Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Is Grain Free Food Bad For Cats

Don't Miss

What The Fda Says About Those Cats

Is Grain Free Cat Food Bad for Cats? An Interview with Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM

It seemed the only thing to do is ask the FDA what was going on and why we were only hearing about dogs. Anne Norris, with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine explained:

FDA received one feline report in 2015 and two feline report in 2016, and those three cases encompassed seven cats total. Vet-LIRN investigated and was never able to determine the cause of illness for the cats. Diet cannot be ruled out as a factor in the feline cases, but its worth noting that the food that five of the cats were eating tested at normal levels for taurine. We do not know the significance of the feline reports as it relates to the canine reports at this time, but its something were keeping in mind as we investigate.

The focus of the update was on canine DCM due to the proportionally higher number of reports involving dogs. We will review feline DCM cases if they are reported to us. Since posting our public notification on July 12, 2018, we have not received any reports involving cats.

It is understandable that the FDA, like all government agencies, has to make choices about what they can investigate with their limited resources.

The FDA doesnt think cats are impacted as often as dogs by potential issues from ingredients in grain-free foods. Photo credit: depositphotos/gurinaleksandr

The Truth About Grain

Everyone seems to be talking about grain-free these days. Whether its in relation to our own health or that of our beloved companion animals, everyone who is anyone has an opinion. So, what is the truth about grain-free diets for cats?

Is grain really bad for cats? What about carbohydrates and gluten? Lets not forget that cats are the quintessential obligate carnivore, so do any or all of these ingredients cause actual harm to our cats?

If we do decide to feed grain-free pet food to our cat, were still not out of the woods in terms of controversy. Conduct any internet search on the topic and youre besieged with queries such as: does grain-free food hurt cats?

Do grain-free cat diets cause heart disease? Is there a link to DCM? What about diarrhea and the amino acid taurine? To help you sift through all of these questions, lets go back to the basics.

Should Cats Have Grain Free Food

Should Cats Have Grain Free Food? Iron, thiamine, calcium, riboflavin, folate, and niacin are all in grain. Grain free diets may result in a deficiency of these essential nutrients. Plus, these carbohydrate sources cost more. Depending on your cats health status and specific nutritional needs, a diet with grain may be better than one without.

Is grain-free cat food really as good for your cat as it seems? Heres everything you need to know about grain-free cat food. If a cat food contains none of these ingredients, that food is Grain-free by definition. Gluten is the protein component of grain, so all grain-free cat food is also gluten-free cat food by default. Conversely, the presence of gluten, grain, or grain by-products in cat food does not necessarily speak to the quality of that diet. The argument in favor of grain-free cat food was simple: cats in the wild dont eat grain. If my cat is descended from wild cats, why does he need grain at all? For the vast majority of cats, especially those that seem to be in perfect health, grain-free cat food diets are not necessary for your cat to be healthy.

Is Grain Free bad for cats? Are Grain-Free Diets Dangerous for Cats? For cats and their owners, grain-free diets do not pose a health risk. Although there is a suggested link between grain-free dog food and canine heart disease, no such link appears to exist in cats.

You May Like: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food

What Are Designer Diets

Designer diets are preparations designed with a specific goal in mind. These diets target cats or owners who need or prefer certain qualities in cat food. For example, designer diets may be grain free or gluten free to prevent complications in cats with specific sensitivities. They may be totally organic to avoid contamination by pesticides. They may include a novel protein source such as venison, tuna, turkey, duck, fish, rabbit, bison, or even kangaroo to reduce the effects of food allergies. Like ordinary diets, designer diets should be AAFCO certified.

Should Cats Eat Grain Free


Iron, thiamine, calcium, riboflavin, folate, and niacin are all in grain. Grain free diets may result in a deficiency of these essential nutrients. Plus, these carbohydrate sources cost more. Depending on your cats health status and specific nutritional needs, a diet with grain may be better than one without.

Read Also: How Many Calories Should My Cat Eat

What To Look For In Grain

If youre looking for good quality, nutritious grain-free food, you should examine their content labels very carefully to check for these:

  • Fiber: Is there enough fiber to make up for the missing grains? There should be between 3-5% fiber in your cats food on a dry matter basis.
  • Carbohydrates: If you are switching to grain-free because you want lower carbs in your cats food, then make sure that the food you choose is in fact low-carb. Opt for options that have no more than 30% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis.
  • Protein: Grain-free or not, always check the protein amount and source. Dont go for less than 35% protein on a dry matter basis. Also, besides animal-sourced protein, are there any plant-based sources of digestible protein?
  • Replacements: Which foods have been used to replace grains and are these good for your cat? Do these replacements make up for the fiber, protein, and minerals that would otherwise have come from grains?

Fortunately, Ive considered all these points mentioned above and gathered some top-quality grain-free cat food options for you to choose from.

Ive done the math* and compared the contents of a variety of top-rated grain-free dry foods on a dry matter basis. Ive compared their amounts of protein, fat, fiber, and carbs and taken into account the other ingredients that are listed on their labels.

