Going “holistic” in terms of buying cat food basically means going as close as you can to their natural diet. That is, raw meat from an animal. This is the best food you can buy for your cat! The closest would be if you were to serve your cat a raw meat diet, which a lot of owners do. Do not feel bad if you can’t go as far as preparing daily raw meals for your cat. It’s a lot work trying to figure out the right balance of protein, but there are holistic cat food brands that get very close to a raw diet. Some even offer raw foods that come frozen! But for now, canned holistic foods is just fine.
Remember, grain free and gluten free is what we’re looking for here- if the food still has grain, don’t bother. If you want a better idea of what you’re looking for in food, I have reviewed Soulistic, a great holistic based brand here.
Now, these are some benefits of offering holistic food for your cat!
Let’s go back to the beginning. What is meat? Meat is flesh. It is muscle. It is a natural occurrence. Meat by-product is not.
Usually, the first ingredient should ALWAYS be some sort of meat, like turkey, or chicken. Reading off the can of Solid Gold Tropical Blendz with Chicken and Coconut Oil, the first ingredient is Chicken. The next is water and then Tuna. Dried egg and coconut oil are next, but you get the picture.
No meat by- products! This is crucial to figuring out which food you want to buy. The first step is to try and cut out the by-product as best as you can. For example, meat by-product is the third ingredient in Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets Feast classic. Manufacturers are not required to report what percent is really meat and what isn’t like livers, hearts and bones.
Now this stuff isn’t necessarily BAD, it’s just we simply don’t know what the percentages are and what the meat product truly is. It could be roadkill, it could be expired food meat from a grocery store or a crippled limb. It is true animals in the wild eat all parts of the animal carcass, but that’s a completely different situation, as they eat all the carcass, including the actual meat.
Meat by-product is a controversial topic in the cat nutrition world. Just be wary of it’s existence and you’ll be OK.
Let’s look at the next culprit: Natural and Artificial flavors. We see this phrase everywhere in human food and also in pet food. It is in the Fancy Feast but NOT in any Solid Gold products. If you don’t see Natural and Artificial flavors in the list of ingredients you’re inspecting, you could have a winner.
What Natural and Artificial flavors usually means is that the food is sprayed with liver, fats, and sugars to make it seem more “appealing” to cats. They can get addicted to the same stuff humans can. The same thing happens in human food as well!
I think this is a no-brainer to stay away from. If humans avoid it, I’m pretty sure cats should too.
There are usually fewer ingredients
Adding to the fact that there are only natural ingredients is the fact that fewer ingredients are used. I counted 38 ingredients in the Solid Gold Tropical Blendz with Chicken and Coconut Oil. I also buy another flavor in the Solid Gold brand line, the New Moon blended tuna recipe in gravy, but I prefer the coconut oil the chicken one has and the fact that there’s less tuna (there is still tuna in the chicken but it’s not the first ingredient.)
The New Moon one however does have fewer ingredients. I counted only 18 ingredients.
But you know, number of ingredients can’t always be trusted. There are definitely exceptions here and judgment should be used. Now let’s check out Fancy Feast Turkey & Giblets Feast Classic: I counted 28 ingredients. What happened here? Well simply put, there are less quality ingredients fancy feast has. This goes back to only natural ingredients being used.
As mentioned above, Fancy Feast uses Meat By-Products and Artificial and Natural Flavors. The Solid Gold Chicken and Coconut Oil flavor has additional super foods like Dried Egg Product, carrots, and spinach. To be honest, Fancy Feast is one of the better major food brands, but I’d still avoid buying it as a regular diet for your cat because of the meat by-product and higher carbs. They are great in a pinch if you happen to run out of food in awkward times of the week (because CVS doesn’t tend to serve high quality holistic cat food.)
Here’s a link to Solid Gold’s FAQ that explains their usage of super foods and egg products: https://www.solidgoldpet.com/faq/
Tip: Don’t be alarmed if you see a lot of big words still used in your hunt for a holistic food your cat likes! Words like “thiamine mononitrate” and “pyridoxine hydrochloride” is simply vitamins B1 and B6. If you feel the need to check these words, a simple google search will do a quick reveal on what these words are. I’m not 100% sure why they keep the more complex versions in, but I’m sure it has something to do with regulations. If I find an answer to this, I’ll let you know in a future post!
