manufacturer tried to avoid this recall scandal and make their cat food more enticing…

They started playing word games with the public and it worked!

Companies started labeling their pet food as “organic”, “natural”, “vegan,” and now “holistic” Soon consumers grew suspicious of the tactics of the well-known brands. Smaller companies joined in on the bandwagon, with a more trustworthy appearance.

“Natural” & “organic” are only the best for our cats!

“Natural” & “organic” are only the best for our cats!

Smaller Companies Make a Name for Themselves

And the public was not suspicious of the little guys as they were the bigger guys! They made a name for themselves in the pet food industry! But, still, the public wanted to know who regulates the labeling of pet food?

The FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) regulates the label and most states have supported the recommendations of AAFCO!

Wordplay on Labels

Companies would disguise their unhealthy ingredients and play on other words such as “natural,” “holistic,” “gourmet,” and “fresh'! Disregard those four words, they are to distract and misinform you! Other words are used on their labels such as “gluten-free” or “grain-free”!

Does your cat have food allergies to grains, proteins, or carbohydrates? Do certain foods upset their stomachs? One way to tell is to pinpoint the culprit, remove certain foods from their diet one at a time and once you cut the foods that bother your cat’s tummy then you will be able to pinpoint the culprit and remove it from their diet.

You going to cook this or what Mother?

You going to cook this or what Mother?

What’s in Your Cat's Food?

Grains and gluten are not harmful to most cats (pets) and in most situations it doesn't need to be cut out of your cat's diet. Just go by the specific reactions of your cat's body and how their body/chemistry reacts to specific ingredients and/or brands and then eliminate that certain food from their diet.

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For more information read this awesome article “How to Decide Which Pet Food to Purchase” written by Dr. Jennie Rubenstein (Veterinarian) Dr. Rubenstein talks about the percentages of proteins and the nutrients and the water percentages you need to look for in your cats (pets) food.

Let’s move forward to AAFCO. Association of American Feed Control Officials.

AAFCO - Association of American Feed Control

"The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state, and federal agencies. Their members are charged by their local, state, or federal laws to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies." - AAFCO

AAFCO doesn't regulate or inspect anything because they’re not a government agency yet, the members of this group are all part of the government agencies they represent, and this agency does have a say in things because manufacturers follow their guidelines!

The three agencies that work together are.

• AAFCO • FDA CVM and • your state government

The Truth Will Shock You!

You're going to feed me what again?

You're going to feed me what again?

Who is AAFCO?

AAFCO is a private non-profit corporation featuring:

• A process for defining ingredients used in animal feed and pet food.

• A forum where state agencies, federal agencies, and industry develop uniform language that states may adopt or reference in laws.

• Two meetings per year that include specialized training for members and industry.

Although AAFCO is a “voluntary membership association it does not regulate pet food or inspect anything, and I repeat- They cannot inspect or regulate anything! Why? Because they are not a government agency, they are a group.

Subsequently, their members are government agencies representing the fifty states and Canada and (US Food and Drug Administration, Center of Veterinary Medicine, FDA CVM) the federal government?

AAFCO Definition of “Meat”

What do AAFCO and other "officials" define as “meat"?

  • Brain, blood, bone, lungs, partially de-fatted low-temperature fatty tissue, stomachs and intestines freed from their contents. meaning wash and clean and disinfect before this “meat” is used in your cat’s (pets) foods. (Cleaned and disinfected with what?)
  • What is NOT allowed: Hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs.
  1. Meat- is the clean flesh of slaughterhouse mammals: but limited to the striated muscle, with or without the accompanying and overlying fat & portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which accompany the flesh!
  2. Meat by-products are the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth, or hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.

What is in Pet food?

“In addition to using the term “meat,” the pet food manufacturer may also identify the species from which the meat is derived, such as “beef” or “pork.” However, to use the generic term “meat” on the label, it can only be from cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats. If it comes from any other mammal, the species must be identified (for example, “buffalo” or “venison”), so you can rest easy that if any other species were used, it would have to be declared. Also, if the muscle is from non-mammalian species, such as poultry or fish, it cannot be declared as “meat” but must use the appropriate identifying terms.” -AAFCO

Meat from slaughterhouse scraps! It’s real folks!

Meat from slaughterhouse scraps! It’s real folks!

"Meat" Definitions

Some other ingredients- Animal and vegetable fats or oils are commonly used to supply additional energy and flavor plus plant ingredients like corn, barley, peas, and potatoes also supply energy and help hold kibbles together.

Meat LabelsAllowedNot Allowed

Meat - Beef or Pork (Non-rendered)

Cattle, pigs, sheep or goats

Poultry or Fish is allowed if declared on packaging. - cannot be labeled as "meat"

Meat- "Poultry" (Non-rendered)

Chicken and turkey - flesh and skin

Feather's, feet, and entrails

Poultry by-products (Non-rendered)

Clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera.

Free from fecal content and foreign matter

Meat meal (rendered)

Mammal tissue

Blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen contents

Meat and Bone meal (rendered)

Mammal tissue and bone. Similar to "meat meal," but can include added bone in addition to what is normally found in whole carcasses

It cannot contain extraneous materials.