So, here are the top 5 grain-free dry cat foods that are actually high-protein, low-carb, and have a nutritious, well-balanced content.

Grain Free Diets & Heart Disease

So, what do we know so far? Cats dont need carbohydrates and can use protein for all their energy needs at a cellular body level, surely then low-carbohydrate and/or grain-free diets are the solution. Right? Wrong.

Now we enter the debate about grain-free diets and DCM, otherwise known as Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

In June 2018, the US Food & Drug Administration started to investigate a potential link between certain diets and DCM in dogs. These diets are now bracketed as BEG i.e. boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free.

The FDA investigation is still on-going, but there does seem to be some evidence that certain BEG diets that have legumes, pulses, or potatoes as their main ingredient source, are linked to the development of this heart condition in dogs and to a lesser extent in cats.

DCM is a condition where the muscle of the heart loses its elasticity, resulting in an enlarged heart. As the heart becomes dilated, it becomes harder for the muscle to do its job of pumping blood around the body efficiently, which in turn can lead to leaking of the heart valves and a back-up of fluid in the chest and abdomen.

Ultimately it can result in congestive heart failure and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early.

Read Also: How Much Should Cat Eat

What Kind Of Grain

Were glad you asked, because its our mission to deliver balanced, complete nutrition for your feline friend. Check out some of our product offerings below.

  • Raw food: Discover freeze-dried and frozen raw cat food with all the essential nutrients and protein your cat needs. Our food comes in different forms to satisfy even the pickiest eaters, including Mini Patties and Mini Nibs.
  • Raw treats: Our treats are 100% raw and are free from harmful ingredients. Check out our Cod Skins and Chicken Neckstheyre sure to keep hungry cats full, healthy and entertained.
  • Raw supplements: Our freeze-dried, grain-free meal boost toppers come in beef, chicken and turkey flavors and give cats that extra protein boost they need. Toppers are made from ingredients sourced in the USA, and use a perfect blend of meat, organs and bones.

Additional Causes Of Dietary Taurine Deficiency

Should Cats Eat Grain Free Kibble? | Two Crazy Cat Ladies

Food Preparation

Cooking meats degrades and drastically reduces the bioavailability of taurine in the food. If meats are cooked in water and the water is discarded, most of the taurine can be lost.

Moisture removal to make a dry food further depletes taurine in foods already deficient. Taurine amounts can be diminished somewhat when foods stay frozen for long periods of time as well, but not as much as the loss from cooking.; If there is enough fresh meat, typically there will be enough taurine in a short-term frozen raw food.

Bile Salt Conjugation

Both dogs and cats constantly lose taurine through bile salt conjugation, especially if bile salts are not recycled by the body because they are bound by starchy compounds like rice bran or beet pulp. Both ingredients can be found in grain-free and grained foods. Dogs and cats will have an increased need for taurine if they are eating foods with these components.


Microbiome deficiencies cause the body to absorb taurine and other vital nutrients inadequately.

Highly processed, heat-treated, poorly balanced dry foods high in carbohydrates and starch not only overfeed the wrong species of bacteria for a dogs gut, but also fail to replenish; appropriate bacteria or strengthen the microbiome.

Many pet foods source ingredients from industrial farming where antibiotics and chemicals are used. These will be present in the pet food and affect the microbiome of the pet.


Recommended Reading: Is Blue Buffalo Good Cat Food

What Did The Fda Find

The;FDA;received 515 reports of DCM in dogs between January 1, 2014, and April 30, 2019. When they looked into what these dogs were eating, they found that 90% were on a grain-free food and 93% were on diets that contained peas and/or lentils. The foods were tested for minerals, metals and amino acids and no significant abnormalities were found.

What About Diy Designer Pet Food

If you choose to prepare your cats food, make sure the recipe meets your cats nutritional needs. Follow directions carefully for preparation and storage. Home-made cat food doesnt contain preservatives and needs to be stored safely.

There are nutritional resources with sophisticated computer programs to help calculate the amounts of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins in a recipe. Some programs take into account a cats age, health status, and activity level in formulating an appropriate diet. But it can still be tricky verifying that your DIY pet food is nutritionally balanced, i.e., the bioavailability and metabolism of taurine is different in a lamb vs chicken. Also, the absorption of nutrients may vary with the amount and type of fiber in the diet.

Don’t Miss: What Is Too Cold For A Cat

What Is The Healthiest Grain Free Cat Food

The healthiest grain free cat foods are the ones that prioritize meats and animal protein ingredients.

Cats are obligate carnivores. They need to eat high protein diets rich in meat in animal protein to not only thrive but to function, period.

Wet grain free cat food tends to be a better choice than dry food options. Crunchy kibble uses starches to keep the dry pieces of food together. This means that grain free dry cat food uses more carb-heavy ingredients like ground potatoes, lentils, and peas.

Wet grain free cat food often contains higher protein and less vegetable and fruit ingredients which is ideal for your kittys health and wellness.

