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Is dry food bad for cats?: Part 2

Is dry food bad for cats?: Part 2
by Morven Hamilton

Read time: 5 min

Part 2: The Ingredients

Is dry food really that bad for cats? And if my cat likes it, is a small amount of dry food a bad thing? Lots of cat parents are starting to question the dry cat food lurking in their cupboard – and KatKin is here to tell you why you should ditch the dry for good, and switch to our Fresh-cooked 100% premium meat cat food.

In our last blog, we talked about why the manufacturing process should have you questioning that bag of kibble. Now, let’s talk about the ingredients themselves – the weird and not-so-wonderful things that go into making dry cat food.

The ‘with’ trick

Take a look at your dry food, and look for the sneaky word ‘with’. If it says ‘with chicken’ or ‘with beef’, that’s a marketing trick. By including the word ‘with’, the meat content only has to be 4% whatever they said on the front. It’s ‘with’ 4% chicken – not made of chicken. But what’s the rest? Well…

Animal derivatives

Not sure what these are? No, neither is your cat. So, picture the scene. You’re in a restaurant. You order a steak. The waiter brings over a pile of murky powder, and tells you it’s the meat of the day. What kind of meat? Uh, the dried extracts of whatever waste meat we had. Bon appetit.

That’s what we’re doing when we feed cats dry food. One of the key ingredients in many kibbles is ‘meat and animal derivatives’, and there are a few things to know about that phrase:

  1. Cats are carnivores. Like their wild cat ancestors, they get their energy best from fresh meat. Derivatives aren’t good enough, and here’s why…

  2. Meat and animal derivatives are only a dim, distant relation of actual meat. They’re dried powdered extracts, often made from cut-offs no-one wants. It might even include feathers, horns, and hooves.

  3. They’re called ‘meat and animal derivatives’ because they can be made of several animals; whatever’s cheaply available at the time. The manufacturers don’t even have to say which animals they used – which is a real problem if your cat has an allergy you’re trying to avoid.

  4. A history fact for you: dry kibble made with powdered waste meat was popularised in World War II, as a way to make pet food when fresh meat was rationed. 80 years later, companies are still using these powdered derivatives. And speaking of which…

Vegetable derivatives

One of the great puzzles of dry food: the phrase ‘derivatives of vegetable origin’. If you see this on your dry food bag, give it some thought. It means dried, powdered extracts: so far from vegetables that they’re not allowed to be called vegetables anymore. It’s a poor excuse for the 100% premium meat cats really need – and a poor excuse for vegetables too.


Let’s say it loud for the people in the back: cats don’t need cereals. No wheats, no grains, no sir, no how. They’ve evolved to get their protein from meat, and they find it harder to digest grains. It’s uncomfortable for them, and that’s part of what makes their litter tray smell so bad. Bottom line: those cereals are there to bulk out the kibble, not because they’re the best thing for cats.

Lots of carbs

Not all carbohydrates are bad, but between the high cereal content and an often high sugar content, dry cat food (and wet cat food for that matter) can cause a spike in your cat’s blood sugar. Particularly for diabetic cats, that’s bad news. Plus, this cheap energy shouldn’t be more than 10% of any cat’s diet. It’s just not what cats are made to process.

No moisture

One ingredient you won’t find on the back of your dry food bag: moisture. Sounds obvious, we know, but dry cat food is completely dried out – and because cats prefer to get their hydration through their food, dry kibble isn’t helping them. For the record, your cat needs moisture in their diet for a whole lot of reasons – not just to satisfy thirst, but for long-term benefits on urinary health and weight control.


Let’s say you’ve got a multicoloured kibble, with lots of different meat and vegetables in it. The brown bits are chicken, the orange bits are made with carrots, and the green bits are made with peas. A beautiful all-natural rainbow, right? Not so much. Aside from the fact that cats don’t need vegetables, those pieces aren’t coloured by their content. In fact, there’s a good chance those ingredients are barely even in there. You might see a little note like this, low in the ingredients: “4% Chicken in the Brown Kibbles, 4% Carrots in the Orange Kibbles, 4% Peas in the Green Kibbles”. The colour doesn’t come from the ingredients: it comes from colourants – used to make the kibble more attractive, not more nutritious.

Close up shot from above of a bowl full of kibble. The bowl is white and is shaped like the head of a cat


Ever wondered how a supposedly meaty cat food can last two years in the back of a cupboard? Doesn’t meat, you know, go off? It’s because it’s got additives and preservatives, and those can upset cat tummies or even irritate allergies.


All these ingredients are dubious to begin with – and they definitely don’t get better when they’re blasted with heat during the manufacturing process. And why such a high heat? Not to benefit cats, but to make it last longer on the shelf. Read more about that in Part 1 of this series.

Ready for genuine nutrition?

As you’ve probably gathered, none of the ingredients in dry cat food are designed to be the best thing for your cat. Often, they’re designed to be cheap, with high profit margins, and sterilised to sit in your cupboard for years.

On the other hand, there’s KatKin. The ingredients in our Fresh-cooked 100% premium meat meals are a breath of fresh air, because:

  • We use 100% Fresh meat – never dried derivatives

  • We use 100% premium meat – not waste meat

  • We’re complete and balanced: our meat is nutrient-rich, and our KatKin Nutrient Mix balances with the meat’s natural benefits to give your cat exactly the vitamins and minerals they need

  • Our meats are labelled clearly, so there aren’t any mystery animals inside

  • We don’t use fillers or things cats don’t need: that means no cereals, no vegetable derivatives, low in sugar-spiking carbohydrates

  • We don’t need colourants or anything artificial: our 100% Fresh-cooked meat recipes look, taste and smell great all on their own

  • Our gentle steam-cooking means all our great ingredients stay nutritious (and delicious)

In short, every ingredient in KatKin’s Fresh-cooked recipes are designed for the happiest, healthiest life for your cat. While dry cat food puts profits first, we’re putting cats first. Ready to join our revolution?

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