Table of contents:

Is Dry Food Harmful For Cats: Dangerous Ingredients In The Composition, What Harm Can Low-quality Food Cause, The Opinion Of Veterinarians
Is Dry Food Harmful For Cats: Dangerous Ingredients In The Composition, What Harm Can Low-quality Food Cause, The Opinion Of Veterinarians

Video: Is Dry Food Harmful For Cats: Dangerous Ingredients In The Composition, What Harm Can Low-quality Food Cause, The Opinion Of Veterinarians

Video: 15 Toxic Foods Dogs And Cats Should Never Eat 2022, December

Is dry food harmful for cats?

Is dry food harmful?
Is dry food harmful?

Dry cat food is a great alternative for those owners who cannot or do not want to prepare natural meals for their pets. Professional formulations not only reduce the time required for grooming, but also help to fully provide the pet with useful substances and prevent the development of diseases. However, this is only relevant if the food has been correctly selected taking into account the needs and characteristics of the animal.


  • 1 Pros and Cons of Dry Cat Food

    • 1.1 For any dry food
    • 1.2 For poor quality feed
  • 2 Possible side effects

    • 2.1 Urolithiasis
    • 2.2 Dental diseases
    • 2.3 Obesity
    • 2.4 Diabetes
    • 2.5 Disorders of the digestive tract
    • 2.6 Allergies
    • 2.7 Respiratory disorders
    • 2.8 Bacterial contamination
  • 3 What should be in a good dry food
  • 4 What ingredients should not be in dry food
  • 5 Veterinarian opinion

Pros and cons of dry cat food

There are factors that are true for all dry food, and the advantages and disadvantages associated only with poor quality products. To get a fair estimate, we will split them.

For any dry food

The key benefit is the cost of the prepared rations. If at first the price tag of holistic products can repel, then later, with a detailed analysis, it becomes clear that it is not so expensive.

For comparison: with an average weight (about 5 kg), my healthy cat with a good appetite eats about 1.5–2 kg of meat per week. The cost of the latter depends on the variety, type and region, but our average price tag is 200-250 rubles per 1 kg, if it is a bird. Veal is almost 2 times more expensive. It takes me 500-800 rubles just for meat in a week, because I alternate different varieties so that the menu is balanced. This is without taking into account by-products, fish, vegetables, dairy products and vitamin and mineral complexes. In the end, 1000-1500 rubles come out. a week with a relatively mediocre diet. 1 kg of good food costs 500-700 rubles on average. This amount will be enough for my cat for about 2 weeks, that is, the costs are 250-350 rubles. in Week. This is 4-6 times less, whilethat the manufacturer has already balanced the composition and the animal also receives all the necessary nutrients.

Dry food
Dry food

Granules are a dehydrated mixture of animal and vegetable components, therefore they are more concentrated in terms of nutrient content

The balanced recipe is another undeniable advantage. The manufacturer has already calculated the required daily norms of nutrients instead of the owner and strictly adheres to them during production. True, in the case of economy class feeds, a different picture may be observed, so it is important to carefully study the composition before making a purchase.

Like humans, a cat needs vitamins, minerals, protein compounds, unsaturated fatty acids, etc. They are necessary for normal metabolism, maintaining optimal tissue condition, correct cell division, functioning of internal organs and systems, and other tasks.With a deficiency, pets develop diseases. For example, a lack of B vitamins is fraught with malfunctions of the nervous system. Skin problems are common in cats with a lack of tocopherols. An excess of nutrients is no less dangerous: with an increase in the concentration of minerals, the development of urolithiasis is possible. If the owner prefers a natural menu, then all the responsibilities for calculating the amount of nutrients (including proteins, carbohydrates and fats) fall on him. High-quality dry food can be safely given to your pet. Even vitamin and mineral supplements are not required.

Cat dandruff
Cat dandruff

Dandruff is one of the hallmarks of an unbalanced diet; peeling is common in cats with a deficiency of vitamins A and E in the diet

Dry food is less prone to spoilage. Natural foods and wet diets deteriorate after 1–2 hours outdoors in a bowl. Dry food can be safely left in the public domain if the animal does not have problems with appetite. This is a great option if the owner is not at home for a long time. Granules can also deteriorate, but this happens much more slowly. Once opened, the food remains fresh for 3–6 weeks. Later, oils and fats go rancid. It is not recommended to give spoiled food to animals, as it can provoke bacterial contamination or indigestion.

