What we didn’t know about human grade cat food and more

Kenzie_Linda_Francese-e1311201268607-300x226-1 What we didn't know about human grade cat food and more human grade cat food carrageenan

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH CAT FOOD?!   Photo: “Kenzie” by Linda Francese

This was a frustrating yet interesting post to write last night.

When I learned that Natura, makers of several respected brands of pet food, were accused of falsely advertising their pet food as “human grade,” I thought, “Why, those liars! Does that mean their food is not good quality afterall?!”

Answer: It doesn’t necessarily mean their food is bad quality.  Rather, Natura got in trouble because there is no legal or standardized definition of “human grade” in pet food. So they were sued for false advertising.

And guess what? Many of the other highly respected cat foods have claimed to be human grade as well. (I’m not going to name names–I’m sure they’re scrambling.)

Then my research on this topic led me to other shocking information…Shock #2…

But first, if you’re wondering why I’m so worked up about the contents of cat food, it’s because I lost a feline soul mate to intestinal lymphoma. That’s one cancer that may actually be partially caused by food: The wrong foods for a cat can lead to IBD, which many experts believe may lead to intestinal lymphoma.

And it’s become suspiciously common in cats.

AND I continue to stumble upon new things that could contribute intestinal cancer, including a new one I’ll mention in a moment.

Shock #1 There isn‘t a legal definition of human grade pet food yet

Susan Thixton of TruthAboutPetFood.com has done some great investigating to come to the stunning truth that we don’t really know what foods are human grade because it isn’t defined or regulated for pet food. (Go here to help her petition to change this!)

However, a number of good pet foods, including Natura, have gone ahead claimed “human grade” quality simply because it wasn’t illegal under federal law to do so. In some states though, it is illegal. Hence, Natura was sued in California.

One Happy Exception! Honest Kitchen, makers of dehydrated pet foods, is the one company that can legally claim they are human grade because they were taken to court and fought–they proved themselves good enough for that title. Good for them! Now I just have to try to convince my cats to eat their food again. It didn’t go over well before, but I was more impatient in those days. I didn’t really do my full 6-day switching plan back then. Honest Kitchen cat food has about 9.5% carbs served hydrated. The ideal way to serve it is with some fresh meat, which would lower the carb count.

Shock #2 We should avoid carrageenan now?

Petsumer reports and Susan Thixton led me to this: Carrageenan–long-considered safe and natural because it’s from seaweed–has become suspect in some serious crimes! (It may be that the chemicals used to extract it are the cause.)

Here’s the deal:

  • Carrageenan is used in many cat foods and some human ones (hello cheap ice cream!), but it seems  the government is mighty slow at heeding the latest research about it.
  • Degraded carrageenan, which occurs at high temperatures and acidity, has been associated with ulcerations in the gastro-intestinal tract and gastro-intestinal cancer in animals. Before freaking out about that, do know that we aren’t sure if the carrageenan in pet food has been degraded or not, and one study of various samples of human foods with carrageenan found no degraded carrageenan.
  • But, a quick review of several research articles cited by Wikipedia says that, at the very least, even regular (nondegraded) carrageenan looks guilty of suppressing the immune system and inflaming the intestinal lining–which, I might add, is the kind of thing that causes intestinal bowel disease (IBD). Some of my favorite cat food companies don’t seem to have heard about this research on non-degraded carrageenan yet.

And, I’m sorry to say, carrageenan is in most Wellness and Innova Evo canned foods. In fact, it’s in most of the best canned foods!

OK, don’t panic. We don’t know yet exactly what amount in cat food would be scary.

But I, for one, am going to start avoiding it because I don’t want any Bad Stuff ™ in cat food that is eaten regularly over a period of years.

What do we know about how a little affects the gut over time? And may it have been one factor in my Bastet’s intestinal cancer?! (Most of her wet foods had carrageenan and grains, and the dry food had rice.)

So what grain-free canned options do we have without carrageenan?

I am investigating. One great one that doesn’t have carrageenan is Natures Variety Instinct 95%. But then, that has ground flaxseed.

I have been avoiding some good canned brands (like Wellness and Instinct) because they have ground flaxseed and other fussy ingredients. My background as a nutritionist taught me that ground flaxseed oxidizes very quickly. Once flax is oxidized it’s actually bad for you. Plus, I don’t like to see a lot of fussy ingredients, because I believe a cat’s digestion needs simple foods.

Now that I’ve confessed my fear of ground flaxseed to you, I need to get clear about it. Check out both these statements with convincing references currently in Wikipedia:

  • “Ground flaxseed can go rancid at room temperature in as little as one week.”
  • “Ground flax is remarkably stable to oxidation when stored for nine months at room temperature”

Huh? Well, at this point, I will choose ground flaxseed over carrageenan any day.

Which is exactly why I’m going to try switching to Instinct 95% canned for the canned portion of our cats’ diet.

Note: Just don’t buy the claims that flaxseed gives your animal omega 3s! Cats and dogs cannot convert the alpha-linoleic-acid to EPA and DHA, so they don’t really get omega 3’s from flax oil, as Dr. Jean Hofve explains here. It’s  not easy for humans to convert flax oil to EPA/DHA either, so I’m not surprised.

