Organic Cat Food: The Healthiest Food Choice for Your Feline
- What is organic cat food?
- How is organic food different from other types of cat food?
- Why should I feed my cat organic food?
- Is organic cat food better?
- Should I feed my cat organic raw cat food?
- Organic dry cat food vs organic wet cat food
- Organic cat food vs natural cat food
- Organic grain free cat food
Ever wondered if you’re feeding your cat food that contains unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients? More and more people are becoming aware that cat food may contain ingredients that might not be good for their cats. If you’re seeking quality food options that will help your cat stay healthy, here’s all you need to know about organic cat food.
What is organic cat food?
Organic cat food is commonly viewed as the healthiest food choice for cats due to the absence of pesticides, allergens or toxic ingredients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Organic Program, organic cat food must come from crops that are grown on land with no pesticides used on it for a minimum of three years prior to planting. This leads to the belief that the harvests are allergens and toxin free.
Meat proteins in cat food come from livestock that consume only organic feed, and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. They are given the freedom to roam outdoors instead of being caged.
The term organic also implies that the food is produced from healthy, fresh and nutrient-rich ingredients. There should not be any synthetic materials or chemicals present in the organic ingredients.
There are 4 types of organic labels:
- 100% organic - all the ingredients are organic, and does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- Organic - the ingredients are 95% certified organic and contain no GMOs.
- Made with organic - a minimum of 70% of the ingredients are organic, specified clearly, and contains no GMOs
- Organic ingredients - the product cannot be labelled organic since no specific percentage of the ingredients are certified as organic, and may have GMOs.
All the organic labels are compliant to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances except for those that are labeled ‘organic ingredients’.
How is organic food different from other types of cat food?
Natural cat food
According to the Association of American Control Feed Officials (AAFCO), natural refers to ingredients that are sourced from animal, plant or mined in its original form. They may have been processed but are not chemically synthetic. Natural cat food is therefore produced without artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.
There is an exception for unavoidable synthetic chemical contamination that occurs even with good manufacturing practices. Low amounts of some synthetic nutrients and micro ingredients such as minerals and vitamins are allowed in natural wet and dry cat food.
Holistic cat food
Holistic cat food typically refers to getting nutrition from the animal protein as a whole and is fresh and uncooked, such as raw chicken. The reasoning for this is that meats that are cooked or processed lose some of their nutrients. In its natural form, the food does not contain artificial ingredients, fillers, by-products, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and dyes.
Holistic cat food is supposed to provide your cat with a complete and well balanced diet. Hence, it is necessary to add low amounts of fruits, vegetables and grains in its diet. There is no formal definition by the association bodies for holistic cat food in terms of nutritional quality. Thus, any brand can label its products as holistic.
Be careful to check labelling on food packaging for the Guaranteed Analysis, Statement of Nutritional Adequacy by AAFCO, and the ingredients list to determine if they are really holistic in order to meet your feline’s nutritional requirements.
Why should I feed my cat organic food?
Feeding your cat high quality organic food makes it healthier. Your feline will most likely have a longer life expectancy and better quality of life when it is healthy.
Even though organic cat food seems to be more expensive than regular food, it will cost less in the long-run. Healthier cats are less likely to get sick or develop chronic medical issues. This reduces veterinary fees and medication costs, which can amount to a hefty sum.
The high quality protein in organic cat food provides cats with energy and amino acids for building strong and lean muscle. The higher levels of nutrition and absence of fillers in organic food ensures that your cat maintains a healthy weight. Fillers such as soy, corn or wheat which have low nutritional value are used to replace higher quality ingredients in other cheaper, non-organic cat food to make the cats feel full easily.
Is organic cat food better?
Organic cat food offers many benefits that regular cat food does not. Here are a few reasons why organic food is better when it comes to feeding your cat.
Organic food is generally healthier as it contains higher quality ingredients that have not been tainted by toxins like pesticides. The ingredients rarely contain fattening fillers that can lead to overweight issues in your cat, which is prevalent in indoor pets.
Fewer digestive issues
Digestive issues are common in felines and can bring about diarrhea, vomiting and smelly feces. Organic cat food does not contain artificial ingredients which are difficult to digest and may cause your cat to have an upset stomach. Not only that, it helps your kitty to produce lesser, well-formed stools.
