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Food Composition and Nutrition Values

4 min read

Dry cat foods comprise several basic nutrition components crucial to a cat’s overall health and well-being. These components include:

  1. Protein
  2. Fats
  3. Carbohydrates
  4. Fibers
  5. Vitamins
  6. Minerals

Protein #

Protein is the most important component in a cat’s diet. As obligate carnivores, cats require a diet rich in animal-based proteins for several reasons:

  • Body Maintenance and Repair: Proteins are the building blocks for muscles, enzymes, hormones, and other vital body components. Cats require a constant supply of high-quality protein to maintain and repair their body tissues.
  • Energy Source: In addition to being the primary source of amino acids, protein is also an important source of energy for cats. When carbohydrates and fats are insufficient or unavailable, proteins can be metabolized to provide energy.
  • Amino Acid Requirements: Cats have specific amino acid requirements that can only be met through the consumption of animal-based proteins. Plant-based proteins often lack certain essential amino acids or have an imbalanced amino acid profile, making them an incomplete source of protein for cats.

Example: A dry cat food containing 50% dry matter protein from animal sources like chicken meal and fish meal would provide a high-quality, complete source of protein for a cat’s dietary needs.

Fats #

Fats are a primary source of energy and are essential for various bodily functions in cats:

  • Energy Density: Fats are more energy-dense than proteins and carbohydrates, providing approximately 2.5 times more energy per gram.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Fats contain essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, which are crucial for building cell membranes, maintaining healthy skin and coat, and supporting various metabolic processes.
  • Palatability: Fats contribute to the overall palatability and flavor of the food, making it more appealing to cats.

Example: A dry cat food containing chicken fat and fish oil as fat sources would provide a concentrated source of energy and essential fatty acids for a cat’s diet.

Carbohydrates #

Carbohydrates are a controversial component in a cat’s diet, as cats are obligate carnivores and their natural diet in the wild contains minimal carbohydrates (around 5% from chewing grass and consuming the stomach contents of their prey). However, dry cat foods often contain higher levels of carbohydrates from various sources:

  • Grains: Corn, wheat, and barley are commonly used as inexpensive fillers and sources of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. However, their digestibility for cats is relatively low, and they can cause food intolerances and allergies.
  • Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, peas, and lentils are non-grain sources of highly digestible carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Example: A dry cat food containing peas and lentils as carbohydrate sources would provide a more digestible and potentially less allergenic source of carbohydrates compared to grain-based sources like corn or wheat.

Fibers #

Fibers play a crucial role in digestion and food absorption processes in cats:

  • Digestive Health: Fibers promote regular bowel movements and help maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • Satiety: Fibers can contribute to a feeling of fullness and satiety, which can aid in weight management.

Example: A dry cat food containing peas and beet pulp as fiber sources would support digestive health and promote a feeling of fullness in cats.

Vitamins and Minerals #

Vitamins and minerals are essential micronutrients required in small amounts for various metabolic, regulatory, growth, and other physiological functions in cats:

  • Bone Health: Minerals like calcium and phosphorus are essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
  • Immune Function: Vitamins like vitamin C and minerals like zinc play crucial roles in supporting a healthy immune system.
  • Metabolic Processes: Vitamins and minerals are involved in various metabolic processes, such as energy production, enzyme function, and hormone regulation.

Example: A dry cat food fortified with chelated minerals like zinc proteinate and vitamin supplements like vitamin E would provide essential micronutrients in a highly bioavailable form for optimal utilization by a cat’s body.

Guaranteed Analysis #

When food manufacturers provide a guaranteed analysis of their dry cat food, they typically include the following information:

  1. Crude Protein: The total amount of protein in the food, including animal- and plant-based sources.
  2. Crude Fat: The total amount of fat in the food, including animal- and plant-based sources.
  3. Crude Fiber: The total amount of indigestible plant material in the food.
  4. Carbohydrates: The total amount of carbohydrates in the food may be listed directly or calculated by subtracting the other components from 100%.
  5. Moisture: The amount of water or moisture present in the food.
  6. Crude Ash: The residue after burning the food at high temperatures represents the mineral and trace element content.

Example: A guaranteed analysis for a dry cat food might read:

  • Crude Protein (min): 34%
  • Crude Fat (min): 16%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 4%
  • Moisture (max): 10%
  • Ash (max): 7%

Updated on June 12, 2024
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How the score is calculated?

The actual calculation of the score is based on sophisticated and advanced algorithm that takes into account multiple parameters.

To simplify the explanation, the calculation is based on three main criteria:

(1) Amount of protein (more is better)

(2) Amount of carbohydrates (less is better)

(3) Quality and source of ingredients.

Based on that 3 main criteria, 9 score calculation rules are used to compare the different foods.

One major assumption is that the closer an ingredient is to the top of the ingredient list, the greater its relative weight and contribution to the food.

In general, cat food is composed of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins, and minerals.

Protein is the most important component in a cat’s diet, and cats primarily get their protein from animal meat.

Fat is a primary source of energy and essential fatty acids.

Carbohydrates are controversial in a cat’s diet, as cats are obligate carnivores and typically consume very few carbohydrates.

Fibers play an important role in digestion and food absorption, and vitamins and minerals are essential for different organism functions.

Dry matter values are used to compare the amount of nutrients in different cat foods.
This means that moisture is excluded from the equation to provide a more accurate comparison.

Putting all of these and more into a formula results in a product score.

The maximum score a cat food can receive is 100.
Points are added or removed based on the score calculation rules.