(Back story: The Runt has been having allergy problems. The vet thinks it's an inhaled allergy, i.e, pollen or something similar, and has him on steroids, which are controlling his symptoms. Doing a little research, I kept hearing about food allergies in cats.)
So! The more I noodled around on teh internetz, the more it looked like feeding The Runt a limited-ingredient diet might help, if the steroids didn't relieve his symptoms. I found a brand called Natural Balance that offered "limited ingredient" cat food. I went to the pet store last week and picked up a couple of cans, thinking I'd give it a whirl.
Here is Natual Balance's idea of "limited ingredient" cat food (Venison and Green Pea formula, $1.49 per 6-oz. can):
Venison, Venison Broth, Venison Liver, Pea Flour, Venison Meal, Salmon Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Kelp, Flaxseed, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Methionine, Taurine, Parsley, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Sodium Chloride, Dried Cranberries, Carrageenan, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement.
Crude Protein 9.0% minimum
Crude Fat 5.0% minimum
Crude Fiber 1.0% maximum
Moisture 78% maximum
Taurine 0.05% minimum
Let's compare and contrast, shall we? Here is the ingredient list for Friskies Meaty Bits with Beef in Gravy cat food ($.40 per 6-oz can):
Water sufficient for processing, meat by-products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, turkey, fish, soy flour, corn starch-modified, artificial and natural flavors, added color, potassium chloride, taurine, calcium phosphate, salt, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, biotin, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide, A-6102.
Crude Protein (Min)11.0 %
Crude Fat (Min)2.5 %
Crude Fiber (Max)1.0 %
Moisture (Max)78.0 %
Ash (Max)2.5 %
Taurine (Min)0.05 %
By my count, Natural Balance "limited ingredient" cat food has 35 ingredients, compared with 33 in Friskies.
Now, I understand that the big selling point for Natural Balance is that it's grain-free, grain evidently being the main culprit for food allergies in cats. And Friskies does have "wheat gluten", but it's not even one of the top three ingredients - it's number 5. And the guaranteed analysis appears to be about the same, except that Friskies has ash in it, which - I don't even know what "ash" means when it comes to cat food. Cremains? Soylent Green? I do not know. And both brands contain 78% moisture, which means it's basically food-flavored water.
Bottom line: I cracked open a can of Natural Balance, spooned it into dishes, set it on the floor, and both cats sniffed it and walked away.
Back to the drawing board!