Since the pet food recalls several years ago, cat owners are more interested in high quality cat food. High quality ingredients especially proteins and few preservatives and artificial ingredients are most desirable.
A cat is a carnivore and meat should be its primary source of protein. If the food label says beef, 95% of its ingredients should be beef. If labeled chicken or lamb, only 25% is recommended. If labeled chicken or beef flavored, it may not contain any meat. Food containing meat byproducts, grains and glutens are a less healthy diet.
A cat needs more protein than carbohydrates in its diet. Besides meat, protein is added to the food using meat byproducts, animal digest, meat meal and bone meal. With chicken, necks, feet and intestines are used. Although these provide some protein, they are not as healthy as meat. Carbohydrate fillers require a cat to eat more food to get the necessary protein. This can lead to obesity and health problems.
Artificial preservatives may have a long term effect on a cat’s health. The more common chemicals use are BHA/BHT, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate. Vitamin C or E is a much better alternative as a preservative.
Dry cat food stores easier, is more cost effective and makes litter box cleaning easier. Canned food is more like raw food, usually has less filler and carbohydrates and contains water which aids in hydration. Experts recommend that wet food be the primary diet.
Another alternative is a raw food diet reflecting what a cat eats in the wild. This can be messy, expensive and time consuming to prepare. It is believed that the food has better nutrients leading to better health and more energy. The right amount of food and supplements is required to insure the cat is getting a balance diet.
Some owners use a vegetarian diet for their cats. This can be effective if the diet contains enough protein. There is some concern that a cat’s lifespan must be impacted by this diet.
There are many types of dry and wet food on the market. From the commercial grade to the premium or natural, the impact on a cat’s health will vary. The premium or natural foods cost more but a cat usually eats less making it as cost effective as the commercial grades. The label describes what is in the food and a veterinarian can recommend the best diet.