If you’ve ever stood in the supermarket pet food aisle (bizarrely always next to the detergent aisle) and felt overwhelmed and baffled, you’re not alone. The cat food industry is full of so many competing claims, tricks, and carefully worded labels, it can be difficult to understand what’s really in your cat’s food. But luckily, we’re here to help – by breaking down a few of the most common tricks of the cat food trade.
1. Precise wordings on the flavour
First things first, always check what words the packet uses to describe the taste of the food. The FEDIAF (also known as the European Pet Food Industry Federation) sets out exactly which phrases cat food manufacturers can use to describe a food’s flavour, depending on how much meat is (or isn’t) in there. The problem is, most people don’t know what these phrases mean, and they can be unclear if you don’t know. Let’s take a look:
If the pack says ‘Chicken flavour’, there’s 0% chicken, and the taste comes from a flavouring substance.
If the pack says ‘Flavoured with chicken’, there’s less than 4% chicken.
If the pack says ‘With chicken’ or ‘Contains chicken’, there only needs to be 4% chicken.
If the pack says ‘High in chicken’, ‘Rich in chicken’, ‘Extra chicken’, or ‘With extra chicken’, there only needs to be 14% chicken.
If the pack says ‘Chicken dinner’ or ‘Chicken menu’, there only needs to be 26% chicken.
All sound a bit complicated? Don’t worry. At KatKin, we only use 100% fresh, premium meat – because cats are carnivores and that’s what they’re built to digest. And at the same time, we’re clear about the meats we use. Just take our Cluck! recipe – it says ‘fresh and gently steamed chicken’ on the front, and that’s exactly what it is: 100% fresh chicken thigh, liver and heart.
Incidentally, this doesn’t just apply to your cat’s main meal – it applies to their snacks too. If you’re giving a treat that says ‘Tuna flavour’, think again about how much tuna is really in there. And then take a look at KatKin’s Nibbles – 100% freeze-dried chicken or salmon means your cat’s healthiest snack.
2. Umbrella terms
Here’s the thing: if your cat’s food is only 4, 14, or 26% the meat that it says on the front, what’s the rest of it? Well, there’s the puzzle. Cat food manufacturers will use umbrella terms like ‘meat and animal derivatives’, and within that, they can use a variety of different animals. So, whilst you think you’re feeding your cat chicken – it did say ‘rich in chicken’ on the front after all – it could turn out you’re also feeding beef, pork, lamb, or any other meat that was available to source.
So what, we hear you say? It’s still meat, right? Well, the problem is – if your cat’s allergic to a particular kind of protein – let’s say beef – then you’ve got no way of knowing that there’s beef within that umbrella of ‘meat and animal derivatives’.
The same goes for other possible allergens too: an umbrella term like ‘extracts of vegetable origin’ or ‘vegetable derivatives’ can be any manner of different things, and you won’t know what they’ve used. At KatKin, we’ll always be clear about what’s in our food: you can see every protein source clearly listed on the label, and we don’t hide anything under umbrella terms. Easier for you, and better for your cat. Nice.
3. The underlying assumptions behind serving suggestions
Feeding suggestions need to be tailored to your individual cat. Cats of different ages, body conditions, and activity levels will all need different caloric intakes. The problem is, the cat food on your supermarket shelf can’t be that personalised – so while the feeding suggestion on the label sounds authoritative, it might not be right for your cat.
Let’s say the serving suggestion is 4 pouches for a 4kg cat. What isn’t mentioned is, it’s based on the assumption that the cat is a 4kg active, outdoor cat, with a larger frame. You have a 4kg indoor cat with a smaller frame, who needs fewer calories and is heavier for their size. By following the serving suggestion, you could be accidentally overfeeding your cat.
At KatKin, we personalise to give you peace of mind. We ask for your cat’s age, body condition, and activity level, so that we know exactly how many calories they need per day – and we put that caloric intake into every daily-serve pouch. It means all you have to do is feed one pouch a day, and you’ll always know you aren’t over- or underfeeding your cat. Plus, over time, if your cat’s details change, you just let us know and we change with them: if your cat reaches their ideal weight, for instance, or if your kitten’s nearing adulthood, then we’ll change their caloric intake to suit their new needs.
4. Defining the word 'hypoallergenic'
This one’s a real minefield and our in-house vets have dedicated two blogs to helping you understand which diets can help cats with allergies, and how to identify what your cat’s allergic to. The main thing to note is, the fact that a cat food is labelled as hypoallergenic doesn’t make it automatically right for every cat with allergies. It all depends on what your cat is allergic to, and one size doesn’t fit all.
KatKin can really help here too – first of all, because our clear labelling on every recipe helps you in identifying which allergens are in there. At the same time, you can also look at our single-source protein recipes – Cluck!, Mooo! and Oink! – and our novel-source protein recipe, Oink!, which can be particularly helpful for both for elimination diets and for long-term feeding for cats with allergies. We do recommend though that you always talk to your vet to find out if KatKin could be best for your cat’s particular needs.
Time to find a more honest cat food
Honesty is a big part of what drives us here at KatKin. We want to help you find the best possible food for your cat: not get in your way with vague or misleading packaging. That honesty means you always know you’re feeding your cat 100% premium meat, freshly-cooked and personalised just for them. Your cat gets a happier, healthier life, and you can rest easy, knowing you’re doing the best for them, with us by your side.