Dry food containers
Dry food containers

Storage in sealed containers allows you to extend the shelf life of the feed if the original packaging does not have a zip fastener

Ready dry food saves time for pet owners. Fresh meat should not be given to cats. First, it must be frozen well, then boiled to get rid of viruses and parasites with which it can be infected. The vegetables are cut into small cubes so that the pet is comfortable to eat. They try to mix dairy and fermented milk products with calcium. All this must first be bought, that is, set aside time for regular trips to the store or to the market. Additionally, you should make a menu taking into account the needs of the animal and strictly adhere to the schedule. Individually, this doesn't seem like a big deal. In total, all actions take up a considerable share of the time. In addition, it is not always possible to strictly adhere to the regime. With dry food, everything is easier: you just need to pour it into a bowl.

Prepared rations help keep cleanliness.Many cats like to take away tidbits from the bowl, drop food, play with it, etc. In the case of a natural menu, cleaning is made difficult by the fact that the food may have a soft or damp consistency. If you miss even one piece, it will rot and can cause insects to appear in the house. Dry food is more convenient in this regard. Even if the cat is crumbling or has a habit of spreading the pellets throughout the house, picking up the pellets will be easier than, for example, wiping off the remaining curd from the carpet. The food will not rot if it gets into hard-to-reach places: under the sofa, behind furniture, etc. Of course, the issue of cleanliness in natural feeding can be solved with the help of bowls with stands, diapers, changing coverings and other methods, but with granules the situation is easier. In addition, the cat gets less dirty while eating, which can be an additional benefit,if the pet is not prone to frequent hygiene procedures.

Bowls with stand
Bowls with stand

The problem of scattering dry food around bowls can be eliminated by using special stands

Now let's move on to the disadvantages. The most significant is the almost complete absence of moisture in food. In the wild, cats get most of their water from food. They drink from time to time when the opportunity arises. The consistency of dry food is not typical for pets. As instincts and old habits persist, the pet may regularly lack fluid. It is almost impossible to track this, since the individual rate is different for everyone, but the minimum is taken as an indicator of 20 ml per 1 kg of weight. With chronic mild dehydration, the animal's general well-being worsens, it becomes lethargic, and skin problems may disturb it. The most dangerous consequences are diseases of the genitourinary system, which develop as a result of stagnation of urine and its oversaturation. Sometimes there are gastrointestinal pathologies associated with a lack of fluid in the feces,deterioration of peristalsis and damage to the mucous membranes.

The cat hunches when walking
The cat hunches when walking

One of the possible symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases is a change in gait, which is associated with pain and attempts to reduce discomfort

Some animals swallow the pellets whole, which can cause digestive upset or death from choking. In the case of a natural menu, this is less common, as cats have to work more with their fangs and tear off pieces. Pets rarely gnaw small granules. In addition, soft foods do not damage mucous membranes as much as dry food. Bowls with bulges in the middle help partially solve the problem. Because of them, the cat has to bend over and take out individual pellets.

Special bowls to prevent ingestion of feed
Special bowls to prevent ingestion of feed

Bowls promote slow absorption of food, which has a positive effect on digestion in general

Not all cats agree to dry food. Moreover, even animals accustomed to granules can refuse food when transferring to another brand. I had to deal with this twice: first when accustoming a cat to dry food, then - when switching to Origen rations. I got it as an adult. The former owners fed him with meat and cereals. For a while I kept him on a natural menu, then I began to accustom him to granules. It was difficult: I had to add sauces, give dehydrated treats and even grind the pieces and mix them into regular food. In the second case, the cat categorically refused the holistic. Perhaps this was due to the relatively high ash content or the predominant meat content. Only the intermediate transfer to the Grandorf feed, in which there is less meat than in the Origen products, helped.

For poor quality feed

In the case of low-quality feed, there are more disadvantages. Consumer distrust of ready-made rations most often arises from previous negative experiences. However, the most dangerous factors are inherent only in economy and premium products, in the production of which dubious raw materials are used.

Economy class feed
Economy class feed

The most dangerous feeds, alas, are also the most popular.

