The pet care industry has developed to a point where properly feeding your cat is actually becoming harder with every new product. With so many different foods available, it’s hard to know which ones are truly good for your four-legged family member, especially when all of them yell “This is the ONLY food your cat will ever need” on the labels.
“My Cat’s Fine The Way She Is…”
If it’s not evident for all pet owners why their cats’ diets are a serious matter, ask yourself the following questions:
● Do you want your cat to become obese? Cats gain weight very easily, since most of cat owners aren’t aware of the optimal calorie intake and diet needs of their cats. However, cats have a very hard time when it comes to losing weight. The result? Diabetes and other possible health issues.
● Do you want your cat to starve? If cats don’t like their new food, they’ll go on starving protests. They’ll literally starve themselves to serious health problems until they eat something they don’t like.
● Do you want your cat to be unhappy, anxious and aggressive? Because that’s what happens when their needs are unsatisfied. They start meowing, scratching and trying to get your attention in other ways.
General Guidelines to a Healthy Cat Diet
To prevent all of these disasters, here’s what you need to do:
● Incorporate wet foods into your cat’s diet. One of the biggest mistakes pet owners make is that they give their cats only dry food. Since cats have a much lower tolerance for thirst than humans or dogs do, they can get into serious trouble if their only nutritional intake is dry food. Mixing wet and dry cat foods is the first significant step to a proper cat diet.
● Don’t feed your cat as if she were a little dog. Dogs’ foods are usually rich with carbohydrates, an element which cats process exceptionally badly. That’s why a cat put on a dog’s diet will become obese very quickly.
● Give your cat enough water. This goes to complement the first point made. Although cats will generally not drink water until they need to, there is one neat trick to making your cat get enough fluids. You guessed it, catnip. Put a leaf of this magical plant under the bowl of water and see your cat keep herself hydrated.
● Don’t try to make your cat a vegetarian. Cats are strict carnivores, and they need to eat meat and animal organs to stay healthy. One of the nutrients found only in animal tissue is amino acid taurine, lack of which can cause severe health issues like heart attacks and blindness. While it is possible to provide your cats with all the nutrients she needs from synthetic food, do it only under a strict supervision of a vet. Determining your cat’s dietary needs requires some serious knowledge and if you’re not proficient enough, you could end up hurting your pet.
● Make sure your homemade diets aren’t nutritionally “skewed”. If you’re going to prepare the meals for your cat yourself, make sure you provide all the nutrients she needs. In the wild, the cat would be eating both the meat and the bones of its prey, and that needs to reflect in your custom diet. Manufacturer foods are balanced in that they provide enough calcium (meat) and phosphorus (bones).
● Don’t give your cat too many treats. This one goes without saying, but salty treats can quickly increase your cat’s weight. Make sure treats are only a small part of your cat’s diet.
How Do I Pick the Right Food?
That being said, there are significant differences between the actual cat foods, too. Let’s take a look at what are some of the healthiest foods for cats specifically.
When picking the right wet/dry food for your cat, the two main criteria it should meet are:
1. The first ingredient should be a meat of some sort. Not a mysterious substitute, not a “synthesized meat-flavored chemical E267”, meat. If the ingredient list does not include meat, look for meat meals or broth. If none of these are found, move on to the next product.
2. Make sure the dry food of your choice does not include garlic (can harm your cat’s red blood cells), brewers rice (might be low-quality and low on taurine), sugar (no nutritional value, increases chances of obesity and diabetes) and meat meals (no way of knowing the source of meat). Even ocean fish is quite a controversial ingredient, since it, ironically, can cause your cat severe allergies.
A question might occur to you: “How much wet and dry food should I use to feed a cat?”
Sadly, there isn’t an unambiguous answer to this. If you’re worried about the general calorie intake your cat should receive, there are formulas you could use, but the truth is that many factors that affect how much food your cat needs like climate, whether your cat is spayed/neutered and how much time she spends outside. Your best bet to give your cat exactly the amount of food it needs to stay healthy would be to consult a pet.
If, however, it’s the balance between wet and dry foods that you’re not sure about, worry not, because as long as you incorporate both into your cat’s diet, you’re good to go. The only real benefit your cat gets from canned food is the additional moisture, so the rest of the arguments are purely on the owner’s side. For example, dry food is more economic, while storing cans might be more convenient.
As for the treats and snacks, we recommend a simple rule of thumb: don’t give your cat anything you might find a tasty snack. Tea, sugar, alcohol and salt can be extremely satisfying to humans, but toxic to cats.
Instead, we suggest giving your cat what she already wants: catnip. Or cat grass (a plant which most cats love to eat). It’s low calorie, your kitty will definitely love it and you have the freedom of growing it yourself by the window or buying it online.
We hope our “Best Cat Food 2017” overview has helped you decide amongst choosing wet, dry, and/or canned cat food best for your own pet.