How to Decipher Pet Food Labels

Let’s be honest, most food labels, being human or for our pets, are not really designed for your average Jo… you really do need specialist detailed knowledge if you wish to fully understand what you or your pet are eating. Human food labelling is slowly getting better, the regulations are changing and some labels are becoming straight forward, but what about pet food? Not so fast to change, so how do you go about deciphering that?

Well, this is a good question. Unclear terms and tons of marketing babble can make it really hard to truly understand what’s inside the packet.

Recently, I came across an article “Calls for clearer labelling on pet food” by Dogs Monthly, which features an infographic by Data Label. There was a part which really made me think.

What is Meat Meal?

Well, apparently there is no official definition of it, but it seems to be a high concentrated lower grade protein powder obtained from rendering down parts of an animal, which cost a fraction of the whole animal…

Every time you read on your label dehydrated, powder, dried, meal, concentrated… this is not whole meat, those are parts of the animal which are either surplus requirements in the human food industry or are not intended for human consumption… doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?

Now here is another pet food labelling dilemma. Let’s say, I just bought a puppy and I want to buy a high protein dog food to help him grow up big and strong… I look at the labels, I study all the numbers and tables and pick the one which shows the highest amount of protein… sounds good, right? Well, not really… it’s maybe not the right choice or even a good choice because I have no idea what type of protein they are using… protein from the whole chicken does not equal proteins obtained from say chicken beaks or feet… yet looking at the labels I will never know which grade of protein is in the pack.

A lot of people think that naturally the more expensive the food, then the better quality it is… I personally strongly DO NOT agree with this! I think if this would be the truth then there would be no need for mystery labelling… I think the company would be proud to clearly state what’s in their food for everyone to understand without having a degree in deciphering mystery labels. Don’t ever underestimate what a fully funded marketing department can achieve.

If you hoped this post will give you an answer as to how to read pet labels, well, I am sorry I couldn’t help…

Pet food labelling shouldn’t be a mystery, it should be clear, simple and understandable to everyone, to all customers.

I hope one day this will become a reality!

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More on the topic:

The Science of Pet Food Labels

How to Read a Pet Food Label

Understanding Pet Food Labels

Feline diet or “What your cat should and shouldn’t eat”

Feline diet or What your cat should and shouldn’t eat*Sponsored by Gourmet

Cats like every other creature on the planet have to eat. Wild cats will usually tend to fend for themselves, and survive on what they can find or kill but our house cats can be a little spoilt for choice when it comes to food.

Many pet owners tend to feed their pets with leftovers from the human table. Personally, I am totally against this. Just in case you missed it, cats are not human and in many cases feeding those scraps to your cat can end up doing more harm than good.

The list of foods which you should never feed to your cats:

Onions – they are a big no, no as they can lead to anaemia by breaking down your cat’s red blood cells.

Milk and dairy products – well the stereotypical image of cats drinking milk is wrong! Most cats simply can’t process dairy products and as a result they will end up having digestive problems.

Chocolate – even a small amount of chocolate, especially a dark one with a high content of cocoa can be extremely dangerous for cats.

Cooked bones – yes cats have sharp, strong little teeth but bones can splinter. You can give raw bones to your cat (if you know that the meat is safe and has no weird bacteria on it) so they can eat the leftover meat from it but never, ever feed cooked bones.

Human medicine – intentionally or not your cat should never have any human medicines. If they are poorly take them to the vet, never risk “self-medicating” your cat with your own pills and potions.

Alcohol, grapes, raisins, caffeine, candy, raw eggs – the list go on and on…

So what food should cats eat?

Well, cat food… to answer it shortly.

Cat food manufacturers know best what is good for our furry friends and we should really trust their expertise when it comes to feline food. Cat food is specially formulated to provide all the necessary ingredients, proteins and vitamins needed for our little fluffballs. Dry kibbles or wet food the choice is yours but please stick to the cat food.

Archie, the feline foodie knows best what is and what isn’t good for his fellow cat-kind.

Do you know what is and isn’t good for your cat?

