There are millions of cat lovers in the U.S., and a top priority of any pet owner is keeping animals safe and healthy. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that they’re sabotaging those efforts just by feeding their cats food that’s either lacking nutrition or full of ingredients that can cause disease and all sorts of ailments. The worst cat foods on the market tend to be much like the worst food available for humans: full of fillers, artificial flavors and colorants, and mystery ingredients that don’t sound much like food at all. Some brands of cat food are well known for the low quality of their products, while others have a better reputation and are more expensive yet don’t really offer much in the way of nutrition. According to The Spruce
Many first-time cat owners, in an attempt to hold down expenses, buy the cheapest foods they can find for their cats. This is a false economy for a couple of reasons. First, studies have shown that cats eat as much as they need to get the nutrients they require. Therefore, they might eat twice as much of that generously-carbohydrate-filled store brand to get the nutrients they need in a normal feeding of premium food. Second, the continued feeding of substandard foods over a period of years will heavily contribute to, or even cause, serious medical conditions that will require expensive veterinary care.
For these reasons, the old maxim, “You get what you pay for,” is particularly true where it comes to cat food.
What to look for on the label
- Compliance with AAFCO’s requirements for “Complete and Balanced,” as evidenced by that wording on the label.
- Named protein source – look for “chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef,” rather than “meat.”
- On canned food particularly, the protein source should be the first listed ingredient
- Check the expiration date for freshness
With that said, here are our picks for 20 of the worst consumer rated cat foods on the market today.
1. Whiskas Kitten Formula
Whiskas is owned by Mars Incorporated — yes, the same company that produces junk food for humans. That’s concerning enough, but what’s really bad about this food is that it claims to be a “meaty savory feast” for pets. The kitten formula is especially worth scrutiny, as what baby cats eat determines how well they thrive and their likelihood of having problems later in life. There’s nothing savory about the top ingredient in this food: ground yellow corn. Chicken by-product meal, animal fat laden with preservatives, and “natural poultry flavor” don’t sound all too meaty either.
2. Purina One Adult Formula
This is a lower cost cat food, and interestingly enough Purina’s formulas for dogs are also poorly rated. Cat owners have cited digestive problems, the onset of diseases after their pets started eating this food, and some deaths have also been reported. One of the most alarming ingredients in this food is meniodone, which has been found to cause severe health problems in cats. The question should be asked why Purina chooses to include it in the food in the first place
3. Hill’s Science Diet Original Adult Formula
It must be the combo of the phrase “Veterinarian Recommended” and “Science Diet” on the packaging that leads to so many cat owners shelling out more money for this than they do other brands. The top ingredient in this formula is chicken by-product meal, which can be any part of meat that’s leftover after what humans typically eat is taken away. Not only is it hard for cats to digest, it has little nutrition. The second main ingredient is ground whole grain corn, which is also difficult for cats to digest. The high amounts of salt and corn gluten meal in this pet food are also cause for concern.
4. Kit ‘N Caboodle from Purina
Like the other formula of Purina mentioned above, Kit ‘N Caboodle also contains the dangerous ingredient menadione. Cat owners have frequently said that this specific food is the suspected cause of their pet’s hair loss and digestive issues, including near constant vomiting. The top three ingredients in this cat food are ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, and soybean meal. There doesn’t seem to be much actual meat at all in it, although the label does list meat and bone meal, beef tallow laced with preservatives, animal digest, oceanfish meal, and turkey by-product meal as meat-like ingredients.