i need a "tutorial" in reading labels. I'm trying to put together all the information
i've gotten from reading the back-and-forths about nutrition and petfood in this newsgroup
and i don't think i understand very much. i really want to do the best thing for my cat. could someone help me apply what i've read in a reading label exercise?
1) my question is: what are excessive levels of nutrients?

a lot of talk about excessive levels of nutrients and insufficient ratios harming cats.
help me: if i buy, what levels should i look for on labels, then? If i'm preparing homemade,
how much ?
- magnesium: not more than how much % is acceptable? - calcium: not more than how much % is acceptable? - phosphorous: not more than how much % is acceptable? - ash : not more than how much % ?
should i be looking out for ratios, percentages or quantities ?

i know about calcium: phosphorous having to be 1.2: 1.2.1 (correct?) , but WHAT happens if
it's 1: 1.2 or .79: 1.2? how bad is it?
for example, right now I am feeding a combination of Back to Basics dry food and
Prota Cat Steak and Kidney. Both these foods have calcium-phosphorous ratios that
are not 1.2: 1.2.1 but are sort of close. Should I supplement?

Here is the label reading for Back to Basics
Back to Basics (from packet labelling - the packet labelling is a bit different from their web site labelling)
Crude Protein not less than 34.00%
Crude Fat not less than 21.00%
Crude Fiber not less than 3.50%
Moisture not more than 10.00%
Ash not more than 5.6%
Calcium not more than 1.1%
Phosphorous not more than 1.0%
Magnesium not more than 0.095% (is this high?)
Copper = 33.06mg/kg
In addition i have these questions:
First, does this mean that the carb count for BtoB is 25.9% ? (100-34-21-3.5-10-6.5=25.9)
According to the comparison that has been going on, this is sort of OK for a dry food in terms
of grain content? It is IMPOSSIBLE to have a dry food without at least 20-30% grain content, right?
Second, it says about ash here on the Back to Basics maker's web site: (http://www.beowulfs.com/natural cat food.shtml):
ASH
When meat is cooked, ash is produced. The ash content in cat food is proportional to the amount of
meat in the food. In other words, the higher the meat content, the higher the ash. However
high quality meat produces less ash than low quality meat. Back to Basics uses only the highest
quality meats available and, therefore, has the least ash content possible which is approximately

6 1/2%. (The only way to get lower ash content is to supplementcheap vegetable proteins)
So is this true? This ash - if I were to cook my own meat, is ash produced or is it only produced by commercial
machines or something? Am I supposed to be able to see this ash? If I'm going to feed raw (like the Prota Cat), there's NO ash becuase it's
not cooked, then?
My colleague was showing me a NZ brand of catfood (some kind of semi wet food )she had just
bought called Nature's Gift (I think)
and i happened to see it had 12% ash - isn't that TOO HIGH? (according to the back to basics web
site description that's very high).
Third, the phosphorous content for B2B, it's OK but on the high side?

I also feed Prota Pak Catfood (chilled). The calcium is 1% and the phosphorous is 1.2%. Is this
not acceptable?? To supplement that should be trying to put the balance back by putting in .1% of calcium?
(and how would i do this)
2) Taurine

My (insufficient) reading tells me that meat itself is a source of taurine. Therefore if I'm
feeding a raw food diet (like porta pak catfood), is that enough taurine, or do i need to
add by-products (hearts or liver for taurine?)? What is the minimum mg or % of taurine I should
include in my cat's diet? I can't find taurine-alone tablets in pet stores, only vitamin tablets that
include taurine. Are these useful at all?
any opinions, help, corrections appreciated, thanks.
1 2 3
1) my question is: what are excessive levels of nutrients?[/nq]Some nutrients are in fact toxic to lethal if overdosed, but as long as you do not supplement your cat with these nutrients (unless under veterinary supervision), you should be fine. These nutrients are all essential metals (sodium, potassium, iron, copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, magnesium, etc.), and some vitamins (vitamins A, D, K). Calcium can be dangerous if not properly balanced with phosphorus. If properly balanced, most of it may pass straight through and not even go into the blood.

