We humans have a capacity of extremes. There are those of us who are honest to the letter and there are those of us who are equally dishonest. Stress often plays an important part of being dishonest, especially for a struggling businessman desperately trying to provide for his family.
Then there are those who are just plain greedy and don’t care how they arrive at their fortune as long as they do.
Luckily, in most countries, there is now a system in place that ensures a basic (some might say very basic) standard that all manufacturers or suppliers of human food must meet.
Sadly this is either not the case for animal feed, or the standards are so low as to be useless.
So despite all the pretty advertising, all the logically convincing and reassuring words from your vet, chances are, if you’re feeding your cat a processed cat food, you’re directly contributing to her ill health.
The big brand names in cat food contribute financially to veterinary colleges, which explains why vets surgery reception areas are now piled high with these brands. But does it spell quality?
To find out we need to look at what’s in processed cat food. Most fresh meat goes for human consumption as more money can be made there. So pet food tends to get the dregs. Dregs can include meat meal or meat by-products (chicken feet, feathers, hair, skin, intestinal waste (poo to you and me), general slaughterhouse wastes), meat not considered safe (spoiled or toxic) or desirable for human consumption, fat, diseased carcasses (which may be far from fresh), including euthanised animals.
To bulk this out, low cost carbohydrates are used, which can include sugar, propylene glycol, leftover fast food, mouldy and rancid grain deemed unsuitable for human consumption, corn syrup, non-nutritive fillers such as sawdust or newspaper and so forth.
So the cat food starts out as low quality, too low in digestible protein essential to a cats well being, too high in fat, too high in carbohydrates and possibly poisonous – 100 Bald and Golden Eagles in North America have died recently from eating a euthanised animal.
Then the ‘food’ is cooked, usually at very high temperatures. Cooking destroys many nutrients which are essential for good health. Cats evolved by killing and eating their food instantly, showing that freshness is essential for a cats overall good health.
To address this, the cat food manufacturers add synthetic nutrients. Synthetic nutrients are isolated and not easily digested by anyone let alone your cat. So a label reassuringly boasting of a ‘nutritionally complete’ or ‘scientific’ diet are purposefully vague as neither are true. Unqualified claims are legally acceptable in most countries with their poor or non-existent pet food regulations.
As this resultant cat food doesn’t look very appealing, colour is added (Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 2), obviously for your benefit as I doubt your cat cares much about the colour of cat food.
Now, most processed food is in a dry or semi dry form. This means that you have to preserve the food to keep it. If you purchase any meat product that keeps longer than a couple of days in the fridge, you know it has preservative in.
Some common preservatives include disodium guanylate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (a very controversial synthetic vitamin K.), mixed-tocopherols (synthetic form of Vitamin E) and others considered unfit for human consumption.
All processed food is ‘dead’ food, with no life. Dead food is that which has been cooked, particularly at high temperature and for long periods.
So you might think that buying cat food direct from a pet food supplier or butcher might be the answer. A quality butcher I buy from once told me that most pet mince sold at butchers is all the excess fat they can’t use, mixed with beetroot juice. On further inspection of the pet mince in discussion, I didn’t doubt him.
I read recently of someone buying from a pet shop. As she walked up to the shop from the car park, she noticed a pickup truck loaded down with large boxes marked poultry. On closer inspection she saw they contained pre-packaged chicken pieces. Fresh chicken sitting in boxes, in the hot summer sun, not on ice, not in a refrigerated truck, but in the back of an open pick up truck waiting to be carried into the store for sale to consumers.