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By-products In Cat Food: 5 Facts You Need To Know

Feb 1, 2015 · Updated Oct 4, 2016 · ·
  1. Anne
    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?

    Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

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  1. medtech1
    Isn't most cat food sourced outside North America? Even premium cans that we have (ie: Weruva, almo, BFF) all say imported from Thailand (and not USDA inspected facilities I assume).
    1. Furballsmom
      Hi medtech1, as the article suggests, please post your question in the forum Cat Nutrition . That's where our forum members hang out and they can provide you with advice and support. Thanks!
  2. halldj50
    I have been feeding my 7 month old kitten Weruva wet cat food. Lately he turns his nose up at it and that surprises me because lots of times it looks like people food. Once I gave him a can of Merrick that had rabbit in it and he ate the whole 3 ounce can at once. Seems to not prefer fish. Also he ate fancy feast in one sitting too as if he really liked it. I want to try the new fancy feast naturals and see you that goes but am wondering if I’m being negligent changing from a high quality Weruva product to the fancy feast brand. Am I hurting his health at all feeding fancy feast if he loves it?
    1. Furballsmom
      Hi Halldj50! I noticed you've been posting on the site and hopefully you have had your concerns addressed by members here in the forum Cat Nutrition.
  3. rascalshadownj2
    Thanks for the explanation. I think I have read about that before. I give my cats a combination of canned, and dry food. That way, they get their moisture, and protein too. Also my big cat Shadow likes the crunchiness of the dry food. But I always make sure he eats most of the wet food before he eats the dry.
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