Are you confused by the list of ingredients on the cat food label? You are not the only one. The marketing of pet foods containing human-grade ingredients is becoming common. This marketing appeals to many pet owners, but it is important to understand that this term has no legal definition and is used primarily for marketing purposes. Indeed, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the term “human-grade” has no definition in any animal feed regulations.1 Moreover, extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human-grade, and pet food that actually met these standards would be expensive. So, given the current lack of official human-grade cat food regulations, it is not easy to determine the best options for your feline companion. However, after reviewing the options available online and consulting expert sites such as PetMD, AAFCO, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we have selected the five best human-grade cat food available on the market.234 Nevertheless, we suggest that you also discuss with your veterinarian, who will be able to guide you towards the best option for your kitty’s needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (2022 Update)
The 5 Best Human-Grade Cat Foods
1. Smalls Human Grade Fresh Cat Food – Best Overall
|Type of food:||Fresh|
|First ingredients:||Ground Beef (90% Lean), Beef Liver, Green Beans|
Cats absolutely love the recipes, and there are different options available depending on your kitty’s favorite protein source (beef, turkey, duck, or chicken).
All in all, we think Smalls is the overall best human-grade cat food available this year.
2. Caru Free Range Chicken Broth Cat Food – Best Value
|Type of food:||Bone broth|
|First ingredients:||Water, Chicken Bones, Organic Carrots|
If you’re looking for food and water dishes for your favorite furry friend, we highly recommend the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl. This is our product, but the whisker-friendly dishes and wide catch tray are some of our favorite features, so we just had to share!
The bowls are made from stainless steel and are completely dishwasher friendly, making life as a pet parent as easy as possible. Click here to try it out!
3. Homestead Turkey Rustic Blend Dry Cat Food
|Type of food:||Wet|
|First ingredients:||Humanely raised turkey, turkey bone broth, pumpkin, carrots, spinach|
|Protein:||8.1% min ad fed and 44.99% on a dry matter basis|
No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives have been added to this food. Their unique package is resealable it can safely be portioned and refrigerated leftovers after opening. The formulas can be used as a complete meal or as a topper to add flavor and nutrition to dry food. Something else? You can trace each bag right back to the source instantly by scanning the lot code on it as part of their transparency standard.
However, this high-quality food and service come at a price that might not be affordable for most budgets, let alone if you have multiple small mouths to feed.
4. The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Dry Cat Food
|Type of food:||Dehydrated Cat Food|
|First ingredients:||Dehydrated Chicken, Eggs, Potatoes|
5. Lotus Just Juicy Venison Stew Wet Cat Food
|Type of food:||Wet|
|First ingredients:||Venison, Venison Broth, Carrots|
Related Read: Best Premium Cat Food – Reviews & Top Picks
Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Human-Grade Cat Food
What exactly is human-grade cat food?
Human-grade means that the ingredients used in the manufacture of the food product meet the demanding sanitary rules of human hygiene. It also indicates that the product in question is safe for human consumption. The raw materials that make up pet foods include animal protein. These proteins are suitable for human consumption which are not or little used. For example, we are eating fewer organ meats. We prefer cuts of poultry to whole poultry. The industry makes it possible to promote these excellent quality products which are despised for cultural or seasonal reasons. While the food manufacturing process is rigorously adhered to in our feed chain, it remains less essential in the feed chain. However, food safety is as essential for the health of the animal as it is for that of its owner. Preventing pollution with pathogenic bacteria or any other undesirable substances in foodstuffs helps prevent food poisoning. On the other hand, the only way to manufacture pet food containing ingredients deemed to be “human-edible” is to never let the meat leave the human food chain, to manufacture this food in facilities intended for food suitable for human consumption, and transport it in trucks intended for food for human consumption. Thus, the claim of a product indicating that it contains “ingredients for human consumption” is therefore false if the product is not manufactured in facilities intended for food for human consumption.
Should you buy human-grade cat food?
The bottom line is that your cat needs food that is high in protein and several other nutrients for optimal health. Perhaps more importantly, you and your cat need very different nutrients. Just because a particular can of cat food is labeled “human-grade” doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice. In general, if you read reviews or talk to your vet, you can choose a cat food that’s right for your pet and know you’re doing what’s best for your furry friend.
Bonus: Here are some tips to help you better understand what the ingredient labels say
- The ingredient list is not the only method to use in choosing the best food for your cat, as this list does not provide enough information on the quality of the ingredients or the nutritional value of the product as a whole.
- Rather than focusing on the ingredients, pet owners should consult the AAFCO profiles on nutrients in pet food as well as the quality control protocols put in place by the manufacturer.
- The list of ingredients can be organized in such a way as to make the food as appealing as possible to consumers (e.g., listing the veal first in the list) or to include ingredients that appear desirable in the diet, but often they are in amounts so small that they have little or no nutritional benefit (e.g., artichokes and raspberries listed after vitamin and mineral supplements).
- The number of ingredients does not make food more nutritious.
- Just because cat food is not advertised as “human-grade” does not mean that the ingredients it contains are of poor quality.
What you should take away from our human-grade cat food reviews is that there are, indeed, quality choices available on the market right now. Smalls and Open Farm are the more expensive options, but the freshness of the ingredients and especially the fact that the recipes meet AAFCO standards are a guarantee of high quality. Your best bet is to discuss with your vet the best option for your cat, and if he concludes that human-grade food is an appropriate choice, you can come back to our list and satisfy your kitten’s palate!
Featured Image Credit: correct pictures, Shutterstock