Can People Safely Eat Cat Food?

Our experts turn up their noses at nothing in their quest for the truth

Feline Feast

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Let's take a look at the ingredients in a typical can of cat food: meat by-products, chicken by-product meal, turkey by-product meal, ash, taurine. Nothing too horrible, but in general, these things don't constitute a healthy human diet, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. "That said, I'm fully confident that your body can handle kitty chow."

Your liver, kidneys and skin do a terrific job of removing foreign substances from the body, especially mild ones like those found in cat food. "Technically, you could safely digest a baseball," Blatner says. Perhaps the worst stuff in cat food is the high mineral content in the ash, but your body would clear that out quickly.

Actually, the ingredients listed on the organic blends of cat food sound pretty tasty. Newman's Own canned beef formula uses only free-range beef from Uruguay, is 95 percent USDA-certified organic, and is chock-full of vitamins. Pass me a spoon, right? "Those are better," Blatner says, "but they too are developed with cat nutrition in mind and aren't formulated to keep humans healthy. It's OK to satisfy the occasional craving, but you shouldn't make it a staple of your regular diet. It's cat food for a reason."