Human grade cat food is one of terms being often mentioned on many pet related websites and pet shops this days. Many customers are looking for best human grade pet food brands on the market, hoping they will be able to feed their cat same quality of food they might eat themselves. Obviously one difference would be that the nutritional profile of such food would be adjusted for cats. Now, this is quite an interesting proposition for producers of cat food. Some actually deliver on this, while other use vague wording to imply their product is human grade, even though it might not be. We will clear up types of “human grade” claims on products and present you with a list of human grade cat food brands below.
Best Human Grade Cat Food 2021 – Our Picks
What Is Human Grade Cat Food?
The term Human Grade cat food is coined and regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Although the organization hasn’t explicitly defined what is categorized as a human grade food or meal, it does propagate that what is edible for humans will be called human grade cat food. We doubt that you will be able to share the meal with your cat, though.
Human Grade Cat Food – USA Regulatory Framework
The primary condition for any food to become human edible is that it should be manufactured/processed, packed, and stored according to the federal regulations in 21 CFR 110, Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing, or Holding Human Food. If this condition is not met, the food will not become human grade. If it does meet the condition, it will be considered appropriate for daily consumption by humans.
Hence, if a product is labeled as Human-Grade, it must meet the legally recognized standards that are regarded as edible by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to AAFCO, if human-grade is mentioned on a food label, it means the ingredients or foodstuff has been inspected, processed, and passed all manufacturing regulations. The Process Control Regulations are designed to ensure that the food is safe to be consumed by humans.
The bottom line is that human grade cat foods are made with ingredients that are 100% safe for human consumption, prepared by human food manufacturers, or sold in grocery stores. These may be prepared at a human food processing facility or by a pet food company.
What Does Made with Human Grade Ingredients Mean?
It means is that a particular or several ingredients in the cat food are human-edible, but all of them aren’t. Moreover, it also means that the food wasn’t prepared per 21 CFR 110, Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing, or Holding Human Food guidelines.
Human Grade Cat Food Manufacturing Standards
Human grade foods are prepared in facilities that are inspected regularly by the USDA or the FDA. Moreover, the foods processed for human consumption must conform to the strictest hazard analysis and control protocols, hygiene standards, and good manufacturing processes.
Pet food facilities may also adopt similar stringent standards as human food processing facilities. Still, no such government organization or agency makes it compulsory for them to abide by those standards. However, this doesn’t mean that pet food is not a good option compared to human-grade foods.
Cat foods marketed as human-grade could be just as clean and safe for pets as human-grade food will be. The difference is that the government doesn’t require their processing standards through regulations. In this case you have to trust the brand. Popular brands will not risk being exposed for lies since most of their value derives from customer trust. Less known brands, often not from United States might be less trustworthy.
Human Grade Claims – Often Just Marketing
The AAFCO has defined what human grade cat food is, but it doesn’t clarify the human grade label and has no regulatory power in this regard.
But, in order to claim on the packaging that the food is human grade, the brand has to obtain approval from a state agricultural department. Every state in the United States has different standards and approaches to pet food regulation.
It’s no ordinary feat to earn the human grade label legally in this country. That’s why most pet food manufacturers avoid labeling their food as human grade.
However, they may take advantage of the term’s hype and marketing value as much as possible. If you find a cat food package that indicates human style food or containing human grade ingredients, this should raise the alarm as the food will not be human-grade. This is just the way the brand chose to benefit from the term.
Difference Between Fit for Human-Grade and Feed-Grade Cat Food:
There’s a considerable difference between human grade and feed grade cat food. If the food contains ingredients that don’t classify as human-grade, these will be termed as feed-grade. It is worth noting that any ingredient or material that the USDA and FDA have declared safe should conform to Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act regulations. These regulations require that the food should be functional and suitable to be used in animal food, is processed and handled using good manufacturing practice, and obtained from ethical sources.
The term feed-grade can be applied to two types of meals.
- First, meals made with low-quality animal by-product meal.
- Second, ingredients, such as chicken breast, that were previously human-edible but after being transported to a standard pet food manufacturing facility, cannot be deemed fit for human consumption due to that.
How We Choose the Best Human Grade Cat Food Brands?
To give you an accurate understanding of the best human grade pet food, there are certain factors that we check in every food. Some of the most important factors include:
Checking the ingredients:
We determine the quality of human grade cat food by checking the ingredients’ quality and source. Ideally, the food recipe must contain a sufficient quantity of meat. If it is canned wet food, it should be greater than 35% of meat.
