Many people think if their cat likes its food, then it must be the best food for the cat. Is this a true assumption, and if not, how do we know a cat food is good for a cat?
In most countries, including the United States, the standards for pet food quality and ingredients used in many commercially available cat foods are poor. Pet Foods can legally contain things like cancerous tumors, chickens feet, feathers, dogs collars, and other nasty ingredients.
Most low quality cat foods contain so little meat that cats (true carnivores) have to eat a LOT of food. This is great for the food company because it means they sell more cat food. This is not so good for your cat or kitten. Of course no owner wants to think they are feeding a "Low Quality" food, but most owners are ignorant what makes a cat food good, and since the bag says it's "Complete Nutrition" how are they to know that the standards for "complete nutrition" are very low? Plus... if the cat likes it... it must be good, right?
Why does your cat like food that is riddled with such nasty ingredients? The reason is simple. Cats love the taste of fat. Who doesn't? Would bacon be so popular if it was not for the fatty parts? Fat adds flavor. Steak with fat rippled through it is the most tasty meat of all. Health conscious humans trim the fat off, but those who don't care soon get the taste for fat, or even deep fried fatty foods. Most of these low foods add additional "Flavoring".
Pet food companies are not foolish, if they only used cheap ingredients such as corn, and did not add the fat, no cat would touch the stuff, so while they cheap out on quality ingredients they get the pets addicted to the food by making it smell and taste delicious by adding fat, and other flavorings. You will often note many lower cat foods are sold as “Fish Flavor” or “Chicken Flavor” and so forth.
This cat is not hunting for corn, it is hunting for meat! Photo by author.
The reason our cats like certain foods is because the foods taste great, and are addictive. Who of us, if, offered cake or beans wouldn't pick the cake? Or French Fries with gravy? But when fed only cake, or fries and gravy, we would become addicted to it, and would soon would not want vegetables of any kind. This does happen to people who eat poorly, eating mostly greasy or fried foods, when offered healthy foods they refuse, and it takes quite a while before they can make a switch to the healthy diet because of their addition to junk foods.
The same thing happens to our pet cats, when fed them low quality foods over time they become addicted to them, and when offered a healthy food, one that actually contains real meat, they turn up their noses. When they do get adjusted to a new food they will often not want to go back to corn based one because they prefer the taste of real meat, but it is harder to switch a pet from a low quality (fat filled) food to a good quality one, than the other way around.
Your cat does not know how to read an ingredient list, you do. Try reading an ingredient list on the bag of cat food, if anything other than a meat ingredient is number one, you know you have a problem. To be fair “by-products” are not quality meat ingredients, they are the bits other than meat, they are the things we mentioned above, cancerous tumors, chickens feet, and so on.
It should be noted that not all cat foods cheat when it comes to ingredients. Typically those cat foods with lots of commercials are putting money into advertising and NOT ingredients. I encourage you to learn more about cat food, and cat food ingredients. If you find your cat is on a low quality food (one with lots of corn, or any kind of by-products) switch them to a better food gradually.