Yes, I’ll be digging deeper, and I’ll be looking at more options, and I’ll be updating my best commercial cat food post, as I intend to do on a regular basis.

What do you think?

I’m interested in your thoughts on all this! I promise to read your comments below this post.

Love to hear your thoughtful thoughts! Leave a reply...


  1. hi. thank you for all your research.
    a ton of comments & i haven’t read them all.
    >But “Human Grade” if things haven’t changed on vagueness, personally i judge by whether or not Commercial Cat Food is made in a Human Food Plant.
    >even so, i don’t feel safe from crap in my cats food. at only 3 years old he was in last stage of renal failure & i’d been feeding him Raw Freeze Dried “Stella & Chewy’s” & FROMM dry.
    >Dry is a viscous culprit of kidney disease & since his potassium & magnesium & etc were “off the charts” poisoning was suspected
    >i hesitantly decided to follow Dr. Karen Becker’s recommendations, AMA (Against Medical Advice) from the ER vets strong recommendation he be put on a High Carb Low Protein diet (Hills Prescription Diet or That other one). i was warned to spend lots of time with my listless baby… i’m grateful for the Vets for the emergency care.
    >But. frightening as it was, i fed him the highest quality meat i could find. gave clean Fish Oil supplements, bought him a fountain & gratefully he’s doing really well.
    >finding has been almost impossible. it’s more common in AU & NZ. but, i just ordered food from “Raised Right Pets”, ima hoping it will continue providing the quality of food needed for my kitties health.
    >BTW, while he was recovering, i fed him bison meat until he was feeling better enuf to start eating meals, had to give him iv fluids, etc. added the freeze dried above mentioned & bone broth. His little teeth have become whiter! they’re looking great!
    >pls check out Dr. Karen Becker
    >best of luck & the more we demand better for our critters….. supply & demand 🥰

  2. I haven’t read through all the posts since there are so many, but… and forgive me if anyone posted about this. But I recently was concerned about my cat’s health. I have 2 of them, one is 15 and the other is 12.

    The 12 yr old has chronic … issues with excess mucous in his lungs, sneezing etc. We were told it was either a virus he was born with, or possibly an allergy by our vet. But nothing will get rid of it completely /permanently and I am starting to think his immune system is compromised. I give him thyme tea on and off trying to get rid of any possible bacterial or viral issues but antibiotics only got rid of it until they were done, and then it came right back. Viralayse or whatever its called made it worse, and I found later that it is controversial for this very reason.

    My female is puking up food now and then and her coat to me looks a bit greasy and dull. She sometimes refuses to eat the food – they were on Friskies Pate bc I didn’t know any better, and were getting Beyond grain free at bedtime which they would nibble overnight.

    Here is my problem and I wonder after reading some of the posts here if anyone else is concerned about it. I heard a video by Dr. Becker (associated with Mercola) where she talked about the bad nutrition in commercial cat foods, but also mentioned that both wet and dry have issues where they can have cancer causing components in them. The dry food if extruded rather than baked produces a cancer causing component, and the wet food when meat is cooked at temperatures that are too high and for too long.

    I then stumbled across a post that suggested that most commercial cat food companies may be sourcing their meats from euthanized animals (in which case the drug would also be in the meat), diseased animals, and animals that died on their own (rather than being slaughtered – ie Carrion) I have no idea whether this is true or whether there is a way to find out.

    I asked Friskies what temperatures and for how long they cook their cat food. I was told they can’t tell me because this is “proprietary” information. I also mentioned my concern about where the meat is sourced. Instead of answering they said only that I am free to post on their page, but stick to the guidelines or else I would be blocked. .. I did post my concerns in a very polite way. They removed them and blocked me. smh

    So now I am trying to find alternatives to commercial cat food. I am concerned that maybe there aren’t really any human grade food ethically sourced gently cooked cat foods out there with balanced nutrition for our pets. I am concerned that I will have to make my own and of course that causes me to worry because I want to be sure they are getting the right nutrition. I am to the point where I am afraid to feed my cats commercial food, both wet and dry.

    So I guess the reason I am posting this is that I am first wanting to make sure you have heard about the cancer causing cooking methods and questionable meat sourcing.. and 2nd, I really am hoping someone here knows where I can find canned pet food that is all protein, made from actual HUMAN GRADE USDA inspected muscle and organ meats, and gently cooked rather than cooked at high temps for long periods of time.

    I spent the entire day checking what nutrition my cats need. I am trying still to piece it together. I fed my cats hamburger with cooked egg.. and sardines today, and in the morning a little bit of the Friskies pate , cringing and praying as I did so. I am so frustrated that suddenly I pretty much HAVE to figure this out and quick. I want my cats healthy. I am worried that the poor nutrition in commercial foods is making them sick and compromising their immune systems.

    Any help you guys (and by guys I mean both guys and ladies lol) can give would be greatly appreciated!