Another critical factor is that 80% of the meat ingredients should be sourced from the whole animal, such as turkey or chicken. Although acceptable to include organs like the liver, heart, or lungs, their proportion in the recipe must not exceed 10%. Furthermore, plant-based components like seeds, fruits, and vegetables also should not exceed an ideal limit of 10%. Foods that offer vague formulations like organs or animal by-products are never part of our list as these aren’t human grade components. Similarly, we never consider foods that contain artificial colors, fillers, and preservatives.
Grains Free Cat Food Only:
Grains like oat and rice are edible by humans. But, these may wreak havoc on their digestion process, leading to constipation or diarrhea when it comes to pet health. Grains can cause allergic reactions in sensitive cats, including itching and inflammation, and may lead to tumors or a chronic disease. That’s why, while choosing the best human grade cat food brands, we prefer grain-free cat food formulas. If a recipe contains peas or potatoes, that’s fine.
Packed with Vitamins and Minerals:
Even home-cooked meals are prepared to retain essential nutrients, so why shouldn’t cats receive a balanced diet. A balanced diet offers an adequate amount of nutrients, including minerals and vitamins, to meet the cat’s daily needs. Human grade cat foods must contain vitamins H, K, B1, B3, B5, and B6, along with minerals like Iron, Zinc, and Manganese, etc. Some nutrients are crucial, such as taurine, folic acid, omegas fatty acids, and natural oxidants like vitamin C and E. Proportions of these micronutrients will depend on the formula – type of meat and other ingredients.
It is essential to check the source and value of carbohydrates. On average, cat food contains up to 30% of carbs, but ideally, it should be lower than that. The worst carbs source is grains, mainly corn, as the cats cannot digest them properly. They also elevate cats’ blood sugar levels and are burdensome for the pancreas. The best source of carbohydrates are vegetables, unsweetened fruits, and greenery. If your cat is diabetic, low carb cat foods can help.
If a recipe contains wheat, fish, chicken eggs, meat protein, soy, and preservatives/artificial flavors, then the food may cause allergy in the cat. Find our whole list of food for hypoallergenic cats.
Is Human Grade Cat Food Better For My Cat?
It is hard to determine whether the human grade cat food is better for your cat or not. The idea is that if the food is prepared is if it were prepared for humans, less “bad” ingredients will find their way in your cat’s food.
Be it human grade or your regular commercial pet food, one rule applies: check the nutrition info on the food. A recipe may be prepared using low-quality ingredients apart from a single ingredient sourced from a human food processing facility and labeled as human grade. In any case avoid any type of cat food which includes high share of byproducts, food fillers, flavors and colors or stabilizers.
Authentic human grade cat food includes ingredients fit for human consumption and processed according to the human food safety regulations. However, do not forget, if you saw what your cat would eat in nature, you wouldn’t think of it as “human grade” nor “fit for human consumption”. After all, a Bloomberg BusinessWeek tester would agree that such pet food does not really cater to human taste – finding that some foods lack seasoning or others felt “gooey”. So, with human grade cat food you need to understand there are limits – point is not for you to eat it, after all but to give the best quality to your pet. This is our goal on Catienda – to feed our and your cat the best cat food available.
List of Human Grade Cat Food Brands – Review:
Here are some of the cat foods we have found to best fit “human grade” description: they use really good ingredients and do not contain potentially harmful chemicals.
Best Quality Human Grade Canned Cat Food: Lotus Just Juicy Chicken Stew Grain-Free
Lotus Just Juicy canned cat food is made with real chicken and chicken broth, making it juicy and moist. It’s a grain-free formula and is perfectly safe for cats with allergies or sensitive digestive systems. This food is USDA approved, and certified guar gum/xanthan gum, and carrageenan free. It contains a reasonable dose of essential vitamins and minerals and each can is hand-packed with non-BPA lining. A 2.5oz can offers 964 kcal/kg and 67.48 kcal/can.
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Calcium Lactate, Carrots, Chicken Fat, Potato Starch, Monosodium Phosphate, Agar-Agar, Salmon Oil.
