These natural cat foods didn’t make the “best” list: here’s why

113426416911 These natural cat foods didn't make the "best" list: here's why

“WHAT? This can’t be right! My food’s perfect!”

UPDATED July 2013
You can help me keep this list current by leaving info or questions in the Comments. (To be notified of big updates, get on the news list here.)

There I was cursing at a coffee house and nearly giving up on getting those “best cat food” tables to format.

The cat food cost calculations also made me cranky, but writing buddy and fellow cat fan, Teresa, gave me the moral support to see through publishing Today’s best cat foods and Today’s best dry cat foods.

Why isn’t _____  on this list?

The project was worth the trouble because of all the people, like you, who continue to respond with great interest in finding cat food that’s truly healthy.

A common question is: “Why isn’t ________ on the list?” Sometimes the answer is: “You’re right, I need to add it.”

One of the challenges is that some good brands, like Wellness and Blue Buffalo, have some stellar products as well as some I cannot recommend.

And it depends on whether we’re talking canned or dry here too. It would be so much easier if we could just say “This brand is always great.” But it’s not that simple. So, most of the time the answer is one of the following…

Almost fabulous Runners Up: One iffy ingredient

These are still decent choices if your family is attached to them.

Here are the reasons these Runners Up for Today’s best cat foods didn’t make top billing:

  • Newman’s organic Grain Free canned – carrageenan was recently added
  • Wellness Grain Free Canned – carrageenan
  • Halo Canned – some have carrageenan, some have garlic powder  (UPDATE April 2013: cans do not have BPA in lining. UPDATE 2015: Halo Impulse does not have carrageenan or garlic)
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Canned and Blue Buffalo Basics Canned – carrageenan
  • BeforeGrain Canned – carrageenan
  • Evo Canned by Innova – carrageenan
  • ZiwiPeak Canned (lamb or venison) – carrageenan

To understand the carrageenan concern, scroll down to the section titled “Shock #2″ on this post here or see this article by Susan Thixton. Garlic? A little probably doesn’t matter, but since a lot will cause a blood cell disorder (hemolytic anemia), many vets recommend not using it on regular basis.

Special exceptions! Where a good product has variations

The following products are mostly great, but have variations in the ingredients.

Just check the labels to get the ones that don’t have the iffy stuff, as follows:

  • Weruva Canned – I feel pretty confident in the quality of Weruva, and I love that they are BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan. 
  • Tikicat Canned – These guys have a reputation for strict quality and eco-fishing sources. They are also BPA-free, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan. 
  • Addiction Grain Free Canned – Good stuff, but check the ingredients of each can before you buy because some have carrageenan (currently: salmon, venison, unagi, and brushtail have it). The salmon also contains citrus, which is supposed to be toxic to cats. (What were they thinking?)
cat_scale These natural cat foods didn't make the "best" list: here's why
High carbs increases obesity and diabetes risk

Cat foods with too many carbs: Fattening

I believe high carb percentages are to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemics in indoor cats today.

  • Halo Grain Free Dry – 25% carbs (could be worse – this one is on the border)
  • BeforeGrain Dry – 30% carbs
  • Fromm Dry Grain Free – 29% carbs
  • Blue Buffalo Dry – 28 – 40% carbs (also some have grains)
  • Natural Balance Grain Free/LID Dry – 40% carbs
  • Taste of the Wild Grain Free Dry- 27% carbs
  • Addiction Grain Free Dry – 31% carbs

For more on this fattening carb business, see Overweight Cat? The Hidden Cause and Solution.

Cat foods made with grains: can lead to digestive problems (and hairballs)

  • Wellness Canned (all the ones NOT labeled grain free) – grains
  • PetGuard canned – grains

For more on the grains and digestion topic, see Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs by Fern Crist, DVM.

Cat foods with more than one issue: High carb, grains, and/or iffy ingredients

All good brands, but these specific products from them are too flawed to recommend – here’s why:

  • Blue (Buffalo) Spa and Blue (Buffalo) Healthy Gourmet Canned – carrageenan; grains
  • Lotus Dry – grains; 25% carb
  • Wellness Indoor Dry – grains; 30 -35% carbs
  • Life’s Abundance Dry – grains; 35% carbs
  • Organix Castor and Pollux Dry – grains; 32% carbs
  • AvoDerm canned cat food – carrageenan, avocado (may be risky over time – see comments discussion), synthetic vitamin K

w_thanks-150x150 These natural cat foods didn't make the "best" list: here's why Again, thank you for continuing to help me keep this and the Best cat foods “living lists” correct and up-to-date!