The AAFCO says a calcium:phosphorus ratio of anywhere from 1:1 to 3:1 is fine. Since liver contains a lot of vitamin A, it is a good idea to not feed it too often. I give my cats liver once a week. Fish is also rich in minerals, so that´s another thing I do not give more than once a week. All commercial foods should be within acceptable limits (or ratios) of all nutrients mentioned above.
A lot of people state that excess magnesium can lead to struvites (a magnesium salt that precipitates in the bladder and causes blockage). It can happen indeed but in alkaline urine. In acidic urine you would need a huge amount of magnesium to get those crystals precipitating. Proper amounts of magnesium have been shown to protect from calcium oxalate stones. One thing that I found amusing when this mania of cutting down on magnesium began is that not one manufacturer of commercial food told customers to check what kind of clay they used in their litter box. One very popular clay is a magnesium salt so it´s no use cutting magnesium down in the diet and using that clay in the litter box. Cat goes to box, than licks his paws and… so much for a low-magnesium diet.
If i'm preparing homemade, how much?

If you are preparing homemade, don´t feed liver, kidney (rich in minerals) and fish too often. I personally find it very advisable to supplement with an antioxidant formula containing vitamin E, linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids (or omega fatty acids or PUFAs). Although meats contain those nutrients, they are easily oxidized by air so depending on how much time has passed from the day the animal was killed to the day the meat is consumed, it will have lost much of it. If you intend to cook the food, then this supplementation is mandatory since these nutrients are easily destroyed by heat. Cheryl uses a great supplement but I can't remember the name.
should i be looking out for ratios, percentages or quantities ?

If you are buying a commercial food, I believe no brand is using excessive amounts or incorrect ratios of anything in there. If you are preparing home-made, don´t feed some meats too often (above). There are great books out there with home-made recipes and one of these books will even give you a nutrient analysis of each of the recipes.
i know about calcium: phosphorous having to be 1.2: 1.2.1 (correct?) , but WHAT happens if it's 1: 1.2 or .79: 1.2? how bad is it?

Anything from 1:1 to 3:1 Ca:P is ok according to the AAFCO. If what you wrote above is 1 calcium: 1.2 phosphorus and 0.79 calcium to 1.2 phosphorus, that´s not ok. But if it´s 1.2 calcium to 0.79 phosphorus, that´s ok.
for example, right now I am feeding a combination of Back to Basics dry food and Prota Cat Steak and Kidney. Both these foods have calcium-phosphorous ratios that are not 1.2: 1.2.1 but are sort of close. Should I supplement?

Never supplement on minerals unless under veterinary supervision. If you gave your cats bones, you would be supplementing but there´s a big difference in feeding bones and giving prepared supplements. Bones come in a perfectly balanced ratio and most of it does not even enter the bloodstream from what I have observed. Supplements (calcium) are made with a very soluble calcium salt and easily enter the bloodstream.
Here is the label reading for Back to Basics Back to Basics (from packet labelling - the packet labelling is ... not more than 1.1% Phosphorous not more than 1.0% Magnesium not more than 0.095% (is this high?) Copper = 33.06mg/kg

Looks good. How about the ingredients?
In addition i have these questions: First, does this mean that the carb count for BtoB is 25.9%? (100-34-21-3.5-10-5.6=25.9)

That´s it. Although fibers are carbs, they are not digested so can be subtracted along with the rest.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to have a dry food without at least 20-30% grain content, right?

It would be possible to do a dry food with zero carbs but it would be extremely expensive. You would need the same kind of process used in a pharmaceutical industry for making brewer's yeast tablets. Don´t forget the most important "nutrient": water. Cats on canned diets ingest much more water than cats on dry diets. Ideally, dry should be given only as treat or snack.
ASH When meat is cooked, ash is produced. The ash content in cat food is proportional to the amount of meat in the food. In other words, the higher the meat content, the higher the ash.

Not necessarily true. A person could formulate a plant-only diet and supplement with minerals (ash). OTOH, a diet that claims to have lots of meat cannot be low in ash (especially phosphorus). This is one thing that you need to remember if you prepare a homemade diet. Meats have much more phosphorus than calcium so bones should always be included. I also like to include milk but not all cats can drink milk without consequences.
(The only way to get lower ash content is to supplement cheap vegetable proteins)

Vegetable protein is not only cheap but it is also of very low quality.
So is this true? This ash - if I were to cook my own meat, is ash produced or is it only produced by commercial machines or something?

Ash is what cannot be burned, that is, minerals. If you look up some meats in the USDA site, you will see that all meats contain minerals. It´s not produced by the machines.
http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut search.pl
Am I supposed to be able to see this ash? If I'm going to feed raw (like the Prota Cat), there's NO ash becuase it's not cooked, then?

No. There is ash but you can´t see it. Do you have a fireplace? When you burn a log, ash remains, right? Same with meat. You can roast meat until there´s nothing but ash left.
My colleague was showing me a NZ brand of catfood (some kind of semi wet food )she had just bought ... had 12% ash - isn't that TOO HIGH? (according to the back to basics web site description that's very high).

