Plenty of Food -- was it grain free? -- photo by fofurasfelinas
Grain shouldn't be in cat food. That is why informed and concerned people search for grain free cat food. Grain is stuff like wheat and rice. I like rice. Cats are not meant to eat rice unless the prey they caught and ate was vegetarian and had rice in the stomach.
Apparently grains began to appear in cat food about 70 years ago. A long time ago. People were less aware of it then. People are more aware today and some are not happy about it. Some manufacturers have picked up on this and produce grain free cat food.
Why is grain in cat food? Answer: it makes the cat food manufacturer more profit and you can't blame 'em for that. Only, when it comes to animals and health and living creatures I think cat food manufacturers have an obligation that is much wider than serving their share holders (if the company is public) or making more money for the directors. Unfortunately you can't ask a business to be more moral as that cost money. So, you have to tell them. That can only be done by regulations (legislation, statutes etc.). And governments don't want to get involved as it will be perceived to be unpopular, or so the government thinks. Regulations dictating the quality of cat food would reduce sales and therefore reduce corporation tax receipts for the government. Another obstacle to the introduction of regulations is that it would improve the health of cats. This may have a negative impact on veterinarians' businesses too. Vets probably like cat food with grains (or some of them do) as it will tend to create more unhealthy cats and therefore more business. You can see how skeptical I have become.
Another issue has been contamination of pet food via the grains. In the most notorious case, gluten was contaminated with melamine, a substance used in the manufacture of kitchen units. Also the increased carbohydrate content of modern cat food can cause diabetes (see Diabetic Cat Food).
So, the grain shouldn't be there. What about the other ingredients? Well, this is usually rendered material and ash. Rendering is a euphemism for taking, what we consider, inedible substances such as supermarket refuse and euthanized "rescued" cats and converting it into a product that can be molded into attractive shapes, to which are added colorings and flavorings and thence to be called cat food. Plus the attractive packaging, of course. As I said we can't blame the manufacturers really as it is a commercial reality. They take raw products that would normally be waste but which contains the source of food and convert it into a reasonably attractive cat food product. Only my cats never really like it. Cats are smart enough to see through the fakery.
The exact process, very briefly is to take what I mentioned above plus, for example, rancid grease and dead livestock and grind it into a mulch. Then heat it up (cook it). The fat is separated and used as animal fat. The rest is used as cat food.
Well, grain free cat food, at least, removes the unneeded grain. The rest I am not sure about. Here are two manufacturers of grain free cat food in the UK and three in the USA. There are more in the USA. That's the best I can do at the moment:
USA company. High Protein, Low Carb, No Grain.
UK based, no animal testing, no grain.
Orijen Pet Foods
UK based, High-protein, low-carbohydrate and Grain-FREE.
Located USA, Minimizing processing. Grain free.
USA based. Holistic Meals and Treats.
Link: (this was broken hence not a live link)
Finally, do you think you'd like to get involved in making your own? Here's some tips: Raw Food Diet. Photo published under a creative commons license
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