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


  1. i have feral cats three to feed cab only afford fanct feast is it give them the broths I was able to get a lot of them from big lots salep leasepleasep lease tell me because they will take them back by tomorro11.11. my husband was a purpleheart Vietnam vet

  2. Any ideas on Earthborn Dry cat food? The Grain free is really low carb at 16.53% but then the fiber is only at 3%. I raise Russian Siberian cats and I am always concerned about carbs and making sure there is enough fiber so the kittens don’t get soupy poops. Also too is there a RDA for calcium in cat food? My cats are large breed. Boys 15-20lbs and girls 8-12 lbs

  3. My 14 yr old ibs cat has been on natural bal lid duck & peas can . Sm amt of the pea& duck dry. since sept .( dry I just saw it is not on best food list because of high carbs) she has been at 100% transitioned for 12 days . She now has diarrhea with both her daily stools. I want to change her diet but since she newly transitioned at for now would it be better to go back to 50% of her old food? She just started today on Vitality Science product giving very slowly ( 1 pinch per meal) adding products 1 step at a time. So should I wait it out as I know she needs her digestive system to heal hoping I will have the success others have had on Vit science She had lab work done – pumpkin- probiotics- and many wonderful diet suggestions (just don’t want to add a new diet now. ) Thank you all for the Informative blogs.

  4. I’m a new cat owner (about 1 year) and had no idea cat food was so complicated. I started out feeding grain-free Blue but switched due to recalls. Now freeding Fromm dry but see it’s on your list of high-carb foods so will research and switch. My cat is quite fussy with wet foods (doesn’t like pate, gravy, or sauce) but will eat Almo in broth which lists ingredients as only tuna, water sufficient for cooking, shrimp. Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 18%; crude fat 0.3%; crude fibres 1%; moisture 83%; ash 2%. I didn’t see Almo on any of your lists and wonder whether it was evaluated and if it was, did it not make either 1st or 2nd place? Thank you for all the information you’ve provided.

  5. Can ZiwiPeak canned food (beef, lamb and venison) be placed on the “TODAY’S BEST CAT FOOD” list? They have removed carrageenan.

      1. I just briefly did some research on the brand Ziwi and read that since they started processing in the a US vs New Zealand that the product quality is very questionable.

  6. I would love to hear your take on two brands that I have found that are very well priced at about $.75 per can, and the ingredients seem to be awesome. My cats eat both and have lost a ton of weight and are super active and healthy, and they are older! Please check into Trader Joe’s wet cat food (they have three flavors) and I Luv My Cat, which incidentally you can only get through Costco.

  7. Any opinions on Earthborn Grain Free? I see they have removed an ingredient that Liz stated was iffy back in 2012. Any input would be great. My baby loves this stuff! Thanks!

  8. I am so confused! I’ve been feeding my 4 year old male Sheba wet food as his primary feed with Purina Beyond Dry on-the-side. Meat is the first Sheba ingredient, it is grain free (as far as I know) and they use guar gum, not carrageenan. I want to provide Bullet with the best food without breaking the bank! If anyone knows something about Sheba that I don’t, please speak up!

    1. I’m concerned about Sheba – the new perfect portions – I had to stop feeding it to my female Korat after only three weeks! It was the only thing in her world that changed. She had eaten dry food forever. As a treat in the evening, I introduced her to Sheba, she loved it. Then, after two short weeks, she developed a lower UTI – went to the vet, got a shot of antibiotics and some pain pills and she felt better. I started giving her the Sheba again and in less than a week, another UTI. We’re very concerned – has anyone else had a similar issue? Not saying Sheba perfect portions are bad or wrong, but has anyone had sudden UTI issues from wet foods? My baby so loves Sheba but am scared to give it to her!

    2. My 2 cats always loved Sheba but in our last box of perfect portions, the bottom of the chicken entrees were covered in black mold. I kept dumping them in the trash because it was super gross but bagged up the one from yesterday so I can send Sheba a picture. Be careful because I had to stop one cat from trying to eat it. He didn’t have the instincts to avoid rotting food.

