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Bad Cat Food Ingredients to Avoid At All Cost! 12 Dangerous Ingredients to Avoid

The bad cat food ingredients to avoid are corn and wheat gluten, meat by-products, chemical preservatives like BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin, food dyes and coloring such as Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, sugar or glycerol and rendered fat.

Randomly looking through my cat’s food label, I saw a bunch of ingredients that I didn’t understand or had no idea why they were there.

After a lot of thorough and extensive research, I found out many of those were bad cat food ingredients ingredients which I should not be feeding my cat.

What Are These ‘Bad Ingredients’ in Cat Food?

We are considering any ingredient bad that does not provide any nutritional value, is of low quality or from unknown sources or can potentially cause harm to cats.

This can include the protein source, fat source, grains and carbohydrates, fibre and minerals.

A general rule of thumb is if it is not specified where the meat and other ingredients are exactly coming from or have used general terms in the ingredients, you should consider them bad ingredients.

12 Bad Cat Food Ingredients to Avoid

1. Wheat and Corn Gluten

Corn and wheat gluten is used by cat food manufacturers to inflate the protein numbers in their product. It is cheaper than meat and hence manufacturers use it to show us that their food will fulfil our cat’s protein requirements.

This is not a good enough protein source for cats and they require protein from real meat to have a healthy and happy life as they obligate carnivores.

2. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a chemical preservative which has been highlighted as a potential carcinogen to human and the cause of liver and kidney damage in rats in lab trials

Commonly used in dry food, this is one bad product that we should keep our cats away from.

3. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) 

Similar to BHA, BHT is also a known human carcinogen. Again used as a preservative in pet food.

Check your cat’s food to ensure it does contain any BHT.

4. Caramel Dye

Used primarily to change the colour of the food so it looks more natural. Caramel dye provides no nutritional value to a cat.

The chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-MIE) found in caramel colouring dye  is also known to be an animal carcinogen.

5. Carrageenan

A red seaweed used as a thickening agent in cat foods. There have been concerns that carrageenan could turn dangerous in a cat’s stomach due to the stomach acid.

6. Meat By-Products

As defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), meat byproducts are “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents.”

The main concern with these meat by-products is the source and quality.

7. Garlic

Garlic is toxic for cats even in small amounts. Pet food companies argue that micro doses of garlic are beneficial for cats, we necessarily do not want to take that risk with your furry friends.

Read more on 47 Human Foods Cats Can’t Eat.

8. Sugar, Glucose or Dextrose

All different forms of sugar do not provide any nutritional value to the cats.

Regular intake could lead to obesity and other ailments.

9.Food Dyes and Colouring

You’ll find a number with the colour, like Yellow 5, this indicates what type of colour it is.

Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 contain carcinogens.

Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are also known to cause hypersensitivity.

10. Rendered Fat

Used mainly as a flavour enhancer, can be a source of harmful microorganisms like Salmonella and toxins. 

In dry cat food, this ingredient breaks down and spoils the food.

Read Related Article: Can Cat Food Go Bad?

11. Ethoxyquin

Ethoxyquin is also a chemical preservative that ironically has been banned from human food but not regularised in pet foods.

Ethoxyquin is mainly found in fish meals and might not even be listed on labels.

It is better to buy preservative free food for your cat.

12. Phosphates, polyphosphates, and pyrophosphates

Some studies have shown that prolonged and excess use of these ingredients can lead to renal issues in cats.

List of bad cat food ingredients that should be avoided

Why Are These Ingredients in Cat Food?

Profit is king and good meat is expensive. Cat food manufacturers use these fillers and low quality food to make profit over the well being of furry friends.

These ‘Bad Ingredients’ in cat food can lead to the following issues in cats.

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Liver and Kidney Diseases
  • Allergies
  • Weight Gain
  • Arthritis

The Bottom Line

Limited ingredients with known sources of ingredients in the labels is the key to finding the healthiest and most nutritious food for your cat.

We strongly advise you to check the labels of your cat food to make sure that you have not been feeding one of the above ingredients to your cat.

Always consult your vet and show them your research so that you can collectively decide what is best for your cat.

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