Statement by the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) about the cat food brands research by University of Sydney

Cat food brands research

Image: ABC News Kathryn Ward

A story was broadcast on ABC’s Lateline program highlighting the findings of a study published in this year’s January/February issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal.

The paper is now publicly available online.

Some of the points made in the show did not accurately reflect the paper’s contents.

  1. This was a preliminary study that looked at samples from 20 cat foods. The authors found discrepancies between the contents and the labels, and with the current Australian Standard (AS 5812–2011). The authors clearly conclude that further research is needed to explore these preliminary results: “Both the nutrient composition and feeding guidelines require extensive review to ensure the adult cat’s unique dietary requirements are being met.”
  2. The names of the companies and pet foods tested were not included in the paper by the researchers, and AVA does not have access to that information.
  3. The Editor in Chief, Anne Jackson, made the decision to publish this paper and any decisions on peer review paper are (and have to be) independent of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).
  4. The editor’s view is that this paper that highlights an important issue, and the paper stresses that more work is needed in this area.
  5. The authors declared that they had no conflict of interest in their paper submission.
  6. The ideas that these are “potentially dangerous brands”, and will result in “osteoarthritis, diabetes, a foreshortened life span, and probably, extrapolating from other species, the development of cancer” are misleading. Potential long term outcomes are discussed in the paper should these cats become obese in the future. It does not imply that there are any additional immediately dangerous additives.

Unfortunately the story has led to concerned pet owners thinking that cat food is likely to poison their cat and this is not the case. It’s unfortunate that pet owners have been scared unnecessarily, and we are working with our members to help them reassure any clients who are worried.

The study was prepared as part of a Master’s thesis and used a very small sample. Further research is needed to determine whether there are major concerns with cat food. The AVA does not know the brands, and it would be irresponsible to publish allegations about particular brands without knowing that they are backed by very robust research.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on (02) 9431 5062, 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.

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