How to please your cat

How to please your catWell, this is the million dollar question…

Cats aren’t like any other creatures, they aren’t as predictable as dogs and if you want to please them you really have to think hard as to what might give them some pleasure today.

When it comes to my two cats they are both very different, they like different things and they seem to gain pleasure by totally different activities. Mr. Ginger likes his cuddles, he will come and lay on your laps and wait for cuddles, when they aren’t coming he can be quite persistent with his demands; he is a very cuddly creature and if I feel like this is a good cuddles time I can simply pick him up and lets the session begin. Odie on the other hand isn’t as easily pleased… there is no way I can “force” a cuddle session on him; he likes to watch and observes the room around him but he will only allow any cuddle sessions to happen when he feels like it.

They aren’t full time indoor cats so they get their fair amount of climbing and chasing of things outside but it is nice to have something special for them when they return home… a new toy, scratching post, catnip plant… well all these things are good whilst they last but both of them seem to get bored very quickly.

Very often they will find unexpected object around the house and make it their favourite toy of the day… boxes and paper bags are on the top of their list of good times. Yet all that said there is definitely one constant thing which makes the happy at any time of the day… food!

Oh yes, both my cats are driven by food.

If by any chance I am late with supper, oh boy, you can be sure they will let me know by being very vocal. Their evening meal of a sachet of wet food seems to be the one constant thing which brings them pleasure every time and I know this is the only way I can please them without making a fool of myself.

Felix created an interesting video on How to please your cat. Have you watched it?

Can you relate to this behaviour? I know I can 😉

What do you do to try and please your cats?

*Post written in collaboration with Purina FELIX.

Cat Dreams – Felix Crunchy Crumbles Machine

Cat Dreams – Felix Crunchy Crumbles Machine

Have you ever stopped and wondered what your cats actually dream about? What on earth goes on in their minds….It might be a new soft bed to sleep in, a feline companion, a field with unlimited supply of mice or maybe something much more elaborate, something just like the Crunchy Crumbles Machine, a very complicated and rather clever contraption that has the dream job of serving new Felix Sensational cat food all day long!

I know my cats would love it, though not sure they would actually wait until the final presentation once the packet was open, more likely scenario is you watch them hunt the bowl down.

They both have access to dry kibbles all day long but once a day, in the evening, they share one sachet of wet cat food. The dogs are fed in the evening, so I always felt a bit guilty that we didn’t have anything special for the cats during “dinner” time. They used to stare at us with their big eyes and wait, when nothing was coming for them, they would walk away with an air tinged both with disapproval and disappointment. So finally picking up on the signals, meaning we caved to the emotional torture, we started to feed them wet food just as a treat.

It is quite amazing watching them just before their food is served. They walk around the kitchen and meow very loudly, they never meowed before we started feeding them the sachets – I guess in cat language it would be something like “Hurry up already”. I know that they aren’t hungry, or at least they shouldn’t be, as they can simply walk upstairs and munch on some kibbles whenever they want.

This is a very special time of the day for my cats. They can be happily running or hiding somewhere outside but as soon as I start making a rattle and preparing the dog food, the cats know that they are next, and who knows maybe today is the day they are first! So they will run to the kitchen and wait… not very quietly I must admit, nope, not anymore.

Cats are cleaver and cunning. I wonder, if they actually did have a Crunchy Crumbles Machine in their possession, would they wait for food to arrive or would they find a short-cut in?

* Post written in collaboration with Purina FELIX.

Review – Harringtons Cat Food – Chicken With Rice

Harringtons cat food chicken with rice
Harringtons cat food chicken with rice

As you can tell from the title my guys received some Harringtons cat food in chicken with rice flavour and there has been much munching going on with it for the last few weeks.

Both our boys are a bit fussy when it comes to food… something’s they will eat with such enthusiasm and leave their bowls looking like they were just taken out of the dishwasher yet totally ignore another seemingly equally yummy food – like with wet cat food – give them pouch and it is gone in seconds but give them the same food but from a tin and it would stand there for weeks (or in reality just a few minutes until Lilly the Labrador comes along and hoovers everything up). Same with dry food… with some of them they just walk around making extremely unhappy sounds, bemoaning their imminent demise due to starvation. Therefore I always worry when I am getting a new brand for them as I am not sure if it will be to their liking. This time we got lucky and Harringtons cat food with chicken and rice was very much to their liking.

