Natural Balance Cat Food Ingredients

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Natural Balance manufactures roughly 53 different cat food products. Each product utilizes a unique set of ingredients to achieve a desired nutritional profile.

In this article, we'll explore Natural Balance ingredients and answer many of the most common questions.

As of right now, our records indicate that Natural Balance uses roughly 173 different ingredients.

First 5 Ingredients

Cat food ingredients in the United States are listed in descending order of pre-cooked weight. The first 5 ingredients typically constitute a significant portion of the recipe.

For Natural Balance, these are the most common ingredients found within the first 5 cat food ingredients.

  1. chicken broth
  2. chicken
  3. chicken liver
  4. pea protein
  5. carrot

As you can see, the most common first ingredient in Natural Balance is chicken broth. The most common 2nd ingredient is chicken, followed by chicken liver, pea protein, and carrot.

Artificial Food Coloring Dyes

Natural Balance does not use any artificial food coloring dyes. According to our records, none of the 53 Natural Balance cat foods contain artificial food dyes.

Artificial food coloring dyes are unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients. In general, we not not recommend feeding any pet foods that contain artificial dyes.

In 2010, the CSPI raised serious concerns regarding the safety of many artificial dyes. Most of the studies referenced by the CSPI involved prolonged or excessive consumption. Since most cats consume the same foods throughout their lives, concerns raised by the CSPI are alarming to say the least.

To read more about Artificial Food Dyes, click here.

Animal By-Products

According to our records, Natural Balance does not contain any animal by-products.

Animal by-products are basically the leftover parts of the the carcass after its been processed for meat. AAFCO defines by-products as the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals.

Although by-products are still fairly nutritious ingredients, consumers have equated them with slaughterhouse waste. Therefore, most premium brands, including Natural Balance have decided to remove by-products and instead use named organ meats (beef liver, chicken gizzards).

For further reading on the controversy over animal by-products, click here.

Anonymous Meat Ingredients

Anonymous meats are animal-based ingredients which do not provide the source animal's name. These ingredients are controversial because they can come from almost any animal.

In addition, anonymous animal-based ingredients are very inexpensive and often the lowest quality meats that are still allowed to be used in pet food.

In general, we do not recommend feeding any products which contain anonymous meats. When in doubt, always contact the brand's customer service desk for further clarification.

Unfortunately, we've identified 3 anonymous meat ingredients used by Natural Balance.

Giblets may include the heart, liver, gizzards, and other visceral organs of an animal. These organs are very nutritious and species-appropriate for cats. However, the specific source of the giblets are not disclosed (chicken, turkey, etc) and therefore we must classify this ingredient as an anonymous meat.

The following recipes contain giblets:

Ocean fish can refer to multiple species of fish, since the particular type of fish is not specified, it's difficult to discuss this ingredient. The nutritional contribution of ocean fish depends on the species included; however, fish generally provides high quality protein and fat.

The following recipes contain ocean fish:

Poultry giblets includes the heart, liver, gizzards, and other internal organs of poultry. Organs are nutritiously dense ingredients which provide high quality protein and fat. However, this particular ingredient is considered an anonymous meat ingredient because the type of poultry is not specified. In order words, "named" giblets such as chicken giblets or turkey giblets are preferred over poultry giblets.

The following recipes contain poultry giblets:

Cereal Grains

Certain Natural Balance cat food recipes contain one or more grains. The specific ingredients are listed below.

For cats, we typically recommend choosing a grain-free recipe. Cats are obligate carnivores and therefore grains are not species appropriate.

The kibble production requires a binding agent. Grains are commonly used for this purpose in cat food. When purchasing grain-free cat food, grains are often replaced with another starchy source. This is also not ideal.

To avoid grains and other starchy additions, consider feeding wet or frozen recipes.

Barley is a nutritious carbohydrate source, naturally rich in dietary fiber and various minerals. Unlike pearled barley, regular barley contains the entire grain.

The following recipes contain barley:

Oats are an excellent carbohydrate source with considerable nutrients in addition to dietary fiber. More specifically, oats are rich in B vitamins and various minerals including manganese.

