Cheap cat food is no better than feeding it a McDonald's
- British cat owners are unknowingly feeding their pets poor quality food as well as handing out scraps like chicken nuggets and cheese, according to research.
- A study of 2,000 cat owners revealed many are oblivious about what foods could be harmful to their moggy’s health – with some even sharing takeaways and leftovers.
- One in 20 simply buy the cheapest cat food on offer, and a further 15 per cent swap from brand to brand dependant on what’s on offer.
- And leading veterinarian Rodney Zasman explains that serving up some of the cheaper cat foods available, could be no better than feeding your cat a daily dose of McDonald’s.
The research, commissioned by Lily’s Kitchen, to coincide with the launch of its new Suppurrs Stew cat food range, also found nearly four in 10 cat owners NEVER check the label when buying cat food, with 64 per cent baffled about what they should look for.
A fifth of owners don’t even know their cats are carnivores – which would explain why one in 10 would feed raw vegetables, and another one in 20 salad leaves, to their cat.
Rodney Zasman, leading London veterinarian, said: “It’s alarming that many of the nation’s cat owners are oblivious to what constitutes a healthy diet for their pets. Particularly when healthy eating plays such a big part in modern day living for the owners themselves.
“One of the biggest dangers to our cats’ health is actually poor quality, mass produced pet food.
“In some instances these foods contain as little as 4% meat and, as a result, cats aren’t getting the nutrition they need to keep them healthy. But many cat owners are largely unaware of this fact and only find out when they take their poorly or overweight moggy to the vet.”
Despite not being clued up on feline food needs, two thirds of British cat owners believe the food they buy covers all of their pet’s nutritional requirements.
Interestingly the study shows 67 per cent of owners would NOT be prepared to feed their cat carcasses of other animals, hides and skins, pigs’ bristles, heads of poultry and feathers – and yet experts warn that’s exactly what can be found in some cat foods in supermarkets today.
Vet Rodney Zasman adds: “Feline obesity is a huge issue in the UK, as well as a host of other health complaints, many of which are caused by eating the wrong type of food which is low in real meat and high in a range of other, less nutritious ingredients, cleverly disguised on the label as ‘meat and animal derivatives’.
“In many cases it isn’t the owner’s fault however. Cats are independent creatures and often very fussy eaters so it’s not always easy to tell when a cat is becoming unwell due to its diet. As owners we just want to see our pets happy and feeding them something they like is usually top of owners’ priorities.”
This fact is reflected in the survey results. For a third of respondents, the choice of food to provide isn’t theirs – as their cat simply won’t eat a brand other than its favourite. However, by patiently transitioning cats onto new foods, owners can have a much better success rate when introducing a new recipe.
- Four in 10 Brits give foodstuffs to their cat when they aren’t sure it’s healthy for them – and almost a quarter will still feed their cat treats even if they know it won’t do them good.
- A further 40 per cent are happy to share their own meals with their cats, with some handing out scraps from their own plates.
- And one even reported their cat loves nothing more than to nibble on a piece of leftover fruitcake when given the chance, which could be harmful to the cat.
- A third of pet owners have given their cat cheese without realising large amounts can be dangerous, and one in 20 have offered it a piece of chocolate.
- And almost a fifth are happy to let their cat lick from a bowl of cream, which can be unhealthy for pets.
- More than a third of Brits worry their cat isn’t eating as healthily as they could be, and time spent preparing pet food is a fraction of that spent cooking for the human members of the family.
- Sadly, on occasion a cat’s diet can lead to professional intervention; as a fifth of cat owners have had to take their pet to the vet after eating something that disagreed with it.
- A further 28 per cent admit their cat has been diagnosed with either being overweight, or suffering another medical condition such as skin problems and diabetes due to its diet.
Henrietta Morrison, founder and CEO of Lily’s Kitchen, said: “We want to help educate cat owners about what constitutes a healthy diet – including proper meat and natural ingredients – which will keep the nation’s cats purring happily and healthily.
“What concerns us most is the amount of ‘nasties’ that are contained in some of the mass-produced cat food available in UK supermarkets, including cheap bulking ingredients such as cereals, which cats can find difficult to digest.
“Cat owners don’t stand a chance when the labelling is so misleading and doesn’t state clearly what the packet or tin contains. In some cases, meat and animal derivatives with only 4% of the specified ‘meat’ are included in the total ingredients, which could be anything from feathers and skin to heads of poultry.”
Lily’s Kitchen’s new Suppurrs Stew range of food for cats is made using only proper meat and offal, with 33% delicious shredded chicken fillets and absolutely no meat-meal, fish-meal, bone-meal or rendered meat. Available in Pets at Home, Waitrose, Ocado and independent pet shops nationwide.