Smart owners read the labels before feeding a new kind of food to their cats. It's one of the first steps to choosing the best cat food for your kitty and you. One of the ingredients which often shows up on cat food labels is "By-Products". If you're worried about these by-products in cat food, read on. We may be able to put your mind at ease.

Rumors have abounded online about what by-products consist of, causing some owners to avoid foods containing by-products. It's time to debunk some common myths and help owners make decisions based on fact, not fiction.

1. By-products is the overall name for parts of the slaughtered animal which were not used in the human food industry. They are the leftovers of our own food.

2. Common ingredients making up the by-products are: lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue, stomachs and intestines (without their contents). These are parts of the animal which are regularly consumed by humans in many parts of the world.

3. By-products from USDA-inspected facilities do not include any dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals, collectively known as "the 4D's". Not sure if your pet food comes from a USDA-inspected facility? Call them and ask!

4. By-Products do not include hair, hoofs, horns, hide trimmings or stomach contents.

5. By-products are not rendered meal. Rendering is the process whereby various animal tissues are cooked to the point of melting and separating fats from proteins. By-products are not rendered in this way, unless specifically described as "rendered" or as "by-products meal".

So, is by-products a bad or good ingredient to see on cat food labels?

Cats are obligate carnivores and their nutrition should be based on protein from animals. By-products can be of low or high quality, depending on the exact composition of tissues used and the processing plant it came from, but it is always animal-derived. As such, it can provide a good source of animal protein and fat in your cat's diet, superior to many fillers such as rice, corn and other starches, and even legumes, vegetables and fruit.

The tissues which "by-products" contain may sound a bit disgusting to us humans, but they offer an ecological, useful and affordable way for manufacturers to enrich cat food with healthy animal-based protein. Choose foods made by reliable companies - large or small - and you can safely feed by-products to your cats.

Read more about cat food here -
Choosing The Right Food for Your Cat and you
How to Compare Cat Foods & Calculate Carbs: Dry Matter Basis
Grain-Free Cat Food – What Does It Mean?
What Makes the Best Canned Cat Food?
Choosing the Right Dry Cat Food
Can I feed my cat a fish-based or fish-flavored diet?

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