Most of the proteins in low-quality ready-to-eat foods are herbal ingredients. For cats, this is unusual food, since their short gastrointestinal tract is adapted to digest meat. In the natural environment, predators receive grains, fruits and vegetables, but only in small quantities from the stomachs of prey, where the food has already been partially processed with enzymes. Of the plant components, cats absorb only a small fraction of the proteins. In addition, pets do not get all the amino acids. For example, taurine is found primarily in meat. It is not synthesized by the cat's body. Manufacturers of cheap feeds add pure taurine, but it is better absorbed with meat.

Cats get used to cheap food. This is due to the presence of flavor enhancers in the composition. This is mistakenly perceived by many pet owners as a sign of quality, but in reality, the pet's appetite still does not say anything. Like people, animals often choose not what is healthier for them, but what tastes better. As a result, cats later find it more difficult to switch to good food. They can refuse food for a long time, which is fraught with exacerbations in the presence of chronic diseases.

Pro Plan dry food
Pro Plan dry food

By the color it becomes obvious that there is practically no meat in the feed: animal products make the granules dark and shiny from fat

Often, cheapness is attributed to the advantages of dry food economy and premium. In reality, this is a controversial factor. If my cat eats about 50–70 g of holistic-class food per day, then for low-quality diets the norm will be 100–150 g. Due to the unbalanced composition, even after such a portion, the animal may remain hungry. The costs should also include the costs of vitamin and mineral supplements, which the pet will probably need with such a diet, and the potential costs of treatment in a veterinary clinic: poor-quality feed very often causes the development of diseases. Of course, there is always a chance that the pet will calmly live to old age without visible signs of pathologies, but you should not risk it.

The main advantage of cheap feed is its availability. You can buy such products at any pet store or hypermarket. "Whiskas" and "Friskis" rations can be found even in small points of sale. This helps in cases where the animal has nothing to feed. For example, delivery failed or you adopted a cat unplanned.

In general, cheap feeds are low quality cereal mixtures fortified with additives. This cannot but affect the health of animals. As a result of such nutrition, pets regularly receive less nutrients. In the composition, the concentration of nutrients is normal, but in reality, pure supplements and herbal ingredients are only partially absorbed by cats. To this should be added an insufficient amount of fat in feed, even according to general norms: in the course of research by Roskachestvo it often turns out that the actual proportion of lipids does not correspond to the declared one and is less than 10-12%. This is fraught with the appearance of weakness and a general deterioration in well-being in cats.

Possible side effects

Among the opponents of dry food, there is a growing opinion that such food can provoke the development of diseases. Some pathologies can indeed arise from granular foods, but most of the problems attributed to ready-made diets have nothing to do with the real state of affairs.

Urolithiasis disease

In the case of dry food, the development of ICD can indeed be triggered by a lack of fluid, oversaturation of urine, and excessive alkalization or oxidation of urine. In practice, urolithiasis occurs more often when eating economy class foods. This is due to non-compliance with the drinking regime and the lack of prophylactic additives.

ICD at the cat
ICD at the cat

With ICD, animals experience problems urinating, blood is found in urine, pets begin to defecate on furniture, clothes and carpets

Good quality dry food by itself prevents the development of LAB by using ingredients that regulate the acidity of urine. Most often, such components are cranberries, blueberries and other berries. Medicinal feeds fight pathology even more actively due to a decrease in the proportion of certain minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc.), but they should not be prescribed unnecessarily, since this can provoke a deficiency of nutrients and the development of other diseases.

Healing food Royal Canin Urinary
Healing food Royal Canin Urinary

In exacerbations, wet food is preferable, but pellets help prevent calculus formation during remission

In rare cases, even high-quality dry food can cause the development of ICD. This is due to the violation of the drinking regime of the animal: he does not even consume the necessary minimum of liquid. However, in this case, the culprit is, rather, an individual feature, to which it is necessary to adjust, and not the feed.

Dental diseases

Many manufacturers claim that their food helps to clean the teeth. In fact, only granules with a special texture are capable of removing plaque from the entire surface: they are squeezed inward with a point pressure on them. This mechanically cleans the canines. In all other cases, dry food is really capable of provoking the development of oral pathologies.

Toothbrushes for cats
Toothbrushes for cats

There are toothbrushes that you can put on your finger; it usually helps to reduce anxiety in cats

The main danger lies in the chewing habits of the cat. Animals are more prone to tearing whole pieces from meat. Pets, at best, split the pellets into several parts, at worst - swallow them whole. As a result, plaque is only removed from the ends. Most of it moves to the roots, later tartar forms, which can cause loss of canines. The granules do not have a massage effect, so the blood circulation in the gums deteriorates. In addition, hard chunks inevitably lead to accelerated tooth wear.

