Evaluation of phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium content in commercially available foods formulated for healthy cats

Stacie C. Summers, Jonathan Stockman, Jennifer A. Larsen, Lei Zhang, Anais Sanchez Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: High dietary phosphorus (P) and low calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) are associated with kidney damage in cats. There are no established guidelines for dietary P maximum for cats. Objectives: To quantify crude protein, P, Ca, and magnesium (Mg) concentrations in cat foods and compare among food formats (dry, canned, raw), primary protein ingredients, protein concentrations (low, moderate, high), grain-free versus grain-containing foods, foods intended for adult maintenance versus all life stages, and cost. Samples: Eighty-two commercial nonprescription cat foods. Methods: Descriptive study. Mineral concentrations were measured using inductively coupled argon plasma-optical emission spectroscopy. Crude protein was measured using the Dumas nitrogen combustion method. Mineral and crude protein concentrations were compared among food categories. Results: Twenty-seven foods contained ≥3.6 g P/1000 kcal metabolizable energy (ME), of which 7 exceeded 4.8 g/1000 kcal ME. Thirteen foods had low Ca:P ratio (≤1.0). The low-protein diet group had no products ≥3.6 g P/1000 kcal ME, which was significantly different compared to the high-protein diet group (52% of products had ≥3.6 g P/1000 kcal ME; P =.01). No significant differences in P content and Ca:P ratio were found among other diet categories. Canned foods had significantly lower Mg compared to dry (P <.001) and raw (P =.007) foods. Declared minimum P and Ca were significantly lower than analyzed concentrations (P =.0005 and P =.003, respectively). Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The high number of foods with high P and low Ca suggest that pet food regulatory reform should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • adult
  • calcium
  • commercial
  • diets
  • feline
  • foods
  • phosphorus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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