Are dry cat food pellets too small?

Dry cat food pellets are too small

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Are dry cat food pellets too small? Why are they the size that they are? They are typically the size of a large pill for a human (they can look like pills). Is this a good size? I am going to question the decision of pet food manufacturers. They have decided that the pellets should be small. I say that they might be too small. Cats tend to hoover-up small pellets without chewing them. This must be wrong. From a cat’s standpoint the pellets are too small to encourage them to chew.

The natural instinct of some domestic cat is to “hoover-up” the dry food pellets. Some cats do chew on the pellets but not all of them. Too many cats suck them up and swallow them whole. To me this indicates that the size of the pellets has been carefully assessed by the pet food manufacturers as just about big enough. They may have got it wrong. Are more cats than they believe failing to chew the pellets?

So why don’t manufacturers just make the pellets a bit bigger? Just play safe and make them big enough so that cats have to chew on them and break them up?

The answer to my last question has to be centered around financial profit because everything the pet food manufacturers do is a response to the question, “How can we make more money?”

The first reason that comes to my mind as to why the pellets are small is because having conducted test with cats, the manufacturers discovered that they won’t eat large pellets. Large and hard ≠ inedible.

If that is true, it proves that dry cat food is defective because at the size they decided on, some cats don’t chew it. It is unsatisfactory in more than one way. The other problem is that it is too dry and it causes permanent, mild cat dehydration.

At a more subtle level, I will tell you why I think dry cat food pellets are too small. At the size you buy dry cat food there is maximum amount of air between the pellets. This allows the packaging to be as big as possible. You buy dry cat food by weight but are we unable to convert weight to value? We just look for a large bag of cat food. The amount of air between the pellets is at a maximum for the pellet size you see in the picture above.

If the pellets where much larger the bag size would be smaller. People would perceive this as poorer value for money and not buy the food.

These are my initial thoughts. I may be completely wrong. Whatever the reason for small pellets the answer will turn on financial profit, not cat welfare. Whatever the answer, it will prove that dry cat food is unnatural to the cat. Cats need food that contains 70% water; the amount of water in a mammal that is prey to a cat.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

11 thoughts on “Are dry cat food pellets too small?”

  1. Are you aware of any “natural” dry food that does not contain grain or gluten, and that comes in large pieces, rather than tiny, round pellets? The problem with these is that they are “inhaled” without chewing, and then, when the cat takes a drink of water, they expand in his stomach and cause him to throw up. I have 2 cats for whom this is the case. The only dry food that comes in bits that are large enough that they must be chewed are low-quality foods, such as Meow Mix, Friskies, etc.

  2. Harvey Harrison

    My point is that it is not widely known or stated and is a bit hard to find references to it. I don’t remember seeing any debate about raw versus cooked meats making any reference to taurine being destroyed by cooking. That comment was before I received POC postings regularly. Many thanks.
    This taurine issue is rather like doctors and nutritionist saying you don’t need vitamin supplements. You just need a balanced diet without saying what constitutes a balanced diet or if it is available or affordable. This results in the serious vitamin C deficiency in North European’s diet causing all kinds of long term health problems. Most of the Brits newly arrived in Cyprus look bloody awful! Pimply skin, pasty complexion, half of them have arthritis and heart problems, from their vitamin-free starchy diet. They are not given the right information.

  3. Harvey Harrison

    Hi Michael. You raise some very interesting points. Is the size of the pellets the optimum for cat’s bearing in mind the size does vary from make to make but not much. I suppose this is similar to small insects like beetles that have kept many a wildcat or feral cat alive until something better came along. It’s just as well that many cats just hoover-up the small pellets because I notice that when my cats chew on them they split up and fly in all directions making a mess and wasting food. This I think is because they give the hard pellets the same treatment as insects. the shaking disables the insect long enough to lessen the risk of being bitten. These hot summer days they get a least 50% of their food soaked in a variety of tasty gravies. This ensures they get enough water and I don’t see fragments of dry food scattered all around. I have just learned something important about taurine. On most sites that cover the need for taurine in a cat’s diet I never see the mention that cooking destroys this important nutrient. It is vital to know this. I now only lightly boil their chicken liver to preserve the taurine, but they now get chopped raw chicken hearts which is by far the best source of taurine along with chicken thighs. I suspect that liver is a more likely source of bacteria and parasites than hearts but I would sure love to learn more from anyone in the know. I have no idea if the claimed level of taurine in dry food is correct, or enough.

  4. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    I think you are right Michael, dry cat food isn’t really very good for cats.
    Also I think it’s quite addictive because at one time we stopped buying any, our cats don’t really need it as they get plenty of wet food, but they searched around for it and the vet said a little bit would be good for Jo’s sensitive stomach.
    Bigger biscuits would be dog sized I suppose and maybe too much for cats mouths to cope with.

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