Is human grade cat food always the best?

Just like organic food, human-grade products are not always the best decision. This solution is not equally suitable for all cats.

Here are several crucial points you should consider before making the final decision:

1. It depends on components

Organic or human-grade food sounds like a good idea. However, it depends on the components. As we know, cats are carnivores and prefer meat. Hence, 100% natural food with beans, wheat, corn, and other grains is not good for cats – it might cause allergic reactions or stomach disorders. Although you choose human-grade food, you must make sure that it’s appropriate for your feline friend.

The formula should be suitable from a biological standpoint. For example, it should include a lot of meat (organ meats would be good, as well), be devoid (or contain a minor amount) of carbohydrate fillers, and feature all essential vitamins and minerals.

2. ‘No’ to low-quality meat sources

“Will any meat source do?” – pet owners ask. Absolutely no. As a rule, there are no low-quality meat components in high-quality cat food. Choose the recipes with fresh meat of definite origin (chicken, pork, beef, turkey, etc.) and organ meats (also denoted as ‘liver’, ‘heart’, and so on). Such components as dried eggs are also okay. Meat meal is considered to be appropriate for cat food, but not for human-grade recipes.

Avoid the foods with vague formulations like ‘meat’, ‘organs’, ‘animal by-products’. You should know exactly what the recipe consists of. This way, you will avoid contamination and problems with health. 

3. Avoid corn and grains

Although we, humans, eat the whole spectrum of grains, those might be dangerous for feline health. They cause allergy, digestion problems (constipation and diarrhea), and other problems in sensitive pets. While there is usually no such ingredient as corn in quality cat foods, some other plant-based components (fruits, veggies, berries) might not be what you expect.

Hence, when you choose human-grade cat food, ensure that there is a minor amount of plant-based materials, and the recipe contains the same nutrients you’d buy in a grocery store. 

Checklist for choosing perfect human-grade food

There are three things you should be aware of:

  1. Make sure that your cat is getting the best ingredients with quality sources;
  2. Note that some ingredients in cat food are not of the same quality as what humans eat. For example, the corn used in feline recipes is of way lower quality and is not what humans are ready to eat;
  3. Attention to the meet components. Make sure that fresh meat and organs are used. You don’t want to have 4D livestock (dead, dying, diseased, disabled), roadkill, and other questionable sources of animal-based protein. 

All things considered, it’s hard to say whether human-grade food is better from the standpoint of bioavailability and effects on cats’ health. However, you can be sure that the ingredients used in human-grade food are of the best quality.

Real benefits human grade cat food cat offer

When it comes to human-grade cat food, it might seem to be similar in components to regular recipes. However, in this case, the legal regulations applying are stricter, so the manufacturer’s goal is to abide by the laws and make sure that the ingredients edible by humans are produced of high-quality ingredients and pose a lower risk of contamination than the components made for pets. 

Thus, the manufacturers should carefully choose their products and ingredients. In human-grade food, this quality not just complies – it exceeds the requirements and regulations of the FDA and the AAFCO. This is definitely positive for your pet, but it’s not the only advantage. All that means that companies use high-quality ingredients for the production of pet food, and formulas are safe. 

To sum it up, human-grade food has the following advantages:

  1. It exceeds the regulations and standards set by AAFCO and FDA;
  2. It consists of meat and fish of the best quality;
  3. It does not include questionable components, such as by-products, meat meal, and other animal-sourced ingredients that might be dangerous for health.

When it comes to cooked human grade cat food fresh recipes are made of pure meat, organs, and vegetables or fruit, so they never contain preservatives and have pretty appealing flavor.

How to choose the best human grade cat food?

In order to make an informed decision, you should undergo a few simple steps.

Step 1. Check the list of ingredients

The quality and source of ingredients is the primary option to be taken into account. A recipe should contain a lot of meat. In wet food, its content should not be less than 35%. Ideally, 80% of meat components should be sourced from the whole animal (chicken, turkey, etc). Organs, such as liver, lung, or heart, are also acceptable, but should not exceed 10%. Plant-based components (vegetables, fruits, and seeds) should not exceed 10%. 

