This information is so cat owners can learn how to find the best cat food for their cat. For the purposes of this article we are referring to dry cat food.
Many kitty owners will ask on forums or question and answer sites “What is the best food for my cat?”. This is a difficult question to answer for the following reasons, which also impact readers to this article:
- Impossible to guess where people live, brands can be different all over the world.
- Pet food brands often change their formula, a brand that is good one year could be bad the next.
- Other variables which must be considered.
Because of the above factors, it is best for a cat owner to become educated about ingredients so they may select a good pet food for their cat at anytime, in any place, rather than having to rely on asking another person for advice on the best cat food. A pet owner may also want to be aware that their veterinarian may not be an authority on cat food either.
Consider that when your cat eats a better quality food it gets more nutrition with less food, and should have fewer health problems later in life.
The only way you are going to know if a cat food is really good for your cat is by looking at the ingredient list. All cat foods market themselves as being complete nutrition, but many use cheap filler or ingredients that have been linked to causing health problems. Some countries (including the United States) have relatively low standards in regards to the minimum level of nutrition a pet food must contain.
Ignore the percentages and pay attention to ingredients. A food can say it contains a certain percentage of protein, but if the protein comes from a harder to digest source, or if you have to feed more food to equal the cat's requirement for protein, the percentage is of no help to determine quality.
Cats are true carnivores, if meat is not the first ingredient the food is not good quality, in fact even if meat is the first ingredient if the second and third ones are filler such as corn, the food might have more filler than meat. Cats should never be fed vegetarian cat food.
Below are listed some bad ingredients, those of low quality, or that are cheap filler, some have been linked to health problems in cats:
- BHT, BHA, cheap preservatives linked to causing health problems.
- Ethoxyquin, a chemical pesticide often not mentioned on the ingredient list because it is hidden in the by-products. Ethoxyquin has been linked to causing health problems and is banned in many parts of the world.
- By-Products, in addition to containing Ethoxyquin, by-products are cheap filler, they can be beaks, feet, some feathers, even cancerous tumors and collars.
- Meatmeal, not so much “bad” but it can be an allergy concern since meatmeal can be any slaughtered animal it is not a consistent meat source from bag to bag.
- Corn Gluten Meal, cheap filler, a waste product.
- Brewers Rice, a cheap filler, a waste product of the brewing industry.
- Artifical Food Colorings, this usually indicates poor quality food, the food colorings are to please the consumer and offer no value to the food, additionally some cats have behavior issues as the result of a reaction to consuming these food coloring dyes (which are often made from tar).
If you can find a food that does not contain the above ingredients (many foods do not contain these ingredients, but far more do contain at least some of them) you are on track to finding a good cat food, to make it the “best” cat food look for indications on the label that the food contains “human grade ingredients”.
Cats are often prone to urinary tract problems you want to pay close attention to the amount of magnesium a cat food contains, picking one with lowest number, assuming it is otherwise a good food. Fish can sometimes also contribute to urinary tract problems due to the high calcium content.
It may be harder to find good cat foods but they are out there, some supermarkets are starting to make their own brand name quality pet foods (again read the ingredient list for yourself) but generally speaking you have to go to a pet supply store to find better pet foods.
© A good first ingredient in cat fod is Chicken meal, just do not tell my cat or my chickens!
If you do decide to switch to a different cat food you should do so slowly over a period of 1 to 2 weeks, noting by the feeding guidelines on the side of the bad that with better food you typically feed less. Some cats are so use to eating unhealthy (junk) cat food that they may be unwilling to eat healthy cat food.
In addition to feeding less food you should have fewer health problems with your cat, and less waste in the litter box.