Should You Be Alarmed If Cat Foods Contain Tapioca Starch?

We attempt to feed our cats the highest-quality nutrition possible in order to maintain a long and healthy life because they provide us with comfort, company, and amusement.
But how can you tell marketing claims from nutritional advice based on science? One of those enigmatic components that frequently appears in pet wellness forums raises more questions than it does solutions.
Why do some cat meals made by pet food businesses contain tapioca starch? Is it secure? Does it provide cat nutrition?
In some grain-free pet meals, tapioca starch acts as a binder and a source of carbohydrates. Highly processed tapioca starch, which is derived from cassava, is devoid of both substantial nutrients and the deadly hydrogen cyanide. Healthy cats can use it without any problems, however diabetic and obese cats shouldn’t. These diets may be beneficial for cats who have uncommon grain allergies.
Although it’s secure, can tapioca starch in grain-free cat chow offer any benefits over diets rich in grains? Let’s dispel some of the myths around this issue before determining whether cat meals containing tapioca starch are suitable for your cat. By doing this, you can relax knowing that you’ve chosen wisely.

Where Does Tapioca Starch Come From and What Is It?

Large cassava plant roots are used to make tapioca starch (Manihot esculenta). Manioc and yuca are other names for cassava (not to be confused with the ornamental yucca plant). Over 800 million people in South America, Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean Islands are fed by this woody plant, which is native to that continent. In these areas, it ranks third in terms of calorie content behind rice and maize.

With its hardiness, resistance to pests and drought, and flexibility, cassava has long provided food for populations. In the 1600s, Portuguese explorers brought cassava to Africa; soon after, the crop was grown in Southern Asia. Right now, Thailand exports the most ingredients made from cassava, but Nigeria is the world’s largest cassava grower.

The purpose of the tapioca starch in some cat foods

Due to its ability to thicken liquids and its neutral flavor, tapioca flour is used in baking as well as in gravies and sauces for human consumption. Tapioca flour can restore cupcakes and cookies to persons with gluten intolerance or allergy. Many pet food manufacturers now make grain-free products as a result of consumer demand. In place of gluten-containing grains like wheat or gluten-free grains like rice, foods like potatoes, peas, and tapioca starch are frequently used.

Energy, or calories, are obtained by pet meals from protein, lipids, and carbs. Pet meals must have vital nutrients and flavoring agents in addition to energy since if your cat doesn’t like the food, it won’t matter how healthy it is.
Commercial pet feeds also need to maintain freshness and include components that allow for optimum consistency. For instance, while the bags are being transported or stored, we want the best dry cat food to have uniform, crisp bits that don’t crumble into crumbs.
To bind together many ingredients and provide the right texture, tapioca starch is used. Because of its inexpensive price and unremarkable taste, it is a suitable carbohydrate source that won’t ruin the flavor. For cat owners looking for a grain-free substitute, producers employ tapioca starch as an ingredient binder and replacement carbohydrate. In a moment, more on this.

Tapioca Starch: Is It Healthy?

Compared to entire grains, tapioca has little nutritional value despite having a tiny amount of minerals like iron. Compared to wheat or rice, it has much less protein.
However, when you consider that tapioca starch, which is derived from cassava, does include a variety of nutrients, things can get murky. Don’t mix the two, though, as the extensive processing needed to manufacture tapioca starch reduces its nutritious worth. Essentially a binder and carbohydrate, tapioca starch.

Does Tapioca Starch Really Contain the Toxin Cyanide?

You may have read some articles on cyanide poisoning in people that were rather frightening, if not downright terrifying. Because disinformation frequently arises from connected facts, let’s dissect the dispute and concentrate on the facts.
Unprocessed or improperly processed cassava can cause death.
Just as thorns shield roses from hungry animals, cassava plants produce cyanogenic glycosides, which have a bitter taste, to deter grazers and insects. These substances, which are comparatively non-toxic, are found in more than 2000 plant species. However, when the cassava plant is eaten or otherwise broken down, enzymes change the substances into hydrogen cyanide. Continue reading though before you throw out your speciality cat chow.
How could a plant that is extremely harmful be a primary source of nutrition for over 700 million people?

The response has two parts. Cassava comes in two major flavors—sweet and bitter—and is farmed for various purposes. While the bitter version is employed for industrial uses, the sweet variety’s roots make a flexible food source similar to potatoes. They both include cyanogenic glycosides (linamarin and lotaustralin), which, when consumed, turn into the poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide.
However, compared to sweet cassava, bitter cassava contains ten to fifty times more hydrogen cyanide. The danger lies in the dose, as it is with other poisons. I’m not advocating that you or your pet consume trace levels of cyanide, so continue reading.
Tapioca powder is made from sweet cassava, which can be treated to make it palatable. The concentrated toxin-filled skin is carefully peeled off. In order to let the poisons evaporate, the original method of preparation requires washing, cutting, and drying in the sun. Because it may be easily removed with water and is volatile, hydrogen cyanide (breaks down). To generate refined goods, industrial processing of sweet cassava required following tried-and-true procedures.
The finished substance is completely safe and consumed every day in numerous ways all throughout the world.

What About Tapioca Starch and Food Allergies?

Many cat owners look for a grain-free food out of concern that their cat might have an allergy to wheat. Cats with food allergies may include gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, and itching.

However, animal proteins like chicken or fish, rather than cereals, account for the great majority of actual food allergies. Grain allergies in cats are extremely uncommon. As a diagnosis is not simple, your veterinarian can assist in creating a plan to establish if your cat has food allergies. If your cat has a food allergy, you can test it by feeding it a new protein diet or a hydrolyzed protein diet for eight to twelve weeks. Switching to a grain-free diet is way down on the list of things to do if your cat’s fur is thinning because there are other causes of these symptoms.

Final Thoughts

Just to feed your meowing friend breakfast, you had to unpack a lot of stuff!
The ultimate line is that most cats can receive a balanced diet from high-quality commercial pet foods. A diet that substitutes tapioca starch for specific grains, such as wheat or corn, may be beneficial for a cat with an uncommon sensitivity to those foods.
Assuming that the sweet cassava plant is processed correctly, the cyanide concern associated with tapioca starch isn’t a serious problem. Worldwide, millions of individuals consume tapioca starch in a variety of forms without getting sick. If you’re unsure of what to feed your cat, consult your vet to see if there are any specific health issues, like being overweight, that may point you in the direction of a certain diet. Your feline buddy can live a long and healthy life if you feed them a commercial cat diet that includes grains and high-quality protein sources.

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