What role do preservatives play in commercial cat food?
The FDA requires cat food manufacturers to list all contents of their products on the ingredient label in descending order by weight. If you see the presence of even traces of these preservatives in the cat food you are thinking about buying, you will do your cat a great deal of good if you skip that product and choose a healthier, safer alternative.
Ethoxyquin, commonly used as a pesticide spray, is something you’ll most often see in dried pet food. It can be toxic, with symptoms of Ethoxyquin poisoning in cats including depression, skin irritation, liver damage, convulsions and coma.
- Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate
Sodium nitrite is used to give cat food that red, meaty look and to preserve freshness. Both nitrites and nitrates are considered carcinogenic for animals when they combine with amino acids to form nitrosamines. In addition, sodium nitrate depletes vitamin A, an essential vitamin for cats. Some animals are also allergic to sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
- Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol is a humectant, or thickener, that is used mostly in semi-moist cat foods. This preservative is suspected of causing tooth decay, obesity and cancer.
- BHA and BHT
BHA and BHT are used primarily as preservatives in dry pet food. They prevent the fat with which the food is sprayed from turning rancid. BHA and BHT are quite similar.
BHA is suspected of causing liver and kidney dysfunction in cats, as well as behavioral and reproductive damage and skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas are among the most lethal and fastest-spreading types of cancer. Animals with light-colored fur tend to be affected the most quickly.
- Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate
Benzoates are the most widely used food preservatives in the world. This substance, although used safely as a preservative in human food, is rarely used in cat food because it causes adverse reactions in cats, tending to make them highly aggressive.
Benzoates are common in human foods that you may want to share with your cat or that he may accidentally eat, so take precautions. Keep benzoate-preserved human food away from your cats.