Is Your Cat Getting More and More Chubby?

This is Raja, our overweight cat!

Raja started out a reasonably svelte 12 lbs when we got her from a local shelter at age 7. Then, barely 2 years later, she was up to a hefty 15 lbs!

Diet cat foods were no help. Then, I happened to read a book: "Your Cat, Simple New Secrets To A Longer, Stronger Life" and it changed everything.

We invite you to follow our quest for a healthy weight-loss plan for this funny, personable and very talkative cat.

Hopefully, together we can help all our cats live healthier and thinner lives!

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2007-08-30

Wet Cat Food = Healthy Cat Food? Well, Yes and No...

Wet Cat Food = Good; Dry Cat Food = Bad!When I did the research on dry cat food and found the very frightening results, I immediately started looking for low-carbohydrate, high-protein wet cat food to feed our Raja.

Fortunately, we already knew she l-o-v-e-d wet food, since we had been giving her a little each day as a "treat". We now knew it was time to feed her exclusively from the can, but which brand(s)?

At first, I just assumed that all canned foods were about the same as far as proper protein, fat and carbs were concerned, but man was I wrong!

As usual, I checked the premium brands for their dry matter makeup of protein, fat, fiber and carbohydrates and was once again blown-away by the lack of any consistency and by the high level of carbs in some of these wet foods.

(Note: I used dry matter measurements so I could check the actual carbohydrate percentages, not the percents shown on the label under "guaranteed analysis". No sweat, the dry matter percents are easily computed from the guaranteed analysis percents reported on every cat food. I'll give you the formula in a future post so you can shop intelligently for your cat.)

Here's a sampling of some premium brands of wet (canned) cat food and their "dry matter" nutritional makeup:


Guaranteed Analysis Percents
Canned Cat FoodProtein %Fat %Fiber %Moisture %Ash %Actual Carbs %
(dry matter basis)
Eukanuba Select Seafood in Sauce- Recalled95.51.5822.50%
Purina Fancy Feast Cod Sole & Shrimp1321.5783.59%
Wellness Salmon and Trout1051782.516%
Natural Balance Chicken & Liver Pate961.578216%
Wellness Beef & Chicken (Grain Free)105178218%
Iams Weight Control Chicken Entreé103.51782.125%
Science Diet Gourmet Beef Entrée - Mature842782.226%
Science Diet Savory Chicken Entrée - Mature83.52782.527%
Science Diet Gourmet Turkey Entrée - Senior6.53.5278236%

Note that the ONLY canned cat foods that have 10% or fewer carbs are Purina's Fancy Feast and Eukanuba! (Unfortunately, Eukanuba wet foods were all recalled in 2007 because they were tainted. As of this post Eukanuba is not selling any canned cat food. Please continue to check my newer posts for an update on this brand.)

All the rest of the brands and varieties are very high in carbohydrates. Notice that one of the most expensive, so-called "premium" brands has super high carbohydrates. And this food is intended for senior cats that tend to exercise very little. How will these cats burn off the excess carbs? The answer: they won't. All those carbs will just turn into more fat! Looks like that brand is practicing some very weird "science".

Coming ... Are all low carbohydrate canned foods good for your cat? I dig a little deeper into the ingredients and come up with winners and losers even within the same brand.

8 comments:

  1. hi,

    You might want to re-check the way you calculate the carb contents. In my quest to help my cats, I've run accross a few other sites that calculate carb contents of pet foods on a dry matter basis, and at least for the Wellness Grain-free Chicken and Beef formula, you appear to be off by quite a bit. It has 4% carbs, not 16%. Most of the Wellness Grain-free canned cat foods are around 4%. Here is one of the websites I'm talking about:
    http://www.scheyderweb.com/cats/catfood.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. I appreciate the comment, but I disagree with the computation at the website you mentioned. Their formula was based on "The Cornell Book of Cats Nutrition Information" which was published in 1997.

    The formula for computing carbohydrates in cat food used in this blog were derived from the book: "Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life" written in 2007 by Dr. Hodgkins, a veterinarian.

    Although I haven't read the older book, I stick by the claims and the formula presented in the newer book.

    You can check the carbs formula in Dr. Hodgkins book for yourself (it's available at many libraries). I think you'll find that the carbs for the Wellness products you mention are as high as reported in this blog.

    I sure wish the formula on that website was correct. There would be a lot more low-carb cat food that we could feed our Raja!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi,

    it's me again. Thanks for providing the name of the book that you used to calculate your carb values - I will certainly try to find it. I must admit, assuming the calculations are indeed correct, this is very disturbing! I had contacted Wellness last week and requested a list of carb percentages for their products, and they sent it to me today. They say that the carb content of the "Beef & Chicken" is 1.4%. The highest percentage listed out of their canned foods comes from their "Salmon, Whitefish, & Herring" at 4.65% Carbs (but I think that one has grains in it)

    I guess I'm having a difficult time believing that a canned food that is high in protein and has no grains, and who's first ingredients are meat (Beef, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Chicken Broth) can have such a high carb content at 14%. If the calcs are correct, this is truly disturbing...who can you trust?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good evening...

    i don't understand... how can the Eukanuba Select Seafood in Sauce be at 0% carbs? Sauced pet foods typically have some sort of starch/wheat to make it "saucy", which would mean the food has carbos. Also, if it was recalled in the Menu Foods problem, it means it had to contain wheat gluten in it, which would cause the food to have some carbohydrates....??? So how can it be zero?

    Sincerely confused...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here's how the carbs are figured using Dr. Hodgkins carbohydrate formula:

    Wellness Beef & Chicken (from wellnesspetfood.com)
    Crude Protein = 10.0%
    Crude Fat = 5.0%
    Crude Fiber = 1.0%
    Moisture = 78.0%
    Ash = 1.95%
    Total: 95.95%

    100% - 95.95% = 4.05% guaranteed analysis carbs
    4.05%/22% moisture = 18.4% dry-matter carbs, NOT GOOD!

    Probably the carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini (especially the potatoes) so close to the top of the ingredients list are what account for the high-carbs.
    ================================================
    Here are a couple of much better Wellness flavors:
    Wellness CORE Salmon, Whitefish, & Herring
    Crude Protein = 12.0%
    Crude Fat = 6.0%
    Crude Fiber = 0.34%
    Moisture = 78.0%
    Ash = 2.31%
    Total : 98.65

    100 - 98.65 = 1.35 guaranteed analysis carbs
    1.35 / 22 = 6.1% dry-matter carbs, GOOD!
    =============================================
    Wellness Core Chicken, Turkey and Chicken Liver
    1.8% dry-matter carbs carbs. GREAT!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Unfortunately, I can't get an ingredients list for Eukanuba Select Seafood in Sauce anymore since it was recalled, but I can tell you that the wheat gluten must have been so far down the list of ingredients that it wasn't a factor in the carbohydrate percentage.

    In fact, if you total up the guaranteed analysis for that flavor, it comes to 100.5% which leaves no room for the guaranteed analysis carbohydrates at all.

    This happens when the moisture, protein and fat percentages are overly high.

    In the case of Eukanuba Select Seafood in Sauce the moisture is more than usual at 82% and the fat content is high at 5.5% while the protein is a very respectable 9%. All together, this was a very good cat food until it was recalled.

    Remember, I'm no cat nutrition expert, I just run the formula and report my findings.

    If you look for good ingredients, with no grains or starches and follow the carbohydrate formula you and your cat should be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It should be noted that the guaranteed analysis (GA) is not the best way to determine carb contents, or ratios on a dry matter basis, for a few reasons. The first reason is that these figures are estimates and may not represent the actual measured percentages in the food. Because these are estimates, they can be manipulated by companies to make their product better than it actually is (case in point: the Eukaneuba mentioned in this article contains 100.5 % when adding all the GA values. Adding the GA percentages should NOT exceed 100%). The second reason is that determining carb content by adding those estimated figures can lead to a grossly overestimated or understimated carb values, which can be detrimental to a diabetic cat (I realize this is not a diabetic article, but I thought I should point it out). Someone that needs a true representation of the percentage values should contact the company and get the "as fed" (or "as served") values. If you look at the Wellness web site (which has the as feed values below the GA values), the Beef and Chicken actually has more protein and fat than the GA states (11.1 and 9.4, instead of 10 and 5). Additionally, when contacting the company, the carb content given is actually 1.7 (as previous poster mentioned), and not around 4% GA that was determined by adding the GA percentages together. The moisture is also different. A great example of this can be found on Dr. Lisa Pierson's web site www.catinfo.org. Dr. Lisa Pierson is also a well respected advisor in feline nutrition. In fact, it was because of her success with having Molly lose weight on Wellness canned cat foods that I switched my cat food to Wellness. In her web site, she gives the example for Wellness Chicken had a GA DM % for carbs estimated to be 14.5%, but when the actual "as fed" numbers were put in, the actual carb DM were 6.5 %. Quite a difference. You can find the info here http://www.catinfo.org/commercialcannedfoods.htm

    Most types of Wellness Grain Free fall between 2% and 5% once you get the "as fed" numbers. If you go to many pet forums, including Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkin's web site on feline diabetes, you will see that many people are successfull with Wellness grain-free canned foods, both in the sense of a healthier, slimer pet, and also controlling diabetes. For myself, all my 3 cats, including my pudgiest 17 lb cat, have lost weight since I've switched them to Wellness grain free cat food. While the main portion of their meal is the canned food, I do free-feed Wellness Core kibble (which is lower carb than regular kibble) for now, since I'm still in the transition stage. Despite having kibble available at all times, my cats all have lost weight and I've only been doing this for 1 month. My 17 lbl one lost nearly 1 lbl already. Although this food is not the preferred food of Dr. Hodgkins, because of its vegetable content, I feel confident that I am giving them a low carb cat food because I got the as fed values from the company, instead of using the GA. Plus it works! My cats's coats are shinier, dandruff is almost all gone, they have more energy, and I am thoroughly pleased with the results.

    Bottom line, no matter what cat food you chose: looking at the GA values isn't getting the real picture since these values are estimates and can be distorted to make the food look better. To get the actual values, contact the company and get the "as fed" or "as served" values, and then do the calculations for the DM. Then you will know what you are feeding your cat.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the difference between "as fed" and "guaranteed analysis". And it's quite a difference! I hope Wellness is giving you honest information about the carb content of their Grain Free wet food. If your cat is losing weight on that food, then it would seem the "as fed" numbers they gave you are correct.

    What I don't understand though is this... Since the "as fed" numbers come out better than the "guaranteed analysis" numbers, you would think that Wellness and other brands would be scrambling to add that great information to their food labels instead of making us ask for it.

    With all the talk about low-carb diets for cats, why aren't they actually bragging about their carb numbers?

    About the Guaranteed Analysis numbers... you are right, using guaranteed analysis is not particularly accurate, especially since some of the numbers listed for GA are maximums and some are minimums. So they are only approximations. But they're all we have when we're at the store and need cat food.

    I'm very impressed by the "as fed" numbers for Wellness Grain Free and I am definitely going to try some on our cat, Raja. She still hasn't lost much weight although she has definitely stopped gaining.

    Here's hoping she will eat the Wellness Grain Free and it will help her lose weight like it's done for you and others. I only wish it was less expensive!

    Thanks again for your helpful comment!

    ReplyDelete

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