  9. Hi, Liz! I have good news – or at least I assume it is news, since Blue Buffalo Wild Delights is still off you Best Canned Food list after adding carrageenan. Apparently they haven’t. What they did do is add new formulas to the Wild Delights line, but the original Meaty Morsels remain carrageenan-free. It’s missing from the list of ingredients, and a company representative confirmed its absence to me over the phone. I also plan to try their new product called Tasty Toppers. It’s meant to to go over dry food so it doesn’t have all the prerequisite nutrients, but none of the additives are in it either. For cats like my Zhenya, who only eats chunky AND demands variety, it might be a great once-a-day treat – unless you tell us otherwise.

    BLUE Wilderness Wild Cuts Tasty Toppers Tasty Chicken Morsels – INGEDIENTS:
    Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Carbonate

    BLUE Wilderness Wild Delights MEATY MORSELS Chicken & Turkey Recipe – INGREDIENTS:
    Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Turkey, Chicken Liver, Egg Whites, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Dried Egg, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate

  10. I know Fussie Cat canned food has carrageen but the ones with fish don’t smell fishy and the food looks so good and my cats always will eat it. It also is not on the list.

    1. I’ve been looking at Fussie Cat too… I think for the most part their ingredients look pretty good, the only red flag I’ve seen is that they use tapioca starch. There’s a bit of a debate over whether that’s a safe ingredient in cat food, though it looks like it’s present in a lower quantity than similar foods.

  11. anyone exploring “epigen” by wysong??? veterinarian/owner dr. wysong is a proponant of the rotation diet… is anyone familiar with this?

    1. I don’t think they contain taurine, so if you feed this I would think you would have to add taurine. Dogs don’t need it, but cats certainly do.

      1. you are right sabrina, thank you… i think this is why they mention ‘rotation’ — epigen canned is not meant to be the only food… still researching and learning… seems there is some evidence that ‘pure’ and/or ‘natural’ organic meat contains all nutrition felines need; however, it is not easy to believe this when home-made recipes, which use mainly meat, still add supplements…

      2. If you take a look at Epigen’s guaranteed analysis, it will list taurine. Kind of playing off of what mataba said… foods that contain meat, organs, and bone (all three of these) typically will provide the necessary levels of taurine so there is no need to supplement with extra taurine. That said, the first ingredients in Epigen 90 and Epigen Venison are “Chicken meal” and “venison meal” meaning that meals are the predominant ingredients. I tend to be suspicious of any foods like this because it puts a veil over the ingredient that makes up the majority of your cat’s food. A meal could be a mix of really great ingredients, yes, but it could also mean the company is grinding up the cheapest, lowest-quality portion of the animal. The term is not highly regulated so you don’t really know what you’re getting. More often than not if the company is using high quality ingredients they will list them straight out (because it makes the food more appealing, obviously) instead of consolidating them into “meal,” therefore when you see a “meal” product listed on the package it is more likely to be made up of poor quality.

  12. Ziwipeak cans have removed carrageenan! Hooray~!

    Please put it on the best cat foods list, cause its such a great company and they deserve it! =D

    Thz for your efforts on caring about cats diet, Liz! x

    1. I just started feeding mine this. But apon reading they say it has that c word in it and it’s bad so now I don’t know what to do.

      1. Hello! If you mean the C for carrorageen, I am not purchasing canned cat food that contains it. I have 2 ragdolls and I did some research on what the better cat foods were. I went to the web site “floppy” where you can find several links to several sites that discuss the better canned cat foods. Check these out! I have since purchased certain Tiki Cat formulas with chicken and chicken and eggs and also wild salmon. You always should check the ingredients on the cans. Also Life’s Abundance has very good cat food. It’s called Instictive Choice, which you can onlypurchasefrom their site. Hope this helps you make the right choice.


    1. All dry food has carbs- dry food is HORRIBLE for cats – the carb count is huge in dry food- also, dry food is very dehydrating and in most instances eventually leads to diabetes, kidney disease, etc. You should check out the website CATINFO.ORG- it has alot of information on this subject. I feed my cat Tiki Cat wet food- it is just shreds of chicken and broth- no carbs, grains, or fillers. My cat has lost weight since being on this food and is more energetic. I hope you will consider weening your cat off dry kibble for his/her long term health.

