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 healthcare for the cat. Health care for a cat encompasses a wide array of 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.
But 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 the best types of protein, fats, carbs, and 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!
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.
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.
Interestingly enough, many of the premium brands of cat food, such as Eukanuba and Innova offer exactly what most cats need, and aren’t necessarily more expensive in the long run. This is because high end cat foods need a smaller serving amount than the low end cat foods to give a cat all the nutrients they need to be satisfied and healthy.
When comparing a premium brand such as Eukanuba, to a lower cost brand such as Purina, the cost difference for the recommended serving size is only a nickel a day. 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.
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 between “chicken flavored”, and “chicken dinner” is.
Food that contains “chicken meal” can only be made from the skin, flesh, and bones only. 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 flavored” only has to taste like chicken, but may not contain any animal meat
at all. Also, chicken is generally better than beef for cats.
And it goes without saying, preservatives, as well as artificial colors, should be avoided whenever possible. Although specific research is lacking on this subject, we do know that preservatives and artificial colors can have a negative impact on human health. It is only logical that cats will also be negatively affected by artificial colors and preservatives in their cat food.