  3. I would like to leave a couple of comments;

    First – I had a beautiful, very sweet little black cat (Anabel) who I lost at 12 years old. She experienced urinary tract problems (blood in the urine resulting in urination in several parts of the house). Then she developed lymphoma and died from this disease.

    I cannot prove anything, but from what I have read I believe that the dry food diet that I fed her throughout her life was the primary cause of her illnesses. Please DO NOT feed your cat dry food!

    Second – I now have a feisty little tiger striped cat (Angelina) who I also started feeding dry food. When I read about the illnesses that dry cat food could cause, I switched her to canned food. Within three to four weeks she started to eat less and less of this food, her stools turned black and were only a fraction of their normal volume and I had to discontinue feeding this brand of canned food.

    I don’t want to point a finger at the manufacturer, but the two ingredients that I can single out are chicken and carrageenan. I thought that she possibly had an allergic reaction to one of these ingredients (an allergic reaction which I found documented online – for both of these ingredients).

    I have now changed her food back to her original dry formula and she seems to be recovering perfectly. Since this dry food is chicken-based I wonder if her negative reaction to the canned food was due to the carrageenan. Reading up on this additive I find that it can result in IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and possibly even cancer.

    Please do not take my comments as scientific evidence but be careful which foods you feed to your little cat. She is totally dependent on you for her health and welfare.


  4. I’ve been looking for an affordable good quality food for my boy Sam he will be 1 year old next month and I want to get him on the best diet I can. I’ve read so much about dry vs wet vs raw and it’s all a bit much for me. I can’t afford a lot right now but I want to do the best I can for him. I’ve looked a lot at honest kitchen has anyone had a lot of success with that? I’ve also looked the places that sell raw meat that you mix with pre mixes. He gives me a lot of kisses so him eating raw meat seems a bit weird to me but has anyone tried partially cooking it? Sorry for all the questions I’m kind of a noob at all this but thank you for any advice I can get.

    1. Cannot recommend enough–after being cat-owned for >>Wow! Just pulled out the calculator, and it tells me the number is nearly 35 years, wow!<< so, after being cat-owned for nearly 35 years–cannot recommend strongly enough, a decent MEAT GRINDER and RAW MEAT.

      I've done the math. EVEN FRISKIES canned food, which retails for $1 for a 13 ounce can around here, translating to $1.33/lb, is MORE EXPENSIVE THAN the regular prices of CHICKEN and PORK at the local Shop Rite.

      I paid $175 for a grinder six years ago, and it's just going back to the manufacturer to be refurbished, while I now sink $700 for a pro grinder, hoping to recoup a few dollars by selling the refurb.

      I have lost too many cats in the past year to conditions that I am virtually certain would never have come about were it not for canned cat food. I rarely, RARELY feed them crunchy food as a TREAT, but now, I can barely bear to do that. Truth–don't know whether they're actually nuttier about Kitten Chow now–or a Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster (99 cents a pound!).

      Highly recommend catinfo.org for thorough information on the BARF diet (biologically-appropriate raw food, some wise guy had fun thinking up that acronym!).

  5. my dear companion is 17 next month and has renal failure. Starbuck was raised on Science Diet dry with some canned friskies and some dry treats. I am looking for a good food that he will eat. KD and Canin are out, he would rather go hungry. He gets plenty of water and grazes on the Science Diet Dry KD. I will be weaning off this after reading the responses to dry food here. I am trying Wellness grain free now, some flavors yes, some no. He gets a daily sub q, and daily cerenia (in a chicken flavor). He loves food but is picky. His coat looks good but he can also use a bit more muscle mass. I love both my vets but I really feel that this all goes far beyond science diet and royal cainin prescription foods. Any advice or experience would be appreciated. my head is spinning from the amount of information on the web.

  6. Hi, I highly recommend the brand Weruva for canned food and Orijen for dry food – I have found them to be of the highest quality that’s commercially available. No carrageenan in most Weruva products.

  7. Thanks for your thorough research & information. I have been referring to it over the last few years. After recently listening to an interview between DVM’s Karen Becker & Lisa Pierson I am going to be feeding my cats only wet food. I eventually will be making the Pierson cat food recipe but I need to buy a stronger meat grinder. The title for this YT interview is:

    ‘Dr. Becker Interviews Dr. Pierson About Cat Health and Nutrition’

  8. I’m so bummed about Ziwipeak! Those are the two flavors I usually buy (Venison and Lamb); It’s frustrating that such an expensive food brand would use carrageenan. Ugh. My cat won’t eat Primal raw anymore. I’ve tried cooking for him and he won’t eat it. Sigh. I wish it wasn’t so hard to find a good, human grade pet food.

