As all cat owners know, a feline can be a wonderful addition to any family. One of the most basic aspects of cat ownership is proper health care for the cat. Health care for a cat encompasses a wide array of things including vaccine shots, flea protection, vet visits, medications, and even proper exercise.
However, the most important aspect of cat health is also often overlooked. People spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a cat to keep it healthy, but most cat owners don’t pay nearly enough attention to the proper cat food.
The right cat food is absolutely essential to a healthy, happy cat.
So what is the best cat food for your cat?
While each cat will have slightly different nutritional needs, there are some general rules that must be considered when looking for cat food.
First of all, cats (like their human owners) need a high quality diet. This means carefully choosing the best types of protein, fats, and carbs. Further, the less preservatives and chemical additives, the better. Most of the research available online does not compare specific brands of cat food, as much as specific ingredients to feed your cat, and which to stay away from!
Cat Food Building Blocks: Protein
Cats need a high protein diet. Wild cats are very carnivorous, and cats derive a great deal of their nutritional needs from protein. House cats, while not wild, still have many of the same nutritional needs as their wild feline ancestors. So, the most important ingredient in any cat food is protein.
Cat Food Building Blocks: Carbs
Carbohydrates are also an important part of a cats diet, though not as important as protein. Cats really should derive the majority of their nutritional needs from protein, so cat foods that are high in carbohydrates may not necessarily be the best for them.
In particular, I personally tend to avoid cat foods with grains (like wheat). A lot of kitties are sensitive to this type of food and since carbohydrates are not as important to their health, they are not necessary in their food.
High-End vs. Low-End Cat Food
Interestingly enough, many of the premium brands of cat food, such as those created by Blue Buffalo or Hill’s Science Diet offer exactly what most cats need, and aren’t necessarily more expensive than cheaper foods (like Iams or Fancy Feast) in the long run.
This is because high end cat foods typically offer the same amount of nutrition in a smaller serving size. Low end cat foods require a higher volume of food to give your kitty all the nutrients she needs to be satisfied and healthy.
Furthermore, because a cat will eat less of the high end cat food, their waste will be reduced. This can cut down on the frequency of litter replacement and litter box related chores.
Protein Quality in Cat Food
Another aspect of cat food to be considered is the quality of the protein in the food. Because of the way many pet food companies describe the meat in the food, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what the difference is between labels like “chicken flavoured” and “chicken dinner”.
Food that contains “chicken meal” can only be made from the skin, flesh, and bones. This is really the best type of protein for a cat.
Food that has “meat byproducts” can contain nearly any animal parts, and are of lower quality than chicken meal.
Food that is “chicken flavoured” only has to taste like chicken, but may not contain any animal meat at all.
Artificial Colours and Preservatives
It should go without saying that preservatives, as well as artificial colours, should be avoided whenever possible.
Although specific research is lacking on this subject, we do know that preservatives and artificial colours can have a negative impact on human health. It is only logical that cats will also be negatively affected by artificial colours and preservatives in their cat food.
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