Low Ash Cat Food
Hey! is this low ash...?
Before looking for that elusive low ash cat food I think we need to try and figure out what ash actually is in the context of cat food because it cannot be simple ash as in the ash that is at the bottom of a fireplace, which begs the question, by the way, as to why the cat food manufacturers label it as “ash” because it seems very strange to have this (the waste products of a fire) in cat food. The so called “ash” in cat food must contain something useful, I would have thought otherwise it wouldn’t be there or am I being naive! And if it does contain something useful what is it and why don’t the manufacturers label the ingredients of the ash (the supposed useful bits) rather than ash as a whole? Lots of questions and why not because, as I said, concerned cat keepers think about what they are feeding their cats and ash doesn’t look right on the face of it.
We will have to start at the bottom and work up, I think. A definition of ash is:
the residue that remains when something is burned(src: http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=ash)
Let me say right away that there is, in my opinion, some confusion on the internet as to how ash finds its way into cat food. Some people say that it is cat food that has been burnt for analysis. This can’t be true because the ash is actually in the food. It is difficult to find out a clean, accurate answer in one place or even several places on the internet and the best book anywhere on cat food , Your Cat by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, has no reference to ash in the index (although this might be an indexing problem, I don’t know).
Low ash cat food is searched for on the internet so people are concerned. And I have read that ash or some of the constituents of ash can promote kidney infections by causing the cat to develop struvite crystals. One mineral, magnesium comes readily to mind and it is possible to buy low magnesium cat food as a preventative to urinary infections (FLUTD – and lots more).
As it is hard to discover the actual process of cat food production (the cat food industries code of silence: omerta), my assessment of ash in cat food is as follows (I am happy to be corrected – please leave a comment and I will amend this):
- Although the raw ingredients of cat food contains the basic constituents of cat food and which can be turned into it (e.g. protein and vitamins), it is not edible or any where near it. It is probably quite foul.
- the raw ingredients such as road kill or even euthanised feral cats are “rendered” (mashed up) and cooked at very high temperatures to turn it into a product that although no longer poisonous (by killing bacteria for example) is wholly without appeal or smell (a vital factor as to whether a cat is attracted to the food).
- the high temperatures used destroys some of the vitamins and minerals etc. Some vitamins such as Vitamin B3 (Niacin, Nicotinamide) are stable to heat but some are not, such as Vitamin A.
- the high temperatures utilised also creates some ash, the inorganic by product of cooking organic material.
- this ash cannot be extracted from the now healthy but tasteless “food”(a kind of paste that is formed into various shapes) as it contains some useful minerals and perhaps because of technical difficulties and/or commercial reasons (it would be too expensive).
- the shaped “cardboard food” (my term) is made palatable by adding that most commercial of ingredients: cat food jelly. Have you noticed that the jelly goes first and the tasteless cardboard last and a lot of cardboard is left?
Ash can constitute quite a high percentage of the total at for example 2.5% in Whiskas wet food pouches in the UK.
I suspect that low ash cat food should be mandatory but it would cost more so would be marketed as a separate item. Where is it?
Well, there is no cat food deliberately manufactured as low ash cat food (as far as I can see – wrong? please leave a comment) because the presence of ash in the first place is, I suspect, an bit embarrassing to the manufacturers. After all, as mentioned, it looks odd and why not say what it is made up off?
Anyway, low magnesium cat food is available, a sort of compromise. The answer must be to buy the best canned cat food, which I discuss on this page. If a visitor can recommend some low ash cat food please help…..!
Source for info about damage to vitamins: http://www.paho.org/English/CFNI/cfni-caj37No304-art-3.pdf