    2. Regina – I could not agree more with you! I adopted 2 elderly cats who both ended up dying from kidney failure. My wet found no other causes that could have lead to kidney failure other than the fact that they had been fed dry their entire lives.
      Dry food was invented by careless people who saw a way to make a huge profit by promoting the convenience of dry food to consumers, yet detremental to a cat’s health.
      Liz – just think about what all felines from the Felidae family eat in their natural habitat…they eat other animals, right? Those animals or prey consist of approx 85% body water, and dry food typically only contains 8-10% moisture, where as wet food contains around 75-80% moisture.
      If you love your cat, please stay away from dryfood.

  14. Should I be concerned about Purina Beyond? It’s hard for me to trust them. I used to feed Wellness (canned) and Newman’s Own Organic (canned) to our cats, but our oldest was having loose stools. Suspecting carrageenan, I searched local stores for alternatives. The only things I could find locally without it were Purina Beyond cans and Abound (made by Kroger, gravy style food in pouches). Abound is new so no history there good or bad. Purina stories scare me. However, neither upset his stomach. Over time we’ve noticed him losing weight despite a huge appetite. If I feed him extra, he tends to get an upset stomach, so we don’t know how to get his weight back up. Bloodwork does not show an obvious problem. He may or may not be in early stages of kidney disease. Thyroid is fine. Vet felt no lumps in his intestines. Bloodwork didn’t indicate cancer. They recommended a food called Recovery by Royal Canin to try to put weight on him, and he immediately developed loose stools. I’m at a loss on what to do for him specifically, and in general I’m questioning my decision to feed any of our cats Purina even though Beyond makes some wonderful claims, is more affordable than other brands claiming to be natural, and doesn’t have carrageenan. ???

  15. Just wondering if you know anything good or bad in regards to the dry cat food simply nourish source high protein, grain free. Pet smart brand.

    1. I have 2 kittens who have never had normal stools and all they’ve ever eaten is simply nourish kitten food -dry. TheyAre adopted and started out on this. Now they just have plain old diarrhea. They are on prednisone and antibiotic to clear up the rot gut. They act fine, eat and drink fine, have tested negative to every test the vet had ran on them and they now are taking gastrointestinal food to try and get their tummies lined out. Its odd that 2 kittens can’t handle the simply nourish brand so I will never buy it again

      1. Hi Kim, please get your kittens off dry food. Buy them wet food so they can be healthier and avoid medications like prednisone (unless it’s only short-term or an emergency). I was on prednisone, on and off for years, and I almost died from it, so you can imagine what drugs do to a little body. My cat was also on prednisone for a short time and it gave him diarrhea. He seems to have food allergies, and I am trying to switch his food, and this site has been so incredibly helpful! I am weaning him off of dry food, and hope that I can s-l-o-w-l-y get him off of it completely, but we’ll see. Good luck with your kitties.

    2. was wondering this myself. i like its affordable cost and its got comparable %s to wellness core.. but as far as i can tell both are pretty high carb…… 30-35% carb (all the pea and potato i guess).. where as carbs should be at 25% or lower. ingredients looked OK and comparable to wellness core as well.

  16. Any reviews or thoughts on “Against the Grain” cat food? Am trying to wean my cats off of BFF and Weruva fish flavors that contain Menadione – synthetic vitamin K. Thx!!

  17. After reading over and over again the long list of ingredients in the dry foods and canned foods available at our local grocery store and natural foods store, I am leaning towards Canidae Grain-Free Pure brands of both dry and canned. No mention of that brand here.

  18. Need to know what to give my cat who needs pumpkin for his bowls to stay a little loose. He is getting tired of it. Someone suggested coconut oil, but how much to give?

    1. I almost forgot – Vitality Science products always seem to work for constipation and they have even been known to cure it (so no supplements are needed). For example, google Vitality Science Easy Go.

    2. Peggy; I give my cat 11lbs (1) teaspoon of coconut oil per day, this is the veterinarian recommended dose. My kitty absolutely loves it, she will literally cry & cry if I miss a day!
      Also – I buy the refined version of the coconut oil for her, as it has very little scent compared to the unrefined, which she turns her nose at. Coconut oil is awesome – I use it as face and body lotion as well.

    3. Peggy an adult would use one tablespoon per day of Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil… start at a half teaspoon per day and increase until stool is a bit loose then back up to the prev dosage. I think you will be very happy with this, and your kitty will too! I use it to combat Feline Herpes. Coconut oil destroy’s viruses!!!!!!!!! Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil is the only one good for our bodies, except when the less expensive is used for cooking.

