Why You Should Not Feed Your Cat Iams (or Any Other Cheap Food)

The Truth is All in the Labeling...

I had been debating switching my veterinarian. But I made my final decision swiftly when I asked him what was a good food to feed my feline friend, and he recommended Iams. My colleagues and I, working at a veterinarian hospital as vet techs and staff, all knew that Iams was one of the worst foods available for pets. However, we also knew that behind closed doors, veterinarians were being pushed to sell Iams, Eukanuba, and Science Diet pet foods.

If you look at its commercials, or at the promises on the package, you may perceive Iams as a good company producing healthy cat food. But it's easier to find out if a cat food is good by looking at the label, not the advertising. A label tells the truth, or at least gets the closest to the truth. Learn to read a cat food label and list of ingredients.

Don't be impressed by the "shiny coat," "healthy teeth," and "healthy heart" Iams promises; most of these benefits simply derive from feeding any dry crunchy diet found at any store.

The truth is that like many other cat foods sold at supermarkets, Iams is full of fillers. Fillers are simply cheap ingredients used to save money. Fillers allow cat-food producers to use less meat because fillers will make up the bulk of the kibble. Fillers are unnecessary to cats. Think about it, most fillers derive from corn. Cats have lived without corn throughout their history, so there is no reason why cats need corn now.

High carbohydrate levels derived from corn and other grain fillers have been associated with the onset of feline diabetes. Furthermore, fillers can cause food allergies. Cats need only five simple nutrients (besides water) to live healthy: protein, taurine, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Carbohydrates, preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and binders are not at all necessary and likely to be rather harmful.

The second biggest flaw of Iams is that it contains meat byproducts. This term means that the meat used in the product has been found to be inappropriate for human consumption, that is, meat from diseased or dead animals, or spoiled meat. This meat derives straight from the rendering industry.

Good cat food should list actual types of meat on the label, things like chicken, lamb, or fish. Any reference to "meat" in general, or worse, "meat by-products," means the material very likely came from the rendering plant.

One "pro" of Iams is that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help cats get glossy, shinier coats. Iams' promise of "healthy heart" derives from the presence of taurine, but keep in mind that taurine is added to most cat foods nowadays (even though it is not mentioned on the label) because taurine deficiencies have been related to blindness and heart problems in cats. Good dental health, another promised benefit, derives from the simple fact of chewing any dry kibble.

What Food is Good for My Cat Then?

While Iams is not the worst cat food available on the market, it can be categorized as mid-grade, not the worst but a far cry from the best. There are many better foods with no meat by-products and no fillers.

More and more pet owners and nutritionists say proper foods are the key to a cat's health and longevity. I would recommend all feline lovers do their homework when it comes to choosing a good diet for their cat. While the best cat foods may be costly, the truth is "you get what you pay for," and owners investing in high-quality cat food will save money in the long run. Chances are that if cat owners do their math well, two plus two will make four, meaning that healthy diets will make healthy cats. Looking for the best food for your cat? Watch Karen Becker's video for some pointers.

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Comments 26 comments

KT pdx profile image

KT pdx 7 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

Right on target! I used to work for a pet food company doing demonstrations/helping people choose pet food. It's amazing how many people would come in complaining their pet was scratching and had dander, but when I asked them what they were feeding they said it was one of the grocery-store brands! So many people don't know what you pointed out about veterinarians recommending what the pet food companies want them to sell, too. I'm glad someone else other than me is saying this on HubPages too, because it's something people need to know!

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Thank you soooo much for explaining how to read pet food labels. I have four cats, but only one of them has any interst in the hard, crunchy food. That is the one who is clearly having allergies. I am glad to have this knowledge going in to talk to the vet about what food I should switch him to. If Eukaneuba is not significantly better than Iams which is not significanly better than Purina.... they better have a good suggestion for my little Gremlin. He's scratching all his fur off!

Hello ktpdx, too. Haven't seen you about in awhile and you are looking most fetching, I must say.

clevelandcloset 7 years ago

I agree completely - my cat was diagnosed with feline diabetes which WENT AWAY COMPLETELY after changing his diet and eliminating high-carbohydrate foods. Cats should eat meat not corn.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 years ago from USA Author

Wow that's amazing, good to hear he did not need insulin, very likely you must have caught it on time. Thanks for posting.

Anna 5 years ago

Sorry everybody but here's the real reason: Iams, Purina, Purina One (usually), Alpo and others do not have Acidophilus in them. No acidophilus, little to no life.

nellie 5 years ago

my cats eat a mixture of iams and purina one. and fancy feast canned. none of them have the health issues u have said. most iams food does contain chicken as the first ingrident and so does purina one. so it one better cheap foods.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Nellie, not all cats suffer from health issues from eating Iams, just as not all people eating sweets get diabetes. Chicken as the first ingredient is not always good, if it contains chicken by products you are dealing with head, feet, entrails, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, stomach, bones, blood, and intestines, all parts not good for human consumption.