Avoid foods with vague formulations (animal by-products, organs, etc.) and skip the recipes containing meals – those are not human-grade components. Artificial preservatives and colors also won’t do.

Step 2. Say ‘No’ to the formula based on grains

Even though different grains (rice, oat) are edible by humans, they might wreak havoc on the pet’s digestion and cause diarrhea or constipation. In sensitive pets, grains cause allergic reactions starting from itching and ending by chronic diseases and tumors. 

It is okay to have some potato and peas in the recipe, but grains are potentially dangerous. It is up to you to decide whether you are ready to perform experiments with these components and switch your pet to a new diet. 

Step 3. Make sure the recipe contains vitamins and minerals

Today, even home-cooked recipes are formulated to have all essential nutrients. Read the ‘Contents’ label to ensure the food contains vitamins H, K, B3, B5, B6, B2, B1 together with minerals (Zinc, Iron, Manganese, and others). Such nutrients as folic acid, Omega fatty acids, and taurine are crucial! Natural antioxidants (vitamin E and C) are important, as well. 

Step 4. Check carbohydrates

Pay attention to two aspects: source and value of carbs. There might be up to 20-30% of carbohydrates in cat food, but the lower is the better. The worst source is grains, particularly corn – they cannot be digested properly, not mentioning that they elevate blood sugar level and load the pancreas. Vegetables, greenery, and unsweetened fruits are the best sources of carbohydrates.

Step 5. Check for allergens

Avoid the recipes with the following ingredients:

  • wheat;
  • chicken eggs;
  • fish;
  • meat protein;
  • soy;
  • preservatives and artificial colors/flavors.

Step 6. Consult with a vet

Ask your veterinarian whether the chosen formula is appropriate for your pet, whether it contains all nutrients, and which side effects it might pose. 

Best human grade canned cat foods

Consider the following recipes for your furry friend:

Alternatively, you can consider NomNomNow and Smalls fresh cat food delivery services. 

Best human grade dry cat foods

The following dry cat foods are human-grade:

Also, you can try The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dehydrated Cat Food or Whole Life Just One Ingredient freeze-dried foods. If you are in search of treats, consider Life Essentials Sirloin Beef & Cheese Nuggets or chicken breast training snacks from Zesty paws.


What brands of cat food are human grade? 

Human-grade cat foods are manufactured by Purina, Lotus, Ziwi Peak, Caru Classic, Whole Life, PureBites, and The Honest Kitchen. Smalls and NomNomNow offer freshly-cooked foods. Also, Only Natural Pet company offers natural broth to add up to the feline diet.

How do you know if cat food is human grade?  

Check the list of contents. Human-grade food is made of ingredients that can be served to people: fresh and defrosted meat, organs, vegetables, and fruits. If a recipe has artificial preservatives or colors, meat meal, animal by-products, and components of questionable origin, it is not human-grade. Note that such foods are often labeled as ‘complying with AAFCO statements or FDA requirements’. 

How to transition to human grade cat food? 

First, consult with a veterinarian to make sure the chosen recipes are appropriate. Then start adding the human-grade food to the old one in 20/80 ratio. Gradually, you can increase the percentage of new food. The transition might take from a week to a month depending on the cat’s reaction. Watch the cat’s health and any symptoms or side effects appearing. 

In a word

When you buy cat food you never know exactly what’s inside – cheating among mass-market manufacturers is a common occasion. As a caring pet owner, you want your cat to enjoy nutritious and safe food, and serving it human-grade recipes might be a serious step towards a healthy diet. 

The market offers a few brands and great recipes formulated specifically to exceed the AAFCO and FDA requirements. They include meat and organs of the highest quality, so you can be sure your furry friend won’t deal with health problems after changing its diet. Worthy human-grade food does not guarantee total protection against allergy and digestion problems, but it is devoid of potentially dangerous ingredients. 

However, it’s important to read the label attentively and choose recipes that don’t contain anything extra, like artificial preservatives and questionable components. The golden rule of choosing human-grade food is ‘read the contents list and never serve your cat what you wouldn’t eat yourself.

I am Claudine, a College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and cat health & lifestyle specialist. In this blog, I share my personal experience and recommendations on improving cat’s diet, behavior, and both physical and psychological state.

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