Does human-grade cat food make a real difference for feline health?
With new discoveries in feline health and nutrition and easy access to such information, pet parents started paying closer attention to what goes into their cat’s food. Human-grade cat food is a relatively new concept that promotes ingredients fit for human consumption in cat food production, but do felines benefit from such a diet?
The obvious upside of human-grade food is the ingredient quality. Researchers have found that standard cat food products—the ones made with feed- or animal-grade ingredients—are often loaded with toxic components, even when they follow strict sanitary guidelines. Human-grade ingredients automatically make cat food safer for consumption. Unfortunately, not every product designed for humans is ideal for your cat because our bodies work differently.
It’s crucial to understand that the term refers to the ingredients and not the final product. People should not eat cat food even if it is labelled as human-grade. We’ll give you an unbiased insight into human-grade cat food to help you understand how it positively impacts the health of felines.
What is human-grade cat food—is it governed by separate legislation?
Human-grade cat food manufacturers source all their ingredients directly from the human food supply chain. Byproducts or scraps from the meat and food industry are strictly forbidden.
Currently, there is no separate legislation around the use of human-grade ingredients in cat food. In most cases, manufacturers are the ones who choose to offer better and safer food for felines.
Pet food production in the UK is overseen by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), which essentially follows the guidelines laid down by the FEDIAF (European Pet Food Federation). This regulatory body mainly focuses on:
- Determining which ingredients are fit for pet food
- Standardising the manufacturing process of different products
What goes into standard cat food as per the regulations?
The PFMA okays the use of meat, fish, their byproducts, and numerous other ingredients in pet food, but they don’t have to be human-grade. The regulations essentially support the use of animal byproducts, which are not used for human food production.
Let’s look at the common ingredients in standard pet food and where they stand in terms of feline nutrition.
Meat and animal derivatives
Many manufacturers use the vague term “Meat and animal derivatives” for their protein content. These ingredients can be:
- Whole meat—Prime cuts of meat are added to cat food without prior heat processing. Whole meat is safe for human consumption and has the necessary amino acid profile, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals
- Animal byproducts—They include cheap organ meats, such as lungs, spleen, kidneys, udders, stomach, and intestines of warm-blooded land animals. Thankfully, PFMA banned the use of meat from carcasses in commercial pet food
- Meat meals—They are also cheap slaughterhouse scraps but are heat-rendered to kill contaminants and then dried to have the moisture and fat removed. The resulting product is a powdery mixture that goes into kibble as a compact protein source. Unfortunately, such proteins lose their potency due to aggressive processing
While whole meat can be human-grade, byproducts and meat meals are never suitable for human consumption.
Say NO to meat meals and animal derivatives and choose human-grade whole meats—why do the bare minimum when your cat deserves the best?
Image (c) Untamed
Dairy products and eggs
Many cat food manufacturers use milk, dairy products, and eggs as protein sources in their recipes. They are human-grade ingredients but not ideal for cats because of their high fat content that can clog arteries and cause heart disease. Products containing milk may also cause stomach sensitivity and diarrhoea in lactose-intolerant cats.
Fats and oils
Fats and oils increase the palatability of cat food and work as a concentrated source of energy, but felines only need a small amount of fat in their diet. Many manufacturers go overboard with fats and oils sourced from animals and plants to enhance the taste, but it makes the food unhealthy.
Cereals and cereal byproducts
Cereals and their byproducts—like rice, wheat, and bran—are fillers that bulk up the volume of cat food but don't add nutritional value to the formula. Carbohydrates, fibre, and plant proteins are almost entirely useless to cats. In fact, cereals and their byproducts used in most pet food are feed-grade ingredients.
I got questions, hooman—Cereals? Really? Where’s the meat? What am I getting with this? Human-grade pain?
Vegetables, fruits, and legumes
Like cereals, vegetables, fruits, and legumes also increase the food volume but don't do much more. For example, soya beans and lentils provide vegetable proteins, while potatoes add carbs to the mix. But these ingredients are unsuitable for cats because they are hardwired carnivores who need meat to thrive.
Sugar is added to dry cat food to make it glossy and visually appealing to the human eye. Even though it is a permitted ingredient, feeding sugar to a cat leads to unhealthy weight gain and increases the risk of tooth decay and feline diabetes.
Cats can’t even taste the sugar—it is there only to lure the consumer and appeal to their senses.
Preservatives and additives
Manufacturers add various preservatives and taste enhancers to pet food. These additives can be chemical or natural, human-grade or feed-grade, but are always unnecessary for obligate meat-eaters like cats.
Feed-grade vs. human-grade—what difference does it make?
