Note: the photo above is of some delicious fresh salmon in our factory taken by our founder Rachel during a recent visit! This is the salmon as it arrives in the factory, before it's taken off the bone ready to be added to our recipes
Have you ever wondered how dry cat food is made? It can seem slightly strange when you are buying dry cat food that is packed with meat or fish, but you don’t see it when you look at the kibble (although you certainly smell the meaty goodness with our Delicious Dry Food even if you can’t see it!). In this article we’ll explain how Tippaws Delicious Dry Food is made, including how the ingredients are sourced, cooked and transformed into crunchy kibble.
It's also important to note that not all cat food is created equal. Cheaper or lower quality dry cat food is made in a different way from what is described below (partly why it is cheaper) and we’ll touch on this at the end of the article.
Where do the ingredients in dry cat food come from?
Meat and fish
30% of the meat and fish in our recipes is fresh. This means our factory receives fresh salmon, white fish, chicken etc. from their high quality suppliers in the UK, which goes straight into our food. When people ask us why cats love our food so much, this is one of the main reasons - super high quality fresh meat and fish which is also eaten by humans.
For example, a fresh chicken supplier may cut the chicken breasts and legs off of a whole chicken to send to M&S to be sold as chicken fillets and thighs, and our factory will receive the rest of the chicken which will still contains lots of fresh meat on the bones as well as delicious offal. This meat is taken off the bones (which are sold off to other companies to use as biofuel) and used in our cat food.
Our food also contains dried meat and fish. This is a highly concentrated protein source and allows us to get all the goodness, flavour and nutrients into our food.
The combination of the fresh meat and dried meat (or fish) in our food is both irresistible to cats and fantastic for their health.
Other proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals
The non-animal protein ingredients in our food such as chickpeas, lentils, potato, cranberry etc. come from a variety of suppliers, mainly in the UK, but sometimes our factory will need to go further afield to the EU if there are shortages in the UK.
Finally, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals are added in powder form.
How is dry cat food made?
When understanding how our dry cat food is made, the best analogy is: it’s like making a cake! You mix all your dry ingredients together and all your wet ingredients together. You then combine these and cook - simple!
Analogy aside, all the dry ingredients in our cat food are mixed together. For example, in the Turkey & Chicken recipe this would be: chickpeas, lentils, dried cranberries, dried chicken, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, potatoes, peas and yucca extract.
In parallel, the fresh turkey is carefully taken off the bone (cats are incredibly fussy, so no traces of bone can be in the recipe, otherwise cats won’t eat it), turned into mince and cooked gently at about 65 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. Just like when we use a slow cooker with human food, this low temperature ensures all the meat is tender and the protein is highly digestible for cats.
All the ingredients are then mixed together, further gently cooked and finally cooked at a higher temperature for a very short period of time to kill any bacteria. It is then put through an extruder which is a machine that turns the ingredients into little round kibbles. The kibbles are then cooled down and dried to ensure they are extra crunchy - cats love a crunchy kibble - and then some salmon oil is added back into it for extra flavour. Finally, the kibbles are coated with hydrolysed liver gravy for a sort of extra seasoning - think of an oxo stock cube!
And voila! Your cat’s delicious crunchy dry food is packed and ready to eat. It’s a simple process that ensures your cat gets complete, delicious and high quality nutrition in a convenient form.
We follow a similar process for all our recipes! If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to email us at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to answer them.
Cheaper and low quality dry cat food
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, not all cat food is made equal. Both in terms of the ingredients and in terms of the cooking process.
Quality of ingredients
Firstly, just like human food, the quality of the ingredients that go into the food is of paramount importance. If a cat food company uses rubbish quality meat or other ingredients, your cat won't get the high quality nutrition they need.
Traceability and vetting suppliers
Equally, if their suppliers aren't vetted properly or there isn't proof of traceability, there is no guaranteeing that what's in it is actually what they think is in it. This is where a lot of pet food companies fall down as they buy ingredients from suppliers without tracing where they are from. For example, knowing exactly which farms the chickens came from.
Percentage of fresh meat and fish
A lot of pet food companies only use dried meat or fish. While high quality dried meat is an excellent source of nutrition, and in particular protein, fresh meat and fish provides that delicious taste for cats.
Percentage of animal protein
You may be shocked to find that a lot of commercial cat food will only contain a small amount animal protein in it and the rest of it is what is known as 'filler' ingredients - usually in the form of cheap carbs. Even brands that are marketed as premium often do this.
For example, Royal Canin Regular Fit lists its ingredients as: Dehydrated poultry protein, rice, wheat, maize, animal fats, dehydrated pork protein, vegetable fibres, wheat flour, hydrolysed animal proteins, maize gluten, yeasts and parts thereof, beet pulp, soya oil, fish oil, minerals, psyllium husks and seeds, hydrolysed yeast (source of mannan-oligosaccharides), marigold extract (source of lutein).
Because they haven't stated what the actual animal protein is e.g. chicken or turkey, they don't legally need to say how much of this is in the food. You can also see there are quite a few 'filler' carbs listed including wheat, maize, flour etc.
Note: where brands like Royal Canin do have an important role is when cats have medical conditions or specific medical dietary needs as they have a broad range of foods. In these instances, it's often more important to get specific ingredients into the diet versus a highly nutritious, balanced everyday diet. For example, if a cat suffers from Kidney Disease or if they have a virus like Giardia they should eat Gastro Food. A lot of the time only big brands like Royal Canin or Hills have ranges for this.
A lot of the cheaper foods will be cooked for shorter periods of time at higher temperatures - if you think about it, it's cheaper to do this but it means that the meat and fish will be overcooked and not as appetising for your cat. It will also result in a food that is less digestible.
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