How to Choose Cat Food: Comprehensive Nutrition Guide

How to choose cat food for my cat

We all want the best for our cats. More so, in the matter of their food. But, with the vast array of options available, you might be wondering how to choose cat food from the plethora of options available. It is a very tough process to choose the right food for your cat. There are so many varieties, brands, and combinations of cat foods available in the market. It is very natural for anyone to be left confused. So, How to choose cat food for your little kitty? Let’s discover how to choose the right food for your pet cat.

There is a list of mandatory ingredients that your cat’s food should contain. Make sure to read the label of the cat food for these ingredients before buying it. All these ingredients are very core to your cat’s health and survival.

What ingredients to look for in cat food

  • Meat proteins: Proteins are very important nutrient components. Especially, because cats are meat-eaters. A meat-based protein is essential for your cat’s diet. You can check for this in the ingredients section. Generally, meat-based protein is made out of chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, or fish. If a cat food label reads just meat or meat by-product it might necessarily not be of great quality.
  • Animal By-products: In the order of ingredients, it is a general principle to name the animal byproducts after meat proteins. Most cat foods contain animal byproducts such as lungs, liver, etc. These are very healthy and essential for your cat. However, make sure you buy cat food which specifically mentions the list of byproducts used in the food. Lesser quality cat food brands would try to pass fur and feathers as animal byproducts without mentioning the specific names on the label.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are equally important nutrients for your pet cat’s health. Carbohydrates provide your cat with the necessary energy for its everyday activities. Very common sources of carbohydrates are wheat, barley, or corn. On the list of the ingredients appearing on the label, meat must be the first ingredient followed by organs or animal byproducts such as liver and lungs then the food grains.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins are other vital nutrients. Do check the label for the presence of vitamins in the cat food. The vitamins your cat food should contain are A vitamin, B vitamins, C vitamin, B12 vitamin, and folic acid.
  • Minerals: Apart from vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, the cat food should also contain minerals like iron, sodium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and phosphorous. Minerals are crucial for bone and dental health of your pet kitty. So, don’t forget to check for minerals on the cat food label.
  • Taurine and Arachidonic acid: If your cat food contains good quality meat it will/should also contain taurine and arachidonic acid. If any cat food doesn’t have this essential then that implies that the proteins in the food are not meat-based instead they are plant-based which is something you should clearly avoid.

These are ingredients you should see are present in your cat food. However, you also need to check that your cat food is free of a few things. The following is the list of things all cat owners should avoid in their cat food.What to do when your lost cat returns home

  • Large quantities of carbohydrate fillers
  • Chemical preservatives such as propyl gallant, ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT. These ingredients can prove to be lethal for your cat.
  • Cornmeal
  • Added sugar

Apart from these ingredients, also check for the vitals like manufacturing and expiration dates. Also, make it a point to check if the product is certified by the concerned government authority.

Now that we know what ingredients to look for on the label of a cat food can, let’s see what types of cat foods are typically available and how to choose the best suitable food product for your cat.

Dry food: There are many varieties of dry cat foods available in the market.  The major advantage of dry cat food is that it is very easy to store. It is also less expensive than other types of food. You don’t need to take special care on storage. You can just leave it out without worrying that it would go stale. If you get your cat used to dry food from early stages it would adapt to it in a better way.

Wet food: Is your cat dehydrated? Does it have urinary tract issues? Does it tend to put on a lot of weight? Then wet food is better for your cat. Wet food is very good for your cat if it’s dehydrated or has urinary tract issues. Wet food is also great to curb weight gain as it is low in calories when compared to dry food. However, wet food could be a bit difficult to store and maintain. It would also burn a bigger hole in your pocket.

A combination: You need not give your cat only wet or only dry food. You can mix it up a bit. You may give different types of food for different meals to keep your cat interested. For example, you can give your cat dry food for lunch and wet food for dinner. If providing wet food every day is getting too expensive for you. You can always give wet food for only once or twice a week and feed it dry food on other days.

Now that we know about the ingredients and the types of food, let’s see which food is best for which cat. Generally, you need to change your cat’s feed according to the age of the cat. Let’s discuss this in detail.

Kittens: Your baby kitties need nutritious food to grow in a healthy manner. The essential part of the food for the kittens would be proteins and fats. The primary ingredient of the food should be a protein derived from a meat source like beef, chicken, turkey, tuna or lamb. You might also shop for specific “kitten food” products available in the market. However, don’t forget to check the ingredients carefully before you make the purchase.

Adult cats: Adult cats may often put on weight and in turn become lazy. Especially, for these kinds of adult cats go with low-calorie cat food. Generally, wet cat food has fewer calories when compared with the dry one.  The food you give your cat should also improve the immunity of the cat; vitamins like vitamin E and Vitamin C serve this purpose really well. If the combination of the food you are feeding your cat is still not doing the trick in weight loss. Do consult a professional for the right advice about the correct mix of food for your cat.

