8 Cat Food Ingredients to Look For & Ones to Avoid

1. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) BHA is an artificial preservative used in food, but it's deemed "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" by The National Toxicology Program. While small amounts may not harm cats, regular consumption poses health risks.

2. Caramel Added to cat food for color enhancement, caramel serves no nutritional purpose and may indicate lower quality. Many coloring agents, including caramel, pose potential health risks to cats.

3. Carrageenan This seaweed-derived thickening agent is controversial due to concerns about degraded carrageenan, a potential carcinogen. While the risk is debated, safer alternatives exist for thickening cat food.

4. Cellulose Primarily sourced from wood pulp, cellulose is a filler high in insoluble fiber. Excessive insoluble fiber can disrupt digestion and nutrient absorption, indicative of lower quality cat food.

5. Glucose / Dextrose Sugar in cat food, such as glucose and dextrose, can contribute to obesity and diabetes. These sweeteners are nutritionally unnecessary and potentially harmful over time.

6. Garlic Highly toxic to cats, garlic should be avoided in cat food despite claims of health benefits in small doses. The unnecessary risk outweighs any potential benefits.

7. Glyceryl Monostearate Found in lower-grade pet foods, this emulsifier may contain harmful additives like BHA and BHT. Its unknown chemical composition warrants avoidance.

8. Iron Oxide Used to color food red, iron oxide is a marketing gimmick in cat food. While likely safe, its use raises questions about overall safety and nutritional value. Further research is needed on its effects as a food additive.