Organic Human Food being checked out by the cat! Photo by aymlis
I don't buy organic cat food. Why not? When I thought hard about this my first thoughts were that I wasn't sure it really was organic cat food - who checks it and can it be scammed? - and secondly I wasn't sure the extra price was worth it. Is the food genuinely better for our cat? And if it is do we care enough about our cat to pay the extra? Do we have the time and energy to source and buy organic cat food? We are hard pressed to find it on supermarket shelves. I thought I’d have a serious look at it and address the issues that presented as obstacles to buying it.
I’ll talk about it from the position of a person living in the UK. I would have thought the US would have similar controls. In the UK the government’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the managing authority on organic products. They, though, are governed ultimately by European Union (EU) law in respect of organic produce. EU legislation comprises:
- Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 – this regulation replaces (EEC) 2092/1991, which “is the basis for UK organic standards”.
- Commission Regulation (EC) 889/2008
- Commission Regulation (EC) 1235/2008
Based on these EU regulations Defra produced guidelines:
- guidance document
EU law has to be implemented by member states and in respect of organic products in the UK regulation (EEC) 2092/1991 is implemented “under the Organic Products Regulations 2004, through the Compendium of UK Organic Standards.”
Defra is advised on organic standards by Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS) non departmental public body (NDPB).
So far so good. It all looks very efficient and soundly regulated. Defra approves certain bodies and organisations to certificate that organic products are what they say they are. There are 9, one of which (as an example) is Organic Farmers and Growers Ltd. This is their address: The Old Estate Yard, Shrewsbury Road, Albrighton, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 3AG. You should check bags of cat food to make sure that it is certified:
There is a difference between cat food being “natural” and certified organic cat food. Having done this I am more convinced that organic cat food will be what is says it is.
Organic Cat Food - Benefits
But what are the benefits? The benefits are described as twofold:
- The food is better for our cats (and other companion animals). This is because 'organic food contains more of the good stuff - like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - and less of the bad stuff - pesticides, additives and drugs. Animals fed organically produced feed are healthier in terms of growth, reproductive health and recovery from illness than those fed on non-organic feed, even over successive generations.' - Soil Association.
- Organic cat food is better for the environment. It causes lower pollution from sprays, it is better for wildlife and less carbon dioxide is produced plus there is less dangerous waste products.
Organic Cat Food - Price
So what about price and availability? Here is a price comparison:
|Product||Type||Price||Kgs||Price per Kg|
* currently (4-5-09) on discount.
So what does that tell us? Well, the price of organic food is more expensive (except for Hills) as expected but not that much more. When it is broken down to cost per portion the difference is probably very small indeed.
So do the benefits out way the downsides? Probably yes. I’m going to buy a bag of the Pero-Pet Food today and make the next test. Will my cat like it?
One last point. Feeding a cat just dry food is, in my opinion inadvisable. See for example:
The nitrogen signature of organic food can be tested to ensure that it is truly organic. A test is being developed.
Update: 11th May 2009: As mentioned I bought some organic cat food (dry) from Pero PetFoods. I regret to say that the cats don't like it that much. I think it is because it does not smell as good (for a cat) as the cheaper dry foods from the bigger manufacturers. Pero Pet Foods is a relatively small producer. Where does that leave me? I'll look for a different supplier.
Organic cat food - Photo by aymlis and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.