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Showing posts with label additives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label additives. Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What does it mean on the cat food label?

Dear George

Thank you for the earlier information about what is in pet food, particularly what is in cat food. But what's on the label. How do we know what is inside the tin, or the packet?

Dear Hesper,
Regulations vary from country to country, but in the UK you will find a list of ingredients. Reading the label is an art form. Start with the main bit of the label which will say either "complementary" or "complete." This is very important indeed. Anything labelled "complementary" is not designed to have all the ingredients you need. It is probably a treat food. Eat it in that way. "Complete" on the other hand is what is says on the tin - ie if your human feeds only that you will get all you need.
Next stage is to look at the list of ingredients. If you are thinking of cost (you have a poor or a mean human) look for the percentage of water. Dry food looks more expensive but if you do some complicated maths (which I can't do) then you may discover dry food is no more expensive than wet food. Dry food is easiest to leave down so you can snack through the day - the way of feeding that we cats prefer. On the other hand, some of us need wet food - cats who have a history of cystitis, for instance.
In the UK, the list of ingredients are listed in order of how much there is in the tin. That may well mean that cereals comes before meat and meat derivatives. As I said an earlier blog, carbs are cheap even though we do not need carbs. Meat in catfood in the UK comes from sources fit for human consumption and does not contain horse meat or whale meat. This might be different elsewhere. Then there are oils and fats, minerals, various sugars. Sugars, which can be table sugar, fructose or glucose, can be used as a preservative or flavour enhancer. We cats don't taste sugar so the latter is more likely to be a reason for use in dog food.

Next comes an analysis of protein, ash, fibre. Ash is particularly disconcerting.What it means is the amount of ash left if the food was burned. Why it is there, I do not know and would welcome information on this. It does not mean that the food contains ash. You can get a download with a bit more information for your human from
If a pet food is described as "containing" chicken and rabbit, then the minimum amount of these meats must be 4% of the contents of the tin and this minimum must be stated on the label. But the actual amount of the chicken and rabbit inside your can might be more than 4%. If it just says "chicken flavour", there may be no chicken at all!
Additives in pet food are those in human food but that's not saying much. In the UK there is a movement to ban E-numbers tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129). If these are not good for humans why hsould we feed them to our cats. So, on the whole, my advice would be NOT to let your human buy any cat food which is highly coloured - yellow or red or green. Only a human would be stupid enough to be attracted by bright colours in food! Poor dears. We need to keep them under constant surveillance.

PS I am experimenting with LOLs. Watch this space -

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online