Cat food is ultra-processed. This kind of food risks diabetes, cancer and depression in people

I’m going to suggest a potential link between the ultra-processed dry cat food that we give cats and certain health issues in cats. This link is rarely discussed. However, in The Times today there is a report about how ultra-processed foods raises the risk of cancer, diabetes and depression in people.

The physiology of people and cats is very similar. It is reasonable and I would argue plausible to suggest that if a study finds that ultra-processed foods eaten by people can cause these health problems then the same might be happening to domestic cats. It needs to be explored more. We need to ask questions about the ultra-convenience of the ultra-processed dry foods that we give cats. They are great for people but are they great for cats? The answer won’t be clear cut, I can guarantee that.

Does ultra-processed dry cat food cause health problems that have not been properly investigated such as diabetes and cancer
Does ultra-processed dry cat food cause health problems that have not been properly investigated such as diabetes and cancer? Image: MikeB under license.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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The study

The Times report starts with these words: “Eating lots of ultra-processed food may send you to an early grave and make you depressed and anxious, a review of evidence has concluded.”

The ultra-processed foods referred to include products such as ready meals, sugary breakfast cereal (I see a similarity here between dry cat food), chocolate bars et cetera. The study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that there is a link to 32 damaging health outcomes in eating these products.

Scientists in Australia examined data from previous studies around the world. The studies involved 10 million people. They divided them into groups based on their intake of ultra-processed foods.

Those that ate the most were found to be at a 55% greater risk of dying young. And a 21% greater risk of dying from heart disease.

There was an increase in mental health problems in eating these foods and high consumption of them was linked to a 22% enhanced risk of depression and a 50% enhanced risk of poor sleep and anxiety.

The scientists believe that these hugely negative impacts on human health may be due to the foods causing “systemic inflammation” in the body. They also disrupt the gut microbiome which influences depression and risks anxiety.

Some scientists believe that the industrial processing of these foods in which whole foods are split into sugar, fats and oils and then recombined, is inherently harmful.

Or it may be the case that people who eat ultra-processed foods live unhealthy lifestyles and it is the unhealthy lifestyle which causes these health problems.

But Professor Martin Warren, chief scientific officer of the Quadram Institute in Norwich said that the study points to the fact that “broadly speaking, certain ultra-processed foods are bad for human health”.

Dry cat food

The making of dry cat food is highly artificial. The raw ingredients (e.g. diseased livestock carcasses) are subjected to high temperatures and pressures which causes them to lose most of their nutritional properties and natural moisture. To this ‘cardboard food’ is added tasty fats to make the food palatable. And dry cat food requires a high carbohydrate content in order to make it. The cooking of the raw foods alters its chemical structure and destroys much of its nutritional value.

Yes, dry cat food is highly artificial and wet cat food is not much better it seems except it contains a lot of moisture. I would argue that there is a need for better quality cat food and I will also argue that not enough work is being done to examine the potential negative impact on cat health from eating commercially prepared cat food.

RELATED: 2 hazards for cats when eating dry cat food

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