Is corn meal better for cats than rice?

An occasional bite of brown rice is okay but, generally, rice is difficult for cats to digest. Remember that they are carnivores, strict meat-eaters, so they lack the enzyme to digest any carbohydrates. Rice is, therefore, very difficult for a cat to digest. While a tiny amount of cooked rice given with boiled chicken may benefit a cat with an upset stomach, commercial foods often have a high percentage of rice or other grain, which have no benefit to a cat whatsoever as they cannot extract any nutrients from plant material.

Corn meal isn’t a good alternative, either. While corn does contain some protein, not every animal can digest it and utilize that protein the same as another (even including humans), which is why some animals can form an allergy to corn (very commonly actually). Remember also that cats are strictly meat-eaters, so they are unable to utilize the proteins from plant food.

Corn meal is seen in three different forms. Here is a step-by-step breakdown to offer you more insights:

• Corn gluten meal: Corn gluten meal, a cheap by-product of human food processing, offers little nutritional value and serves mainly to bind food together. It’s a yellow powdery substance, derived from cornstarch and corn syrup. It’s added to foods as a source of protein, while both ground corn and corn meal are added as carbohydrate sources. The addition of corn gluten meal allows pet food manufacturers to increase their protein levels at a lower cost. Corn gluten meal contains nitrogen so it’s also used as a pesticide for lawn care.

• Ground corn: The entire corn kernel grounded or chopped up, this is often thought of as the sweepings from the milling room floors is used mainly a source of carbohydrates that cats don’t need much.

• Corn meal: Similar to ground corn, this is sometimes replaced with cottonseed hulls. This is basically a harmful excess ingredient, which most reputable food companies will remove from their cat foods even though it is more costly.

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