  19. I’ve been searching for a commercial wet food cat food without grains, fruits, veggies, etc. No BPA in the cans (if canned), no GM ingredients, no carrageenan, no fillers, no artificial colors or unnecessary ingredients, as natural as possible. I don’t wish to go raw frozen for my own reasons. I want simple, limited ingredients. Expense was an issue with a few for me.

    Anyway, I’m looking up and researching all these foods here that made the list. THANK YOU Liz and other concerned cat folks – this site has been invaluable. I was trying to locate a lowest price source for one of the foods (I didn’t want pate but the price was good) on the list and found a brand not listed here. Can anyone tell me about Applaws? It seems to meet most of my requirements but I’d love real people feedback. I wrote the company to ask if BPA in the cans and why the rice, even if a little. Does anyone have any experience feeding Applaws? Thanks!

    1. Ugh. Noticed after I posted that the Applaws is labeled as a “topper” – so I guess that’s not a complete food? I thought it sounded too good to be true. Sorry.

    1. Wondering same thing only about by natures organic chicken and chicken liver – seems to be no grain, low carb/fat, no carrageenan or other unhealthy ingredients? I only feed from what’s on this list so I’d love to know if you recommend this food Liz. Another new brand that seems good is Party Animal, do you recommend that one too? Thank you so much for all your time and info, MUCH appreciated.

      1. Although Natures organic chicken and chicken liver seems not to have any unhealthy ingredients, it does have one unhealthy ingredient that is controversial. Menadione Dimethylpyrimidinol Bisulfite is one name among others that synthetic vitamin k goes by. It commonly goes by the name of Menadione Sodium Bisulfate.

  20. Do you have any suggestions on what I should transition my cat from she’s currently eating dry meow mix and I want to get her off the crap yes it’s cheap but when she’s going through a large bag a month needless to say I have 3 other cats I am feeding as well. But she’s a baby and I think it’s best to get her on a good road along with the rest of the cats. I like the dry food because it’s better for their teeth and I also want something with several flavors within the line. I like to get them the salmon and chicken and turkey flavors that they crave.

    1. There’s simply no such thing as a “good” dry cat food. I suggest you do some research and you’ll quickly learn all the reasons why. Start here:

      And then choose some of the great foods on Liz’s revised list of the best cat foods. You can find the link on the homepage of this blog. You won’t find much fish; it’s too polluted to be healthy for cats.

      Please stop believing that myth about dry food being good for cats’ teeth. Only raw hunks of meat and bone really give cats’ teeth a workout, which is why conscientious owners feed their cats “whole prey” or whole raw pieces of chicken, etc. (I’m not that conscientious myself). But thinking that kibble is good for cats’ teeth is like thinking that Lucky Charms or CrackerJack is good for cleaning children’s teeth. It’s all junk, all of it. Good luck in your quest.

  21. Hi. My question has to do with Wellness grain free dry food. My vet change over to this food cause one I’d Mr other cats had a liver issue. Weekday do you Rini is their talk.

    1. I fed my two kittens the Wellness brand Kitten Health Dry Cat food and one started up old behavioral problems as well as “scooting” after using the litter box, and the other one seemed to be in pain. They could not stop eating the food, either, so I assume the product contains MSG in some form (“exitotoxins”). I took the same food away for awhile and their behavior/symptoms, improved. Since I was not sure it was the food, I reintroduced the food and the same symptoms returned. I threw away the food and I went back to the Organix brand. The kittens are more mild-tempered and energetic again.

      1. Maria, Hi. I just had a whole lot of trouble with Organix Organic dry food. My cat was obsessed with it, gorging himself if I let him. He was actually sitting by the drawer where I had to keep it because I found him tearing apart the bag. I feared MSG and checked and it had “natural flavors”. A red flag for MSG hidden. I phoned the company and was told that the “natural flavors” consists of enzymes and amino acids for “palatability. I googled those words and found a site about MSG and where it is hidden and it said enzymes and amino acids mixed with protein create MSG in the food and in your kitty. Also, the second ingredient is Poultry Meal, and they didn’t really give me a satisfactory answer about what that is. They did say it’s not organic because according to them you can’t get organic Poultry Meal. So why put it in there then? Now I’m back searching what to do and have decided to keep him on wet food. He is FIV positive and I need to be careful. I’m going to try growing organic cat grass for him, maybe that will help his teeth a little too.