The main thing to look out for is the Association of American Feed Control Official stamp of approval. The AAFCO stamp on a cat food label means the food has met the nutritional standards set forth by AAFCO. The next thing to be aware of are grain free cat foods that heavily rely on vegetable ingredientsmore on that below.

Cat Allergies & The Missing Link To Grain And/or Gluten

How To Pick A Healthy Food For Your Cat

Do cats have a sensitivity to grains and/or gluten? There is no significant scientific, peer-reviewed research that I can find that supports this theory on a widespread level.

There is certainly no evidence of anything akin to Coeliac disease in our furred friends. ;Of the studies that have been conducted the main food allergens that appear to trigger a hyper-sensitive or allergic response in cats are predominantly the proteins found in meat, specifically beef, dairy, and fish.

Chicken is also a potential culprit, but corn was only found in one study to affect 4 out of 56 cats. If a cat does have a true food allergic response to a specific grain, it would most likely be to the protein in that grain plus there would be visible clinical signs such as itchiness, excessive hair loss even to the point of bald patches and inflamed skin.

In this case, a food trial with a grain-free diet would be recommended under the close supervision of your local veterinarian, after ruling out other potential causes.

Read Also: T Shirt For Kitten

A History Of Customer Complaints

Thanks to blogging, social media, and sites like ConsumerAffairs, customers have a louder voice than ever before. A web search will give you the consumer pulse in moments.

The worst cat food brands earn thousands of complaints. Youll know if people have found pieces of bone or metal in the food, noticed their cats getting sick after a meal, or have other negative experiences with the brand.

Sometimes things go wrong. When your company is huge and sells to millions of customers each year, the likelihood that youll have complaints increases. In this sense, numerous customer complaints arent always indicative of a bad company. Look at the consistency of the complaints and pay attention to the brands response to them.

$25 Off;First Order of Fresh, Human-Grade Cat Food

at NomNomNow

What About Cats With Grain Allergies

Cats that have been diagnosed with allergies to a grain like rice, corn, or barley should of course eat a diet thats free of those ingredients.

However, because food allergies are best diagnosed by intradermal allergy testing or expensive blood testing, many pet parents who believe their cat has allergies are relying on their own assumption or a suggestion of possibility by a friend, trainer, breeder, or veterinarian.

Food allergies in general are much rarer than pet parents believe, and grain allergies are present in a vanishingly small portion of those animals that do truly possess food allergies. Allergies to animal proteins such as chicken or fish comprise the majority of food allergies in cats.

If your cat has not been diagnosed with a grain allergy by a veterinary dermatologist or other professional, talk to your regular veterinarian about any symptoms your cat is having that make you worried about food allergies, such as:

  • Hair loss

  • Scabs on the skin

  • Intestinal issues

They will be able to make sound recommendations about the role that diet might play in your cats condition.

You May Like: How Old Can A Cat Be Declawed

A Quick Look At Crave Cat Food

  • High protein levels compared to other cat food
  • A lower amount of fat and carbohydrates
  • Sold at affordable prices
  • Sells both kitten and adult cat food

An American expat living in Metro Manila, Philippines for over a decade, Christian is a lifelong cat lover and the proud papa of two rescue cats, Trixie and Chloe. Both girls were formerly among the droves of strays that roam the cities and countryside. Three-year-old Trixie was pulled from a litter found under the porch of a neighbors house, while two-year-old Chloe was brought home by Christians young son, Henry, who found the kitten crying in the parking lot. As Editor in Chief of, Christian is thrilled to be a part of the pro-feline movement.

What Should You Look For In A Healthy Cat Food

Pure Balance Grain Free Cat Food Review (By My Cats)

Weve spent quite some time talking about ingredients you should avoid in your cats food, but what do you need to be looking for? Its important to remember that your cat is an obligate carnivore, so he has a biological requirement for meat in his diet. More specifically, 26% of his diet for adult cats and 30% for kittens. These are absolute minimums, however, so more protein is usually better. You also want to make sure the recipe is labeled complete and balanced according to AAFCO food nutrient profiles.

Heres what to look for in cat food:

Now that you know what to look for in a healthy cat food, youre ready to start shopping! Before you do, however, we want to tell you how we make our cat food recommendations so you know whether you can trust the picks we list below.

Recommended Reading: How Many Calories Should Cats Eat

So Is It True Are Grains Bad For Cats


Cat diet is contrary to the food consumption of humans. While muscle builders may eat more proteins, most of us favor a balanced diet of carbohydrates , vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Cats, on the other hand, fare better on a high-protein diet. As domesticated cats live more on commercial cat food, they take in more nutrients than solely protein.

One matter of debate among cat food consumers is the presence of grains in cat food. Is it essential? Is it bad? Can and should cats do without grains? Such debate rises from the current trend of grain-free cat food. Vets and diligent cat owners are also alarmed at the carb-rich cat food replacing the protein-rich diet cats require.

More articles

Popular Articles