Admittedly, I have been swayed by the marketing hype, believing that human-grade cat foods were better for my cat. However, that was before I knew what exactly is meant by human-grade.
A recent article published by World Wildlife Fund revealed that the “human-grade” label is not so much about the quality of the meat, but the choice of meat cuts. Human-grade pet food uses prime meat cuts and ingredients that people like to eat.
But if you ever watch a nature documentary, you’ll notice that the first thing the lions go for are the guts. They’re tearing into the underbelly of their prey to get to the nutrient dense organs.
While you may not want to see “animal byproducts” on your own dinner plate, this term can include nutritious parts of cows and chickens that are good for your cat. Of course, it all depends on what is included in the “byproduct,” but there is a lot of nutrition that many people miss out on when they insist on eating only the “choicest” cuts of meat.
In terms of the environment, cat foods using “animal byproducts” are more sustainable than foods that only use human-grade ingredients. When the whole animal is not being used, that’s a lot of wasted resources. And unless someone or something eats the animal byproducts, these unwanted parts could also end up in the landfill.
Human-grade pet food adds extra pressure to the global food system. In their article, World Wildlife Fund estimates that there will be 9 billion people to feed by 2050. We can’t all be eating only the white meat from the chicken.
While offal is a growing trend in high-end restaurants and for foodie millenials, it’s still a long way from becoming mainstream. Until the demand for sweetbread equals the demand for top sirloin steak or chicken breast, then animal byproducts need to be used in order to reduce waste.
So maybe, it really is better for your cat and the environment to skip the human-grade ingredients, as long as you choose a quality cat food. Your cat will very likely gobble it up. Chicken feet? Pig snouts? Kidneys? Yum! 😉