Cat kibble—are there any benefits of dry cat food?
We would all like to feed our feline companions delicious personalised meals, but gourmet cuisine is not always cheap. That’s why many cat parents end up basing their kitty’s diet on processed dry food. Cat kibble is the convenient alternative to costly canned goods since it’s way more affordable, and our four-legged friends seem to enjoy it.
Sadly, kibble has a bad rap for being too “sugary,” and while that may sound delicious to us—it can be harmful to your kitty. Feline metabolism is not intended to process high amounts of carbohydrates, so excessive consumption can cause a series of health issues.
Is dry cat food that bad? Are there any upsides? Let’s look into the nutritional values of dry food and finally let the cat out of, or potentially, into the kibble bag!
What is cat kibble?
Cat kibble is processed dry feline food. It’s typically made from ground meat (mostly beef or poultry), dough, cereals, and vegetables, but the exact ingredients vary from brand to brand. Some manufacturers use eggs as the primary protein source instead of meat, while others use meat derivatives as the base. Cat biscuits are packaged and sold in bags, so the portion size is left to cat parents to decide.
Dry food is supposed to mimic the natural feline diet in terms of nutritional value. It should contain various antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins your indoor cat needs to be healthy.
“What on earth am I feeding my cat?” or how to read cat kibble labels
Have you ever found yourself staring at the back of a kibble package, feeling perplexed? Don’t worry—here’s a breakdown of the most common chemical compounds in dry cat food:
Why it’s there
Sodium selenite, or selenium for short, is meant to keep your kitty’s fur and skin in tip-top shape. When combined with vitamin E, the chemical compound strengthens the skin cell structure and helps prevent numerous skin conditions, like excessive shedding, ringworm, etc.
It is a fancy word for vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 has a similar effect on cats as it has on humans, so it:
Biotin or vitamin B7 should keep your kitty’s coat super glossy and fabulous
Menadione sodium bisulfite complex
Another overly complicated term for a familiar substance—vitamin K. Potassium is vital to feline nutrition since it aids the formation of blood clots in case of trauma (e.g., a literal catfight), saving your pet from bleeding out. It’s also great for your kitty’s bones, allowing them to age gracefully
Unfortunately, there’s no alternate “non-fancy'' name for this substance. Manganous oxide is a chemical compound that:
Wait, why is copper in my cat’s food? To take care of their skin and fur! Copper is an important dietary supplement that creates melanin and connective tissues, preventing alopecia and similar diseases
How is dry cat food made?
The process of making cat kibble is quite similar to how we produce cereal and other corn-based food. There are four stages of dry cat food production:
- Mixing—The kibble ingredients are all combined in a mixer and pulverised into a special dough. To make the mixing easier, the meat, vegetables, and grain are typically crushed before this stage. Bulking materials are also added to the mix
- Extrusion—Since the dough is extremely moist after mixing, it must be properly cooked. The paste-like substance is placed into an expander that applies hot water or pressurised steam to heat it. Once fully cooked, the dough is pushed through several holes, aka dies, and shaped into tiny biscuits that expand after coming in contact with air
- Drying and cooling—Even after extrusion, cat kibble is still quite moist, so it must be dried out before packaging. The drying is usually done in a standard oven, so there’s no need for fancy equipment at this stage! Once the pieces are dried and cooled off, the makers add a topcoat containing the necessary vitamins lost during the cooking process. Besides the supplemental nutritional value, the coating also provides the flavour (e.g., chicken)
- Packaging—The final stage is the packaging. All the pieces are poured into bags of different sizes and shipped to pet stores around the country
Is dry food bad for your cat?
While dry food for cats contains chemical compounds vital for your kitty’s wellbeing (potassium and selenium, for example), it’s still a far cry from their ancestral feeding patterns. Cats are carnivorous creatures incapable of digesting high amounts of carbohydrates usually present in cat biscuits.
If your feline is on a kibble-only diet, it might lead to a slew of chronic health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Intestinal blockage
- Skin disease
- Allergies and food intolerance
Cat biscuits are often made with vegetable protein and fibre, so a crucial ingredient might be missing from the food—taurine.
