Theres Not One Best Kind Of Protein
Cats need animal protein, fat, and other vitamins and minerals — and they can get these nutrients from many different sources. The protein in commercial cat foods can come from chicken, poultry, beef, lamb, fish, liver, or meat or chicken byproducts, also called meal.
For a healthy cat without food allergies, any of these ingredients are fine choices, says Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, an associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Instead of worrying about specific ingredients, look for a foods nutritional guarantee. Its label should say that tests by the Association of American Feed Control Officials have shown that the product provides complete and balanced nutrition, or that it is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. Foods that dont have one of these statements shouldnt be your cats main meal.
Our Final Thoughts On Best Cat Food
Whether dry kibble, raw or wet food, ingredients are what matter the most when choosing the best diet for your cat. As a quick walkthrough in the cat food world always check the label and remember:
- A high-quality animal-based protein source as first ingredients.
- Less than 10% of calories should come from carbohydrates.
- Unspecified meats and by-products are a definite no-no.
- Essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics are a plus.
- GMO ingredients, unnecessary fillers, and artificial additives must be avoided.
With these general guidelines in mind, you are ready to find the best cat food for your pet and your budget. And do not forget, if your feline friend has a chronic condition or specific dietary requirements, talk to your vet before purchasing on Amazon or Chewy.
Is Dry Food Better Than Wet Food
While dry food is certainly convenient because its easy to buy in bulk and store and is generally cheaper, its not necessarily better than wet food, as both have their positives and drawbacks. One thing to be aware of when feeding dry food to your cat is the lack of moisture. Wet food has more moisture in it, so you should always make sure your cat has constant access to fresh, clean water when they are being fed dry food.
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Best Alternative Sources Of Animal Proteins
Beef is an excellent source of protein for cats. It has a wealth of natural antioxidants and minerals like zinc and iron that your cat needs in its diet. Beef is also an excellent source of taurine, which cats need to support healthy eyes, digestion, and immune systems.
Fish are a fantastic low-fat alternative to chicken. Fish formulas are packed to the gills with calcium and omega fatty acids, promoting healthy bones and making your cats coat silky smooth.
Rabbit meat is a low-calorie and low-fat white meat alternative for your cats primary protein source. Rabbit also contains less sodium than other meats and is an excellent source of phosphorous and calcium.
Lamb is another popular alternative protein source for cats. Its red meat like beef because it contains more myoglobin than white meats. Just like beef, its jam-packed with essential antioxidants, minerals, and taurine.
While turkey may not be an option for cats who are intolerant or allergic to poultry, it can be a cost-efficient alternative for pet parents of picky eaters who dont like chicken. Turkey is nutritionally similar to chicken but has fewer calories.
Smalls For Smalls Fresh Beef Cat Food
First Five Ingredients: Ground Beef 90% Lean, Beef Liver, Green Beans, Peas, Beef Heart
Smalls for Smalls makes fresh cat food that is carefully formulated for your cat based on a profile you create when you sign up. Smalls for Smalls recipes have high protein content because cats are primarily carnivores and get most of their nutrition from meat. They also have high water content, because cats rely on their food to help them stay hydrated.
Because cats are primarily carnivores, most of their nutrition should come from meat, and in Smalls for Smalls recipes, they do just that. Beef is definitely the most abundant ingredient in this recipe. The reason its important to call attention to the beef in this recipe is because it is human-grade. Human-grade ingredients are fit for human consumption, so there is no guess work involved in figuring out if this food is safe for your cat or not.
|Our 2022 Picks: Best Chicken Free Cat Foods|
Here are 7 More Top-Rated Cat Foods without Chicken:
We looked at many popular cat foods, including lower-priced foods such as Friskies, Fancy Feast, and 9 Lives. We have no objection to including some of these foods since its important for cats to get plenty of meat protein, even if that means feeding foods that have some meat by-products. However, we simply had a hard time finding foods that didnt contain chicken in some form. These foods dont contain chicken. Weruva had several other foods without chicken that we could have included.
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Firstmate Chicken Meal With Blueberries Formula Lid Dry Cat Food
The shorter the ingredients list the better and no recipe accomplishes that goal better than this FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Formula. A limited ingredient diet with just four main ingredients , this recipe is highly digestible and packed with healthy nutrition. Chicken meal is the first ingredient followed by potatoes, chicken fat, and whole blueberries, making this a nutrient-rich and filler-free cat food your cat will love.
What Exactly Is Natural And Organic Cat Food
According to FDA guidelines, the natural label indicates that the food ingredients of the product havent undergone any chemical alterations. Its a broader label than organic and implies a lower level of regulation.