Older Cats: Senior cats tend to have more health issues as a result of their weakening immunity. Hence, you need to provide them with food which boosts their immunity and is easy on their digestive system. The thumb rule to achieve this is to give your cat a low-fat food which is enriched with proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

If your cat is 10 years or older you can look for senior cat food options in the markets. Most brands sell special foods for senior cats. These foods are generally low in calories and fats. Older cats are usually prone to kidney-related diseases. Hence, make sure you seek professional advice while setting a diet regime for your cat. Perhaps, if your cat is healthier than most other older cats you might not have to be so strict with its food habits.

Cat foods for cats with sensitive stomach: If your cat has a sensitive stomach, we recommend your read our comprehensive guide on best cat foods for sensitive stomach which includes recommendations on specific foods.

There are few other aspects of cat foods the cat owners need to aware of.

Cheap cat food boon or bane? There are many brands available in the markets which offer cat foods for way Cat toilet trainingcheaper prices than the mainstream cat food brands. This could be very tempting especially to new cat owners to save a few bucks. However, these cheap cat foods can prove to be very dangerous in the long-term leading to many health issues. Therefore, you have to shell out more for health care and treatment of your cat in the future.

Also, studies have shown that your cat would eat only the amount of food that is necessary to provide the required nutrients to it. So, though costlier brands may feel like an expensive purchase, the amount of healthier food consumed by the cat would be lesser than cheaper less nutrient food.

Some cat owners prefer feeding their cats household foods. Otherwise too cats are curious creatures and would be looking for opportunities to taste new foods. However, few of our everyday food items are unhealthy for cats. In some cases, consuming a few types of food might also lead to death. So, what foods should you avoid feeding your cat?

  • Milk: Cats are generally associated with milk and this is the most common mistake most cat owners commit. In reality, milk or other dairy products are not suitable for the adult cat’s digestive system. Whereas, kittens are more tolerable to milk.
  • Eggs: Eggs, when given raw to cats, can cause a disturbance in the levels of absorption of Vitamin B in them.
  • Garlic, Chives, and Onions: These are everyday ingredients that we use in most of our foods. However, make sure you keep these away from your cat as onions, garlic, and chives when consumed by your cat will break down its red blood cells.
  • Liquor: Alcohol in any form is very dangerous for your cats. You should also mind the food items which may contain alcohol in them. Sometimes, even minute levels of alcohol might result in death.
  • Chocolate: Chocolates are treats for only humans. They should not be fed to your cat. The toxin theobromine is present in chocolates which is extremely unhealthy for your kitty.
  • Xylitol: Candies and gums mostly contain Xylitol. Xylitol is very harmful to your cat’s health. Hence, refrain from feeding your cat any type of candies or gums.
  • Caffeine: Make sure you don’t give your cat anything that contains caffeine. Food sources that contain maximum levels of caffeine are coffee, tea, soft drinks etc.
  • Grapes and Raisins: These foods should be avoided as they cause kidney failure in cats.
  • Canned tuna: Your cat may love canned tuna. However, don’t give in to its excitement. Constant consumption of canned tuna may cause malnutrition in cats.
  • Yeast dough: if you are the kind of person who loves to bake. Then keep your yeast dough far away from your kitty as the dough causes stomach pain and also when the dough is fermented it creates alcohol which can cause even death of your cat.

Let us look at some other common queries and FAQs cat owners generally have.

Can I raise my cat a vegan or vegetarian?

Few vegan or vegetarian cat owners might want to raise their cat as a vegan too. This is not a good idea at all. Cats are obligate carnivores, meat is very important for their fundamental body functionality. Cats when not domesticated, acquire the required grains and vitamins from the stomach of their prey. Hence, a completely vegetarian diet for a cat is unnatural to its bodily functions.

Can I feed dog food to my cat?

Especially, pet owners who own both cats and dogs might entertain the idea of feeding dog food to the cat. In short-term or just for few meals it is acceptable to give dog food to your cat. However, in long-term a cat’s requirements are very different from that of a dog’s and continuous consumption of dog food may cause serious health issues to your cat.

The contents of cat food and dog food are very different. For instance, we know that taurine is an essential ingredient in your cat’s food but taurine is not found in dog’s food as dogs’ bodies generate plenty amount of taurine internally. Hence, buy good quality cat food for your cat and do not experiment too much with its diet.

Now that we know everything there is about cat food. Make healthy and careful choices for your cat’s food.

Resources

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-nutrition-tips

 

Saniya Ali
Saniya Ali
Saniya A is a cat crazy lady who contributes to the content as well as steering the direction of the website. She loves her two cats Snowie and Tom and has much to say in the matters of cat care and training.

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