Pet owners should research what to look for in cat food before buying it. While there are many brands of cat food available, not all of them may be right for your feline friend.
What to look for in cat food? Is the food grain-free? How about preservatives and additives? Is it formulated with a high-quality protein source? Either by-products used in it or not? What is the moisture level of food?
These questions and more should be answered when choosing a new brand of pet food.
I prefer to give weightage to nutrient, carbohydrates, and calories ratios to make sure the food I am buying can fulfill the needs of my furry friend.
We recently updated the list of moist cat foods that might also like because these are easy to chew and formulated for best results, especially for sick cats.
The Unique Needs of Cats
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies are made to digest food with meat as their primary source of protein. Therefore, the protein (used for growth and maintenance) should be sufficient in the food.
Cats get certain vital nutrients from meat like taurine, arginine, fatty acids, Vitamin A and B. Cats cannot synthesize these essential nutrients independently; they must obtain them from food. Similarly, arginine is also present in dairy products, but cats are lactose intolerant (they lack the enzymes to break down lactose), so I do not give my cat any dairy products.
Without a steady supply of these nutrients, cats can suffer from serious health ailments like blindness, heart problems, liver damage, and poor immune system.
Learn to Read the Label
Then what should one look for when buying cat food? The first thing to do is to check the label on the back of the pet food. These days, many brands are sold online and offline that offer natural products without any fillers or additives.
But it’s important to know what to look for in good cat food because many cheaper brands are loaded with fillers, which are ingredients added to the food only to increase its weight.
Your cat doesn’t eat filler but instead eats nutrients, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. While it’s not always easy to tell what’s in pet food just by reading the label, you can learn what to watch out for on labels that clue you into what is inside. Like:
- Product name
- Net weight
- Statement of purpose or intent
- Ingredient list
- Guaranteed analysis
- Feeding directions
- Nutritional adequacy statement
- Statement of responsibility
Manufacturers also must comply with the AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) by labeling raw pet food according to their nutrient profiles.
If you want your kitty to be healthy and live a long, happy life, it’s essential to know what makes a cat food good and what specific nutrients each ingredient in your cat’s food provides.
Major Nutrient Groups of Cat Diet
There are six major nutrient groups to maintain optimal health of cats which are:
Each of these nutrients provides different roles and functionality to the body. However, all of them play an essential part in a cat’s diet.
The Group of Proteins:
They perform several tasks like building muscle, hair, and skin proteins and wound healing process. It can be animal or plant source protein. Plant sources include peas, soybeans, fish meal, etc. So it is very important to know what protein level is in the food you are buying for your cat.
Good cat food should always contain animal sources of protein like chicken or fish. This will make sure that cats get all the benefits of meat along with their diet plan without any harmful additives. It can also be supplemented by rice or corn.
The Group of Fats:
Fats are essential in the diet chart of cats to prevent damage done by oxidation and provide energy for intense exercise and organ function. Fatty acids also contribute to brain development and eye health. There is a myth that only dogs need fats in their diets, but this notion is baseless.
The Group of Minerals:
Minerals are essential nutrients for cats to maintain good health and support their aesthetic value. These include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chlorine. They are organic components that play a vital role in cell formation and metabolism. The presence of these components in food can also help in preventing urinary tract diseases.
The Group of Vitamins:
Vitamin A and Vitamin B are the essential vitamins cats require for their entire metabolic system to work correctly and maintain their health conditions. They also play a crucial role in strengthening bones and teeth, immune functions, and heart development. Vitamin C is also necessary for cats to develop healthy skin and coat. It has an antioxidant property that helps fight free radicals.
The Group of Carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates are essential for cats for energy production and provide the necessary amounts of fiber, which helps maintain good digestion, urinary tract health, and colon health. A cat’s diet should consist of complex carbohydrates like barley, oatmeal, and brown rice, digested slowly by the body.
The Group of Water:
Water is an essential nutrient for cats that cannot be synthesized in their bodies, so they must always access freshwater. In addition, a dry diet may not provide enough moisture to keep your cat hydrated, so you should always have a bowl of freshwater for them.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means their diets should consist of animal-based protein and fats; they can’t digest plant proteins or carbs very well.
As a fur baby parent, you need to take a step further and learn how far can a cat smell food and what to look for in cat food? So you can buy quality cat food and possibly avoid foods with the chicken meal which are low cost but doesn’t have all the necessary nutrients.
Cheaper Brands are False Economy
To save money, many first-time cat owners choose the cheapest foods they can find for their cats.
Unfortunately, carbohydrates are very unhealthy for cats. If you are on a budget, you should avoid the cheapest brands of cat food, which are loaded with grains and fillers instead of meats. Cheap brands can also contain harmful preservatives like BHA and BHT, sodium nitrite, and artificial colors and flavors.
As these chemicals can be dangerous in high doses, you should avoid the cheaper brands to ensure you are feeding your healthy cat food.