Why are there colors in cat food products?

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Coloring, binders, fillers and flavorings are only added to cat food to satisfy the aesthetic wants of the consumer. Many inexpensive cat foods add artificial food coloring to their foods. The food coloring serves no purpose other than for visual appeal to humans and can cause allergies in cats sensitive to the ingredients used in the artificial dyes.

Food coloring is generally safe, as long as it’s edible and not toxic to pets. BUT—and this is important to emphasize–these synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, They’re only used to make food more attractive and generally, the wilder the color, the more cash a product often brings in. Cats have limited tastes; for instance, they can’t detect sweet, so foods with unusual shapes, textures and colors are especially attractive to owners who might think they’re giving their pet a special treat.

That said, however, food coloring is one of the top nine causes of feline food allergies and it has been linked to behavior and digestive problems and some cancers.

It’s pretty easy to avoid foods with artificial color, whether you’re looking at the label or at the unnatural tint of your food. Remember, however, that some bright colors are natural, such as the red from beets or the orange from carrots (carotene). Use common sense in locating unnatural colors for the health of your pet.

In addition to food colorings, preservatives and sweeteners, here is a list of food additives to avoid:

• Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
• Sodium nitrate/nitrate
• Sulfites (sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium and potassium bisulfite, sodium and potassium metabisulfite)
• Potassium bromate
• FD&C Blue #1
• FD&C Blue #2
• FD&C Green #3
• FD&C Red #3 (Erythrosine)
• FD&C Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
• FD&C Yellow #6
• Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
• Aspartame

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