Did you just come across the word “Ash” while going through the list of ingredients present in your cat food? What exactly is it? With no knowledge of the word, you might think that these are ashes from the fires. And, there surely isn’t any role of ashes in your cat’s food. However, you don’t need to worry about it as burnt materials aren’t added to the pet food. Plus, there isn’t any ash filler included in your pet food.
So, what is ash in cat food? what exactly is it? How does it help your cat? Let us take a look at the basics of this critical cat food ingredient.
Ash: Is It An Important Ingredient In Your Cat Food?
When looking at the ingredients in your cat food, you might come across the terms “Crude Ash” or “Ash.” However, it is a combined term used to describe the complete mineral profile present in your cat’s food, including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, etc. Now, these minerals tend to be crucial for the proper health of your pet.
For example, they contribute to better growth of teeth, bones, immune system, muscle growth, blood clotting, nerve function, and so much more.
Now, the use of the term “Ash” might seem odd, but there is logic to it. Like, if you were to burn down pet food, its organic nutrients such as fats, proteins, and more would burn down completely without any residue left behind. So the only ingredients left behind are the inorganic ones. This is why it is known as ash.
The Ash content gives a great idea of how good pet food is. As long as the ash content isn’t too high, you don’t have to worry about it.
Here are the minerals involved in ash and how it helps your cat’s health:
- Calcium: Calcium is important for your cat’s bone & teeth formation, along with better muscle contractions and nerve transmission.
- Phosphorus: Your cat requires phosphorus for energy metabolism, RNA, DNA structure, and skeletal structure.
- Potassium: It is required for the healthy function of your nervous system, better metabolism, and enzyme reactions.
- Magnesium: It is important for better hormone secretions, enzyme function, and nerve cell management.
- Iron: Iron is an important part of myoglobin and hemoglobin while facilitating energy metabolism and better respiration.
- Zinc: Zinc helps ensure better enzyme function, carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, skin function, & wound healing.
- Copper: It helps with iron metabolism, connective tissue management, formation of blood cells, & oxidative defense.
- Selenium: Selenium is important for the cat’s immune system & helps protect against any oxidization.
- Manganese: Manganese facilitates bone development, enzyme reactions, neurological functions, cartilage formation, & better metabolism.
Ash Content is different in best non-prescription cat food for urinary crystals because these foods are made with very limited ingredients and contain elements that ensure bladder health, In other foods, it’s present as per normal ratio.
Where Does Cat Food Ash Come From?
No cat can be produced without the presence of ash in it. When testing the cat food, scientists tend to use a calorimeter to burn it. Doing this allows them to calculate the food’s energy density or the Kcal contained in 100 grams of the food.
Scientists can also calculate the amount of fiber, protein, & fat present in this food.
Once this process is completed, all you are left with is ash or the food’s mineral content. It is simply for testing, and the cat food you purchase wouldn’t contain any burnt content in it.
Should Your Cat Food Have Low or High Ash Content?
Generally, dry cat food contains somewhere between 5 to 8% ash, while wet food contains between 1 to 2% ash. However, there are certain brands where the ash content can go as high as 10 percent. Simply put, the higher the quality of meat, the lower is the ash level.
It is because good meat contains less amount of bone as compared to other variants. These levels also vary with the type of chicken, meat, or fish added to the cat food. For example, fish and chicken are known to have lower ash as compared to red meat.
If you see that your cat food has lower ash content, the quality of meat used for the same is better. It is because there are minimum filler ingredients added to the food.
The important factor here is to know the number of minerals present in the cat food & how each of these minerals affects the cat.
Is Ash Present In the Cat Food Safe?
You don’t need to worry about ash present in your cat food. It is completely safe for your pet. It simply means that you are feeding them minerals that boost their health the right way. However, it would help if you were careful with cat food that has ash percent soaring above 8 percent.
It generally means that your cat is getting lower-quality food along with a high amount of filler ingredients. Several corporate brands are dedicated to manufacturing cat food that doesn’t disclose the amount of ash present in their pet food recipes.
If you feed your cat with one such brand, it might be difficult to understand if the food is sourced from the right place.
You also need to understand that high ash content can be redundant as it might hamper the proper absorption of other minerals in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Phosphorus, a component of ash, could have a deteriorating effect on your cat’s kidneys if the percentage is too high.
You can safely opt for cat food that has a 7 percent or lower amount of ash. Unfortunately, the local food mandates do not require the brands to mention the ash percent on their list of ingredients.
The only way you can tell is by checking out the price of the cat food. The cost of high-quality protein is higher, and hence the manufacturing price for the food goes up.
Does High Ash Represent Low-Quality Cat Food?
Before different types of food regulations came into force, the food industry dedicated to pets mostly used the scraps from meat farms such as feathers, bones, cartilage, etc. Although these scraps were of low quality, they had many minerals, which led to elevated crude ash.
However, today, the industry has changed a lot with food regulations to ensure better health and wellness for your pets. For example, if you use fresh meat for your pets, they are rich in various minerals such as zinc, iron, sodium, selenium, potassium, etc.
So, even though there are minerals present in fresh meat, it is considered healthy. And, as mentioned before, high mineral content automatically translates to a higher ash percentage. So, high ash content doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it is bad quality meat.
Several brands in the market report an ash percentage between 5.7 to 11 percent for dry cat food. The ones that listed low ash levels didn’t use any fresh meat as the major ingredient. Rather, they pack in hydrolyzed protein that is already processed & its quality tends to differ from fresh meat.
Steps to Understand Your Cat Food Quality
The answer to this is simple. First, you have to read the food’s composition or ingredients used in its recipe, including vegetables, meat, rice, etc.
Doing this helps you determine the exact raw materials used in your cat’s kibble. Ash generally works as a filler in your cat’s food.
Cats require about 2 percent ash, and anything above that is practically useless for the feline. Although high ash content in pet food generally doesn’t harm your cat in any way, you should keep in mind not to use them for pets that suffer from kidney issues or the very old ones.
Cats with urinary issues should also refrain from having pet food with high ash content. That being said, with these precautions in mind, ash is completely safe for consumption.
Misconceptions Related to Ash in Cat Food
Certain animal dieticians tend to focus on understanding the pH level in your cat’s food. Ash present in the grains and animal products tends to be acidic, while those present in vegetables and fruits tend to be alkaline.
As per claims, cats that tend to eat food with higher alkaline ash could benefit from blood pH change which could ultimately help counteract the harmful cells in their body that lead to cancer. However, this claim is false.
The ash present in cat food can surely change the urine’s pH but not the blood’s pH or anything in the body that doesn’t get released. Any change in the blood pH could have disastrous consequences for your cat.
To educate domestic pet parents we recently write on how to feed cats wet food while away, how much-wet food for a cat, when do kittens start eating cat food, and we also discuss what ingredient in cat food causes urinary problems that help you to ensure better health of your feline.
With this information in mind, the next time you select your cat’s dry or wet food, you can select what is right for their health. The key is to go with brands that claim the presence of 8 percent or less ash in their food.
Ideally, it is preferable that you go with wet food, but the right mix of dry and wet food is important.
Remember, ash isn’t bad for your pet cat, rather the percentage matters, and you can also consult your veterinarians to ensure the brand of food you prefer is safe and healthy.