Cat Food Ingredients- Pick your poison

Katdog

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I'm still figuring out cat food ingredients, and what it all really means with all the marketing and actual truths. I did a semi deep dive this week, but I'm sure I'm at the tip of the iceberg.

SHORT BRIEF: I did a bunch of research/reading and my big question and the thing I have yet to master is- if one food has X thing thats bad, and another food has Y thing thats bad- how do you decide which is worst? below, I try to categorize by family/function of ingredients:

How bad is guar gum compared to agar agar or peas or lectin or tapioca or yucca extract or cassia gum ( I assume these all do the same thing, coagulate)
compared to say veggie fillers- cranberries, blue berries, artichokes, broccoli, ginger, alfalfa meal
compared to say- menadione sodium bisulfites
compared to say- wheat gluten, rice, soy, corn,
compared to say- added color, natural flavors

it seems like all cat food, no matter what state (dry, wet, raw, freeze dried), seems to have one of these or the other, and I just don't quite know how to stay away from which over which.

LONG BRIEF:

I adopted Korra at 2.5 years in late August, by mid Sept she was having skin and coughing issues- ultimately it was diagnosed for allergies and I switched her then turkey and chicken kibble (Purina One Sensitive Stomach & Skin Turkey and Royal Canin Mother and Baby Cat Chicken- she was one these two bc a. she was having skin issue and b. vet suggested Royal Canin mother and baby cat cause of extra vitamins as they just thought she was dealing with Upper respiratory infection) to a rabbit kibble (instinct limited diet ingredients rabbit). so since oct 2020, I've just gone with "korra is allergic to chicken and turkey for sure, but beef and fish are also top allergy culprits so I should avoid those too, just in case". little newbie me didn't really think much else. however, now, upon reading and researching her initial food (purina and Royal Canin), theres a bunch of wheat, and soy and other carbs in there thats bad and she could have been allergic to that, instead of the protein chicken/turkey. so maybe I'll go back and try a single chicken (without all the carbs) and a single turkey and confirm if she is indeed allergic to the protein or was it the wheat/soy/corn etc.

she's been only on kibble since oct bc during the whole allergy sickness phase, she cold turkey (no pun intended, lol) stopped eating wet food, despite eating it (& preferring) when I first brought her home in august/sept. so I decided I should try to get her to go back to wet (Cause of all the great things about it) even though I give her soup topper with her dry kibble every meal right now (but the wet food hydration is so much better or so they say) right now raw is out of the question, even though I know she'd love it, my partner is adamantly against it in fear of all the raw horror stories he's heard. we discussed it this am and almost fought about it so in the name of peace, its gonna be freeze dried, wet, or kibble in this household at least for the near future.

ultimately I don't think theres gonna be a perfect food (dry doesn't have hydration but good for teeth, wet has hydration but bad for teeth, raw is good but can cause GI issues, etc etc etc) , and its all probably based on owners preference at the end of the day. I'm strongly leaning towards Rawz wet food or Ziwi Wet Food right now plus Ziwi air dried kibble ; assuming I get her to transition to wet again. in terms of wet food- I've looked in evangers- super prem , tiki cat- after dark, dr. Elsey's- clean protein, fancy feast, instinct. I've looked into a ton of other dry food as well, but for the purposes of things- thats not the big question at the moment.
 

Maurey

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How bad is guar gum compared to agar agar or peas or lectin or tapioca or yucca extract or cassia gum ( I assume these all do the same thing, coagulate)
Veggies in their whole form are definitely preferable to extracts, gums, starches, etc, etc. Will ofc vary from animal to animal, as some have intolerances to vegetables, but gums, agar agar, lectin, tapioca, extracts, and starches are on my 'to avoid' list if I ever have to transition my cat from raw for whatever reason. Many of them are associated with IBD, diabetes, or other digestive upset.