Taurine is a type of amino sulfonic acid necessary for your kitty’s:
- Eye function
- Immune system
- Heart function
- Growth and development
- Gastrointestinal tract
Unlike their two-legged caretakers, cats can’t produce taurine and have to consume it regularly. A diet based solely on different types of dry cat food can result in amino acid insufficiency and cause various health problems, so you must pay close attention to the ingredients list of a particular product.
Can kittens eat kibble?
Kitten food should be rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids like Omega-3. The nutritional value of cat kibble is usually not high enough to meet your kitty’s energy needs and sustain their development.
Another issue with dry food is the rough texture. When they’re old enough to eat solid food, kittens still have their baby teeth which aren’t strong enough to chew through the biscuits.
You don’t want your tiny ball of fur to develop an aversion towards dry food, though. It’s a good idea to introduce cat kibble at an early age to get them used to the taste. Try tearing off a tiny bit of biscuit and dipping it in the kitten formula to soften it.
Keep in mind that fresh milk is a big no-no! Use a kitten milk replacer (KMR) instead since it’s easier on the stomach and won't cause tummy troubles.
Here’s a short checklist of other dangerous food items you should exclude from your kitten’s diet:
- Chocolate and caffeine
- Grapes (raisins too)
- Fruit seeds
- Allium vegetables (onion, garlic, and chives)
- Raw meat and eggs
- Raw yeast and dough
- Other dairy products (e.g., cheese)
Note that these are harmful to adult cats as well!
Keeping up with kittens requires a lot of calories!
Source: Jari Hytönen
Should my senior cat eat kibble?
As our feline companions approach the golden age, their appetites tend to drop. Since your senior cat will probably eat fewer meals, you need to ensure each serving has the appropriate nutritional value.
Cat kibble is a bit lacking when it comes to protein intake, so you might want to switch to wet food instead. Besides having a better protein ratio, it’s also richer in:
- Animal-based protein
- Amino acids
Depending on your kitty’s overall health, you may have to use a tailored diet. Many cats develop various dental problems in their later years, so you’ll probably have to adjust your pet’s meal plan accordingly.
….so I should switch to wet food entirely?
Wet cat food is much closer to your cat’s carnivorous ways in terms of bioavailable nutrients. For starters, it can have a whopping 78% moisture content which is super important. You might’ve noticed your kitty’s water bowl is often left untouched. That’s because cats don’t experience thirst on the same level as humans (or other pets) and can go on for days without taking a sip. Our feline friends hydrate mostly through their meals, which is why wet food is good for them!
Rich in animal-based protein and fats, canned food can benefit your kitty in many ways, including:
- Improving their kidney, bladder, and liver function
- Keeping their weight at an optimal level
- Preserving their muscle tone
- Helping their reproductive, digestive, and urinary health
Does that mean you should chuck cat kibble away in favour of canned food? Absolutely not! Dry food for cats plays an important role in the feline diet when used sparingly.
The benefits of cat biscuits
Affordability is not the only perk of cat kibble. Well-balanced portions of dry cat food can help with the following issues:
- Weight management—If your feline is losing too much weight, a high-carb diet can help them regain the lost pounds, and biscuits are overflowing with calories
- Dental health—Because of the rough texture, cat kibble is great for your cat’s oral health! Chewing on a dry biscuit removes the plaque buildup from their teeth and helps prevent dental diseases like gingivitis
- Malnutrition recovery—A cat suffering from starvation needs time to recover. Feeding them larger meals may worsen the situation and cause various side effects, so you must serve them controlled portions. Dry food is easy to measure, and cats cannot devour it, rather nibble on the biscuits slowly
When it comes to your feline companion’s long-term health, most vets agree it’s best to combine the two types of food. If you stick to a balanced diet of biscuits and canned food, your cat will have fewer gastrointestinal and dental problems, better weight management, and a stronger immune response.
Wait, how do I measure the portions?