    1. I SUGGEST REGIONAL RED BY ORIJEN ITS EXPENSIVE BUT IF YOU LOVE YOUR CAT ITS WORTH IT ITS COMPLETELY CHANGED MY CATS LIVES PLEASE RESEARCH THIS GREAT FOOD. TAKE CARE here’s the ingredients Boneless wild boar,* boneless lamb,* boneless beef,* beef liver,* boneless pork,* whole herring,* pork liver,* beef meal, lamb meal, herring meal, salmon meal, pollock meal, lamb fat, green lentils, chickpeas, red lentils, bison,* whole egg,* yellow peas, beef tripe,* herring oil, lamb liver,* beef kidney,* alfalfa, kelp, pumpkin,* butternut squash,* spinach greens,* carrots,* apples,* pears,* cranberries,* mixed tocopherols (preservative), chicory root, dandelion root, chamomile, peppermint leaf, ginger root, caraway seeds, turmeric, rose hips, freeze-dried lamb liver, freeze-dried beef liver, freeze-dried wild boar liver, freeze-dried tripe, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product + vitamins and minerals
      *delivered fresh

  9. Hi. I just adopted my kitty, Gary, on Christmas Eve 2015. I was told that he can only eat grain free cat food. I have been trying to find a healthy brand with some variety, so I am EXTREMELY thankful to have come across this website, where itis obvious that everyone genuinely seems to love their furry, four-legged babies.

    I am having a concern, though. When I adopted Gary, I was told that his stool might be soft for a few days because of the trauma of going from the pet store to my home. Well, it’s been two weeks now and his stool is still watery. I have only given him grain free food, so I’m a bit concerned.


  10. Dear Liz, The carrageenan issue in my opinion is one of utmost importantance – after one of my boys kitties died from intestinal lymphoma [after surgery, etc.], I too began to pay more attention. And though I do not recall who sent me this info, I believe the source was valid: in lab animal testing (ick!), carrageenan (itself) is given to lab animals to CREATE intestinal inflammation (I believe for human pharmaceutical purposes) and then the animals are treated (!) with various drugs to see what helps to CURE THE INTESTINAL INFLAMMATION. So, humans AND animals need to protect themselves from this horrible ingredient. This is why we MUST READ LABELS. Most processed foods have carrageenan added. Pet foods add it because is helps the food to maintain structure (instead of being in a glop) though I never had a pet yet who said this food looks weird. Even ice cream, cream, all kinds of human processed foods have it added to them, standard practice. I personally used to feed tons of Wellness but called them on this addition and stressed that if they REALLY were all about animal health, they would remove it. They consistently declined, and though some of their brand has made progress, I will no longer support their product for the sad animals that have suffered from the addition.

    Thank you so much for all your info here, I “just found you” and appreciate your efforts and candor. Kind regards, Nina McCarty

  11. The new Wellness Trufood cups are carrageenan free, according to the ingredient list, and my cat loves them. I have written to the company to ask if the cups are made of polycarbonate, which they may be because their recycle number is 7. Sometimes the 7 indicates another material, so for now I will give that the benefit of the doubt. I haven’t heard back yet but it has only been a few days, most of which are weekend days. My cat absolutely loves these cups better than anything else I have tried and I have tried plenty. Thanks for all the info. I am trying to get the best for my cat.

  12. I am very susceptible about any Omega 3 claims, even fish based, knowing what we know now about how quickly fish oil degrades and even becomes damaging to the body. They have checked many fish oil supplement and found them rancid. I was never convinced about flaxseed oil in the first place. Well, the seeds and oil make me sick so I may be biased. I used to give my cat bits of sardine in water but am now concerned about the cans and general health of fish stored that way. I wish you could buy fresh sardines.

  13. I was wondering any suggestions for a good, natural dry cat food. I like to keep my cat on a mix diet of wet/dry food. I just ordered the Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredients and am interested in the above mentioned Weruva. For a dry food I was looking at Blue but see some powdered cellulose and meat meals. My cat is 2 years old, overall healthy, extremely energetic, small (8lbs), but has a fetish for eating hair (mainly mine). I took her to the vet to check for deficiencies but they chalked it up to pica and said it is more of a behavioral thing. I have a feeling better food would help. I currently give her a mix of science diet hairball control and wellness core canned. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)

  14. I did want to point out that there are some wellness signature selects options that do not have carrageenan. If it’s shredded, it probably does, but their chunky food options do not list carrageenan as an ingredient. So the only three cans that I can find that listed carrageenan was shredded white meat chicken and turkey entree, shredded white meat chicken and chicken liver entree, shredded white meat chicken and beef entree. The skipjack options were free of carrageenan although I try to avoid fish heavy options due to other reasons.

    The overall concerns surrounding carrageenan has made me back off of the shredded options for wellness signature selects which is a shame since my cat really did love their chicken and chicken liver. However, she’s still loving her chunky wellness options.

    Just wanted to give others who use this brand a heads up. I’ve also sent an email to wellness requesting some information regarding their usage of carrageenan, their views on current studies, and how they expect this ingredient to affect my cat’s health. If I ever get a reply back I’ll let you know what it was.