Tartar in a cat
Tartar in a cat

Tartar accumulations provoke gum inflammation

Proper care and toys help partially neutralize the harmful effects of dry food. It is recommended to brush the teeth of cats using special brushes and pastes. The latter may smell like meat, fish or liver, which makes the procedure easier. Such pastes are less prone to foaming and therefore do not cause rejection. In extreme cases, cleaning with gauze or a cloth wrapped around the finger is allowed.

It is advisable for cats to purchase chewable toys that can massage the gums. Small spiked balls are a good option, but in most cases pets are not interested in them. An alternative is stuffed with catnip. Animals chew them willingly, cleaning their teeth in the process.


Dry food can cause obesity, but this also applies to a natural menu. Most often, with the right eating habits and quality diets, problems do not arise. Excess weight appears when eating economy and premium feeds, since they contain too many carbohydrates and few nutrients. As a result, the cat is not full and eats more than the norm. This gradually leads to an increase in body weight.

Obesity in a cat
Obesity in a cat

Obesity is as dangerous for cats as it is for humans; it undermines the health of joints, causes a deterioration in blood circulation and can provoke the development of other pathologies of internal organs

Another problem is instinctive overeating. Often, owners of cats picked up from the street face this: the animals remember the stress they experienced and try to eat as much as possible with each feeding. Such violations are also found in humans, therefore this phenomenon is in no way connected with granules. In this case, owners need to limit portions and feed the pets on a schedule.

On the other hand, high-quality foods with the right diet help maintain normal body weight. There are special dietary diets that help cope with the problem when it occurs. You can choose the right food for an animal with any physique.


Diabetes is relatively rare in cats, but it can still occur due to an excess of carbohydrates on the menu. This is a typical picture for economy and premium feed. They are made up of low quality grains that are fast carbohydrate sources.

Royal Canin Diabetic dry food
Royal Canin Diabetic dry food

If dry food alone caused diabetes, it would not be treated with pelleted diets.

To prevent the development of diabetes, it is recommended to purchase quality feed that contains 50–70% of meat components. You should avoid foods with cereals and an excess of vegetables in the composition.

If the problem has already appeared, special medicated feeds can be purchased. They include ingredients containing slow carbohydrates. For example, oatmeal. This allows you to achieve stabilization of the state.

Disorders of the digestive tract

In this regard, dry food is not much different from natural products. With the wrong diet, the risk of digestive upset is high on any menu. If correct, it also exists, but the likelihood of disruption of the digestive tract is lower.

Hill's Digestive Canned Food for Constipation
Hill's Digestive Canned Food for Constipation

In case of acute attacks, it is recommended to temporarily switch to wet feed; in some cases, chronic constipation is an individual reaction, due to which you have to completely abandon pelleted diets

Most often, constipation worries cats when eating dry food. This can be prevented by changing the diet: depending on the nature of the violation, you should either purchase a product with an increased concentration of plant fibers, or normalize the drinking regime and choose a diet with preventive additives. Aloe and flax seeds can improve digestion and prevent damage to the walls of the digestive tract. If you have a chronic disorder, see your veterinarian as constipation can be associated with other medical conditions.

High-quality dry food does not impair, but improves digestion. It contains pro- and prebiotics that strengthen local immunity and prevent decay. Plant fibers stimulate peristalsis and movement of feces.


Poor quality feed often causes allergies. This is due to the presence of questionable sources of protein, corn, wheat and soybeans. They become the culprit for the appearance of a negative reaction from the immune system.

Cat ear scratches
Cat ear scratches

The area between the toes, eyebrows and ears are the most sensitive places in cats, therefore, when allergies appear, the first combs, spots and bald patches are most often found there.

Quality food is less likely to cause allergies because it does not contain grains. In their production, pure meat or whole carcasses are used without dubious offal. It will be fair to say that any product can cause allergies, therefore, in this case, claims to dry food are unfounded.

Breathing disorders

It is believed that pesticides, insects and their larvae, which can enter the feed along with raw materials, can cause respiratory distress. In reality, this can only happen in factories that produce budget products. Such cases are known: in the course of research, traces of hazardous substances were repeatedly found. However, food can cause side effects only with prolonged use and accumulation of compounds in the body or individual intolerance.

