There are different types of manufactured cat food, such as dry (baked or extruded) and wet (pouch, can, tray, raw, and cold-pressed). Each pet food contains a label that indicates whether the food is ‘complete’ or ‘complementary.’
If it is labeled as ‘complete,’ then it means the food products have all the nutrients and substances that a pet needs for healthy life and body function in her daily ratio. At the same time, ‘complementary’ pet food means that a pet needs to be fed other food sources and treats to get the proper nutrients. The ingredients and production methods vary according to the format and type of food.
Dry cat food is made with a mixture of dry and wet ingredients, and both ingredients are mixed to form a dough. In the extrusion process, the dough is heated under pressure, due to which the dough begins to expand because of pressure change. The dough is passed through a die machine to cut the kibbles into specific sizes and shapes that vary according to the product requirement. Once kibbles are dried and cooled, then they are coated with spray. Another extrusion method for producing dry food is baking.
Ingredients used in manufacturing pet food are described as animal by-products or derivatives. These ingredients are also a part of the animal surplus that needs to fulfill the requirements of the human food industry. Animals’ by-products include kidneys, lungs, liver, and various meats of by-products meals. Pet food also uses legally defined meat (muscle meat) as an ingredient found within the human food chain.
To manufacture wet cat food, its ingredients or by-products come in a fresh or frozen state to the factory. They are adequately chopped and then added directly or finely minced dry ingredients. After that, they are further mixed with dry ingredients to convert them into ribbon shapes and diced into chunks of different shapes and sizes.
Other ingredients used in the process are oil, fats, minerals, vitamins, pasta, cereals, grains, or vegetables. Water is also used frequently to facilitate the process and give the food its final touch of form and texture.
All the ingredients are selected carefully according to the specific recipe for pet food manufacturing. The chosen ingredients are formulated to deliver the complete nutritional and balanced diet to pet cats and meet the other requirements of a variety of ages and size ranges of the product.
Once the ingredients are mixed into a specific recipe, they are filled in a can, tray, or pouch. For wet food, thickening agents, water mixture, and flavors are added to give the food gravy or jelly form during the cooking process.
The dry mixture is mixed with wet ingredients and preconditioned in water and steam. This hydrates the powder, forms a soft dough, and begins the cooking. The created dough is passed through a die extruder machine, in which the dough is cooked under heat pressure. The dough exits from the end of the machine through a die plate under pressure, creating ribbons of a specified shape. These expanded shapes are then sliced, and by using a rotary cutter, they are given a pre-specified size.
After the cutting and extrusion process, kibbles are dried in an oven to remove any moisture and cool. It is essential to remove the moisture content because it maintains the freshness of food and prevents spoilage. After baking in the oven, the dough is rolled and cut into various shapes like cookies or biscuits.
To provide a yummy taste to cats, giving kibbles the flavor mixtures is also essential to enhance the taste. Therefore, kibbles are put into a revolving drum coated with flavors after passing through the drying and cooling process. They are then preserved to prevent the risk of spoilage and expand the life of food. Flavors and other coatings might be sprayed on baked foods after taking them out from the oven.
As now kibbles are made, it is packaging turn. Kibbles are packed according to their weight and are sealed appropriately to prevent contamination.
Once all the packaging is done, they are then wrapped and stored in pallet boxes at warehouses ready for distribution to the customers.
Each pet food manufacturer comes with standards and regulations of pet food safety, despite having their recipe. Everyone should comply with those standards because a responsible pet food manufacturing company prioritizes safety and quality. They have standards and processes that ensure ingredients and products’ quality and safety. They should start the process with reliable suppliers and thoroughly cover the entire manufacturing process to feed the cat. It includes:
- A responsible pet food manufacture company regularly examined the ingredients supplied by companies to gain supplier approval.
- Specification for regular inspection, raw materials, and testing ingredients also require analysis and supplier certificates.
- A precise product specification includes color, profile, texture, palatability, digestibility, and parameters like moisture content.
- Visual check of the milling process.
- Measuring raw material precisely to ensure accuracy versus recipe.
- Regular testing and sampling of finished products.
- Controlling times and cooking temperatures carefully.
- Recording recipe ingredients through batch records and finished pallets and their destination to check traceability.
- Regular checking of packaging, including continuous monitoring through digital cameras.
- Microbial testing for both manufacturing and finished product facilities.
- Metal detectors or X-rays machines to place foreign bodies with the finished products.
- Verification of nutritional sufficiency through chemical analysis of finished products, raw material, or feeding studies using approved protocols of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
All in all, cats need to eat various nutrients to stay healthy and fit. The kibbles are made with various healthy nutrients and go through a different process that ensures the reliability of the products.