Have you already made the switch to natural or organic cat food, or are you considering it? You’re not alone. More and more people are carefully considering what they put in their pet’s food dishes.
Since people are eating more organic themselves it makes a lot of sense they would choose organic for their furry family members as well. Another big reason people are making the switch to organic cat food including organic homemade cat food is because of pet food recalls. These pet food recalls and concerns about the pet food industry have prompted people to start paying closer attention to what’s in their cat’s food — what should be in the cat food and what shouldn’t be — as they also look into cat food recipes, and holistic pet food.
As you start doing research you’ll see references to natural cat foods and organic cat foods. What’s the difference? They’re both considered premium cat food, but they do have specific differences.
What Are Natural Pet Foods?
Natural pet foods contain ingredients that are only derived from plant, animal or mined sources, according to the definition from the U.S. Association of American Feed Control Officials. This means that pet foods termed as “natural” shouldn’t contain chemically synthetic processing aids or chemically synthetic additives like artificial flavors, coloring or preservatives. Instead, natural preservatives such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C derivatives are used.
Natural cat foods are also made from whole ingredients like chicken, beef, vegetables and fruits. By-products aren’t typically found in natural pet foods.
What Are Organic Pet Foods?
Organic pet foods are often made from whole ingredients as well, but they also have to adhere to strict requirements about how the ingredients are raised or grown.
Organic cat foods are produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or fertilizers. They are minimally processed, not irradiated and they do not contain any chemical additives or preservatives. Instead of using chemicals, organic cat foods are produced with more natural, biological methods like using mulch to prevent weed growth or compost instead of manufactured fertilizer.
How do you know if the organic cat food you’re buying really is organic? Luckily this part is pretty easy for the consumer. Only products that have been certified organic by an independent, third-party agency can be labeled as organic. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) provides very specific labeling and manufacturing requirements.
There are several levels of organic certification:
- Organic cat food products labeled as “USDA Certified Organic” assure the consumer that the food has gone through a third-party certification process that validates at least 95% of the ingredients are organic. Even the manufacturing facility is inspected by an accredited agency to validate cleanliness, manufacturing procedures and record keeping.
- Organic cat food products labeled “Made with organic” must have at least 70% organic ingredients. The remainder may be approved non-organic ingredients, non-synthetic substances or approved synthetic substances.
- Organic cat food products labeled as “Organic” or “Made with Organic Ingredients” do not include ingredients that are genetically engineered, produced using sludge or irradiation, synthetic substances that are not approved. They cannot contain sulfites, nitrates or nitrites, or include organic and non-organic forms of the same ingredients. Products labeled “organic” cannot contain non-organic ingredients when organic sources are available.
More Reasons To Choose Organic Cat Food
People are drawn towards organic cat food because in most cases it’s a premium cat food they feel is healthier for their furry little companions… but there are lots of other reasons as well.
The growing or raising of organic food is based on a system of feeding and farming that mimics natural ecosystems and maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil. Organic farming practices generally include rotating crops which prevents the land from becoming depleted of the valuable minerals that are absorbed by the crop. It also helps eliminates the buildup of residues of chemical additives, preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides which have been proven to have adverse health effects on cats, dogs and in fact all animals including humans.
Some organic pet food and natural pet food companies support humane farming practices, giving consideration to the animals that are raised for the pet food. They often use free range chicken for example. Many of these companies also donate a portion of their proceeds to charitable organizations — giving people yet another reason to feel good about buying organic cat food.
Introducing Organic Cat Food to Your Feline Friend
If you’ve decided to make a change to a new cat food or if you rotate cat food always remember to gradually introduce the new food. Your cat can react negatively if the change is sudden, even if you’re moving to a high quality, natural or organic cat food. A sudden change can cause vomiting, diarrhea or other similar conditions. A good rule of thumb is to slowly change your cat’s food over 7 to 10 days.
Start out with 90% of the old cat food and 10% of the new, healthy cat food gradually increasing the proportion of new food until you reach 100% new cat food. Watch how your cat reacts; she’ll let you know if the process needs to move more slowly._____________________________________