Because its so easy to place a cat food under the holistic or natural label, its important to understand the differences between high and low quality foods in this category. Well go over some of the characteristics of a high-quality natural food later.
According to the National Organic Programs definition, organic products are produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.
Not all natural and organic brands are equal, however, so its important to do your research and identify whats superior and whats a gimmick.
Quick Look : Top 7 Healthy Cat Foods
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What Are Aafco Standards
Since its establishment in 1906, the nonprofit Association of American Feed Control Officials has set nutritional guidelines for pet food in the United States. AAFCO is not a regulatory agency, but the regulatory FDA is an AAFCO member with a non-voting advisory role. AAFCO does not test, approve, or certify pet food brands. Instead, it defines the ingredient, labeling, and testing standards that establish whether a pet food is nutritionally complete for animals at different life stages.
A cat food that meets AAFCO’s minimum standards is considered complete and balanced at one of two life stages: growth and reproduction, which includes kittens and pregnant or lactating females, or adult maintenance, which is intended for cats over a year of age.
To meet the minimum AAFCO standard, an adult cat food must contain at least 26% protein, 9% fat, and essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Food for kittens up to a year of age and pregnant or lactating adults must have a minimum of 30% protein, 9% fat, and higher levels of vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus than adult maintenance foods.
What About Commercially Prepared Designer Diets
Designer diets can also be purchased. So if you dont want to cook, you can still feed your kitty designer food.even if you arent the designer. As an added plus, when you feed your cat a commercial food, you are actually being ecologically responsible since most pet foods are made with by-products of human food that would otherwise be discarded.
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What You Need To Know About Chicken In Cat Food
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Adult cats require a minimum of 26% protein in their diets and kittens require even more, around 30%. Keep in mind that these numbers are absolute minimums the more protein the better.
Any cat food worth its salt will list a high-quality source of animal protein as the first ingredient. Many of the most popular cat foods on the market are made with chicken as a main ingredient. Its an affordable protein option for pet food manufacturers and a familiar ingredient for pet owners. There are different forms of chicken used in pet foods, some good and some bad.
Here are some quick definitions you should know:
- Chicken The clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.
- Chicken Meal Chicken that has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size.
- Chicken By-Product The clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.
- Chicken By-Product Meal The ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.
The Pillar Of Our Food Declaration: Accurate And Science
We follow the trade associations recommendations for how we should declare our pet food. In addition, we want to contribute to accurate and science-based information to customers and pet owners about animal feed. We base our feed and choice of ingredients on several principles:
1) There are differences in what nutritionally is best for dogs, cats and humans. What we humans find less delicious is often a treat for your pet, and the most nutritious.
2) The production of our products is done in accordance with our ISO 22000 system. This ensures that our animal food is produced according to the same quality standards used in the production of food for humans.
3) We provide products of consistent high quality that meet customer expectations.
4) We ensure full traceability of raw materials as well as finished products, exactly in the same manner as human food companies do.
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Instinct By Natures Variety Original Grain
First Five Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Ground Flaxseed
Our choice for the best overall chicken-free cat food is Instinct by Natures Variety Original Grain-Free Real Lamb Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food. Our main criteria was to find foods that didnt contain any chicken no easy task since many foods use chicken broth, chicken by-products, or include chicken somewhere in the ingredient list even if its not the main source of protein. This lamb cat food is made from 95 percent lamb, turkey, and liver. It also includes some vegetables and fruits. It has no grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives. This is a pate. We think many cats will like this food.
Look For Grain Free Recipes
Cats are obligate carnivores . In fact, research has shown that cats have minimal ability to digest and make use of carbohydrates in their diet, as they dont produce salivary amylase .Cats dont eat grains such as rice or wheat as part of their natural diet, which may be an old survival mechanism to prevent them from consuming plants that would be poisonous to them.
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What Would A Cat’s Natural Diet Be
A cats natural diet is meat and offal which is a reflection of their natural prey. Felines will consistently choose a diet that reflects as closely as possible the same level of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that are contained in their natural prey of mice and birds. This is around 52% protein, 36% fat and 12% carbohydrates.
What Do We Mean By Fillers In Cat Food
What exactly does filler mean?
You also wont find filler defined by the American Association of Feed Control Officers , even on their long list of ingredient definitions for pet food.
This is really important to point out because so many food companies and their detractors are quick to use the word filler as if it had a standard meaning that we all agree on!
So lets start by coming up with an agreed-upon definition for what filler means in cat food. Ive taken Dr. Khulys definition and simplified it a bit:
A filler is any bulky, starchy, carb-rich, or animal by-product ingredient that could have been replaced by a higher quality, more species-appropriate one.