Bacterial contamination

Bacterial contamination is a very real threat, but more inherent in natural products. However, this can also happen when eating dry food, so it is important not to offer spoiled pellets to cats, carefully inspect the packaging before buying and not to buy rations by weight. Air can enter through the opening in the bag and cause premature oxidation.

What should be in a good dry food

Ideally, dry food should be 70–85% meat-based. The rest is occupied by vegetables, fruits, preventive supplements in the form of herbs, etc. The composition of elite products is usually very long due to the abundance of ingredients. This should not be scared: various plant and animal components replace vitamin and mineral complexes. In their natural form, nutrients are absorbed better, so the health of animals remains good.


In the natural environment and when eating natural products, meat occupies 85-90% of the diet, therefore, its share in biologically appropriate feed should be high

The manufacturer must indicate the type of ingredients used. The presence of common names is not allowed. For the holistic category, it is also normal to indicate the percentage of the main components. This allows the consumer to ensure that the feed contains enough meat. Ingredients of animal origin should be ranked first. Cereals can be present in the composition only in the last places as sources of plant fibers, but their presence is best avoided.

The optimal amount of different types of meat depends on the individual characteristics of the animal. If you are prone to allergies, it is better to transfer your pet to a mono diet. If there are no problems with food intolerance, it is advisable to prefer diets with 3–6 types of meat. This will help provide your pet with all the essential amino acids it needs.

Chicken eggs
Chicken eggs

Chicken eggs are often included in elite feeds as a good source of animal proteins and fats, but if you are intolerant to bird protein, they will provoke a deterioration

Animal fats are preferred over vegetable fats, although vegetable fats may also be present as a source of unsaturated fatty acids to maintain balance. The most valuable oil for cats is salmon oil. Due to the presence of omega-3, omega-6 and tocopherols, it helps to improve the condition of the skin, strengthens the immune system and supports the health of the nervous system.

Holistic and super premium feed
Holistic and super premium feed

Holistic and super premium dry food is the safest for cats; when transferring from low-quality diets, the latter are even preferable

The list of preventive supplements is very wide. It can be berries to normalize the acidity of urine. Manufacturers often add cartilage, shellfish extract, or crab shell as a source of glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health. Vegetables contain vegetable fiber.

What ingredients should not be in the dry food

The presence of cereals is discouraged. The most dangerous are wheat, corn and soybeans. Some low-quality feeds divide them into several categories: flour, gluten, extracts, etc. Barley and oats can be found in super-premium products, but they are usually also used as cheap fillers, so grain-free diets are preferred.

The composition should not contain general names: "animal fat", "protein vegetable extract", "poultry", "cereals", "offal", etc. The lack of specificity is most often associated with the use of low-quality components. For example, the name “offal” is equally likely to hide both the liver and hearts, and beaks and scallops. Vague formulations allow the manufacturer to regularly change the recipe depending on the market situation. For example, one batch of feed may contain only corn as cereal, while another may contain a mixture of wheat and corn. This is most dangerous for animals prone to allergies, since in case of intolerance it will be impossible to identify the irritant.

Friskies dry food pellets
Friskies dry food pellets

Most often, manufacturers claim that they do not use dyes at all, but it is difficult to achieve such shades without additives.

The use of dyes is not encouraged. They do not contain useful substances, but they can harm the pet. Some dyes can irritate the delicate mucous membranes of the digestive tract and urinary tract. This can provoke inflammation and the development of disease.

Preservatives must always be present in dry food as they prevent spoilage, but the type of ingredient is important. Preferred preservation with a mixture of vitamins E and C and rosemary. If the generic name "preservatives" is listed on the packaging, there is a high likelihood of using sodium (salt) and dangerous antioxidants. An overabundance of minerals can trigger the development of MCD.

The presence of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in pure form in dry food is undesirable. Several positions are allowed, but not generic names, as well as taurine and methionine. The last amino acids are found in meat, so their addition indicates an insufficient amount of animal products in the composition. Minerals and vitamins should be included in vegetable, fruit and herbal supplements.

Veterinarian opinion

The safety of dry food is highly dependent on its quality. Economy-class products often cause the development of ICD, diabetes, allergies and other pathologies. Good prepared rations not only do not worsen the state of health, but also help to prevent many diseases. The only objective side effect of dry food is plaque and tartar, but this can be corrected with proper care.

Popular by topic