Promotes healthy coat
An organic diet can help your cat grow a thicker, smoother and shinier coat. This is because of the high nutritional value and presence of vital micronutrients like omega oils in organic cat food.
No animal by-products
Cat food from unidentified, unclear sources is unhealthy if it is not properly processed. If they are produced from parts of animals that are sick, it can make your cat feel unwell too.
Less likely to cause food intolerances or allergies
If organic ingredients which do not contain chemicals and artificial additives are used, there is less likelihood of allergic reactions and food intolerances occuring.
If an allergy or food intolerance happens, there is a higher chance that your cat is allergic to the protein source. Consequently, you could consider feeding it hypoallergenic cat food whereby only one source of protein is served.
Should I feed my cat organic raw cat food?
Yes, feeding your cat organic raw cat food is one of the best ways to ensure that it receives all the protein it needs. Organic raw cat food is the uncooked or unprocessed meat products that are of an organic nature. In other words, you will be serving your feline with muscle meat, bones or organ meat from animals that are raised with organic feed. The meat products are also free from growth hormones and antibiotics.
Cats are essentially obligate carnivores whereby they need to eat animal products for survival. They need protein instead of carbohydrates to supply their energy levels. In cases of insufficient protein, their bodies will break down their own organs and muscle tissues to fill the gap. So, animal based raw cat food is the most suitable for them.
Organic dry cat food vs organic wet cat food
Organic dry cat food is found in kibble form. It has better quality nutrition compared to the regular dry cat food due to the USDA organic certified standard it follows. Dry food makes the cat chew longer to break the food into smaller pieces thus, making it easier to digest. This is helpful for your cat if it has digestive problems.
Dry food lasts longer than wet food due to its lack of moisture. Therefore, it can be left out in the open for your feline to nibble as they wish. This should be done with care as it could encourage obesity if it overeats.
However, the lack of moisture in dry cat food can increase the risk of dehydration if your cat does not like to drink water. In this case, wet food is a better option as it has a moisture content.
Both organic wet and dry food are beneficial for your cat in terms of the high quality protein it will certainly get.
Ultimately, you can choose to balance between the two types of food to ensure that your cat gets the best of both.
Organic cat food vs natural cat food
All organic foods are considered natural but the reverse is not always true. Natural ingredients are not necessarily sourced organically. Thus, natural cat food can come from food production processes which are non-organic. The AAFCO ensures that natural cat food contains minimal to no synthetic ingredients.
For instance, organic chickens receive organic feed, are able to roam freely, and do not receive growth hormones or antibiotics. In contrast, non-organic chickens may receive commercial feeds, growth or antibiotic hormone and are caged. However, chickens, organic or not, are considered as natural livestock as you cannot produce them chemically.
When it comes to choosing an organic natural or non-organic natural cat food, it is largely dependent on what your kitty needs in its diet and its preferences. It is imperative to choose the option that provides your pet with a complete and balanced diet for its life stage and also health conditions, if any.
Organic grain free cat food
Grain free cat food contains the same ingredients as regular cat food but minus the grains.
Organic grain free cat food is organically certified and does not contain wheat, corn or rice. These grains are usually replaced with potatoes, sweet potatoes or lentils.
It is possible for your kitty to be allergic to grains even though this is rare. Some possible symptoms of allergies include inflamed or itchy skin, excessive hair loss, scabs, and sores. An elimination test can be done with the veterinarian to determine the source of allergy.
A grain free diet is ideal for your cat if it is allergic or has intolerances towards grains. Organic grain free cat food is free from additives, chemicals and preservatives therefore is a healthier, more well-balanced option for your cat.
It is not necessary to switch to a grain free diet if your feline is not allergic to grain. A grain free diet can end up having higher levels of carbohydrates from the potatoes or sweet potatoes used to replace grains. Excess carbohydrates can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity in your feline.
When you are purchasing organic cat food, always pay attention to the USDA organic seal as it indicates that at least 95% of organic ingredients are used. Generally, if budget allows, you can consider feeding your cat with organic food since it contains high quality ingredients that do not have preservatives, toxics or additives.