From a business point of view, it seems practical to use scraps from the human food supply chain in pet food—manufacturers can get maximum profits from available raw materials, while pets get enough nutrition for basic sustenance.
Does that mean you’re feeding the best food to your furry companion? No, it doesn't.
Cats thrive on whole meats that suit their carnivorous nature. Their bodies are designed to digest and absorb essential nutrients from cooked or raw meats, tendons, and ligaments. Byproducts and processed proteins are not a part of their natural diet. While feed-grade food offers the bare minimum of nutrition, it doesn't contribute to your feline's health or longevity. To make matters worse, the coarse ingredients in such products also tend to overwhelm the feline digestive system, slowing down their metabolism and causing frequent gastrointestinal issues.
How does human-grade cat food stand out among other products?
Of all the ingredients used in cat food, only meat, cereals, and preservatives can be human-grade or not fit for human consumption. Human-grade cat food aims to improve the product’s nutritional content by using ingredients suitable for humans instead of cheap, hard-to-digest replacements.
Human-grade cat food is more than a trend. The idea gained momentum in recent years because many cat parents are no longer comfortable feeding byproducts and junk to their furry companions. These quality ingredients are in line with your cat's natural diet and improve their quality of life. They are also ethically sourced and complement cats’ digestive system and help prevent common feline illnesses.
Why should you buy human-grade cat food?
To understand the true impact of human-grade cat food on your feline's well-being, you need to compare it to its counterpart—regular cat food made with feed-grade ingredients. Comparative analysis suggests the following benefits of human-grade products:
- Higher bioavailability of nutrients—Using human-grade ingredients means there’s less aggressive heat processing involved, which naturally increases the biological availability of the nutrients in cat food and prevents cases of malnutrition, under-absorption, or excessive eating
- Easier digestion—If your cat throws up often or loses their appetite, iffy ingredients in cat food are usually to blame. Human-grade whole meats can recalibrate the feline digestive system and optimise their eating and pooping habits
- No allergens and toxic preservatives—Cat food labels often list hard-to-decipher chemicals, flavour enhancers, and additives of all kinds. In such a complex mix, anything can trigger an allergic reaction in your cat. Most human-grade cat products consist of whole meats and natural preservatives only, making them more suitable for cats prone to allergies
- More palatable to fussy cats—Food with byproducts may not be tasty to cats, causing your cat to stop eating it. Human-grade cat food is an excellent option for finicky eaters as the appetising aroma and taste of natural ingredients make the food mouthwatering
Is human-grade cat food expensive?
Many cat parents shy away from human-grade cat food because it’s allegedly expensive.
Although it usually costs more than supermarket food, it’s still a good investment.
You’ll spend a lot less on vet bills if you consistently feed your cat on quality, protein-rich human-grade cat food. Felines also need smaller portions of such products as they are both nutritious and filling.
With all these benefits, your budget shouldn't suffer any significant setbacks if you switch to high-quality food.
I’m here for the human-grade cuddles—they’re the best!
Source: Andrew Umansky
Is the human-grade label enough for a product to be considered good cat food?
You should be cautious when buying any cat food, whether human-grade or not. A human-grade stamp doesn’t mean the product is superior unless it has high protein and low carb values.
What proteins are in human-grade cat food?
Any human-grade cat food will be nutritionally useless if it doesn’t have proteins from quality whole meats.
Adult cats (neutered or spayed) need about 5.2 grammes of protein per kilogramme of their body weight, while pregnant cats may need even more. You should ensure the human-grade product contains adequate protein amounts. Here’s an outline of the protein values offered by different whole meats:
Imitation crab meat
When buying cat food, opt for products with 50 per cent or more of human-grade whole meats. They are naturally rich in biologically compatible amino acids like taurine and arginine that support various vital functions in felines, such as:
- Maintaining eye, brain, and bone health
- Improving muscle tone
- Preventing excessive shedding and hairballs
- Boosting the immune system
- Maintaining weight
- Releasing energy
Why are carbs in human-grade cat food bad news?
Almost half the indoor cats in the UK are overweight or obese primarily because of carb-loaded diets. If the human-grade cat food you buy is full of carbs like grains, starch, and sugar, it’s doing more harm than good to your feline.
Adding cheap, human-grade grains allows the manufacturers to use less meat in their food. Cats don’t have the enzymes to digest carbs properly, which can lead to digestive conditions like constipation and IBS. A satisfactory human-grade cat food would be grain-free and have less than three per cent of carbs.
When nutrition wins—Untamed offers human-grade cat food packed with the best whole meat proteins!
