What Is Ash In Cat Food? (Why cat food contains ash)

What is the purpose of ash in cat food?

You should always be careful of what you feed your pets. Whenever you buy food for your feline friends, you have to go through the ingredients on the box to ensure they are safe.

One of the most common ingredients found in pet food, especially in cat food, is ash. However, there is a lot of controversy over the topic. Some people believe that ash is not the right food for cats, while some say there is no problem with consuming it.

So, what is ash? Is it safe, or should you keep it away from your cats? This article will answer your question- what is ash in cat food, in detail.

Let’s dive right in and figure out what the buzz is all about.


What Is Ash?

Ash essentially refers to any inorganic material found in food. Once you heat the food and all the water content and organic materials are removed, the leftover substance is referred to as ash.

Food scientists often burn foods to this point so that they can examine the ash left behind and get better insights into a food’s content.

In terms of nutrients, when a food item is completely combusted, the fat, protein, and carbohydrates burn away. The ultimate residue, typically mineral nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus, is known as ash.

Is It Safe To Feed My Cat Ash?

Yes, you should feed it to your kitty. Your cats need calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and other minerals in their food, and it provides them.

Typically, dry cat food contains about less than 8% ash content, whereas wet cat food contains no more than 2%.

However, if your cats have crystals in their urine, you need to cut an appropriate amount of ash from their diet.

Ash contains either some or all of the following minerals:

  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Selenium

These substances are safe for your cats, and almost all pet foods consist of these ingredients. While some boxes may list out each component separately, many others club the minerals under ash.

Is There A Right Amount Of Ash In Cat Food?

The mineral content, in cat food typically comes from the cartilage, tendons, and bones that have been blended into the meal. Additionally, it could come from the mineral additives in the product.

The quality of your pet food can be judged by its ash levels. In general, lower ash levels are indicative of the better quality of the meal.

However, this doesn’t mean that ash is bad. Cats need to have at least 2% of ash in their diet to meet their mineral requirements. Commercial pet foods, ash levels over 2%, are generally considered a filler with no extra value.

Even in the wild, cats gnaw on bones and vegetables to get these essential minerals in their system.

Although, it is important to remember that too much ash can inhibit the cat’s ability to absorb other crucial nutrients. For instance, an excess of phosphorus can impede the absorption of calcium, and an excess of calcium can mess up healthy bone mineralization.

Here’s a general guideline for the recommended amount of minerals an adult cat should receive daily:

  • Phosphorus: 0.16 g
  • Potassium: 0.33 g
  • Sodium: 42 mg
  • Zinc: 4.6 mg
  • Calcium: 0.18 g
  • Magnesium: 25 mg
  • Potassium: 0.33 g
  • Chlorine: 60 mg
  • Iron: 5 mg

How To Pick The Best Low Ash Cat Food?

Here are a few things to keep in mind while shopping for the best low ash cat food.

Balanced Minerals

It is crucial to keep an eye on the breakdown of the ash content in your cat’s food.

A high level of minerals like magnesium can cause your cat’s urine to turn alkaline, leading to crystal formation. As a rule of thumb, magnesium content in cat food should be at 0.1% or less.

You also need to ensure that your cat gets enough potassium in the food, as it is extremely beneficial for good heart health and kidneys. At the same time, chlorine levels in the food need to be regulated because too much chlorine will lead your cat to lose potassium.

If your cats are not receiving enough calcium, they will crave magnesium, which is harmful to their urinary tract. Moreover, too much phosphorus can impede the absorption of calcium.

It is important to note how one mineral affects the other, and it is therefore vital that you ensure a balance of minerals in your cat’s diet.

Fewer Grains And Vegetables

Too many vegetables or high grain content can end up making your cat’s urine more alkaline. In general, dry foods tend to have more vegetable and grain content than wet foods or refined dry foods.

Grains and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates and are good sources of fiber, so you shouldn’t cut them out of your cat’s diet completely. However, carbohydrates should only account for 2% of the food you give your cat.

An excess of fiber and carbohydrates will exhaust your cat’s digestive tract because they do not have the enzymes required to break them down. As a result, your cat might end up with diarrhea.

Moreover, grains are rich in magnesium, and an excess of magnesium can cause crystal formation in the cat’s urinary tract.

More Protein

Increased alkaline in a cat’s urine often leads to crystal formation. Low protein content in ash food is one of the major contributors to such increased alkalinity.

Healthy cats usually have faintly acidic urine because of their protein-heavy diet. If they do not receive sufficient protein, their urine gets more alkaline and can lead to the formation of crystals in the urinary tract.

If you want to ensure a good amount of protein in your cat’s meals, don’t feed them excess ash and look for foods that contain real meat. Meats like salmon and lamb have a higher mineral content than poultry.

Almost all diets approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials have meat as their primary source. Meat-based proteins are preferred over cereal-based proteins because they do not make the urine alkaline.

High Moisture

Adequate hydration is the most important factor in preventing urinary tract issues. In this regard, people sometimes prefer wet foods over dry foods.

If your cat is fond of dry food, you can use vegetable or chicken broth to soften it and serve a mix of dry and wet food.

Another way to encourage your cats to drink more water is to always keep their bowls full and fresh.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article told you everything about what is ash in cat food and all other aspects related to it.

Ash is not exactly unsafe if your cat consumes it in the right quantities. A few decades ago, it received much attention because it was thought to be the culprit behind Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).

However, it isn’t ash that you should be too concerned about, but magnesium. An excess of magnesium can prove fatal to your cat.

Therefore, you should be mindful of what you feed your cat and in what quantities.