While this definition is not without its loopholes and exceptions, it gives us a lot more to work with then simply saying no fillers. It also touches on an important concept, which is the idea of species appropriateness.
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Im Reporting The Facts Based On These 4 Things:
1. Cat food manufacturer
Not just the brand. But who is actually MAKING the products.
2. AAFCO product name rules
AAFCO cat food label rules tell us the minimum and maximum amount of the named ingredients.
3. AAFCO ingredient definitions
AAFCO states that meat by-products can include 4D meats as long as the by-products are rendered.
Additionally, meat meals are rendered meats.
According to a CRS Report to Congress on animal rendering, rendered meats can include dead animals from feedlots, ranches, marketing barns, ANIMAL SHELTERS, and food waste from restaurants, groceries, and stores.
4. Guaranteed analysis
The NRC says that carbohydrates are not essential to the cats diet.
Unfortunately, AAFCO does not require carbohydrates on the guaranteed analysis.
So you must use a carb calculator and then convert to a dry matter basis to figure this out yourself.
If you dont understand these facts, you will not understand this article. I get many comments about this article. But remember, these are the facts.
Please educate yourself on AAFCO labeling requirements and definitions. And heavily research the manufacturer thats making your cats food .
I have an entire YouTube playlist dedicated to how to read cat food labels properly.
If you decide to change your cats food, check the bottom of the article to see what I recommend.
Cats And People Alike Love It
Using this criteria, Ive selected six of the absolute best natural and organic foods for your cat. All of the following foods are by-product free, feature primarily real meat protein, and come from great brands that havent been recalled in the last five years, making them solid choices for your cat.
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Taste Of The Wild Canyon River Grain
Most Popular Cat Food without Chicken: It can be tough to pick a cat food with so many options out there, even if you limit yourself to chicken free options. If you want to go with a brand you can trust, try a popular choice like Taste of the Wild. This Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Food is completely free from chicken ingredients including fresh chicken, chicken meal, chicken by-products, and even eggs. It features fresh trout as the main ingredient with ocean fish meal and smoked salmon for supplemental protein. Canola oil provides omega-6 fatty acids to balance out the natural omega-3s from the fish and fresh fruits and vegetables offer nutrient-rich sources of digestible carbohydrate.
Blue Buffalo Basics Lid Turkey & Potato Indoor Mature Recipe
Best Senior Cat Food without Chicken: As your cat starts to get older, he may not be as active, so you need to be extra careful with your feeding to keep him from gaining weight. This Blue Buffalo Basics recipe features turkey and potatoes as the main ingredients no chicken and the recipe is specifically formulated for senior indoor cats. It contains a limited number of ingredients to ensure optimal digestion and is supplemented with LifeSource Bits to provide all of the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals your senior cat needs.
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What Are Ordinary Diets
Ordinary diets usually contain a protein source , a starch , and perhaps a vegetable. Most commercial pet foods are made from byproducts of human food production. That means your cat may have chicken in his food, but it may not be an entire chicken breast like the one on your dinner plate. Premium brands may contain higher quality, more digestible ingredients than lower cost foods.
Premium or not, all commercial pet foods should meet the requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials to be certified as complete and balanced. AAFCO approved pet foods include all the ingredients necessary to provide adequate nutrition for the specified pet.
How To Select The Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Making your final decision can pose to be a challenge. But worry not. We have a few suggestions to make your selection process easier.
Before that, we would recommend you opt for sites like Online, Walmart, Newegg, and Best Buy for your purchase.
So the factors you should consider while selecting your grain free limited ingredient dog food would be:
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Common Misconceptions On Grain
While this type of diet is popular nowadays, cats adopting it remains controversial. Many also choose this for the wrong reasons. So, allow us to enlighten you in one way or another by discussing the common misconceptions on grain-free cat food.
1. Grain-Free Cat Foods are Carb Free
Known as obligate carnivores, a cats diet, given their predatory nature, has to be somewhat similar to what their ancestors eat or a wild cats diet that is a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates. This is necessary in order for them to achieve optimal gut health.
This holds true. And you can expect holistic veterinarians, not to mention the increasing number of cat owners, to nod in approval.
Enter grain-free cat food. A good number of pet parents buy this mainly because they believe that this contains zero carbohydrates. Little do they know, that while this is grain-free, many of this type of pet food contains either the same level or even higher levels of carbohydrates than those made with grains.
Check the ingredients. Aside from containing high levels of protein and some amount of fatty acids, grain-free cat foods are often formulated with potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca, peas, and lentils all of which contain carbohydrates.
2. Grain Free Diets Help Control Cat Weight
3. Grain Free Cat Foods Help Alleviate Food Allergies