Your cat is going to lose weight naturally from eating dry food, especially if you’re buying the best quality wet food you can buy.
Don’t forget that the things you need to look out for are:
- High Protein: Up to 8% or higher
- High Moisture: I look for 80% MAX moisture
- Few Carbohydrates: There are brands that can cut this down to a minimum. I’ve seen 0.50% and lower. The lower the better.
By eating wet food naturally, and if you, the owner, are counting your cat’s calories, your cat WILL lose weight. Eating high quality wet food is going to stimulate your cat and give them more energy because it’s all just LESS processed.
Have you ever felt an energy boost after a healthy meal? Your cat is going to experience that blissful feeling as well.
I’d rather have super food supplements than high carbohydrates
When it comes down to it, which would you rather have? Fancy feast or Solid Gold? I’ll admit, Solid Gold has a practice of using Sodium Selenite in some of their product, which CAN be toxic in large amounts (but that would never manage to get into your cat’s food.) Selenium is essential for cats but there are other safer ways of getting selenium, like selenium yeast. But it’s in such a small amount, there isn’t any negative.
I will take super foods (yeah it’s a really trendy word) over mystery food by-products any day, especially when I know super foods can actually benefit your cat without any negatives. Just be cautious on how much is in the food and that it’s not taking away any meat based protein.
Just a note: I’ve said meat only for your cat a lot of times but there are “exceptions.” A lot of cat holistic food companies will add some veggies but they won’t take up most of the ingredients in the food. Of course, the only way you can fully control what your cat eats is if you make their meals. If you’re really concerned, just choose a different flavor.
Soulistic, Solid Gold and plenty of other holistic brands offer foods that are strictly meat only and varieties with veggies too.
Just be smart and use your own judgment!
Fewer Recalls (not because holistic is “newer”)
A handy tool for looking up recalls is https://www.petful.com/food/pet-food-recall-center/
According to petful.com, Solid Gold has had 2 big recalls in 2012. They were both related to salmonella risks in two brands of their dog food. Writing this in 2018, this was already 6 years ago. The brand is owned by Diamond Pet Foods, which has a good history up until around the whole dog food recall fiasco in May 2012. They’ve been around since 1970.
Fancy Feast has had no recalls! Pretty impressive! But let’s take a look at the bigger picture. They are owned by Nestle Purina Petcare. Fancy Feast was introduced in 1982 by the Carnation company but Nestle acquired it in 1985.
Upon further inspection, Purina has been involved in several major recalls including the 2007 melamine contaminated wheat gluten recall (we already don’t even want wheat gluten anyways in our cat food.) So it’s been about 11 years since then.
Other recalls for Purina include:
- 5 varieties of wet dog food in 2016
- A voluntary recall regarding salmonella in 2013 for Purine ONE dry dog food
- A 2012 lot of Purina Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management Feline Formula
- Two recalls in 2011 for certain Purina dry pet foods
There are also pre- 2004 recalls, but the records for these are a little harder to find. You can read more about Purina recalls here https://www.petful.com/brands/purina/
Another brand of holistic cat food that has actually had no recalls is Soulistic Cat Food. They are distributed only by Petco and have a sister brand of Weruva cat food and B.F.F. cat food that can be considered holistic too. No recalls here since the company is so small and the way they get their ingredients is more limited.
So think of this: the smaller the company, the safer it is because the ingredients are more easily sourced. There is less of a chance for contamination.
Read the label!
Upon further inspection, I don’t think I’ll buy the Solid Gold Chicken and Coconut Oil because of the Sodium Selenite, nor the Fancy Feast because of the meat by-products(it’s not a holistic choice anyways.) I like the coconut oil one however versus the New Moon tuna and gravy because the New Moon flavor has canola oil, and I prefer coconut oil over canola.
These are the types of decisions you’ll come across when deciding what canned foods to buy your cat. It takes time to figure it all out and this is a real world example. I myself am still navigating the brands and which flavors to buy because there are so many options!
If you don’t want to stand in the aisle for 30 minutes (like me) deciding which food you want to buy your cat, you can always research beforehand online and figure out the brand and flavor you want. The sites are obligated to post their ingredients so go wild!
I’ll be touching upon actually reading the parts of the labels that says “guaranteed analaysis” in this post here
A couple references I used here: