Grain-free cat food is conquering the pet food shelves in supermarkets. Just like gluten-free foods for humans, the products are taking up more and more space. Is the new hype based on science or is it just a fad? We take a closer look at feeding cats grains.
Do Feral Cats Eat Grain?
People take good care of their cats – whether they’re house cats or free-rangers. To learn more about proper nutrition, it’s worth taking a look at the eating habits of the somewhat wilder domestic and farm cats. It’s hard to imagine a classic farm without at least one such cat. She prowls around the granary, but she is not concerned with the grains. She preys on mice, of course.
The small rodents can’t get enough of grain, while cats, as predators, are downright meat lovers. This is evidenced by their teeth, which have no grinding teeth at all. That is why the cat eats the mice and not the grains. If it were otherwise, this animal would certainly not be welcome on the farm. Farmers would have to worry about the cat tampering with the grain.
Is This Proof That Cats Don’t Need Grain?
Cats eat their prey with skin and hair. So they will devour a mouse whole. Not only is this not wasteful, but it is also unexpectedly good for feline digestion. A shredded mouse skin acts like fiber in the cat’s intestine, as does the skeleton. Even the most indigestible parts of rodents have an important purpose: they regulate digestion.
Now, unfortunately, it becomes a bit unappetizing: if a cat eats the mouse completely, this naturally applies to its stomach contents as well. In fact, the cat also ingests this part of its prey, should the rodent have eaten its fill of grains shortly before its death. However, the grains have already been chewed and predigested by the mouse, which is important. It helps the cat’s intestines break down the carbohydrates further.
If cats were not able to digest at least some processed grain, they would not be kept en masse on farms. They wouldn’t be able to digest the mice they’re supposed to hunt. But they do: In fact, the rodents are considered perfect prey. Therefore, it can not be wrong that there is not only cat food without grain.
Why Cereals Are Present In Many Types Of Cat Food
At least 70 percent of a cat’s diet should consist of meat or offal. This is a basic rule for manufacturers of feed. This makes cats different from dogs. The latter can also be fed a vegetarian diet. A cat would perish on it. It is absolutely dependent on the amino acid taurine contained in meat, which is not found in vegetables or cereals.
What does the last third of the feed consist of, if not meat? For this, feed producers resort to plants. Even though cats have a high meat requirement, they need more than that. A diet too rich in meat hits the kidneys and permanently damages the sensitive organs. In addition, the meat used provides little fiber, because the food does not contain ground mice, but muscle meat and offal.
The content of vegetable ingredients in the diet prevents organ damage and provides the much-needed dietary fiber. Cereals are also used, which in addition to their digestive effect have the effect of satiation. Since manufacturers do not simply mix whole grains into the food but break it down using modern means such as extrusion, the cat can even digest it.
These Grains Are Found In Cat Food
If It Is Not Grain-free Cat Food, Grain Varieties Like These Are Added To The Food:
Wheat in particular is not something many people are comfortable with, as it is the quintessential gluten-containing grain. Gluten is one of the most commonly cited reasons cat owners look for grain-free cat food. They fear that gluten will harm the animal.
Gluten Is The Gluten Protein
Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in grains. For humans, it is especially important in baking: gluten, also known as gluten protein, provides the sticky consistency of dough. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate gluten.
Those affected by celiac disease, for example, must consistently avoid gluten because it triggers severe symptoms in them. It can also cause allergies. In some cases, even animals are affected by intolerance, which manifests itself in symptoms such as itching or diarrhea. However, there are proteins in the diet that trigger allergies and intolerances far more frequently than gluten. These include proteins from eggs and beef.
Grain-free Cat Food As A “Clean” Food For Cats
Grain-free cat food eliminates grains. Cat owners want an easily digestible product that is based on the cat’s natural needs. They want to avoid cereal grains that may be contaminated with pesticides and don’t want the cat to eat too many calories from carbohydrates.
In fact, the pelt-noses can cope with a low-carbohydrate diet, as long as the fiber content fits. Also, there are actually cats that tolerate grains and gluten poorly and show such symptoms:
- dull coat
- Skin problems
- Abdominal pain
Especially vomiting and diarrhea can be indications of the wrong food. However, other causes are conceivable, for example eating too fast or intestinal parasites. It is not always due to the grain when the animal is unwell.
Grain-free Cat Food Is Unfortunately Not The Solution
It is worth taking a closer look at the preferred type of cat food. In 2020, Stiftung Warentest already warned that many wet foods do not have the ideal nutritional values. Unfortunately, grain-free cat food is not necessarily the best alternative, because the test portal also found deficiencies in these products.
Anyone who wants to feed their pet optimally is therefore well-advised not to be confused by nutritional trends like this. Even Barden (a nourishing way based on raw meat) is not the promised Heilsbringer.
The only exceptions are pets that are clearly intolerant to grains or gluten. In these cases, you have no choice but to feed grain-free cat food. However, even then you should look carefully so that the food of your choice is characterized by high quality.
What Cat Food Without Sugar And Grain Brings
Since all ingredients are listed on cat food packaging, it’s easy to find out if it’s grain-free cat food. But when looking at the ingredients of popular brand-name and no-name products, one other ingredient stands out: Sugar. Many cat owners find it strange that there is sugar in cat food. Is it to make the cat addicted to the sweetness and risk its healthy teeth?
At least the criticism of addiction can be refuted. Cats are unable to taste sweet due to a genetic defect. When asked, cat food manufacturers also state that the sweetener is only included so that it preserves the food. It also provides the brown color of the sauce. Most cat foods are indeed brown. However, the color, which is due to the caramelization of the sugar, is mainly intended to please humans.
Nevertheless, cat food without sugar and grain has long been available for purchase. Provided that it is guaranteed that it has all the important nutrients for the cat and is sufficiently durable, nothing speaks against the purchase of cat food without sugar and grain.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Grain-free Cat Food
The following questions about grain-free cat food and cat food without sugar and grains are frequently asked. We provide the answers.
How Harmful Is Grain For Cats?
Unless the cat suffers from an allergy or intolerance and it is uncontaminated grain, it is not harmful to the cat.
Should Cats Be Fed A Sugar And Grain-Free Diet?
A cat food without sugar and grains is not mandatory. It is more important than the product is of good quality and provides the cat with energy and relevant nutrients and minerals.
What Does Grain-free Cat Food Mean?
These varieties must not contain cereals such as wheat, corn, barley, or oats.
Is Rice A Vegetable Or A Grain?
Rice is a grain and therefore is not found in grain-free cat food. However, rice is considered one of the best-tolerated grains.
Which Cereal Is Bad For Cats?
There is no grain that is particularly bad for cats. However, cats are carnivores. At least 70 percent of their diet should be meat. Fish is also allowed.