Image (c) Untamed
Looking for the best human-grade cat food? Try Untamed!
If you want your cat to have reliable human-grade cat food, switch to Untamed! Our wet food has the best cuts of fresh human-grade whole meats obtained from ethical and cruelty-free sources. We offer:
We also have hypoallergenic products in our mix—Tuck-in Tuna and Chocka Chicken—ideal for sensitive cats. All our dishes are made from top-notch ingredients without dubious preservatives or fillers like grains, animal derivatives, vegetable proteins, and sugar.
Since we believe that human-grade food is essential for cats, we pay special attention to:
- The protein content—Our products offer twice as much protein as the industry average. Our meat is tender, easy to chew and swallow, and highly digestible, so it’s a brilliant option for seniors or cats with no teeth
- Cooking methods—We steam our food in light gravy or broth to seal in the moisture and the aroma of fresh meat. The gentle cooking also preserves the bioavailability of nutrients
- Balanced nutrition—Our food is packed with top antioxidants and micronutrients like taurine and vitamin E that boost the immune system. Our formula complements the feline biology and keeps your furry trooper fit, sharp, and always on the go!
- The taste—Untamed meals are lip-smacking delicious (without using artificial taste enhancers). Our meaty delights make the pickiest of eaters give in to temptation!
While we never compromise on the quality of ingredients, our prices are highly competitive. Click here to complete our TRY NOW quiz and order your first taster pack!
Our human-grade canned cat food provides complete nutrition to all cats!
Untamed products are carefully prepared to meet the needs of cats regardless of the life stage, breed, and size. If you are looking for human-grade kitten food, our protein-rich products will work perfectly for your little furball and prevent vomiting and diarrhoea! If your kitten has been weaned off, you can serve them three or more cans of Untamed per day during the first six months. You can adjust the feeding frequency once they hit their ideal weight.
Our sugar-free products also support the health of adult or senior cats, who are more prone to weight fluctuations and chronic conditions like diabetes. Since our food is rich in moisture, it prevents dehydration and lowers the risk of common FLUTDs like cystitis and bladder stones.
Here’s what our happy clients have to say about the Untamed effect:
Period on Untamed
● A less messy litter tray
● Optimised digestion
● Flawless, sleek, and shiny coat
● Consistent energy levels
Six months and beyond
● Strong immune system
● Natural weight management
● Toned muscles
● No mood swings!
Our environmentally-friendly (and pretty) tins ensure the food smells and tastes like bliss whenever you open it!
Image (c) Untamed
I want to check out Untamed—how do I order a trial pack?
Would you like to order tailor-made cat food online? Here’s what you need to do to receive your first Untamed taster pack:
- Complete our TRY NOW quiz and tell us more about your cat
- Pick a meal plan
- Place your order
You will receive the goods within a day—and all our deliveries are free! If the flavours hit the right note with your cat, we’ll deliver a fresh batch every month. We offer a flexible subscription plan for human-grade cat food—in case you want to modify, pause, postpone, or skip a particular order, let us know, and we’ll honour your request!
All Untamed products have a three-year shelf life. Our products don’t need additional freezing or heating—all you have to do is open a can, and your cat can have the feast they deserve!
Human ingredients that your cat shouldn’t eat!
Human-grade cat food and human food are two different things. Many popular ingredients humans thrive on are not compatible with the feline digestive system. Here’s what shouldn’t go in your cat’s diet:
- Root and stem vegetables—Onions, garlic, leeks, and chives destroy a cat's red blood cells, which can cause anaemia
- Citrus fruits—They irritate a cat’s stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues (if you want to give fruits to your cat, go for strawberries and bananas in the tiniest portions)
- Caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate—These ingredients trigger hyperactivity, seizures, and neurological issues and should be avoided altogether
- Green tomatoes and potatoes—They are toxic to cats
- Wild mushrooms—Since wild mushrooms can be lethal, stick to store-bought alternatives
- Raw yeast—Yeast can lead to bloating and cause alcohol poisoning
- Rhubarb leaves and stalk—Refrain from using rhubarb because it's poisonous to felines
- Human-grade chicken or fish stock—Off-the-shelf soups contain too much salt and can lead to dehydration
Human-grade cat food is yayyy...but sharing your human-grade breakfast…? Think again.
Source: Anna Tello
Making human-grade homemade meals for my cat—is it a good idea?
Making home-cooked meals with human-grade ingredients is doable but takes a lot of time and energy. You must ensure the food is made with cat-safe ingredients, has the necessary nutritional value, and is portioned well. Talk to a vet or a nutritionist before transitioning your cat to homemade meals.