I don´t know the food but semi-moist is considered the worst food there is because of all the chemicals you need to put in there, especially to protect from mold. There are reports that dogs fed semi-moist foods had their lives cut in half. I don´t understand why Waltham had to add nuggets to Whiskas. Why make it worst than it was already?
Third, the phosphorous content for B2B, it's OK but on the high side?[/nq]You will not find anywhere in literature anything saying that dietary phosphorus in the levels used in pet food and properly balanced with calcium is detrimental to kidneys. What you will find is papers saying that phosphorus is detrimental if there is too much phosphorus in blood, a condition called hyperphosphataemia. This condition usually appears when there´s very little kidney function left and IMO, it´s not caused by dietary phosphorus but by bone dissolution because of metabolic acidosis.

A study showed that cutting down on phosphorus did not increase the life expectancy of dogs in the terminal stage of kidney disease. Another study showed that cutting down of phosphorus increased the life expectancy of cats with kidney disease. Maintenance diets for dogs are not acidified. Maintenance diets for cats are acidified. Kidney diets for cats are not acidified. IMO, it´s not the lower phosphorus that extended their lives but controlling metabolic acidosis.

One very respected veterinary nephrologist suspects that it is the acidifying nature of maintenance diets for cats that cause metabolic acidosis in cats with advanced kidney disease. See if you can find a thread called "Chronic Renal Failure." I wrote a big post there and listed all references, some with links. Metabolic acidosis will cause among other problems, bone dissolution (hyperphosphataemia, hypercalcemia), and protein catalysis (high BUN and creatinine).

Excess acid in blood will also accelerate kidney damage.
I also feed Prota Pak Catfood (chilled). The calcium is 1% and the phosphorous is 1.2%. Is this not acceptable?? To supplement that should be trying to put the balance back by putting in .1% of calcium?

I understand that´s not the only thing you feed. Add all the ratios of everything you feed and make sure the final ratio is anywhere from 1:1 and 3:1 Ca:P.
2) Taurine My (insufficient) reading tells me that meat itself is a source of taurine. Therefore if I'm feeding a ... I can't find taurine-alone tablets > in pet stores, only vitamin tablets that include taurine. Are these useful at all?

Don´t worry about supplementing taurine if you are feeding commercial + raw meats. The only deficiency one of my cats had after 9 months eating only raw beef muscle and raw liver once a week was vitamin E deficiency (mentioned earlier about supplementation). In zoos, the only cats that needed extra supplementation of taurine besides what they got from the meat they were given were leopards. If you are feeding only homemade, some recipes will request extra supplementation and some won´t. Adding heart to your cat´s diet if you are feeding him only homemade is a good idea. There is a group of raw feeders that you can join. They will give you a lot of help and info on preparing homemade. A holistic vet will most likely help you too.

And, of course, expect another war to start from this thread! LOL Emotion: wink
A study showed that cutting down on phosphorus did not increase the life expectancy of dogs in the terminal stage of kidney disease.

Is this a very old study? There was a study done at the U. of Minnesota back in 2001 or 2002 that showed dogs fed a low phosphorus food lived over 3 times as long (on average) and with 1/2 the uremic crisises (sp?) as dogs on a "maintenance" food. (and these were dogs "in the terminal stage of kidney disease). Actually kidney disease is always fatal, so at what point do you believe to be the "terminal stage" of kidney disease?
Is this a very old study? There was a study done at the U. of Minnesota back in 2001 or ... kidney disease is always fatal, so at what point do you believe to be the "terminal stage" of kidney disease?

Gauby, life is fatal. If you are alive, you are definitively going to die some day. Emotion: wink But to answer your question, by terminal stage I mean symptoms start to appear and CRF is diagnosed (20% kidney function left?). Do you have the reference of that newer study with dogs? Thanks.
i need a "tutorial" in reading labels. I'm trying to put together all the information i've gotten from reading the ... - phosphorous: not more than how much % is acceptable? - ash : not more than how much % ?

Key Nutritional Factors
Small Animal Clinical Nutrition IV ed. page 309
This section authored by:
Claudia Kirk, DVM pHd, ACVIM ACVN, University of Tennesse Jaques DeBraekeleer, DVM, Professor, Small Animal Clincial Nutrition Netherlands
P.Jane Armstrong, DVM PhD, Diplomate, ACVIM, Professor Small Animal Internal Medicine - School of Veterinary Medicine Perdue University.

