Unbalanced Cat Foods You’re Not Told About

Updated November 28, 2020

Around half of the wet cat foods being sold in my local supermarket are unbalanced. There’s usually no warning on the label to say so. (see list below).

Did you know this? I didn’t until recently, and it’s my job to know, so I’m guessing you didn’t either.

gourmet cat food

If a pet owner feeds too much of one of these, their cat will miss out on essential nutrients. It’s a wonder that we don’t see more problems. These foods will probably supply the energy, fat and protein requirements of an animal, but little else.

Pet owners are always being told that the foods they buy deliver all their cat’s needs. They’re not being told about all the almost identical ones that don’t.

Why Balance Matters

fancy feast tin

Nutrients in food are needed for a whole host of essential functions:

  • Vitamins are required in chemical reactions across the whole body
  • Minerals maintain bone strength and muscle function
  • Trace elements are needed for many enzymes to work properly
applaws cat tin

Deficiencies may not have an obvious effect, but they’re sure to damage health and wellbeing. In severe cases, especially with calcium or thiamine deficiency, death can ensue.

More commonly, we might see pets with reduced immune system performance, poor skin or coat health, lethargy or gut problems.

Unbalanced Cat Foods

dine pouch cat

These foods aren’t any more dangerous to pets than a big steak is to us. As long as you know they’re really just treats. This list is not exhaustive, so afterwards I’ll show you what to look for on the packets and tins.

  • All ‘pet meats’
  • Applaws
  • Black & Gold Cat Food tins
  • Coles small tins
  • Dine Creamy Soup
  • Dine Desire (tins)
  • Dine Fine Flakes
  • Dine Finest Serve
  • Dine Melting Soup
  • Fancy Feast Royale
  • Gourmet Delight
  • Purina Feast Royale
  • Purr pouches & tins
  • Smitten small tins
  • Ultimates Indulge
  • Your Majesty small tins

To avoid being sued, I need to say that it’s possible some of these foods are balanced and just aren’t saying so or disclosing their full ingredient lists.

How To Identify Unbalanced Pet Foods

dine desire tin
  • Look for very short ingredient lists like in the pictures
  • There will not be any use of the phrases “complete and balanced” or “nutritionally complete”
  • They won’t mention following AAFCO guidelines
  • If you’re lucky, it’ll say in tiny print “intended for occasional or supplemental use”

Very few tell you, in my experience. Are you wondering why so many unbalanced foods exist? The answer is in the difference between supermarket and premium pet food.

And now, a bonus question:

How To Tell If Pet Food Is Irradiated

dog jerky treats
“Do not feed to…”

Irradiated foods are fatally toxic to cats and should never be fed. So why in heavens would any sane person give such a food to a closely related species, the dog? Answer: because they don’t tell us.

I’m working to get irradiation of pet food disclosed in labelling. In the meantime, look for the mysterious words “do not feed to cats” and in your head, translate this to mean “put me right back on the shelf”. I can’t promise that every food that says this is irradiated, but let’s play it safe until they’re forced to tell us.

Related: How to give a balanced diet to catsA biologically appropriate diet for cats

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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!


14 Replies to “Unbalanced Cat Foods You’re Not Told About”

  1. Thank you so much for this. I have been feeding my cat Purr and after reading your article I checked the carton. In small print it says it is a complementary food only. I had not noticed this before and very grateful that you wrote this article and I can now get a proper balanced food for my cat.

  2. I think you need a lesson in why some natural and grainfree cat foods do not claim complete and balanced, it is because they over achieve on essential amino acids like tryptophan and methionine. I know this is the case for Gourmet Delight, because the meat is real, not processed. Perhaps first find out about the products you are insulting, have you ever contacted the manufacturers to ask them? I think not…

    1. Hi Jason. There’s really no such thing as overachieving, and in fact oversupplementation would be more likely to be harmful than helpful. It’s all about the nutrients that are missing. Bear in mind the risk I would take in making any false statement concerning such a major industry.

  3. Applaws is a fantastic food for cats it’s the best thing on the market you holistic lunatics need to get over it and stop hating on it its all natural it’s better then the crap vets sell like Royal canine and black hawk my cats are healthier then ever since switching over all the politics from the big companies and vets wanting to push their over priced crap food won’t stop people switching to it

    1. Hi Ray. The purpose of this article is not to criticise any foods, but to alert cat owners to the fact that many of them will not supply all of a cat’s nutritional needs, something not all of them are stating clearly enough.

    2. Yes totally agree Ray! Also, Applaws clearly state their wet food should be ‘complimentary’ to their dry food, which provides all the nutrients a cat needs in their diet.

  4. Thank you for your informative article.
    I now feed my two cats wet and dry food from the Vet. But I do still give them some ‘Dine Creamy Treats,’ after grooming, and as a training aid. I’m sharing your article with family and friends (some feel they can’t afford to change to the Vet products), but at least now than can make informed choices.

  5. We use Felix wet food our cats love it, we also have plenty of good quality dry food on offer & they love some fresh hot chicken as a once a week treat. Very interesting artical, I found a lot out about cat food when on of my old cats had kidney failure & did not like the food the vet could supply, so I had to go searching through the supermarket shelves for appropriate food. Most of it is gelatinous rubbish.

    1. Even though my cat loved it… Felix nearly killed my kitty 🙁 He’s allergic to something they put into it.

      1. Out of legal correctness, we should say that your cat became sick because of a suspected adverse food reaction associated with an ingredient, but it’s very hard to prove.

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