      1. I actually did not think it contained carrageenan but I just looked and am disappointed to see it does. I think I will try Weruva as they look pretty good ingredient wise

  15. For severe intestinal issues feeding plain canned Organic pumpkin is a true comfort for such issues,It works well… I also find that to feed organic and grain free is the best by far, weather it is raw diet or kibble or canned food, But what i do know that helps any cat or kitten health is feeding enough Taurine in their diet, Taurine is what helps their all around health to survive, sick or not. Their bodys don’t make taurine and it is very vital for them to have to be healthy, Some cat kibble and canned foods and depending on what your feeding in a raw diet do not always have enough taurine in it, in which you can buy taurine supplements, it can come in a power form as well to mix it in their food. Taurine is what helps thier organs, limbs…etc for their whole body to be able to funtion correctly and to help prevent illness. It is very helpful for their ammune system to become stronger.I just thought I would share this information for those who are dealing with an sick cat because you could see more inprovement of healing .Im sorry for those who have sick babies, Our thoughts are with you all. good luck everyone :)

  16. Hi all,
    I appreciate all of the information. I just bought a can of EVO from Pet Club because the sales girls said it is a food owners of diabetic cats go to. My cats has diabetes but he also has IBD. This is the first I have heard of carrageenan as being a source of intestinal problems in cats. I did know that it is added to McDonald s hamburgers. I also know that if you want to make authentic swirl papers (for the insides of books) carrageenan is the go-to product to float the inks on. I have also noticed flax seed oil listed as ingredient in many of his foods, I wondered about it but didn’t think to really question it.

    A little over a year ago I was told my cat Rikki probably had IBD but my vet gave me very little information about it. He said to feed alternative proteins. I spent a small fortune on cat food with little results. The vet finally put Rikki on Royal Cannin’s hypoallergenic food. That seemed to help for about a year then this summer he started to lose weight again. The weird thing was he was hungry all of the time. No matter how much I fed him he was crying for food.

    At this point My vet said he had lymphoma and that he had a few months to live. The vet recommended to not waste my money on an ultra-sound. I took Rikki to a veterinary oncologist anyway. It actually was a big deal for me to openly defy the recommendation of a veterinarian and I ended having to change vets over it. The ultra sound with follow up blood works showed no lymphoma, probable for IBD and definitely diabetes.

    Interestingly enough the oncologist put Rikki on a medical clay to help control his diarrhea. It helped a lot. Since then I have started to research foods in a more serious way. One thing I found out was that the Royal Cannin hypoallergenic food is very high in carbohydrates. I can’t help but think that it was a contributing factor to his development of diabetes.

    What I find so interesting in all of this is that veterinarians are so poorly trained in nutrition. Everything I have picked up has been from web sites like this one.

    Recently, I have been mixing the frozen raw in with regular canned to get him to eat it. He has been making progress but he has also been getting foods with grains in them on occasion. The biggest issue has been to get him to eat what I want him to eat. About a week or two ago I tried the Nature Varieties 95% canned foods. I think it has made a big difference. He likes the pork, beef and lamb and to a lesser extent the venison and duck. It is a start. I am planning to experiment with sprinkling a little Primal freeze dried raw food over his canned + frozen raw formula. He seems to really like the smell of it. He stole a cube of it right in front of me today and I had to chase him down to retrieve it. If I can get him to think he is getting dry food maybe it will help with the transition.

    It is my hope it to get Rikki’s tummy stabilized at which point I could take him off of prednisolone and maybe control his diabetes with just diets. Here is hoping. I just wish I had known about all of this before he got sick, like when he was a kitten.

    1. Holly,
      I have a hard time trusting any vets – I won’t go into why here. It is brilliant how proactive you were. I would never take a vets word for anything now and would always investigate myself. Our pets can’t speak for themselves. Sending best wishes to you and Rikki.

    2. How is your cat doing because mine has the same exact issue. There is now a blood test to test for cancer (lymphoma only) & Felix’s test came back inconclusive. But he was put on prednisolone and he BECAME diabetic! It worked on the bad Clostridium infection he had but now I am left with an IBD kitty.A diabetic pet should never be put on steroids or Budesonide which was only supposed to work on the intestinal system. I am learning about things online & tell my vet who is in touch with Felix’s internal medicine specialist. He has been off dry food since Feb. and has not had insulin since March 2014. He only getds Purina DM in the can but like you said, he is hungry all the time and has runny stool & gas (check with your vet about baby gas drops, make sure there are no flavorings or xylitol).

  17. Natura Pet foods like Inova, EVO, etc. Were once some of the best, except for continuing to ignore the part about obligate carnivores being unable to digest plant matter, like cranberries, peas, & carrots….carrots are even bad for rabbits.

    Anyway, 2013; that company has had all 5 of their brands recalled twice this year; march & august, for salmonella.

    Reportedly, Petsmart will no longer be selling these brands for frequent recalls, but will continue to look the other way for cheapo corn & soy filled foods that get 4 recalls a year. Incredible hypocrisy or misinformed clerks?

