What is AAFCO?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) was formed in 1909 to establish a framework for uniform regulation of the feed industry. Although not a government agency, AAFCO operates within the guidelines of federal and state legislation including laws administered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
What Does AAFCO Do?
AAFCO establishes standards or models for regulations aimed at ensuring that manufacturers provide clear, accurate, and consistent information about animal feed, including pet food.
Every year AAFCO issues an official publication called the AAFCO Manual. This manual, in addition to listing ingredient definitions and feed terms, addresses labeling issues such as label format, ingredient lists, nutrition claims, and guaranteed analysis.
These model regulations are different than laws. However a large number of state governments have adopted AAFCO pet food model regulations into state law.
What Is an AAFCO Statement?
The “AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy or purpose,” also called a “nutrition claim” or “complete and balanced statement,” identifies which life stage and/or lifestyle the product has been approved for. Under AAFCO regulations, this statement must be substantiated by the manufacturer.
AAFCO recognizes three methods for substantiating the claim:
- Laboratory analysis
- The finished product is compared to minimum nutritional values established by AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for dogs or cats.
- Label states: "ABC Dog (Cat) Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for (appropriate life stage).”
- Feeding trials
- The finished product that has been laboratory tested is fed to dogs or cats according to AAFCO protocols.
- Label states: "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that ABC Dog (Cat) Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (appropriate life stage)."
- Analysis comparable in nutritional adequacy
- The laboratory analysis of the finished product is compared with nutritional values from a similar product fed to dogs and cats according to AAFCO protocols.
- Label states: "ABC Dog (Cat) Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for (appropriate life stage) and is comparable in nutritional adequacy to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests."
What Are AAFCO Feeding Protocols?
AAFCO has outlined very specific protocols, or guidelines, for conducting feeding tests. The protocols specify test criteria including such things as:
- Minimum number of animals
- Duration of test
- Physical examinations by a veterinarian
- Clinical observations and measurements including body weights, blood tests, and blood taurine testing for cats
Each life stage has its own protocol. Life stages are the same for both dogs and cats and are defined as:
- Adult Maintenance
- All Life Stages
What Does "All Life Stages" Mean?
A pet food with an "All Life Stages" claim can be used from weaning through adulthood. This claim is considered an unqualified (absolute) representation of nutritional adequacy. If substantiated through feeding trials, the protocol for gestation/lactation and growth must be performed sequentially, using the same group of animals.
What Does "Intermittent Feeding" Mean?
AAFCO regulations state that specific wording must be used when a diet is intended for special nutritional or dietary needs that require the involvement of a veterinarian for diagnosis, management, and follow-up.
Understanding the AAFCO statements for nutritional adequacy can help customers choose a high-quality diet that provides complete and balanced nutrition for the appropriate life stage of their dog or cat.
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This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
Cats don’t lack personality; that’s for sure. They can be shy, outgoing, snuggly, independent, energetic, relaxed and everything in between. Yet some breeds tend to exhibit certain traits more strongly than others. Here are our picks for what we’re calling the Cat Personality Awards.
The friendliest cat breed:
This larger cat has a big heart to match. They’re often very social and happy to chat with you, whether they’re curled up on your lap or following you around the house. They make excellent family pets because more family members means more people to snuggle and play with.
Also outgoing: Ragdoll, Siamese, Burmese
The most laid-back cat breed:
Gentle and calm, this soft and silky-furred feline is friendly without being demanding. Ragdolls are usually totally cool sharing a house with other pets and kids. They don’t stress much about routine changes or even being carried around. Their motto? It’s all good.
Other cool kitties: Scottish fold, Birman, British shorthair
The most playful cat breed:
Making up around 90% of cats in the U.S., with more than 80 colors and patterns, domestic shorthairs are a melting pot of different breeds. They were originally working cats used to hunt mice and other critters on farms. They still love to stalk, hunt and pounce on toys and play games with their owners — so expect to spend lots of energetic playtime together.
Also ready to play: Siamese, Maine coon, Manx
The most independent cat breed:
This popular breed has been around humans since the 1600s, but is satisfied doing its own thing. Gentle, docile and quiet, Persian cats don’t insist on a lot of attention. They’re just as content sitting on your lap or observing what’s going on by themselves from a sunny perch across the room. They can be discerning in who they give their affection to, but you’ll be on their good side once you earn their trust.
Also fine on their own: Russian blue, American shorthair, Norwegian Forest cat
The most trainable cat breed:
The idea of training a cat may seem hilarious, but the curiosity and intelligence of Abyssinians make them highly trainable. Some can even be taught tricks or to walk on a leash and harness. Training and playing games are perfect ways to direct their affectionate energy.
Also eager to learn: Bengal, Siamese, American shorthair
The cleanest cat breed:
Owning this affectionate, hairless breed means you can spend more time cuddling and less time lint-rolling your clothes. They do require regular baths, but that just means more time to hang out together.
Other neat freaks: Siamese, Russian blue
The best cat for first-time owners:
it’s a toss-up!
Thinking of getting your first kitty? It’s hard to pick just one breed, so we’ve got three:
- Maine coons are super friendly and charming, and adapt well in a variety of living situations.
- Siamese are clean, love to talk and are very loyal.
- American shorthairs are smart, playful and independent.
Remember, most cats — especially those found in shelters — are a mix of breeds, which just means they often combine the best of all cat personality traits! Whatever personality you’re looking for in a cat, you’ll know it when you find your fuzzy soulmate.
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