- Crude Protein 13.0% min
- Crude Fat 3.0% min
- Crude Fiber 0.5% max
- Moisture 78.0% max
Best Human Grade Canned Cat Food: Ziwi Peak Mackerel & Lamb Recipe Canned Cat Food
Ziwi Peak is the best human grade canned cat prepared with grass-fed lamb from New Zealand and fresh, whole, blue mackerel. The ingredients are 100% sourced from ethical farms, which is why it offers a balanced and complete meal for your cat. Its formula comprises 92% fresh meat ingredients, New Zealand’s green mussels, and organs that make it a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin that aids joint health. Ziwi Peak canned cat food is free from BPA, TSPP, grains, fillers, sugars, rendered meals, glycerin, etc. A 3oz can offer 12 kcal/kg, and a 6.5oz can have 222 kcal/kg.
Mackerel, Water Sufficient for Processing, Lamb, Lamb Lung, Chickpeas, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Liver, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Bone.
- Crude Protein 10.5% min
- Crude Fat 4.0% min
- Crude Fiber 2.0% max
- Moisture 78.0% max
- Ash 3.0% max
Best Human Grade Pet Food Made in USA: Caru Classic Wild Salmon & Turkey Stew Grain-Free Wet Cat Food
We loved Caru Classic grain-free wet cat food because it is made from 100% human-grade ingredients and is free from carrageenan, preservatives, GMOs, gluten, xanthan, locust bean gum, or guar. Furthermore, premium quality ingredients are slow-cooked at very low temperatures, which keep their nutritional value high. It is prepared entirely in the United States and offers a similar taste and aroma as home-cooked meals. It offers 792 kcal/kg, 134 kcal per pack.
Salmon, Fish Broth, Water Sufficient for Processing, Turkey, Tapioca Starch, Egg Whites, Carrots, Sweet Potato, Apples, Thiamine Mononitrate.
- Crude Protein 9% min
- Crude Fat 2% min
- Crude Fiber 1% max
- Moisture 82% max
- Taurine 0.08% min
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids 0.40% min
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.10% min
Best Ethical Human Grade Cat Food: Caru Free Range Chicken Bone Broth (For Dogs and Cats)
Caru Free Range food is made from antibiotic and hormone-free free-range chicken, USDA-inspected chicken bones, filtered water, and organic vegetables. It’s an ideal to feed your feline the finest meat ingredients, especially suited for picky eaters. Caru Chicken Bone Broth is a natural source of collagen and chondroitin sulfate and free of GMOs, gluten, and grains with its limited ingredients recipe.
Contains 90% protein (on a dry matter basis). It comes in a 1.1-lb box and offers 10 kcal/ ¼ cup (60 g), 171 kcal/kg.
Chicken Bones (Source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Organic Carrots, Organic Celery, Organic Parsley
- Crude Protein 3.5% min
- Crude Fat 0.01% min
- Crude Fiber 1.0% max
- Moisture 97.0% max
- Chondroitin Sulfate 0.1% min
Best Subscription Human Grade Cat Food: Smalls.com human grade food delivery service
Smalls.com is one of the best cat food delivery service in the market currently. The New York-based Smalls was founded in November 2016 by Matt Michaelson and Calvin Bohn. The company is dedicated to reinventing cat food for the better. Pet parents don’t need to worry about preparing meals at home or buy canned or dry food as Smalls delivers right at the doorstep. You can consider it the Blue Apron of the pet food industry. Smalls prepare food with the best ingredients like ground beef, beef, liver, chicken hearts, eggs, kale, green beans, parsley, peas, turkey breast, spinach, and chicken under good manufacturing practice. The company delivers flavorful frozen beef chicken and turkey meals with supplementary portions of chicken liver powder and bonito flakes. The meals, after thawing, smell as fresh and appetizing as real food. Your cat will have a great feast without you putting in a lot of effort.
Human Grade Pet Foods – FAQ
Food prepared using edible ingredients that are fit for human consumption is called human grade cat food. There are many facets to the term and readers should definitely take time to check ingredient sources of any food that claims to be human grade before buying. In the article we clarify in short what to watch for.
Several types of meat, including chicken, beef, and turkey, are suitable for cats. Many kinds of vegetables such as kale, peas, carrots, and leafy greens like spinach are also fit for cats. It also depends on the amounts and individual cat’s diet.
High-quality cat food may or may not be labeled as human grade. Still, it may be packed with necessary nutrients like essential minerals, vitamins, protein and fats. Food quality is determined by the source and value of meat, whether it contains any grains and preservatives, and the amount and source of carbohydrates. Read our article for details.