What "Complete & Balanced" Really Means for Your Cat? What is AAFCO?

What "Complete & Balanced" Really Means for Your Cat? What is AAFCO?

When browsing cat food options, you've likely encountered labels boasting "complete and balanced" nutrition. But what exactly does this claim signify? To understand, we need to delve into the world of AAFCO.

The AAFCO Standard: Setting the Bar (or Is It?)

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), established in 1909, plays a key role in setting standards for pet food labeling. Their objective is to protect consumers by establishing guidelines for what manufacturers can say about their products. Any cat food labeled as "complete and balanced" must adhere to these AAFCO standards.

A Private Corporation with Industry Ties

It's crucial to note that AAFCO is not a government agency, but rather a private organization. Their advisory boards and committees include representatives from major pet food companies and suppliers. This raises a potential conflict of interest, as some may question if the standards are truly objective.

"Complete & Balanced": A Minimum Threshold

According to AAFCO, "complete and balanced" signifies that the food provides sufficient nutrients in a suitable ratio for daily feline consumption. However, AAFCO's minimum requirements for protein and fat content are considerably lower than what a cat would naturally consume through prey like mice. While AAFCO mandates a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat, a cat's natural diet typically consists of 56% protein and 27% fat. This gap highlights a potential concern.

Furthermore, AAFCO has no regulations for terms like "premium," "real meat," or "high quality," allowing manufacturers to leverage these terms for marketing purposes without guaranteeing superior ingredients.

Understanding AAFCO-Defined Terminology

Understanding AAFCO's labeling terminology can shed light on the composition of pet food:

  • 100%: The named ingredient constitutes the entire product.
  • 95%: The named ingredient makes up 95% of the food.
  • Dinner, Platter, Entrée, Formula, Recipe: These terms indicate the named ingredients collectively comprise at least 25% of the product (excluding water, or 10% including water), with each individual ingredient constituting at least 3% by weight (excluding water). The manufacturer can choose which ingredients meeting these criteria are included in the name.
  • With: This term signifies the named ingredient makes up at least 3% of the food by weight (excluding water).
  • Flavor: Don't be misled! This simply indicates the presence of a particular flavoring, not the actual quantity of the ingredient.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on adopting one of our most beautiful Bengal kittens.
- Pawtopia Bengal Cat Breeder in Ontario, Canada.

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