  18. Grains do lead to Lymphoma. I am wheat sensitive (OK, if I eat a hot 4″ roll with my salad, I get sleepy, dizzy, can’t breathe, diahrrea, upset stomach, etc.) and got Perpherial T cell Lymphoma in 2000. After 4 chemos that did absolutely no good (so my oncologist told me) I was told 3 months. 1 year later, I went into spontaneous remission. All I did was take vitamins and had lots of prayer going for me. I would not wish this disease on any one or my cats. The chemo can kill you (knock your red cell count down to 3.1) and make you very weak, listless. It took too much energy to eat so I lost 95 pounds in 3 months. There have been studies and books written. Every time a person is wheat sensitive, it eventually leads to cancer, specifically Lympohoma. That is why I switched to Blue Buffalo dry for my pride of 6. Now Casey only vomits when she has a hairball. So I added Royal Canin Extreme Hairball as a treat. Now I find that the first ingredient in it (chicken meal) is ground u feathers! It is so hard to find a cat or dog food company that does really care about our animals. I am trying to switch to a raw diet but am getting resistance from my pride. They just leave it sit so it gets thrown out. I have the best fed raccoons and coyotes in my county.
    I need suggestions on how to switch my guys. I could go with rabbit (from a neighbor who raises them for his food) and get a grinder for the bones, etc. I don’t know if it is foreign to them and that is why they won’t eat it or what.

  19. Hi,

    I feed my cats Weruva…they use deboned meat (their website is fascinating…they give more information than most). The ones I feed my cats have no carrageenan or bpa and my store says the reps will eat from the can to prove that they are positive of its quality..my pet store says no other canned food reps they carry will do this ever. Interesting. Very low phosphorus rates as well for grain free varieties for kidney health. It is made in Thailand at a human soup manufacturing plant using human food equipment which reassures me some. My cats love it. Also, Ziwi Peak is a fantastic food…just über pricey. It is from New Zealand where they have strict pasture rules for livestock and it is almost entirely slow dried raw venison. My cats were babies with horrible herpes…bad sinuses, coughs, asthma, panting…even with lysine and tons of supplements…one month just topping food with Ziwi Peak and it stopped. One of my kitties developed a food allergy to something in it after one year (darn), but Their illness never came back. We took them off the food after the first 2 months to see if it really was the food and their symptoms came back in two weeks. Went back on it and the symptoms left. We are convinced it cured them over the extended time they ate it. We have no other explanation cause nothing else changed except that after they were on Ziwi for 6 months we cut back, then stopped their other supplements…nothing. They are now 7 and very healthy no lysine or anything. Wish we could get them to eat raw, but my husband can’t stand for them to be hungry no matter what I tell him. Very frustrating cause it is hurting my cats. I need a freeze dried treat for them.

  20. I was trying to buy the best natural canned food for my two cats today. All Tiki cans stated the source was Thailand. So I left it there. I adopted an older [10 – 12 year old] female cat who vomits undigested dry food quite often. Her previous owner fed her canned food only and I suspect her teeth may be sensitive. I’ve tried just about everything.

    I am thankful to have found your website. The post from Jean Hofve DVM was especially interesting, because reading the labels of the P & G ‘natural’ brands that she listed, indicates they’re made in the USA and imply the source is CA.

    I live in upstate NY and we don’t have many sources for organic wholesome pet foods.


  21. Liz, I hate to tell you this, but the Instinct 95% has dried kelp in it – that’s seaweed – seems like that is a source of carageenan, no?

    I think that the best diet for all cats is a raw one, but you do have to read ingredients on those foods as well. Instinct makes one, but I am betting it has the dried kelp in it. (sorry, didn’t check the ingredients). However, I am concerned about switching to raw with a cat that already has a compromised immune system and digestive tract.

    I have a recently adopted cat with severe intestinal and organ inflammation (may/may not be lymphoma) so I am doing what I can for her. I am dismayed to read about the carageenan aa I feed Wellness grain free. I am giving her high collagen broth now in the hopes that it can help her intestines to heal.She also gets Denamarin, probiotics and enzymes.

    Probably the best thing we can do for our cats is make our own raw food, but who has the time and machinery? Sigh. I just wish the food manufacturers would make food that is healthy and not care what humans think about its consistency and “eye appeal”.

  22. I too thought that I had found a good canned food in the Nature’s Variety Grain Free, until I noticed an ingredient in the list called montmorillonite clay, which seemed kind of weird to me. I was not able to find out much about it from my vet or anywhere else. Just seems strange, and it is quite high on the ingredient list.

    1. That’s a volcanic clay from Wyoming used to grout water wells to keep surface water and impurities from migrating down to the aquifer. It’s also they key ingredient in cheap clumping cat little

      1. Montmorillonite clay gained national exposure after it was featured on the Discovery Channel. The clay works as a detoxifier and is gaining popularity with veterinarians, both holistic and traditional. Vets are recommending the clay to pet owners because of the increase in chronic health problems among cats. Many veterinarians feel these problems stem from man-made and environmental toxins and can lead to diabetes, allergic, kidney and urinary disorders in cats.

        Montmorillonite clay, available as a powder, can be mixed in water. When ingested, the clay naturally clings to internal toxins and flushes them from the animal’s system through the colon. The clay has also been proven to strengthen bones and joints as well as boost your pet’s immune system.