My cats and Harringtons cat food chicken with rice

Harringtons cat food – chicken with rice – is a complete food for adults cats. According to the information on their website it can be eaten by kittens from 8 weeks onwards.

It is important to know and understand what is “inside” our pet’s food. Have a look below if you are interested to see how this is breaking down.

Composition: Chicken Meat Meal (40%), Maize, Rice (10%), Poultry Fat, Digest, Fish Oil, Beet Pulp, Minerals, Yeast (0.1%), Cranberry Extract (0.05%), Yucca Extract (0.02%).

Additives (Per Kg): Nutritional Additives: Vitamin A 21,000 iu, Vitamin D3 1995 iu, Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate) 220 iu, Taurine 750 mg, Iron Sulphate 165 mg, Calcium Iodate 2.5 mg, Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate 20 mg, Manganous Oxide 65 mg, Zinc Oxide 135 mg, Sodium Selenite 0.2 mg. Antioxidant – (contains tocopherol rich extracts – a natural antioxidant).

Analytical Constituents: Protein 30%, Fat Content 12%, Crude Fibre 2.5%, Crude Ash 7.5%, Omega 6, 1.7%, Omega 3, 0.3%, Calcium 1.4%, Phosphorous 1%.

To give you a comparison – Harringtons cat food with chicken and rice has 40% chicken meat meal and yet a household name and well know brand available in every superstore for your convenience and starting with “W” has only 4%! Shocking isn’t it?

Harringtons cat food chicken with rice comes in the form of flat disks roughly 1cm in diameter. All kibbles look the same (more or less I guess) just like this…

Size of Harringtons cat food chicken with rice

Many pet owners do not check what’s inside the box when it comes to pet food. It is sad but true. We all should be aware of what exactly we feed our pets.

It is hard to write a review for a product I did not actually try myself. Not like I can ask my boys – “Hey, what do you think?” What I can tell you is that my cats liked it. They have nice shiny coat, bags of energy, sparkly eyes and both seem most content while munching on their dinners. Yes I know, they probably go out afterwards and hunt some half asleep bird for their pudding but at least I know that I gave them a quality meal at home after that the rest is up to them. It may be a coincidence but we have noticed that we are experiencing a far higher demand for hugs and strokes since feeding them on the new Harringtons cat food, we like to think that it’s a karmic balance thing and we have been getting more love because they are pleased with our choice of grub…

Ode enjoying Harringtons cat food chicken with rice

To give you some more information about Harringtons cat food chicken with rice these are the product benefits as per the manufacturer description:

  • No added wheat, dairy, soya, beef, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
  • With Taurine to help support a healthy heart and eyes.
  • With MOS a prebiotic yeast to help support a healthy digestion.
  • With Cranberry, beneficial for urinary tract health.
  • With Calcium and Phosphorous for healthy teeth and bones.
  • With Vitamin E to help support immune function.
  • With Omega 3 for a healthy supple skin and glossy coat.
  • With Yucca to help reduce stool odour.

Harringtons cat food chicken with rice is available in 500g boxes or 2kg bags. Packaging comes with a printed panel that provides you with feeding instruction regarding the correct amounts according to the size of your cat (this is not very clear to be honest – I can see small, medium and large cat but no weight specifications). Food comes with no measuring cup and bag is not re-sealable. All other relevant information present on the packaging include: benefits, ingredients etc and best before date (yes, pet food can go off as well).

The plus is that Harringtons cat food is also available in some supermarkets for your convenience (Asda and Tesco). Next time you are doing your groceries take a minute to check the pet aisle and read what exactly goes inside your pet food!

And if you are not a cat person, Harringtons also makes dog food and dog treats as well as rabbit and guinea pig food.

How do you choose your pet food?

Do you read the labels?

* I received one 2kg bag of Harringtons cat food for free for review purpose. All opinions about the products are honest and my own.