Corn in Our Cat Food

I had been feeding my cats premium cat food for years. I pay dearly for this food and I assumed I was doing what was best for my cats. I started questioning my food choice because Phoebe is obese, has dandruff and itches like crazy… yet the vet says she is fine.


Looking at the ingredient label of her Premium food, the 3rd and 4th ingredients are: Corn Gluten Meal and Whole Ground Corn.


What is Corn Gluten Meal?
“Corn gluten meal is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.” – Natura Pet Products


Are there Benefits to using Corn Gluten Meal?
Natura Pet Products writes: “Corn gluten meal is a low ash source of protein and acts as a urine acidifier. Cats vs Dogs: While not the best quality source of protein, the use of corn gluten in small amounts offer preventive health benefits for cats. In addition, unlike dogs, cats do not usually show signs of allergic reactions to corn products. Natura does feel strongly, however, that there is no justification for the use of corn gluten in dog foods and considers it to be only a cheap protein filler when used in this manner.”


So, What is the Purpose of the Corn Gluten Meal and Corn in Large Amounts like in many Dry Cat Foods?
Corn Gluten Meal and Corn, when listed as the first ingredient, is used as a inexpensive protein source, a filler and helps to hold the food together.

Since cats are obligate carnivores, they benefit most from protein derived from meat sources such as fish, beef and chicken, NOT a vegetable source like corn.


Opinions about Corn in Cat Food

Dr. T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM performed an informal observation of over 1000 cats and dogs. His conclusions were: Pets who where solely fed a cheap, grain-based pet food have course, brittle hair coat, and dry skin but the coat will seem slightly greasy and dusty. The pet will probably itch. It will eat lots of food because the pet is nutrient starved.

Dr. Funaba et al from the Laboratory of Nutrition, Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine Japan, performed a clinical study about meat meal vs. corn gluten meal. CONCLUSIONS: Meat meal was superior to CGM as a protein source in dry foods formulated for cats, because dry-matter digestibility and N utilization were higher for the MM diet. In addition, net loss of body calcium and magnesium for the CGM diet suggests that mineral requirements increase when CGM is used as a protein source.



Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM writes: “Your cat was built by Mother Nature to get her nutritional needs met by the consumption of a large amount of animal-based proteins (meat) and derives much less nutritional support from plant-based proteins (grains). The protein in dry food, which is heavily plant-based, is not equal in quality to the protein in canned food, which is meat-based. The protein in dry food is, therefore, less bioavailable to your cat. In the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture content, meat-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only ~6-9% of her diet consisting of carbohydrates. The average dry food contains 35-50% This is NOT the diet that Mother Nature intended for your cat to eat! A high quality canned food, on the other hand, contains ~3-6% carbohydrates. Cats have a physiological decrease in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic pathways that are present in other mammals, and the lack a salivary enzyme called amylase. Cats not only have no dietary need for carbohydrates, but too many carbohydrates can actually be detrimental to their health. Why are we feeding such a species-inappropriate diet? The answers are simple. Grains are cheap. Dry food is convenient.”


According to the Dallas Rags Cattery, “Meat is always the best source of quality protein. Meat has a higher biologic value (percentage of protein absorbed and retained) and is higher in important essential amino acids like methione, arginine and taurine. Corn gluten meal is low in these critical amino acids, and has a lower biologic value, less than 50% of chicken meal.”

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Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy’s assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.