nellie 5 years ago

yes, and cats are hunting animals. not a human. cats eat by products. i used watch my cats eat bugs they would eat the whole thing from the wings, legs and the all the insides. so stop comparing cats to humans. cats and humans have different nutrional needs. it is immpossible to do.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

It is not the fact of those parts specifically per se (of course I know cats eat livers, hearts, intestines and all!) it's the fact that these are products not fit for human consumption, what this means is that the rendering practice collects all sorts of waste and this can include euthanized animals, road kill, and meat from diseased animals. Not to mention spoiled waste of little nutritional value. According to the book ''Food pets die for'' ''If a pet food lists "meat by-products" on the label, remember that this is the material that usually comes from the slaughterhouse industry or dead stock removal operations, classified as condemned or contaminated, therefore unfit for human consumption.'' Here is a link:

Karen N profile image

Karen N 5 years ago from United States

Very true!

The best food for your cat is meat, it's what their body was designed for. Commercial pet foods is little better than eating at McDonald's.

Pamela 5 years ago

Excuse me, what you do mean livers, hearts, and intestines are not fit for human consumption.... I know a lot of ppl who eat them and a lot of cultures where that is part of their culinary cuisine. Are you racist?

Have you ever seen an outdoor cat, they often eat the entire bird/ mouse except for the head, which includes all components. Think about that.... cats evolved for thousands of years to be able to consume that type of diet and digest those components. With that said, indoor cats don't have the flora in their stomachs to handle this myriad of new bacteria, but that doesn't mean that they can't get cooked non-diseased byproducts of animals which are perfectly fine for animal consumption. I don't see it any worse than eating fully loaded antibiotic overloaded chicken that we eat. Cats are born scavenger/ hunters... they'll be fine.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

As a wife of a hubby that likes to eat chicken livers sauteed with onion, I know you feel alarmed but it is not the livers, hearts or intestines per se, it is the way rendering plants collect these parts and that they may come come from diseased animals. May I suggest a great book that is a real eye opener? "Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food." By Ann N. Martin. NewSage Press (1997).

Dormouse 4 years ago

Personally in our house, we differ our cats food from buying different brands of pet food (most expensive to fair price - a mix of wet and dry) and see which one our two prefer the most. I also believe that the amount of exercise cats get daily/weekly (both in and out) should help with health. (that's just my theory anyway)

Derrick 4 years ago

im so sad because i lost my job, and all i can afford now is the store brands. :( fcking sucks. out of the store brands i choose iams cause it seems like the best of the worst. oh well.

guest 4 years ago

So what is a better cat food then?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

If you visit your local petsmart you will notice their aisles are divided in aisles ranging from cheap supermarket food to grain-free premium cat foods. I would definitively look in this aisle.

Howie 3 years ago

I use to feed my cats friskies' BIG mistake all they did was throw up from it; then i put them on Blue Buffalo' they bin on it for a month now and their coats are like silk and their breath smells a lot better' no more of the other crap! no more MEAT BY PRODUCTS!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

I am glad you are seeing such good improvements Howie, better products can make a world of difference!

Howie 3 years ago

Yes' I'm glad to! You do get what you pay for!! I also give my cats spring water' tap water has led in it and other junk as well! I need Blue Buffalo my the truck load the way my guys eat!! They love it' To their health!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Howie, good to hear you are feeding your cats a premium food and offering them spring water to drink! Your kitties are sure lucky to have you, cheers!

Howie 3 years ago

Thanks. Cheers back' Funny thing' I wrote to Imas and ask them how was their pet food any good if they had meat by products in it'and other junk as well' That was 2weeks ago' and they never wrote me back' I guess the truth hurts! also saturday night is turkey night for my guys' I get 2 pounds of pure chipped turkey from the deli' they love turkey night!

Teresa 6 months ago

What do you recommend for dry cat food? I always thought Iams & Purina were good choices because they are so expensive & my cat went crazy for Iams when I bought it one time to see if she would like it & she did.

I've been feeding her Purina Cat Chow which is less expensive than the other Purina dry food but I've been wanting to switch her food to something of a higher grade because one bag of cat food lasts her a long time. So what do you recommend that isn't filled with fillers?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 months ago from USA Author

See Dr. Beckers video I have added in the article above for a pointer.

Renilouise 3 months ago

But you just said cats wont go near meat that is already dead. it has to be a fresh kill. So how is it they will eat meat thats been frozen or in the fridge a few days? The longer the animal is dead the more Taurine vanishes. And all meat is ripened in the butcher shops before they even get to the store. I have had cats my whole life, and that is over 60 years and never have I been able to get any of them to eat raw meat. But when they killed something themselves, they ate it right up because its a FRESH kill. However many cats wont even eat their fresh kill unless they are starving. PS, someone is behind your chair in the video. I saw the hand.

Renilouise 3 months ago

My cat lived 20 years on Science diet yet it also has meat by products. However she loved to hunt and ate her own mice. That's what kept get going I'm sure.

chip3333 profile image

chip3333 8 weeks ago from Friendsville,TN

If your kitty cat is suffering with kidney disease, it is imperative that you feed your cat high quality wet food only.

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