For cat parents, feline friends are valued members of the family, so what they consume is of the utmost importance. Whether your cat prefers freeze-dried raw food, fresh food, wet cat food, or dry cat food (kibble), the quality and nutritional value of the food has a direct effect on their health, happiness, and longevity.
There are a ton of options available in stores now, and many brands use marketing tactics that can make picking the right food for your cat very confusing. If you’re looking for one of the cleanest, healthiest options for your cat, look no further than human grade cat food. In this article, we’ll cover what human grade cat food really is, what human grade ingredients to look for, and some of the many reasons why it may be the option to meet (and exceed) your cat’s needs.
What Is Human Grade Cat Food?
You’ve probably seen the term “human grade” on pet foods before, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no official human grade designation. The human grade label comes from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which develops standards for pet food in the U.S.
According to the AAFCO website, “Pet and specialty pet foods using the labeling claim “human grade” is first and foremost animal food products and subject to inspection under 21 CFR part 507.” There are specific guidelines human grade cat food must follow but ultimately, they must be manufactured in accordance with applicable human food regulations. Essentially, they must be made just like food made for human consumption — this includes in the same types of factories.
That last part is what makes it challenging for pet food suppliers to really be considered human grade, but it is possible. The Honest Kitchen is the world’s first human grade food for pets, and we pride ourselves on creating nutritious, truly human grade food that cats love the taste of.
It’s important to note that if a cat food is not human grade, that means its “feed grade” (which makes up the vast majority of pet foods).
What Are the Main Benefits of Human Grade Cat Food?
Human grade cat food tends to be made with much higher ingredient standards than feed grade cat food. And as a result, it’s likely you’ll start to see a difference in your cat after they eat a healthier diet. Each cat will experience specific benefits from human grade cat food based on their individual health, but here are seven that your feline friend may see.
1) Supports Healthy, Shiny Fur With Essential Amino & Fatty Acids
Essential amino and fatty acids are an important part of your cat's overall health as well as keeping their fur shiny and thick. Specifically, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and zinc can help increase the glossiness in your kitty’s coat, and decrease dry, flaky skin. These ingredients — and more — are present in The Honest Kitchen’s cat foods, as well as the specific amino acid, taurine, which is vital to cats’ health.
2) Encourages a Healthy Gut and Better Digestion
Gut bacteria is the way your cat digests their food, and the type of food you feed them will influence which bacteria thrive and which will die. Many fillers found in traditional cat foods can upset a cat’s microbiome, leading to stomach upset and poor digestion. Even more, cats are obligate carnivores so feeding a cat a high-protein, low-carb diet will help their overall digestive health because it aligns with their biology.
Some pet owners go as far as feeding their feline friends a raw meat diet. While this is the closest thing to what they’d get in the wild, it’s not the most affordable or sustainable option. If you’re looking for a more convenient solution, The Honest Kitchen creates cat food ideal for maintaining your cat’s healthy gut, with protein making up 40% or more of the calorie distribution and carbs making up a small percentage of overall calories per serving.
3) Offers High-Quality Protein for Higher Energy Levels
Did you know that pet foods that are not human grade certified are often made using 4D meats? This is meat from animals who were either dead, dying, diseased, or disabled. These types of animal proteins are drastically different in quality from meat that is safe for human consumption.
The quality level of meat also affects the type of protein it contains, which ties directly to your cat's health. For an energetic cat, you’ll want to feed them the highest-quality protein you can find, such as ranch-raised beef and cage-free chicken.
4) Helps Your Feline Maintain a Healthy Weight
For many cats, weight can be an issue — especially those who are city dwellers and may not have as much space to run around. In fact, according to a study by Cornell University, 10% of cats today are considered overweight, and 40% are obese. Because of this, finding cat food with high-quality ingredients is very important. Even if there are some grains and carbohydrates in your cat's food, you’ll want to be sure they are quality foods (such as sweet potato), and considered to be whole foods. Ingredients that are whole foods are typically not heavily processed. Highly processed foods — like in humans — can be detrimental to your cat's health.
5) Can Improve Your Cat’s Immune System
One of the clearest ways to support a healthy immune system is to make sure your cat’s diet gives them the proper nutritional value. This mainly consists of the things we’ve covered above like high-quality proteins and amino acids, like taurine.
At your vet’s recommendation, incorporating things like probiotics can also be helpful to your cat’s immune system. Keeping up your cat’s immune system is especially important in today’s world.
6) Aids in Joint & Bone Health
Just like humans and other animals, joint and bone health are important aspects of your cat’s overall health — especially as they age. The essential fatty acids aid in this but fish oil specifically, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is a number one ingredient that can help your cat if they have arthritis or are pre-arthritic.
All cat food from The Honest Kitchen includes essential fatty acids, but if you’re looking for fish oil in particular, check out Smittens cat treats which come in white fish and herring recipes, both loaded with ingredients to support your cat’s joint and bone health.
7) Leaves Out Artificial Preservatives That Aren’t Approved for Humans
The number one overall benefit of human grade cat food is that many brands that make these types of pet foods don’t use artificial preservatives and additives. Artificial preservatives and additives aren’t just bad for people, they’re bad for your cat, too. Some of these preservatives include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) (both of which are chemical preservatives suspected to be potentially cancer-causing), meat byproducts that are not approved for human consumption, and melamine, which when combined with cyanuric acid can cause kidney stones and even kidney failure.
Make the Switch to Human Grade Today
Whether you have a senior cat or a cat in a younger life stage, making the switch to the best human grade pet food can seem like a challenge — cats are known to be picky eaters and have sensitive stomachs. However, taking the time to make the change to human grade cat food can have numerous positive effects on your cat’s overall health.
To help aid you in the process, here are some easy tips for switching cat food, including following a sample transition schedule you can follow. Once you have your plan laid out, you can decide which 100% human grade cat food from The Honest Kitchen’s extensive collection your feline friend will like the most!