What is Low Ash Cat Food? Why is Ash Important in Cat Food?

The ash content in cat food refers to the mineral content of the food, usually consisting of Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Calcium and Iron.

Reading through the ingredient list of your cat food, you might have come across ‘Ash’ as an ingredient or might have heard about low ash cat food and wondered why my cat food has ash in it. 

I spend hours researching and talking to vets to understand what this ash is and why it is important for cats.

What is ‘Ash’ in Cat Food?

The ash content in cat food refers to the mineral content of the food. The ash content is measured by taking a small sample of food, burning it, and measuring how much material is left after combustion.

The mineral nutrients in ash are Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium ,Iron and Phosphorous. These nutrients contribute positively to a cat’s health. These mineral content are derived from bones, tendons and cartilage.

Ash is present in all cat food but the quantity varies in each brand and food type, wet or dry. Low ash content in cat food can mean the manufacturers are using less bones, tendons and cartilage and more protein mix.

The higher the ash content, the less filler material is used in making the food so you may want to choose foods with high ash levels if your pet has special dietary needs or allergies.

Is Ash Good for Cats?

Yes, ash or mineral nutrients are necessary for the development and function of a cat’s body.

Calcium and phosphorus are essential for strong bones and teeth. Magnesium, potassium and sodium are required for muscle and nervous system health.

In the wild, cats eat their whole prey including bones which provides them with these essential minerals and maintain their health.

Minimum Amount of Ash Required by Cats

A general rule of thumb is that cats require about 2% of ash content in their daily calorie intake for wet food and no more than 8% ash content in dry food.

It is better advised to look at the individual mineral content that cats should have in their diet. 

Breaking up the 2% ash content into individual mineral content, means that the 2% ash content should contain 0.6% calcium, 0.5% phosphorus, 1% potassium, and the rest is made up of sodium, magnesium, chlorine, iron and zinc.

Why Would Cats Require Low Ash Cat Food?

There are a couple of reasons you might want to try low ash cat food for your cat or your vet might prescribe low ash cat food. Below are some of the most common reasons to try out low ash cat food.

Cats with Urinary Tract Problems: Some studies suggest high ash content can lead to urinary tract problems or increase the chances of urinary tract problems. Switching to low ash cat food can assist with slowing down the problem.

Senior Cats: As cats age, their kidneys start becoming less efficient at processing mineral nutrients, especially phosphorus. Switching to a low ash diet can lower the stress on the kidneys of senior kitty.

Cats with Renal Problems: Renal problems include chronic kidney problems and renal infections. As mineral nutrients are processed by the kidney, it may be a good idea to switch to a low ash cat food. It is better to consult your vet before making any switch.

What Type of Cat Food Has More Ash? Wet or Dry Cat Food?

Even though the labels might show different amounts of ash in wet and dry cat food, they basically contain the same amount of ash level. The difference comes in due to the moisture level.

Try to choose wet food with less than 2% ash content and dry food with less than 8% ash content. These would be considered low ash cat foods.

You could also try making the dry food moist, this can dilute the ash levels of dry cat food..

Does Ash Levels Affect Both Males and Females Equally?

Urinary tract problems, especially crystals, are more common in male cats than female cats because of the smaller urethra. It is more common to see vets prescribe low ash cat food for male cats.

Does Ash Levels Indicate the Quality of Cat Food?

Ash level can be used as an indicator of the quality of cat food. Lower the ash level means that there are less bone and tendon contents and more quality protein in the food. 

Cats still require a good amount of ash in the food so it is necessary to consult the vet before starting your cat off on low ash cat food.

Is Prescription Required for Low Ash Cat Food?

Some low ash cat foods do require a prescription. You can consult your vet and get the best advice on which low ash food would be best for your cat. You can get most low ash cat food online through retailers such as Amazon which has a simple and quick vet approval process.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right food for your cat can be a bit tricky especially if you are looking for cat food with specific requirements. 

Hope this article gives you a bit more clarity on the elusive ash ingredient in cat food and helps you make better informed decisions for your feline friend.


What is The Best Low Ash Cat Food?

We highly recommend Purina Pro Plan Gravy Chicken Entrée Urinary Health Tract Cat Food as the best low ash cat food. This recipe contains only 1.5% ash content compared to 8% average ash content in commercial cat food.

You can read our full reviews on Best Low Ash Cat Food Here.

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