The following recipes contain oats:

Ground brown rice is naturally rich in fiber and various minerals including manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. Relative to other grains, ground brown rice is easy to digest.

The following recipes contain ground brown rice:

Rice flour is a gluten-free carbohydrate source. As long as the bran and germ of the grain are included in the flour, rice flour can provide a notable amount of fiber and nutrition. However, because the type of rice ("brown" or "white") is not specified, we cannot make this determination.

The following recipes contain rice flour:

Oat groats are obtained by removing the inedible outer husk of oats. Unlike other ingredients derived from oats, groats are not processed further and therefore contain the whole grain.</p><p>Oat groats provide a notable amount of dietary fiber, B vitamins, and various minerals. Whats more, non-contaminated oats are gluten free; however, oats are typically processed and grown near ingredients which contain gluten and therefore contamination is not unusual. Always check the packaging to ensure the product is gluten free if your pet has allergies to gluten.

The following recipes contain oat groats:

Controversial Ingredients

In most cases, ingredients which are given the controversial classification can be substituted with higher-quality alternatives. You should evaluate each controversial ingredient independently to see if there is truly a valid cause for concern.

Keep in mind, certain sacrifices often must be made to produce cat foods at a reasonable price. In general, the more expensive the product, the fewer controversial ingredients you'll find.

In our analysis, we've identified 6 controversial ingredients inside Natural Balance products. These controversial ingredients are listed below. Click on each ingredient for more information.

Dried tomato pomace is a by-product of tomato manufacturing. It's considered a controversial ingredient because many people believe it is an inexpensive low quality filler. However, tomato pomace provides a notable amount of dietary fiber, B vitamins, Lycopene, and vitamin A. Although it is a very inexpensive ingredient, it is not nutritionally empty.

The following recipes contain dried tomato pomace:

Giblets may include the heart, liver, gizzards, and other visceral organs of an animal. These organs are very nutritious and species-appropriate for cats. However, the specific source of the giblets are not disclosed (chicken, turkey, etc) and therefore we must classify this ingredient as an anonymous meat.

The following recipes contain giblets:

Pea protein is produced by removing the starchy parts of peas. Pea protein is considered controversial because it provides a substantial plant based protein boost. This boost is undesirable because plant based protein is typically lower in biological value when compared to meat based proteins.

The following recipes contain pea protein:

Canola oil is a plant-derived oil from the seeds of canola plants. Although fat is an essential component of any diet, canola oil is controversial in pet food. Proponents claim that canola oil provides a better fat profile in comparison to other plant based oils. However, opponents claim that canola oil is typically produced with genetically modified rapeseed and that rapeseed oil has multiple adverse health affects.

The following recipes contain canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols):

Canola oil is a plant-derived oil from the seeds of canola plants. Although fat is an essential component of any diet, canola oil is controversial in pet food. Proponents claim that canola oil provides a better fat profile in comparison to other plant based oils. However, opponents claim that canola oil is typically produced with genetically modified rapeseed and that rapeseed oil has multiple adverse health affects.

The following recipes contain canola oil:

Poultry giblets includes the heart, liver, gizzards, and other internal organs of poultry. Organs are nutritiously dense ingredients which provide high quality protein and fat. However, this particular ingredient is considered an anonymous meat ingredient because the type of poultry is not specified. In order words, "named" giblets such as chicken giblets or turkey giblets are preferred over poultry giblets.

The following recipes contain poultry giblets:

Potentially Harmful Ingredients

Harmful ingredients are those which have been linked to adverse health effects. In general, we do not recommend feeding any product which contains any harmful ingredients.

There are certain situations where these ingredients may be necessary. We always recommend contacting Natural Balance for further clarification regarding any harmful or controversial ingredient.

We have identified 1 harmful ingredient used in certain Natural Balance recipes. To learn more, click on the ingredient's name.

Menadione sodium bisulfite complex is a synthetic version of vitamin K that has been linked to many health concerns. Research has suggested possible toxic reactions in liver cells and red blood cells among other serious problems. In fact, one large chemical supplier warns, "The substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage."

The following recipes contain menadione sodium bisulfite complex:

Natural Balance Cat Food Ingredient Lists