        1. I forgot to say he also developed a really bad skin hives or welts on that food. I thin because he is FIV he has strong reactions to adverse stuff. He was also vomiting and is so so much better now, his normal self off of that Organix.

  22. I’ve heard Weruva has developed their own substitute for carageenan that evolved from the processing of their foods.. my understanding from the regional rep is that they are no longer manufacturing food with carageenan in it.

  23. Best canned cat food I have found is Hound and Gatos. No junk, no grains, no carageneen, made from 100% animal protein. Check it out and tell me what you think. Hound I have a kitten and went crazy trying to find decent food, and thought this one is the best. Sabrina

  24. Hi,
    I noticed that the new batch of ziwipeak have removed carrageenan from their ingredients.
    Looks like the company does listen to its consumers.
    I only feed my cat ziwipeak lamb. I can’t get the tiki cat chicken in singapore


  25. What do you think of Merrick’s Cowboy Cookout? I bought a can to try for my suddenly finicky cat(she will eat Fancy Feast and Meow Mix wet foods but no longer loves her Wellness or several other better quality wet foods we tried. I’m hoping the issue is that she now prefer chucks/shredded food to pate) She seemed to like it and our other 3 cats loved it but now I’m discovering they changed their recipe a while ago and now it may be not so good? Any advice on feeding this one?

      1. Thank you,I had never heard of these brands. Discovered last night that she loves Tiki chicken food. Because of the price that one will be served only occassionally

    1. Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Ocean Whitefish, Natural Flavors, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach, Pea Protein, Pea Fiber, Vinegar, Vitamins & Minerals (Zinc Chelate, Calcium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Salt, Taurine.

      The red flags for me are: “Natural Flavors: — usually means MSG which is very bad for animals. Ocean Whitefish — cats — especially male cats — shouldn’t have fish every day (see below). Spinach — (from the ASPCA — While a leaf or two may not be an issue for a healthy adult cat, chronic and/or large ingestion of spinach could potentially cause crystal formation in the urinary tract. (And P.S., Because of this, spinach should be avoided completely in any cat with a history of urinary problems, including infections, crystaluria and kidney disease.).

      Fish for cats — By Jean Hofve, DVM

      A lot of cats love fish, but it’s really not a good idea to feed it to your cat! Why not? Because it is simply no longer safe to feed to cats (and humans should be very careful about eating it themselves and feeding it to children!).

      * The fish used in canned pet foods usually includes bones, and is high in phosphorus and magnesium, which can be an issue in cats with a history of urinary tract disorders or kidney disease. In practice, I have seen quite many cats develop urinary tract infections and blockages if they eat much fish–even boneless fish like canned tuna.

      * Many cats are sensitive or even allergic to fish; it is one of the top 3 most common feline food allergens.

      * Fish-based foods contain high levels of histamine, a protein involved in allergic reactions.

      * While cats can synthesize their own Vitamin K from most food sources, fish-based foods may not support sufficient Vitamin K synthesis. Vitamin K is necessary for proper blood clotting. The most common synthetic Vitamin K supplement, menadione, has toxicity issues. We do not recommend feeding any cat food containing menadione.

      * There is a known link between the feeding of fish-based canned cat foods and the development of hyperthyroidism in older cats.

      * Predatory fish at the top of the food chain, such as tuna and salmon, may contain very elevated levels of heavy metals (including mercury) as well as PCBs, pesticides, and other toxins. Tilefish (listed on pet food labels as “ocean whitefish”) are among the worst contaminated, along with king mackerel, shark, and swordfish. These fish are so toxic that the FDA advises women of child-bearing age and children to avoid them entirely; and they recommend only 1 serving of albacore tuna per week due to its high mercury levels. If these fish are dangerous to children, cats are at even higher risk!

      * A substance called domoic acid, a very stable, heat resistant toxin produced by certain species of algae that are becoming more common in coastal regions due to climate change. Domoic acid particularly accumulates in mussels, clams, scallops, and fish. Because it is so dangerous, the FDA limits the amount of this neurotoxin in seafood. However, new research indicates that domoic acid causes damage to the kidneys at concentrations 100 times less than the amount that causes brain toxicity. This is especially concerning for cat guardians, because not only can the legal level of domoic acid in any seafood harm the kidneys, but fish that are condemned for human consumption due to excessive domoic acid may instead be processed into pet food. Could contaminated fish in cat food be a hidden factor in the high rate of chronic kidney disease in older cats, who may have been eating this toxin every day for years?

