Don’t Feed Cats These Dangerous Cat Food Ingredients

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Pets truly are like family. They keep us company, offer unconditional love, and are always there to provide comfort when we’re down. You would never want to purposely harm your beloved animal. And yet, you could be jeopardizing their health without even realizing it with these dangerous cat food ingredients.

If you’re not paying close attention to the food you serve your cat, you could be putting them at risk. That’s because many cat food brands include sub-par ingredients that are detrimental to your kitty’s growth and development.

So, what do you need to lookout for to avoid harming your feline’s health? Read ahead to find out.

Plant-Based Protein

Pet resource Kitty Catter makes it plain: “As a general rule of thumb, remember that the first three ingredients on the cat food label should be meat.” After all, housecats descend from game-hunting jungle cats, and as such, require a lot of protein to maintain their metabolism. It’s recommended that any food you serve your cat ought to be 30% protein, but even then, not all protein is created equal.

“Plant protein sources are cheaper and help to round out the guaranteed analysis,” explains Kitty Catter. But protein derived from peas, soybean meal or corn gluten meal are “processed inefficiently by the body, increasing the burden on the liver and kidneys.”

In short, your cat requires real meat protein, not plant-based alternatives.


Cats are natural carnivores, and as such, require few carbohydrates to survive. Only about 1-2% of your cat’s diet should be comprised of carbs, yet most dry cat food is packed with them while canned cat foods often break down to 30-40% carbohydrates.

Currently, cat food labeling is not required to reveal carbohydrate content, but you can identify the ingredients that are likely a major source: corn, wheat, potatoes, rice, and oats. If any of these ingredients are listed first, second, or third on a cat food container—steer clear.

BHT, BHA, and Ethoxyquin

These are all chemical preservatives that are often packed into cat food, which can do real damage to their health. BHT and BHA are both linked to organ failure, skin conditions and potentially cancer. You can avoid them by seeking cat foods that are preserved with mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E).

As for Ethoxyquin, it has also been flagged as a potential carcinogen, which explains why the EPA has made it illegal for human consumption. Unfortunately, even when Ethoxyquin is not intentionally added to cat food, it sometimes ends up in your kitty’s dinner nonetheless. That’s because it can sneak into fish meal during early stages of the supply chain.

So, how can you make sure your cat doesn’t end up swallowing this toxin? Look at the ingredients. If there are multiple additives you don’t recognize, there’s a chance that Ethoxyquin may have made its way in at some point in the process.

What Should I Feed My Cat?

Start by asking your veterinarian. They will have a list of high-quality cat foods that you can likely find at a discount either online or at big box stores. There are also great, inexpensive pet snacks in your pantry.

Veterinarian consultants at The Spruce Pets recommend Crave Grain Free High Protein Cat Food, which you can order for around $30 from Amazon.

“The main ingredient is meat,” they wrote, “which is blended with essential carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.”


Kitty Catter
The Spruce Pets