% dry matter basis adult older (7+ years) Protein 30-45% 30-45%
Fat 10-30% 10-25%
Fiber <5% <10%
Phosphorus 0.5-0.8% 0.5-0.7% Calcium 0.5-1.0% 0.6-1.0% Sodium 0.2-0.6% 0.2-0.5% Magnesium 0.04-0.1% 0.05-0.1%
ASH When meat is cooked, ash is produced. The ash content in cat food is proportional to the amount of meat in the food.

That isn't quite correct. There isn't any "ash" in a pet food. Ash refers to a chemical analysis wherein the food is actually burned so remove everything but the minerals (calcium, copper, magnesium, iron,) that cannto be burned. Thus a measurement of ash in a food means the total amount of minerals in the food. Meat meals are a significant soruce of minerals but by no means the only source in any pet food.
If I'm going to feed raw (like the Prota Cat), there's NO ash becuase it's not cooked, then?

No, cooked or raw, the amount of minerals in any given ingredinet will not change.
My colleague was showing me a NZ brand of catfood (some kind of semi wet food )she had just bought called Nature's Gift (I think) and i happened to see it had 12% ash - isn't that TOO HIGH?

That would be an indicator of poor quality meats. Typically the largest single element in the "basket" of all the minerals will be calcium. High levels of calcium generally are the result of using cheap meat meals that contain very high percentages of ground up bone tissue. Generally the cheaper the meat meals the more ground up bone tissue is in the meat meal.
You will not find anywhere in literature anything saying that dietary phosphorus in the levels used in pet food and ... find is papers saying that phosphorus is detrimental if there is too much phosphorus in blood, a condition called hyperphosphataemia.[/nq]That is of course utter nonsense. In a dozen studies the level of phosphorus in the FOOD provided the animal, vastly affected the lifespan of the CRF animal. The primary dietary recommendation for the condition of hyperphosphatemia is REDUUCING the level of phosphorus in the diet. Since none of us have a crystal ball and cannot tell which one of five cats will succumb to renal failure, it makes absolutely NO sense to feed excessive levels of phosphorus in the diet.

There is no "good news" to feeding high phos. There isn't a single advantage to feeding high levels of phosphorus. Since there is NO advantage, and since nobody can determine which cat will succumb to CRF , and since CRF is the second most common cause of death in cats, it makes absolutely NO sense to feed excessive levels of phos to any animal. It's just a stupid and avoidable risk.
A study showed that cutting down on phosphorus did not increase the life expectancy of dogs in the terminal stage of kidney disease.

Please provide a source for this wild statement. Given that the last four Grade 1 published peer reviewed studies showed exactly the opposite. My guess is that you are once again referring to Finco's much bashed study wherein he fed the group of high phos dogs potassium citrate, did not feed the low phos dogs potassium citrate, took three dogs out of the study without acknowledgeing it, admitted that the dogs on high phos diets had greater and more extensive uremic crisis, and claimed that since the high phos dogs died of uremic crisis and NOT renal failure there was no difference with high phos levels. Most folks consider a dead dog a "negative outcome". Finco chose not to do so.
I addition to what others wrote, this is an informative page of info on pet food labeling. (yes, Steve, this supports what you said about the ingredient list).
http://www.fda.gov/cvm/index/consumer/petlabel.htm
And, of course, expect another war to start from this thread! LOL Emotion: wink

Not from me dear, I'm pooped.
You will not find anywhere in literature anything saying that ... is too much phosphorus in blood, a condition called hyperphosphataemia.

That is of course utter nonsense. In a dozen studies the level of phosphorus in the FOOD provided the animal, vastly affected the lifespan of the CRF animal.

Dozen?! I know of only one and in this one, the author states clearly that it cannot be concluded that restriction of phosphorus increased their lives. Please give me the references of the other 11.
A study showed that cutting down on phosphorus did not increase the life expectancy of dogs in the terminal stage of kidney disease.

Please provide a source for this wild statement.

I already did. Go back to the thread "Chronic Renal Failure" and read my post with all the references.
Given that the last four Grade 1 published peer reviewed studies showed exactly the opposite.

Give me the reference for those four studies.
My guess is that you are once again referring to Finco's much bashed study wherein he fed the group of ... difference with high phos levels. Most folks consider a dead dog a "negative outcome". Finco chose not to do so.

Can you give me proof of what you said above about his study? Did anyone with a PhD bash his study in writing? If so, where is it?