Poultry by-product meal (rendered)

Consists of the ground, rendered clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines

Feathers are not allowed. note -The same as "poultry by-products," but in rendered form so most of the water and fat has been removed to make a concentrated protein/mineral ingredient.

Are you serious? I thought I was eating real food!

Are you serious? I thought I was eating real food!

Let’s Put It Another Way

AAFCO also states:

  • “To put it another way, it is most of the parts of the animal other than the muscle tissue, including the internal organs and bones. It includes some of the parts people eat (such as livers, kidneys, and tripe), but also parts that are not typically consumed by humans in the US. Some by-products: like udders and lungs, are not deemed “edible” by USDA for human consumption, but they can be perfectly safe and nutritious for animals not inclined to be swayed by the unappealing nature of these parts of animals. As with "meat," unless the by-products are derived from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats, the species must be identified.

The report also states that poultry and fish cannot be declared “meat.”

What Are They Really Saying?

AAFCO allows for “rendered” process and what does it mean?

“The rendering process is made to destroy disease-causing bacteria, where the “meat-by-products” are subject to heat and pressure, removing most of the fat and water and leaving primarily minerals and protein and the rendered product is from mammal tissues and is exclusive to any added blood, hair, horn, hidden trimmings, manure (manure that may contaminate the pet food during this process?) stomach and rumen content, except in such amounts as to may occur unavoidably in good processing practices”

All this time we were thinking we were feeding our cats healthy food!

Grrr… what did I just eat mama

Grrr… what did I just eat mama

What is A Cat Parent to Do?

Well, as cat parents, humans eat healthy and watch what they put in their bodies and it’s not any different for pets. Right? So now we can make educated food choices for our felines and make sure to feed them healthy foods. Moreover, there are several brands that are healthy and organic for your pets.

One option is that you can make your own cat food recipes - Healthy Organic Recipes for Your Cat

Cats in the Wild

Meanwhile, the big cats in the wild and feral cats hunt for food and after the kill they eat the organs first because the organs are a richer source of nutrients that a cat needs to survive in the wild. And they instinctively know what they need to eat such as the cats don’t eat fur or manure.

They just know what they need to survive, and they just do it! Our felines have this instinct in their genes, and they will tell you what’s good and what’s not!

Tigress eating her meal! Real Meat!

Tigress eating her meal! Real Meat!

Are We Listening?

Do you accept what the pet food industry deems as nutritious food for our cats (pets)? Some of the manufactured food can make your cat sick and some cats know it's made of junk and just turn their noses up at it. Just follow the signs that your feline is trying to tell you! And start to keep track of the foods they don't like and eliminate them.

In Conclusion

Some cat parents have labeled their cats "finicky" or "spoiled" because of the cat's reaction to certain brands and types of food that are given to them. It could be they smell certain ingredients and know it is made of junk!

Undoubtedly, read that label and find out what the words mean and if you don’t recognize them. Look them up and do your own research. You will be amazed at what you find! And in return your cat will thank you!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2020 Donna Rayne


Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on February 23, 2020:

Thank you, William. So glad you're a cat daddy. They are the most amazing creatures!

All my best,

Donna Rayne

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on February 23, 2020:

Thanks for the information, Donna. As a Daddy to five felines, it was most interesting.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on February 21, 2020:

Sorry for your loss of Peaches. May the Lord comfort your heart!


Donna Rayne

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2020:

We had to have our sweet cat Peaches put to sleep last year, so right now, we are without a pet. Reading this article makes me think that I would want to cook for any future pets.

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on February 19, 2020:

Eric, thank you so much for your kind words and Ms. Pamela, I guess the manufacturers make what they want with no regards to that some people might actually investigate their product and Ms. Ruby, it's looking like I might need to make her wet food and Clive you are absolutely right on! Again that you so much and have a wonderful day!

Donna Rayne

Donna Rayne (author) from Sparks, NV on February 19, 2020:

Flourish, I'm having the same problem with my kitten. I need to look at to see what I can find for her. She won't eat any of the wet food I buy.

Have a great day,

Donna Rayne

Clive Williams from Jamaica on February 19, 2020:

Feed your cat home made cat food.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 19, 2020:

I am allergic to animal dander, so I can't have a pet, but after reading this, I think I would make my own pet food.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 19, 2020:

This such a good, informative article with concerning news about cat od. My precious cat passed away last November after a long healthy life and I don't have a cat right now. I sure miss him. I never bought canned foord and I thought I was feeding him a healthy dry food but I never paid to much attention to the label. Thanks for this information.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 18, 2020:

Well that is disgustingly interesting. I read somewhere that those meats are more nutritious than steaks. It is a crazy world.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 18, 2020:

Yuck. There are some brands of cat food (expensive brands!) that none of my six cats will eat. I have offered it to my mother’s three cats and they decline and even left it out for the feral cats I feed and they won’t touch it either. You need to wonder what the heck is going on there. I have several cases of it and I’m stuck with it. Hmmm. I’ve also always been curious what “mixed grilled” is with cat food.

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