ultimately I don't think theres gonna be a perfect food (dry doesn't have hydration but good for teeth, wet has hydration but bad for teeth, raw is good but can cause GI issues, etc etc etc)
There's no universal perfect food for all cats, but there's a trend that tends to be the most beneficial for the average cat. Based on both my own research, and what my vet nutritionist has told me, either a mix of high end wet foods (so you can rotate what fillers your cat eats to prevent issues, though with some higher end cat foods this isn't a problem), or a very responsibly sourced and prepared raw diet tend to be closest to ideal for most cats. Raw generally shouldn't cause gastrointestinal upset if the cat is healthy, the raw is properly balanced and responsibly sourced, and has been introduced to the animal properly. That said, I'd advise anyone considering transitioning their cat to raw to consult with a veterinary nutritionist or holistic vet. Assuming there are any in your area that aren't anti-raw. Raw feeding is regarded as a normal, generally beneficial thing where I live, more or less, so it's fairly easy to find vets to consult with.

In regards to dry food -- it doesn't help teeth. Most dry foods have pieces too small for a cat to chew, and even if the cat does, kibble is much too soft to have any tooth cleaning effect, both according to the research I've done, and what Jumanji's vet dentist has told me. Cats in the wild (and raw fed ones, to a point), maintain their teeth by chewing meaty bone -- something that's much harder than kibble would ever be. Even with cats that eat whole bone as part of their normal diet, daily brushing with feline toothpaste is recommended by most veterinary dentists. If you want to maintain teeth, gradually introduce your cat to chicken neck once a week (once you rule out that poultry allergy, anyway :>), and introduce them to daily brushing with kitty toothpaste.

I'm strongly leaning towards Rawz wet food or Ziwi Wet Food right now plus Ziwi air dried kibble ; assuming I get her to transition to wet again. in terms of wet food- I've looked in evangers- super prem , tiki cat- after dark, dr. Elsey's- clean protein, fancy feast, instinct. I've looked into a ton of other dry food as well, but for the purposes of things- thats not the big question at the moment.
Ziwi wet and Tiki After dark are some of the best wet foods I've seen, based on their formulae, personally. I'd also suggest looking into Instinct LID specifically, since you're trying to rule out a poultry allergy. If memory serves, Ziwi also has a pretty decent line of both frozen and shelf-stable raw that needs rehydrating, which could be worth looking into. Dr. Elsey's Cleanprotien is also a great food, though I'd avoid Evanger's on principle, as they market a vegetarian canned food to cat owners for some bizarre reason.

I'd also suggest avoiding Fancy Feast -- all their formulations include guar gum, and all but their Natural/Purely Natural lines are fairly shoddy in terms of composition in general. Their average formulations have a ton of corn, corn byproducts, wheat gluten, rice, soy, and a lot of other things I'd not suggest feeding a cat.

Have you considered Farmina's N&D LID line? They have awesome formulations, though keep in mind that most have at least *some* fish, which isn't ideal for an exclusive diet in cats due to heavy metal concerns. That said, it's a great wet to keep in mind for rotation, imo :>
 
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Katdog

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Maurey Maurey did you have any thoughts on the RAWZ wet food brand line? I was looking at the duck or rabbit wet from them. I hadn't looked into Farmina's N&D, but glad you mention it cause it does look to be pretty clean as well. based on my research the concerning ingredients from the brands you suggested:

tiki after dark: Cassia gum, guar gum,
Ziwi Wet: chickpeas // don't see a frozen or shelf stable raw form Ziwi's website, only see their air dried and wet.
Dr. Elsey's clean protein : Agar, Menadione
Instinct LID Wet: Montmorillonite Clay, Guar Gum, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, /// idk what mont. clay is but doesn't sound great?
 