    2. Montmorillonite clay gained national exposure after it was featured on the Discovery Channel. The clay works as a detoxifier and is gaining popularity with veterinarians, both holistic and traditional. Vets are recommending the clay to pet owners because of the increase in chronic health problems among cats. Many veterinarians feel these problems stem from man-made and environmental toxins and can lead to diabetes, allergic, kidney and urinary disorders in cats.

      Montmorillonite clay, available as a powder, can be mixed in water. When ingested, the clay naturally clings to internal toxins and flushes them from the animal’s system through the colon. The clay has also been proven to strengthen bones and joints as well as boost your pet’s immune system.

  23. I have been using TC Feline raw cat food premix for years and my cats love it. I’ve tried many different raw food varieties, but so far my finicky eaters are only happy with this tried & true product. I mix with specially packaged frozen lamb and chicken so the process is relatively simple and keeps everyone happy.

  24. I’m so glad I found your site! I lost my beloved soul mate kitty to IBD that went undiagnosed until it was too late. I miss him deeply.

    I couldn’t believe he got IBD because I thought I was feeding him and my other cat the best food – Wellness and Evo grain free. Now I read about carrageenan. And, sadly, my other cat was just diagnosed with IBD. Thankfully I think we caught it early.

    The vet prescribed Royal Canine hypoallergenic food. My cat ate it for a bit, but then stopped. I decided to switch her to raw after reading your post about IBD and the best foods to treat it.

    I ordered a couple you mentioned and went to a natural pet supply store nearby and searched for a raw food that seemed to have the least number of ingredients. I found one called Seattle’s Natural Pet Pantry (I live in Seattle). And the ingredients for the venison food is ground venison, salmon oil, psyillium husks, egg yolks, vitamin B, kelp and calcium citrate. Do you see anything bad in the list? The two that gave me pause were the psyillium husks and egg yolks. But I wasn’t sure. She loves the food and is eating a lot so I take that as a good sign.

    I’ve also read some conflicting information about only feeding them novel proteins yet another site said to alternate different proteins and said chicken was a good protein. Do you have thoughts on that?

    Thank you for your wonderful website and information!!

  25. Hi thank you for your great post, it’s nice to find information similar to my current woes! Seems like every time I start to research something, I end up sitting at the computer, clicking links and going “wait… WHAT? arg!” for hours. a In any case, your post helps me see that’s it’s just the process of doing what’s best for our loved ones and I’m not alone. AND that it’s worth it.

    I just went to the store to get good food for my cat who has kidney disease (apparently high quality protein is the way to go, despite common vet knowledge/advice). So now I am searching to get him some good food, these comments help and great to know about carrageenan! Well.. “great”. :)

    One thing I will mention that might help anyone else with sick cats, is a product called “Transfer Factors” made by a company called 4Life. It’s a supplement that encourages immune strength. There are some incredible testimonials on a site called Shirley’s Wellness Cafe (relating to kidney disease).

  26. Just discovered that Petguard Organic Chicken and Vegetables canned cat food is carrageenan free and the smaller 5.5 oz cans are BPA free.

  27. Is krill oil a good source of omega 3s for cats and dogs? My concern is what is the proper daily dosage for cats and dogs based on weight?

    1. Hi there, krill does provide omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants and is considered safe for dogs and cats. The dosage I’ve seen is about 250mg for pets under 20lbs. Some of us have avoided it because there have been ecological concerns about krill overharvest affecting penguin and whale survival.

      Honestly I don’t know who to believe on this because Dr. Mercola says that the krill harvested for supplements (at least the one he sells) is carefully sustainably sourced. He says the problems come from krill harvested differently for things like industrial salmon farms. Dr. Mercola says his krill are harvested from an area of the Antartic in a way that does not take from marine mammal populations.

  28. Liz, thank-you so much so this post. While it’s disheartening to learn more about the dark side of pet food, we must continue to share and shed the light. The big corporations exert their power by their advertising dollars but ultimately the consumer decides. I’m happy to share.

    1. Thank you Layla. Yes, we’re all in this together with our feline buddies. It amazes me that when I was young the contents of cat food *seemed* irrelevant–cats seemed to do pretty well without too much focus on the food content. But since those days in the early 70’s I see cats having more and more disease–CRF, FLUTD, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and dying younger.

      My guess is that part of it is that cats are not hunting and eating wild prey as much, since most are indoors for safety. But also, I’m suspicious of what has changed in the food since those days too. I wish I could compare the ingredients to today’s Meow Mix–and compare where companies *sourced* their meat then vs. now…you know, how clean was it then vs. now.

        1. Funny, I think Meow Mix was about the only option in those days!

          “Go!” I hadn’t heard of, but I’m glad you mentioned it because now I’ll
          add it to my current research project. A quick look tells me their dry grain-free (only) options are not too bad as far as dry goes. I like the meat quailty. But for their canned grain-free, the problem is it has carrageenan (see above rant).

  29. Many people don’t realize that Natura was purchased by Procter & Gamble (makers of Iams and Eukanuba and shameless animal-testers) a year ago. Between P&G’s abundance of advertising dollars and lack of ethics, this is probably not the last time they’ll make false claims.

