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How Much Do You Know About Cat Food?

Survey About Cat Food Indicates Possibly Not Enough

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6 Key ingredient groups from back of package

Goodlife Recipe Food Pyramid

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
I recently became aware of an interesting survey on pet food, conducted by the Harris Interactive© and commissioned by the folks at the Wellness Pet Food Company. In reading the survey results, it seems that many cat and dog owners don't know quite as much as they think they know about the food they are feeding their pets. A few examples from the survey results:
91 percent of dog and cat owners said they would not want their pets' food to contain ingredients that cause allergies or food intolerance.

Another 66 percent said their preference would be to only feed natural pet food.

56 percent of dog and/or cat owners worry their dog(s)'/cat(s)' food contains ingredients they wouldn't want him/her consuming.

Only 38 percent of dog owners and 38 percent of cat owners say they always or often read the labels on their pets' food.

Just 38 percent say they understand all the ingredients listed on their dog/cat food labels.

When asked to name the first ingredient listed on the label of their cat(s)' dry food, 48 percent of cat owners answered they are not sure

Do you see some discrepancies there? Using the 80-20 rule, judging from my email and many of the comments posted on this blog I'd hazard a guess that maybe 15-20 percent of my readers read cat food labels, and possibly 60 percent of those people completely understand them.

If 66 percent want to feed only "natural" pet food, but only 38 percent actually read the labels, where are the others basing their buying conclusions? Most likely from the vivid claims on the front of the bags or cans. Take The Goodlife Recipe, for example, which I reviewed. The back of the bag sports a colorful "food pyramid" (pictured here) which proclaims Natural nutrient-rich vegetables, Real natural chicken, and Natural whole grains. The front of the bag boasts real chicken - no fillers, among other merits.

So, what are the ingredients? The very first ingredient listed is ground corn, which is not only a known allergen for cats, but a notorious filler. The second ingredient? Chicken by-product meal , followed by corn gluten meal and animal fat. Yes, chicken and whole grain rice are listed in the fifth and sixth place.

So as not to leave The Goodlife Recipe on the hot seat too long, it should be noted that even some veterinarian-recommended pet foods contain ingredients that are not all that great. Here's a brand often sold in veterinary clinics. Note the first ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Whole Grain Corn. Interestingly enough, this food received 5-star rave reviews from the three consumers who reviewed it. I'll be posting my own review later. In fairness, the same company manufactures another formula of cat food, which I will also review later. This one fares much higher on the protein content (first ingredient chicken), although it contains several different grains up front (Cracked Pearled Barley, Maize Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Oats, Brown Rice). Where I'd really find fault is the seventh listed ingredient, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid).

I think as a whole, we as consumers have come a long way in our knowledge of pet food ingredients since the pet food recalls of 2007. The pet food manufacturers have collectively learned what has been a very expensive lesson for some. It's clear though, that we all still have a long way to go.

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