This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT
It’s common for canned cat food to contain guar gum, which is an extract from guar beans. Recent controversy over the ingredient has some cat parents concerned. But before you throw out all your cat’s food, let’s go over why we use guar gum and what effects it has on your feline’s health.
Why do pet food companies use guar gum?
Guar gum is used to prevent separation in the manufacturing process. Pet food companies make canned food in huge batches. They add meat, fruits, veggies, and several other ingredients to the formula. They then divide the batch into individual cans. Guar gum prevents the heavier ingredients from settling to the bottom. This process keeps some cans from being filled with mostly carrots and others from being all meat. Guar gum also keeps the ingredients in each individual can from separating. This way you don't have to stir up the contents after you open it.
How does guar gum affect your kitty’s health?
Ultimately, guar gum is a type of fiber. The right kind of fiber is healthy in the proper amounts. It improves digestive health by promoting good bacteria in your cat’s gut. These bacteria decrease inflammation and boost immunity in other parts of your kitty’s body. Fiber also protects the lining of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract. However, just like with your favorite snacks and treats, too much of a good thing can be harmful. As the fiber in your cat’s diet increases, digestibility decreases, and fewer nutrients are absorbed. In this case, too much fiber will cause your kitty to have loose stools or poop more than twice a day.
Should you feed your cat canned foods with guar gum?
In my practice, I recommend a canned diet for cats. Many cats won’t consume a raw diet, or it doesn’t fit with their family’s lifestyle. Canned foods provide an ideal diet for your kitty that is low in carbohydrates and high in moisture and protein. The production process for canned cat food requires the use of some types of gum like xanthan, locust bean, or guar. The ingredient is generally further down on the ingredient list and therefore contributes a small amount to your cat’s diet. Remember that in the correct amounts, fiber is beneficial to your kitty.
Over the years, I’ve found that many cats are very healthy on a canned-food diet, including my cat.
What if I don’t want to feed my cat guar gum?
If you want to avoid guar gums and all other gums, a canned diet is probably not the best choice. In this case, I would recommend a home-prepared diet. If you would like to learn more about cooking for your cat, check out this online tool to help you create a recipe of your own. The “I and love and you” Naked Essentials™ kibble is another great option if you don’t want to feed your cat guar gum. Naked Essentials™ is a grain-free cat kibble packed with real meat, prebiotics, and probiotics to help digestion.
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