Pet food companies are allowed to be deceiving with their packaging techniques. What we think is in cat food – because the bag tells us so – is often nearly undetectable.
You see, according to the guidelines, if a company includes an image on their bag of pet food then it must contain that ingredient. However, they don’t have a requirement for the amount of said ingredient. And that’s where the salt divide is helpful for pet food consumers.
So what are these guidelines? And what is the salt divide?
The guidelines are set forth by AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials). This is a regulatory association charged with defining the ingredients that go into pet food and animal feed. They maintain that any food images used to market a pet food must be included in the food. The tricky thing is realizing they have no regulations for the amount of that ingredient. This is a why a bag that shows a big fish or steak on the front may not actually include what we think is in the cat food.
This is why the salt divide is so helpful. These same guidelines require that ingredients be listed by weight and that salt make of 1% (or less) of the food. This means anything in the ingredients listed after salt makes up less than 1% of the food. Sadly, those pretty pictures of healthy food on the bag or can are often below the salt divide. Yet that’s what we’re made to think is in cat food.
Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring real meat in their diets. Please read the list of ingredients on the cat food you feed to better understand what food your cat is actually eating.