- How much food is in the container
- Who makes or distributes the food
- The ingredients
- What stage of life the food is for (kitten, adult, pregnant cat)
- The nutrients in the food (protein, fat, fiber)
- How many calories it has
- How much to feed your cat
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a group of government agencies that help regulate animal food. Look for its statement on the packaging.
The best AAFCO statement will have the words “feeding tests” or “feeding trials” in it. This means that cats ate the food as part of a scientific study, and the results showed it met the cats’ needs.
Like the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods for people, cat food labels will have a “guaranteed analysis,” which tells you portions of key nutrients in the product. The list is usually on the back or side of the package. Cat food labels are required to list percentages of four nutrients:
- Minimum protein
- Minimum fat
- Maximum fiber
- Maximum moisture
A label might list other guarantees, like magnesium or taurine, too.
The ingredients are listed in order of their weight, from most to least. The first one listed accounts for the most weight in the food.
- Meat (beef, chicken, turkey, etc.)
- Meat byproducts (animal parts like kidneys and liver)
- Seafood (salmon, tuna, etc.)
What Does It Mean?
Some of the words on a cat food label can be helpful, and some are more advertising than anything else.
“All natural.” This generally means the food has no man-made colors, flavors, or preservatives. The catch is that pet foods that have a certain amount of fat need some kind of preservative to keep them from going bad too fast. So just because a food has no artificial preservatives, that doesn’t mean it has no preservatives at all. It’s just that the ones it has are natural.
“Gourmet” or “premium.” These words are essentially meaningless. There are no special rules companies must follow to put them on their labels. They don’t mean the food is any healthier or tastier for your cat than other kinds.
“Grain-free” or “no grain.” Unless your vet has told you your cat cannot eat grain, don’t worry about looking for these terms. They’re more gimmick than anything else.
COMMENTS FROM LOVINMYPUP.COM:
Do you know what is in your fur baby’s food? Can you read the labels? Do you know the abbreviations and what they mean? Answers to all these questions are in the article above. Check it out!
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