To sidestep the Goldilocks dilemma, check out these helpful tips for measuring cat kibble portions:
- Use a measuring cup—You can purchase a measuring kit from your local pet store to serve the recommended amount of dry food
- Stick to the same measuring technique—Whether you’re using a measuring cup or a food bowl, make sure to be consistent with the measuring method. After you scoop the food with your chosen instrument, give it a little shake to level it out
- Set aside a daily dose of kibble—Divide the contents of the kibble bag into portions so you don't have to measure the serving for every meal
- Measure the servings on the kitchen scales—Weighing the cat kibble is the most precise way of determining the portion size. Many brands include a recommended weight in grams on the back of their products, making it even easier to prepare the meal
Help, I raised a fussy eater!
Cats are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to their grub. If your feline companion is used to munching on cat kibble, it’ll take some time to warm them up to wet food and vice versa.
Even if your cat isn’t a fussy eater, you shouldn’t change their meal plan abruptly! Instead, muster up your parental patience and try the following:
- Mix the canned goods with the cat kibble—Gradually introduce wet food by mixing it with their daily dose of biscuits
- Microwave the food—Dry food is typically kept at room temperature, so your kitty might be put off by the cold canned food. Heat it in the microwave to enhance the “meaty” aroma and tickle your cat’s senses
- Hand-feed your cat—Your feline friend usually trusts you, so they are more likely to accept a different product if it’s hand-fed to them. Take a little piece of wet food and have them sniff it first. Under no circumstances should you force-feed your cat or you risk traumatising them
- Give your furry friend some privacy—Try to create a safe space for your cat to inspect the new dish in private
Untamed has the perfect solution for diva behaviour! Besides being pawsitively delicious, our recipes are packed with all the necessary nutrients. Check out our popular gravy and jelly formulas:
- Tuck-in Tuna—Tuna whole meat 60%, Fish broth 37%, Tapioca 1%
- Chocka Chicken—Chicken breast 60%, Chicken broth 37%, Tapioca 1%
- Full-on Fishy—Tuna whole meat 45%, Fish broth 33%, Sardine 13%, Mackerel 5%, Tapioca 1%
- Chocka Chicken with Duck—Chicken breast 55%, Chicken broth 37%, Duck 5%, Tapioca 1%
To treat your cat to one of these delights, fill out our online questionnaire!
Hmm...Fine—I’ll give it a go, but it’d better be good, hooman!
Source: Piotr Musioł
Untamed is the master chef of cat cuisine!
If you want to treat your feline companion to top-of-the-range meals at affordable prices, Untamed is the purrfect solution! We run an ethical business and make gourmet meals for cats with top-notch ingredients and advanced cooking methods.
Here’s what you can expect from our premium products:
- High-protein meals—All Untamed recipes are made with ethically sourced meat with optimal protein and amino acid levels
- Allergen-free ingredients—We offer a variety of hypoallergenic recipes for sensitive felines. All Untamed products are entirely hormone-free and don’t contain irritable substances such as grain and vegetable protein
- Vet-formulated recipes—Untamed food is designed by vets for the unique biology of cats
- Human-grade ingredients—The ingredients we use for our kitty meals are of human-grade quality. You won’t find meat derivatives and artificial flavouring in our carefully crafted recipes
We use only the best meat cuts for our meals, and the preparation process maintains the premium quality. Each product is steam-cooked not to lose the original nutritional value of the ingredients.
Mouth-watering ingredients prepared with expertise. Don’t believe us? Have a bite!
Image (c) Untamed
When does the Untamed effect kick in?
The health benefits of treating your feline companion to Untamed meals become evident in a matter of weeks! Here’s an approximate timeline for the most notable changes in your kitty’s health:
The Untamed diet effects
Within a week
After two months
Within four months
How to try Untamed food
It smells kinda nice, actually. Alright, you have my attention!
Image (c) Untamed
Have our culinary skills piqued your interest? If so, you can sign up for an Untamed taster pack and let your kitty be the judge of it! Complete the following steps to order our canned cat food online:
- Visit our Try Now page
- Tell us more about your cat
- Select a meal plan and place your order
Your cat’s Untamed meal will arrive shortly after, with no additional shipping costs! Should your four-legged friend deem our food worthy, you can schedule monthly deliveries of selected dishes.
Our cat food subscription service bends to your needs—you are free to make changes to your meal plan at any point.