Maurey

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Maurey Maurey did you have any thoughts on the RAWZ wet food brand line? I was looking at the duck or rabbit wet from them. I hadn't looked into Farmina's N&D, but glad you mention it cause it does look to be pretty clean as well. based on my research the concerning ingredients from the brands you suggested:

tiki after dark: Cassia gum, guar gum,
Ziwi Wet: chickpeas // don't see a frozen or shelf stable raw form Ziwi's website, only see their air dried and wet.
Dr. Elsey's clean protein : Agar, Menadione
Instinct LID Wet: Montmorillonite Clay, Guar Gum, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, /// idk what mont. clay is but doesn't sound great?
Didn‘t realise some of those brands started using gums in their recipes, my apologies — they used to be pretty clean in the past, at least last I checked. What a shame. :/ the clay is fine in trace amounts! It’s used in more natural cat food brands as an anti-caking agent. Pretty harmless compared to alternatives! Chickpeas are also fine as a later ingredient/non primary comp. If memory serves they’re just used to provide some fibre in the formulae, so unless your pet has issues with even trace amounts of veg, I wouldn’t worry about the presence of whole chickpeas.

Re: the tiki, are you certain you checked specifically AD? Here’s the label off TCAD Chicken cans

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Chicken Heart, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Salt, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, Tuna Oil, Niacin (vitamin B3), Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (vitamin B2), Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement

though it could be that this source is out of date o:

Double-checked Farmina formulations just to be safe, and looks like they‘re still clean, just protein, some veg for fibre, and ash/minerals.
With Rawz wet, seems to depend on the formulation -- the pates of theirs I checked look good, but their normal and shredded formulations have tapioca starch, which isn’t the best filler out of possible alternatives, imo.
 

Maurey

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Maurey Maurey did you have any thoughts on the RAWZ wet food brand line? I was looking at the duck or rabbit wet from them. I hadn't looked into Farmina's N&D, but glad you mention it cause it does look to be pretty clean as well. based on my research the concerning ingredients from the brands you suggested:

tiki after dark: Cassia gum, guar gum,
Ziwi Wet: chickpeas // don't see a frozen or shelf stable raw form Ziwi's website, only see their air dried and wet.
Dr. Elsey's clean protein : Agar, Menadione
Instinct LID Wet: Montmorillonite Clay, Guar Gum, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum, /// idk what mont. clay is but doesn't sound great?
Oh! I just went to double-check Instinct, and it‘s just their LID series that’s crap right now, for some reason. Instinct Real and Ultimate both look good. They have Mor. Clay as caking agent, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary. Understandable if you’d prefer to avoid it, but I’ve not found any indication of it being harmful from a cursory search through vet journals :>
 

Juniper_Junebug

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Re: the tiki, are you certain you checked specifically AD? Here’s the label off TCAD Chicken cans

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Chicken Heart, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Salt, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate (vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, Tuna Oil, Niacin (vitamin B3), Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (vitamin B2), Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3
I think the difference is that Tiki After Dark pates do have some type of gum, whereas the shredded kinds don't. I was really excited to see that they made a pate until I realized it wasn't as "clean" as the shredded. Too bad my cat prefers pate.
 

LTS3

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ultimately I don't think theres gonna be a perfect food (dry doesn't have hydration but good for teeth, wet has hydration but bad for teeth, raw is good but can cause GI issues, etc etc etc)
Actually the whole dry food is good for dental health is a big myth. No food keeps food clean and healthy. Only home dental care and dental cleanings will. Raw feeders say that gizzards and bones are great for dental health purposes.


Commercial raw pet food is nutritionally complete just like commercial canned and dry foods. Just feed and be confident that your cat is getting all the essential vitamins and minerals. Making raw food from scratch is where all the horror stories come from. It's not as simple as giving a bowl of plain meat to a cat as many people for some reason assume. Nutritional deficiencies will result from a plain meat diet. The risk of bacteria, etc can be minimized by sourcing meat from a reputable source (Hare-Today.com, local pet store, butcher shop, etc) and following safe meat handling practices. There's a forum here on TCS with more info on raw and home cooked diets.
 

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I love Ziwi, I post about it any chance I get

Smells like good quality food, and the large cans feed my boy 4 times. He loves it, with preference for the Hauraki/Otago blend ones versus singular ones.