    One of the things Natura was known for was that they sourced all their ingredients from the U.S. But while the *names* of the ingredients have not changed (which allows P&G to claim that “recipes” and “ingredients” have not changed), P&G is undoubtedly buying the cheapest grades possible, most likely imported from China and other countries where there is little if any quality control. P&G would not have bought Natura if they could not make a massive profit…with pet food, that means “sell the cheapest possible product at the highest possible price.”

    I used to love Natura foods, especially Evo, but I do not use or recommend any of them now. Brands now made by P&G include Evo, Innova, California Natural, Healthwise, and Karma.

    About the IBD cat: I’d really recommend a complete change to wet food. (See my website http://www.littlebigcat.com for info on “Switching Foods” plus more on health and nutrition.) Dry food is much more often to blame, as it is heavily heat processed (creating distorted and often allergenic proteins), and is much harder to digest. Also be sure to feed in meals, don’t leave food out all the time. The cat has a relatively large stomach and short intestine, so they are meant to eat a full meal and then rest for many hours. Constant food intake is irritating. Also, by nibbling 24/7, he will never be hungry enough to give the wet food a real go! If he’ll eat canned food at all, you’ve already won 90% of the battle.

    I do not find much advantage to grain-free foods, most of them simply substitute starchy vegetables (like potatoes or peas), which does not change the carbohydrate content. High-protein dry foods are extremely dehydrating as well. Along with IBD this could really stress his kidneys. Please consider ditching the dry food–he sounds very responsive to nutritional improvement, you may be very pleasantly surprised! :)

    1. Thanks! I will check out your website for ideas. Sadly he doesn’t nibble between meals… or at least I don’t see any evidence of it. He’s just not interested in food at all and I have to make him eat. I keep trying with the wet, but so far, I’ve only had a little bit of success. I’ll keep trying though.

      1. I currently show 2 cats. While at a show a breeder was feeding Tiki wet food. I had never heard of it but was able to get some at a specialty pet store in town. My boys love it! I have only fed them the chicken, as one cat does have some food allergies. You might find this appealing for your cat, as my hesitant to try new foods cats, loved it at first try.

  30. Ugh, I was going to go find some Evo for my cat with feline leukemia. I’ll be interested to see your list. Unfortunately I can’t get him to eat much canned food… he loves kibble. He also has IBD and I had great luck switching him to Organix dry food. He began getting healthier immediately when I started giving him this.

    1. Margaret, my heart goes out to you & your kitty with leukemia. I am wishing him a strong immune system to be healthy longer!

      Since he’s got IBD too I can see why you’d want a grain-free food. My reading tells me organic foods are ideal for feline leukemia–ie, avoiding chemicals that may deplete immune system. So he was on the right track liking an organic food.

      A grain free organic dry food option is Epigen 90 (has to be 90, not the other Epigen!)
      Two grain-free, carrageen-free wet foods are the Newman’s grain-free organic ones, and the Evanger’s Turkey & Butternut Squash.

      I believe keeping him hydrated is ideal, so wet food is ideal, but I know it’s not always so simple to convince an unwell cat to switch foods. Not sure if you saw my article on switching foods, but hopefully that can help.

      1. Thanks Liz for the info on the other foods. I read this the other night on the run and managed to find some Paul Newman food at Walmart of all places. Plus I can get the evangers locally so I’ll look for that this week. I read your article and I’m trying it, but so far he’s been resistant. The only way he’ll eat anything is out of my hand. He’s the most difficult cat I have. He’s just not interested in food at all… unless it’s in my hand. On the plus side, he still continues to do well. I’ll keep trying the wet foods. Maybe it’s just a matter of finding something he likes.

        1. Hi Margaret,
          Glad you found some good foods locally. I totally understand about his eating out of hand preference–very common with cats who are working through an illness. It’s such a tough time because that’s when we most want them to eat. I’ve been there. If you can find any enticements he likes and put them on top, that can help. Also, mixing in a bit of warm water helps sometimes too (cats prefer warm food).

        2. Hi,

          For what it is worth I have discovered with previous cats that when they got quite sick, the only way I could get them to eat was out of my hand. It may not be your cat being picky so much as larger natural feline behavior. I am thinking they feel safer when fed by hand and when you hurt and are a cat, safety is an issue. Or maybe it is a by product of feline human bonding. Maybe Jackson Galaxy knows.

      2. I have been reading a lot about dry food vs wet food. My cat is 12 years old and I actually took her to the vet for the second time in her life yesterday to get approved for health insurance. She did all the required blood work and stool analysis. They called me this morning to say that everything came back perfect. No issues whatsoever. No signs of kidney issues, no intestinal issues or parasites etc. My issues here is I have always fed my cat dry food with wet food as a treat. Over the past 2 years I have switched her over to better quality dry food. Orijen, which is considered to be the best. I was thinking of switching her over to some form of human grade canned food which she loves, but now with these perfect results at her age I am not sure. Do I stick to what is working or do I look further ahead and change her diet. Any help would be appreciated