Why By-Products Are Not a Bad Thing
What Exactly is a By-Product?
Many pet food brands have started to run commercials with owners horrified to learn there are "by-products" in their cat food or dog food. Shouldn't the pet just get the chicken, pork, or beef?
To figure out what's good for a cat to eat, think of what it would eat in the wild. A house cat may be domesticated, but the digestive system isn't too far from their ancestors and wild relatives. If a cat hunts in the wild, it does not pick apart its prey and eat only the muscle. It eats the intestines, skin, bones, etc, and these parts become what food companies call “by-products.” The by-products contain necessary minerals and nutrients that pets require to stay healthy.
It is important to know cats are carnivores. There are many nutrients - vitamins and amino acids - cats can't produce on their own. They have to get them from another animal who already converted the substances.
For example, many animals can break down organic pigments from plants called carotenoids and convert them into active Vitamin A. Cats can't do that. They have to get Vitamin A already converted by another animal.
Instead of trusting what a commercial or pet store clerk tells you is good or bad for your cat, ask your veterinarian. We are trained in animal nutrition, and we can tell you why raw hamburger meat and a saucer of milk is not a good or balanced diet for your cat.