Feeding a feline seems simple – just get some kibble and put it in their bowl every afternoon. But how do you know what cat food is nutritionally complete for your cat? And how can you avoid investing in different types of food only to discover your kitty turning up her nose at it?
To help make your cat food shopping easier, we’ve put together a guide with some key details. Below are some of the things you need to keep in mind.
Choosing between dry and wet supplies
When it comes to types of cat food supplies, you have two options: wet and dry. Wet food is recommended for felines who show a lack of interest in drinking directly from the bowl. However, too much wet food intake can cause them to gain excess bulk, resulting in various health complications. Dry food, on the other hand, is known to improve oral hygiene and costs less than its wet counterpart.
We recommend feeding a combination of dry and wet food to your feline—dry food to keep down costs and wet supplies to help increase palatability. Mixed feeding is also beneficial in the sense that it’ll prevent your cat from developing a strict taste for a certain diet.
Looking at cat food labels
When it comes to pet food labels, make sure the box you’re planning to buy complies with the American Association of Feed Control Officials’ guidelines for complete and balanced nutrition. Also, make sure that the supply has a named protein source rather than just “meat.” Cats generally love anything that’s beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken-flavored.
Cat owners also need to be wary of certain words. References to by-products usually mean the food is unhealthy for the cat. Also, make sure the box of food doesn’t include a lot of preservatives. Skip the purchase if you find a high quantity of “BHT” or “ethoxyquin” mentioned on the box. Moreover, excess fillers containing carbohydrates should be avoided as they do nothing more than bulk up your cat.
Getting the flavor right
Most cat foods contain a key protein and are often labelled with a particular flavor. With various options, it can sometimes be challenging to know which food is best for your feline. We recommend making the following considerations when it comes to picking the flavor: whether your cat loves it, how easy is it for them to digest and the nutrients it has.
Chicken is the most popular choice. It’s incredibly gentle on the cat’s digestive tract and is often enhanced with essential nutrients that improve the feline’s health. Another option is turkey. Like chicken, turkey-flavored cat food is also easily digested. Other options include salmon, duck, goat, and game. Every flavor comes with its own set of benefits; for example, fish-flavored food should contain a healthy dose of Omega 3s. Just make sure you get a meat-flavored pack, as cats aren’t fond of plant-based flavors.
Considering natural and organic nutrition
If you want your cat to eat organic, make sure you’re aware of the variances in food labels. For instance, a product that says organic should include “100% certified organic” ingredients. Also, its processing aids should meet this high organic threshold. Note that the claim “made with organic” requires only 60-70 percent of the contents to be completely organic. With that said, make sure to gradually incorporate organic food into your cat’s diet, especially if he has been eating inorganic food in the past.
You could also opt for the “natural” cat food, which basically refers to cat food products that haven’t been altered. If your cat develops or has a taste for natural eats, you’ll find a range of products that skip undesirable ingredients, including artificial flavorings, preservatives, and colors.
Making the occasional specialty purchase
Many premium cat food companies, including Hills Science Diet and Royal Canin, have created specialty formulas that help cats battle mild health ailments, including urinary care, hairballs, and excess weight. If your feline has recently developed a bulging belly and isn’t pregnant, you can find specialty foods to help her lose those extra kilos.
Hairball cat food formulas are also helpful and often utilize the popular fibrous nutrition for snagging ingested fur, which then ends up in the litterbox as excreted waste. It’s a great option that allows you to rest easy knowing that you won’t need to wake to your feline wheezing out a furball onto your bed.
Picking between “budget” and “premium”
You’ve likely heard the stories about budget cat eats, but what exactly do the “fillers” imply? You may consider fillers to be something that the cat won’t be able to digest, like sawdust. In reality, however, fillers are used to communicate that there’s excess grain or cereal in the food. Because cats are naturally carnivores, they require a bulk of meat with limited grains and a few vegetables. Their bodies aren’t capable of fully digesting grains, so the fillers are often excreted in the litterbox.
Premium brands, on the other hand, aid the cat’s digestion. This means any food you buy from the premium section of the cat food aisle will provide your feline with better nutrition. In addition, the cat won’t need to ingest extra calories, as with budget food, to meet their daily nutrition requirements. If your budget allows, always get a premium food pack over a budget one.
You now know what you need to be looking at in pet food aisles and on food labels. The next step is to get in touch with your veterinarian to ensure the food you’re planning to purchase is appropriate for your feline’s specific condition. Is the cat overweight? Has he lost a few pounds and needs a little bulking? Your veterinarian should be able to point you in the right direction.