In the other thread, you have not answered many things I asked you. To make it easier for you, I´ll bring them over to this thread:
What is the percentage of omega 3 and omega 6 in Science Diet Adult Maintenance?

Levels of such nutrients are proprietary. While I can not share a specific foods value I will give you some ranges N3's range from 0.57% to 7.29%, N6's range from 2.5% to 5.10%

If they are proprietary, how can you claim that Hill´s has more than any other food? And this proprietary thing is bs. A chemist could analyze the food at any moment and tell you exactly how much N3 or N6 is in there with an error margin below 0.005%.
My mistake, that should have been metaboic ketosis, not acidosis. Once the state of metabolic ketosis is acheived, there is absolutely no value is taking carbs any lower.

You are not going to reach metabolic ketosis with a 15% carb diet. You won´t get anywhere near it. Tell me, why does metabolic ketosis occur?
Absolutely WRONG!!!!!!!! Phos levels above 0.4% in cats and dogs with early renal failure CAUSES early DEATH. No if's no ands, no buts.

Reference please.
Ricketts - Caused by excessive calcium in the diet. The excessive calcium binds the vitamin D and the aniaml succumbs ... - increased clotting time, Vitamin B1 - Decreased blood pressure, bradycardia, Cobalamin B12 - Altered reflexes, reduction inn vascular reflexes,

Leaving aside vitamins A and D, please give me references for the rest. Regarding struvites, I want a study proving* that magnesium is the culprit, not urinary pH. Do you have a study showing that struvites precipitated in acidic urine? Regarding calcium, I want a study *proving that calcium is the culprit, that is, an oxalate-free (i.e.,plant-free) diet. I also want a study showing that excess calcium without excess vitamin D causes rickets.
It is not the least bit difficult to add anything to a diet you would like to add.

Not difficult but expensive, depending on what you´re adding.
I could add Vitamin E at toxic levels for pennies.

What is the toxic level of vitamin E? And what are the effects of vitamin E toxicity?
What is difficult to do is to keep unecessary and possibly harmful things OUT of a diet. It's cheap to add things, very expensive to keep them out.

Excuse me. What are you keeping out? Phosphorus? Tell me something, which of the following diets has more phosphorus:
1) a diet composed of 25% meat and 35% corn
2) a diet composed of 25% corn and 35% meat

Which ingredient is cheaper, corn or meat?
Please give an example of a disease caused by nutritional excess, other than obesity.

Let's take CRF, as it is one of the most common causes of death in cats. Phosphorus, calcium, sodium excess ... minerals CAUSE renal failure, there is no questions that excesses of these minerals speed a cat to death much quicker.

Give me one reference of what you stated above (in the levels used in cat food). Of course I can kill myself right now if I eat a pound of sodium so lets establish limits.
A study showed that cutting down on phosphorus did not increase the life expectancy of dogs in the terminal stage of kidney disease.

Is this a very old study? There was a study done at the U. of Minnesotaback in 2001 or 2002 ... Actually kidney disease is always fatal, so at what point doyou believe to be the "terminal stage" of kidney disease?

Keep in mind, Liz carefully picks her studies and uses only the studies and/or parts of studies that support her agenda and omits or minimizes the parts of the study and/or entire studies that contradict her agenda. She tries to minimize the potential dangers of phosphorus to rationalize feeding her high phosphorus diets.. and probably because Hill's diets are low in phosphorus... and you know how much she hates Hill's! LOL!

Its a well-known fact that phosphorus restriction increases survival in dogs and cats.
The Finco study - probably the most well-known phosphorus study in dogs showed reduced phosphorus indeed increased survival. Here's an exact excerpt from the abstract:
"Dog survival was significantly enhanced by 0.4% P diets (vs 1.4% P diets), but survival was not significantly influenced by amount of dietary protein. The 0.4% P diets (vs 1.4% P diets) significantly increased the period that GFR remained stable before it decreased, but dietary protein did not have significant effect."
Read the actual abstract yourself: http://tinyurl.com/99w6

In a similar study, GFR was higher and survival was longer in dogs fed lower phosphorus and calcium diets.
Here's the other abstract

Both studies were conducted at the Department of Physiology and Veterinary Pathology - University of Georgia and published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research... but of course Liz knows better! LOL! Like she knew better about dissolving calcium oxalate uroliths with water in cats...even though every veterinary university and publication says calcium oxalate uroliths and crystals can't be dissolved...
I think there's something seriously wrong with her.. Every vet who read her asinine theories thinks she's a "nut case" (exact quote) LOL! ...
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