Their customer service was responsive when I messaged them asking about how they test their food (apparently in small batches on their own pets, which was nice to hear)

I have, however, seen people here mention chickpeas were something their cat was allergic too- something to keep in mind as well, I suppose.
 

daftcat75

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Of the gums, guar gum seems to be the most benign and agar agar / carrageenan the most irritating. Xanthan gum is another you may want to avoid. Xanthan gum makes smooth foods smooth. And for those cats who are sensitive to it, it makes their poops smooth too. Mousse in, mousse out. 🤦🏼‍♂️😿

Your ideal cat food, no matter the form, will be meat, moisture, organs, and supplements. Preferably in that order. You see what’s missing? Everything else. Carbs whether they are grain, starch, fruits (with the exception of pumpkin for digestive troubles), and vegetables are all unnecessary and to varying degrees poorly digested. Cats aren’t omnivores. They are obligate carnivores. They must get their nutrients from meat. They lack the enzymes to get them from plants. And supplements are necessary because certain nutrients are lost in cooking and canning. Even a raw food will need supplements because it’s still not the same as your cat eating another animal. You aren’t adding eyes or brains to the recipe like they would eat in the wild.

Dry is not good for teeth. That’s a myth. Pulling their teeth through fur and feathers like eating an animal is good for teeth. Short of that, you can give your cat a gizzard to chew through now and then for dental health.
There’s nothing good about dry food except convenience. Even that can be overcome with timed feeders.

Wet food is not bad for teeth. If you’re concerned about dental health, you can brush your cat’s teeth. Search YouTube for “Cornell brush cat’s teeth” for a couple videos on how to introduce tooth brushing to your cat (desensitize and even incentivize your cat to it.)

You can make your own cat food and it doesn’t have to be raw. There are recipes for cooked meat as well as vitamin premixes. I would look into Alnutrin or EZ Complete as two such premixes that can be used with cooked meat.

Rawz is a great brand for figuring out food sensitivities. My Krista’s IBD was well managed with Rawz. Now Instinct “Limited Ingredient” was anything but that. I never want to clean up cranberry barf again. Give Rawz wet a try.

Also have a look at StackPath for more information on cat nutrition as well as why dry is not appropriate, how to make your own cat food, and a number of other topics.
 

LyyliBlue

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Hello! :)
(I mention first that I have no clue about feline nutrition, I just give you my little thoughts)
Are you in the US? In the UK?
Because me I'm in France, and I have the wet food Mjam Mjam (from the Platinum brand) and in it I don't see any of the chemical ingredients that worry you.
I made a quick research, I have found it for the UK but not for the USA.
But I have maybe been too fast.
The ingredients are very good. Particularly for those with 99% meat.
Otherwise, on Zooplus I bought him the wet food Thrive Complete, and I went to the zooplus in English, it seems available. I searched Zooplus USA on Google and I found it on the site.
I am currently selecting what wet food I'll give him, I think I will buy Wild Freedom also, no gums in it either.
And I don't see gums either in the Feringa wet food.
But in Feringa and Wild Freedom I see sometimes a little bit of vegetables, although the meat content is very high.
If you want the list of brands that people recommend in France, there are Feringa, Thrive, Wild Freedom, Animonda Carny, Granatapet, Grau, Mac's, Terra Faelis (high fat content but otherwise quite good), Catz Finefood...
And I feel you, it should be so hard to have a so sensitive cat because you see her sick often. I am lucky, my kitty seems to eat all what I give him.
 
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Katdog

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daftcat75 daftcat75 thank you so much for your reply! that was really helpful and I learned a lot! I will def check out your link.

L LyyliBlue thank you for your reply! it was very thoughtful given all the choices you listed! wish I had access to them! I did a quick browse and I don't think any of them are available in the USA. I can't imagine the shipping cost to order internationally... ek! I'm also gonna update my profile to display my location now as it does have relevance in some circumstances, it appears! thanks again!
 

LyyliBlue

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Oh I'm very sorry that you can't get any of these foods in the USA. :(
I thought it would be possible, at least for some, because by reading the forum I have understood that in the US you had access to Royal Canin, Hills... These are the brands that French vets sell also.
 
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