Whether you have a cat already or are looking at getting one, there are a lot of things to consider. Especially when it comes to their diet and nutrition. There are a lot of food brands out there, but not all of them are healthy. Think of them as fast food restaurants. On the outside, they look good and normal, but on the inside, they lack nutrients, calories, and are full of unhealthy vitamins.
Do you really want to feed your cat that? If your cat doesn’t get the proper diet and nutrition, they can develop health issues. Some of these issues can be obesity, heart disease, skin disorders, and more. That is why we’ve put together a list of the best way to choose the best cat food for your furry friend. We’ll start with the basic ingredients.
You’re going to be looking for the on the bag or can. It should be the first listed ingredient and it will either be chicken, beef, tuna, lamb, salmon, turkey, etc. If it says chicken meal or chicken by-product, it isn’t a high quality food. This means your cat won’t be getting the proper nutrition it needs in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Check for Arachidonic Acid and Taurine
When a cats food contains these two ingredients, it means the food consists of real sources of animal protein. You would expect to see what we talked about above. You should avoid cat food if they don’t include these two ingredients as well as plant sourced protein instead of animal protein.
Look for high-quality grains
Every cat food out there will contain a variety of grains such as wheat, barely, or corn. They are a good source of carbohydrates for your cat and gives them energy. However, they should never be the first listed ingredient. They should be around the 3rd listed ingredient and lower. The meat ingredients should be listed first.
Check for vitamins and minerals
There are certain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your cats health. These vitamins are A, B, C, B12, and folic acid. Your cats food should also contain minerals such as calcium, zinc, sodium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. All of the above vitamins and minerals help promote skin, bones, joins, and teeth health.
Look for by-products
We briefly talked about them under the meat ingredients. By-products are essentially any part of the animal that is included. This can be the lungs, liver, feathers, fur, and more. For good quality food, you should pick food that actually lists the by-products rather than just saying by-product. However, do avoid by-products that contain fur or feathers. They are harder on your cats digestive system.
Check to see if the food is certified
There is an organization called “The Association of the American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO. They regulate pet food and help ensure it’s up to industry standards. You will see their label on the bag of food which means its been tested and shown to be safe for pets.
Do you choose wet or dry food?
Typically, pet owners will get dry food for the convenience factor. However, you should also take into consideration how much water your cat drinks too. Dry food can dehydrate your cat and if they aren’t drinking enough, can lead to health problems such as kidney failure.
If you notice your cat doesn’t drink enough water, switch them to a dry food. What we like to do for our cats is a mixture of wet and dry food. This helps ensure the cat gets a healthy amount of hydration as well as a full belly. This also allows you to experiment with different flavors such as chicken or beef. Your cat will help you decide with an empty bowl in front of them.
Get food based on your cats age
Every cat has three stages of their life, kitten, adult, and senior. Each stage requires different nutrition and needs.
If you have a kitten, you’ll want to get food that is higher in protein and fat. This helps them with growth, nutrition, and nourishment. You’ll notice on the outside of the bag that it is labeled as “kitten food”. This will help you know that you are looking at the right type of food.
If you have an adult cat, their needs will slightly change. They won’t need as much calories as a kitten. Most indoor cats become overweight due to inactivity. This means you should aim for a low-calorie bag of food. You should also look for vitamins such as calcium and Vitamins E/C to help boost your cats immune system. However, if your cat is active, then don’t worry about getting a low-calorie bag of food. You’ll notice that cat food for adults will be labeled as “adult”.
Finally there is food based on a senior cats diet. This is quickly identified on the bags label as “senior”. You will typically want to look for food that is low in fat and contain vitamins and minerals to help them with their immune system. Another note about senior food is due to the loose term “senior”, some manufactures may claim they are senior diet food but really aren’t. Just look for lower calories and protein.
At the end of the day, your cat may also be a picky eater and not like the food you get them. That is why experimenting with different flavors is a good thing. Heres a trick we’ve done in the past to try and speed up the process. If they aren’t happy with the dry food you’ve chosen, add a can of tuna to it. It will help mask the smell of the previous food and give it a different taste. If they like the tuna over the chicken flavor or whatever flavor you bought, consider a fish flavor next time you pick up a bag of food.
We hope you found this guide to be helpful and wish you the best of luck when choosing your next bag of cat food. If you have any suggestions or would like us to add something you felt we missed, please leave a comment down below and we’ll be happy to get back to you!