Is dry cat food equivalent to human junk food?

Is dry cat food equivalent to human junk food? Having spent a little while trying to answer the question I have come to the conclusion that it is not like human junk food, far from it in fact. There is good and bad about it. I have softened my stance on this product.

Flavouring of Hills Dry Oral

Flavouring of Hills Dry Oral Care?

However, the addictiveness of feline dry cat food is worrying or should it be? Perhaps it is a good thing, an indicator of the quality of some high end dry cat foods?

Perhaps the word ‘addictive’ is extreme. But there is no doubt in my mind that is is more palatable than wet foods. Let’s swap the word ‘palatable’ for tasty. My cat loves the taste of it more so than any wet food over the long term.

My cat, like many or most others, prefers his Hills Oral Care (large pieces) over carefully selected, high quality wet cat food. He even prefers it over the highest and most expensive wet cat foods. Also he does not tire of it whereas he can become bored with a brand of wet cat food. Why?

Is there an additive in commercial cat food that cats find addictive? It seems as if there is but I am not sure what it is an reading the list of ingredients doesn’t help.

But there must be something in the dry cat food which is ‘addictive’ or very tasty to a cat.

The problem is that we don’t know precisely what it is because the manufacturers keep quiet about it. The big cat food manufacturers do a lot of work on the palatability of dry cat food. ‘Palatability’ should mean making the food tasty but it seems that they are making it almost addictive.

We know that they spray fat and flavours on to the kibble. I think that Letrisa Miller (on, a feline veterinarian hits the nail on the head when she writes:

“When dry foods are made, they are sprayed with proprietary mixtures of palatability enhancers. These often include chicken fat and salt among other things that are kept secret to protect the company’s proprietary interest. It is kind of like the coating on snack foods like flavored potato chips (crisps)….”

So dry cat food is like crisps (potato chips) or other human snack foods in terms of the desire to eat more of it. It is designed to be ‘moorish’.

It seems to me that the dry pet food manufacturers have won the war on cat food. They have firmly entrenched their products into the minds of both cats and their caretakers. What specifically might it be that makes dry cat food moorish?

Hills Oral dry cat food lists the composition as containing chicken and turkey meal, brewers’ rice, maize, animal fat, cellulose, vegetable oil, mineral, digest and fish oil.

My guess is that ‘digest’ is one (perhaps the main) flavouring component. Animal digest is described by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as: an additive that has been treated with heat, enzymes, or also acids to produce a concentrated product intended as a natural flavoring.

Hills Oral Care does not contain any artificial preservatives flavours or colouring.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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