Posted in Cat
doNutrition is one of the most important keys to good health for your cat, so researching the best cat food for your cat is well worth the effort. This article will walk you through the basics, recommend some good brands, and give you some resources for additional research.
Why is Choosing a Good Cat Food Important?
Feeding your cat a good diet is more important than you think. Feeding your cat a cheap, low-quality diet can actually be much more expensive in the long run for one very important reason: vet bills are expensive! With a poor diet, your cat is more likely to have health problems that need to be treated. Some common problems that result from low-quality cat foods are:
- Obesity: Food without balanced ingredients can cause cats to become overweight, which causes further health problems.
- Diabetes: Just like humans, cats can also get diabetes, and diet is a contributing factor. Low-quality foods are usually high in carbohydrates, which is associated with diabetes in cats.
- Kidney Disease: This is common for cats that become dehydrated by not consuming enough water with their dry food. It can also be caused by not having the correct balance of protein in the diet.
- Kidney Stones or Bladder Stones: This is another common and painful problem for cats that do not consume a balanced diet with the proper amount of water.
Types of Cat Food and Diets
There are three general types of diets that you can choose to feed your cat:
- Dry Cat Food is the most popular type of diet for cats because it is the most convenient and is typically cheaper than the other options. Dry cat food is also called kibble. The most important thing to remember with dry cat food is that your cat will need to drink water in the correct proportions with their food to stay properly hydrated. Some cats do not drink enough water naturally, which is where the controversy around dry cat food begins. Some veterinarians will recommend staying away from dry cat food because of the risk of dehydration, but other veterinarians recommend dry cat food as long as your cat can stay properly hydrated. To keep your cat hydrated, you can add a little water to the dry food, feed a mix of dry food and wet food, or purchase a cat water fountain since cats prefer to drink moving water. There is a wide range of quality in dry cat foods, so make sure you purchase one that is high quality and nutritionally balanced for your cat.
- Wet Cat Food is typically more appetizing to cats than dry cat food, and can often be more nutritious because there are fewer chemical additives needed to keep the food fresh. However, it is less convenient because it can’t be left out if your cat doesn’t eat it right away, and opened cans need to be refrigerated. It’s typically more expensive than dry cat food. It also has a much stronger smell than dry cat food, which some people don’t like. However, overall wet cat food can be much healthier than dry cat food because it is more fresh and it ensures your cat stays properly hydrated.
- Raw Cat Food is based on the idea that cats should eat fresh meat like they would in the wild hunting mice and other small animals. This type of diet is usually the least convenient but there are many health benefits. Cats digestive systems were evolved to eat raw meat and so they do very well on it. There is also increased mental stimulation due to the variety of textures and shapes in a raw food diet. Some people choose to create their own mixes of raw food, and others choose to buy commercial raw cat food.
Some people feed their cats exclusively one type, but some people feed their cat a mix of dry food, wet food, and raw food.
Cat Feeding Schedules
Feline metabolism works best with 5-20 small meals per day. Although many people allow their cats to graze on an unlimited amount food throughout the day, this is not recommended because cats can easily become overweight by grazing on too much food. For this reason, you shouldn’t give your cat unlimited amount of food. The total amount of food should be regulated and measured out each day. The food can be presented at various times throughout the day, just as long as the total amount is regulated. This will keep your cat happy at a healthy weight. Most cats will learn to self-regulate and eat smaller amounts throughout the day, though not all cats will.
Here are some sample feeding schedules that combine different types of food. You may need to try a few of them to find out what works best for your cat:
– Example 1: Feed a wet food breakfast at 8:00 AM and a limited amount of dry food at 11 AM to be grazed on the rest of the day.
– Example 2: Feed 1/4 cup dry food and 1/2 an ounce of wet food in the morning, and again in the evening. Leave it out for a half hour and clean up everything they don’t eat after that time.
Cat Food Ingredients: The Good and The Bad
To help you determine a good food for your cat, here’s a quick run down on ingredients to look for and avoid:
Good: Meat and Meat Meal
The majority of any cat’s diet should be made up of meat ingredients, because cats are built to digest meat and it is the most nutritious for them. The first ingredient in any cat food should always be a meat ingredient or a meat meal ingredient. Meat meal is just a more concentrated protein. However, it should always be specified what type of meat it contains (i.e. chicken, tuna, salmon, etc).
Bad: Unspecified Meat
One thing to be wary of is anonymous types of meat. Sometimes you will see cat food ingredients labeled things like “Meat and Bone Meal” or “Fish” or “Liver” or “Poultry Meal.” This is a bad ingredient because at the very least it is impossible to get specific nutrition information because each species has a different level of protein/fat/etc. At the worst, unspecified meat can contain things like roadkill, spoiled meat, or diseased livestock.
Bad: Meat Byproduct
Meat byproduct is what is leftover after all of the parts of the animal meant for human consumption have been taken away. What’s left? Things like chicken beaks and chicken feet, intestines, brains, blood, etc. While meat byproduct can be digested by cats, it’s just not as high quality as actual meat and meat meal, so don’t mistake the two. High quality cat foods will typically not have byproduct.
Bad: Wheat, Soy, and Corn
These three ingredients are irritants to a cat’s digestive system and provide very little nutritional content. The highest quality cat foods will be grain free and will not contain soy or corn. If wheat, soy, or corn is the main ingredient of a cat food, it’s a very, very low quality and will lead to health problems.
Recommended Dry Cat Food Brands
These brands are highly recommended because they are grain free and have main meat ingredients that are specified. They are healthy, well-balanced meals for cats. This is by no means a complete list, just some suggestions to get you started!
Recommended Wet Cat Food Brands
If you are looking for wet cat foods, here are some recommendations that are highly nutritious for your cat:
Recommended Raw Food Brands
Raw food diets can either be fed through a commercial pre-packaged diet, or through selecting raw meats and bones to combine into a well-balanced meal. Two recommended pre-packaged raw food brands are Bravo! and Stella and Chewy’s.
Recommended Resources for Raw Feeding (Not Pre-Packaged)
For more information on feeding a raw diet that is not pre-packaged, visit this link:
Choosing a cat food is not an easy task, but now you should at least be armed with a good amount of knowledge for making a good choice for you and your cat!