      * Fish and other seafood in the Pacific Ocean have been exposed to leaking radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power facility in Japan for nearly three years. While the authorities continue to assert that there is (so far) no danger from eating Pacific seafood, the plant is still releasing 300 tons of highly toxic radioactive water into the ocean every day, with no end in sight. The first part of the initial radioactive plume has already reached U.S. shores; and low levels of Fukushima-specific radioisotopes have been found in West Coast seafood. While the Pacific Ocean’s vastness can and does greatly dilute the radioactive materials, the continuing leakage–as well as Japan’s recently-revealed dishonesty about its estimates of the amount of radiation involved–is cause for some concern. Arecent meta-analysis found reported significant negative effects on the immune system, and well as increased mutations and disease occurrence even at extremely low levels.

      * Salmon is a popular cat food ingredient, but today nearly all of it comes from factory-farmed fish. These unfortunate animals are kept in overcrowded net pens– feedlots–in polluted coastal waters. They’re fed anti-fungals, antibiotics, and brightly-colored dyes to make their flesh “salmon colored”–it would otherwise be gray. Common water pollutants such as PCBs, pesticides, and other chemicals are present in farmed salmon at 10 times the amount found in wild fish. These contaminants will be present in any product made with farmed fish, including cat and dog food.

      * “Organic” salmon is also farm-raised, and does not have to comply with USDA organic standards. In fact, there is currently no regulatory agency in the United States that sets organic standards for fish. The contaminant level of organic farmed salmon may be just as high as that of conventional farmed salmon.

      * Even “wild-caught” Alaskan and Pacific salmon may have been born and raised in a hatchery.

      * Farmed salmon transmit diseases and parasites; those who escape their pens (and they do) outcompete and interbreed with wild salmon.

      * A 2006 study confirms that salmon farms are “massive breeding grounds” for sea lice. Under natural conditions, wild adult fish carrying these parasites are not in migration channels at the same time as the defenseless, inch-long baby salmon, so infestation of the young fish is not a problem. But today, in waters near fish farms (which tend to be located at the end of those same migration channels), up to 95% of baby salmon are fatally infested. It is feared that that farmed salmon from nearly 300 fish factories in North America may ultimately decimate the wild population in the Atlantic.

      * New research (Dec. 2013) from the University of California raises concerns that the plastics floating in our oceans are absorbing chemical pollutants from the water. Toxins can move up the food chain, starting when fish eat small, contaminated pieces of plastic. Those contaminants enter their tissues, and are transferred to those who eat the fish: including bigger fish (e.g., tuna, mackerel, and tilefish–the fish most commonly referred to as “ocean whitefish”), as well as people and pets.

      * Fish tends to be “addictive” to cats. They love it, and will often stage a “hunger strike” by refusing their regular food in favor of fish. Tuna or other fish should be reserved as a rare and special treat. Feed fish no more than once a week, and even then in very small amounts only.

      * The meat is unhealthy, and the fishing/aquaculture industry is environmentally destructive–need we say more?

      In general, the small amounts of “fish meal” included as a flavoring and/or source of omega-3 fatty acids in cat foods are not a problem, but fish should not be a mainstay of any cat’s diet. Fish should be limited to an occasional–and small–treat.

      1. So I wouldn’t feed it every day — but as a twice a week food topper to provide a mix of proteins, tastes and textures to prevent “food fatigue” it’s not so bad. I tried it twice and may cats were pretty luke warm toward it so I switched to other things.

      2. “Even “wild-caught” Alaskan and Pacific salmon may have been born and raised in a hatchery.”

        Oh my gosh! What is one to do? For us as well! I have been getting sick when eating canned salmon “wild caught” and I used to be fine with it. Thank you so much for all of this information. I accidentally fed mine fish because a wrong flavor got in with what I usually buy and he seemed a little unwell the next day or two. Maybe this is why.

    2. Don’t ever try that food,my dog die from that food,after feeding him two weeks he developed pancreatitis,then sudden kidney failure and die,his vet told me it was the food,,so stay away from that brand.