How can we choose the best cat food? What Nutrients Should The Best Cat Food Have? We detail below the steps to follow in order to choose the best cat food.
Search for the best cat food
As cat owners, we all want to keep our pets as healthy as possible for as long as possible . Most of us find that feeding our cat a high-quality diet is one of the best ways to go.
However, finding the best food for your cat can be confusing. The options seem endless and there is no shortage of controversy and disagreement when it comes to debating how best to feed cats.
Learning what to look for can help you choose the best food for your cat.
What’s in the best cat food?
Food control associations have established some guidelines for regulating what should be included on a cat food label.
Start by looking at the name of the cat food. It is required by rule that, if the food is advertised as containing a single ingredient, it must contain at least 95% of that ingredient, not including added water. Similarly, if a combination of ingredients is advertised, that combination must comprise at least 95% of the food.
For example, if the food claims to be made solely from beef, the beef should make up 95% of the meal. If the claim is for turkey and beef, then the meal must be 95% turkey and beef combined.
Foods with descriptive phrases (such as dinner, main course, etc.) in their names must contain at least 25% of the named ingredient. Products with a name that says “with” a specific ingredient (such as “with cheese”) need only contain 3% of the named ingredient. Products advertising specific “flavors” (such as “chicken flavor” or “meat flavor”) must contain only a detectable amount of that ingredient.
Check the animal protein in cat food
Then check the ingredient list . Please note that the ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain high amounts of moisture (such as beef, chicken, turkey, or fish) are likely to be at the top of the list due to moisture content.
Ingredients further down the list may offer even more key nutrients, like protein, but may weigh less because the water has already been removed for a dry pet food.
All cat food should have some source of animal protein and fat . Cats are carnivores and require nutrients like arachidonic acid to be supplied in their diet.
These nutrients are only present in animal sources. They are not found in sources of plant origin. The animal source can be in the form of beef, chicken, turkey, fish, or other meats. Or it can be in the form of by-products.
Consider cereals in cat food
Some of the controversies surrounding pet food include the use of grains and gluten. Cereals are used in many pet foods and provide an excellent source of carbohydrates . Cats can easily metabolize these carbohydrates and use them for energy. However, some people prefer to avoid grains in their cat’s food .
In fact, some cat experts believe that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is healthier for cats, although this is a controversial topic and not everyone agrees.
It is important for cat owners to remember that grain-free diets are not necessarily low-carbohydrate diets . In many cases, cereals have simply been replaced by another carbohydrate source such as potatoes.
If you are looking to feed your cat a low carb meal, you will want to make sure this is not the case.
Choosing canned cat food or dry food
Wet versus dry food is another controversial topic when it comes to feeding cats. Some cat experts believe that canned food is healthier than dry food . Others argue that cats do well both types of food and that the cat owner should be able to choose what is most convenient.
Canned foods offer the advantage of having a higher moisture content , which can be important for cats who are not attracted to drinking water easily.
However, water fountains , dripping faucets, and other devices that encourage cats to drink can often outweigh this advantage of wet cat food.
Take your cat’s age into account when choosing the best cat food
You’ll also want to check the pet food label to choose nutritional adequacy. This statement will show something like: “This food is complete and balanced for all life stages”, “This food is complete and balanced for the maintenance of an adult cat” or “This food is complete and balanced for growth and the development”.
Choosing a food that is balanced to suit the stage of your cat’s life is important. Kittens have different nutrient needs than adult cats. So choose your cat’s food accordingly.
Analyze the nutrients in cat food
A guaranteed analysis is included on the packaging of most pet foods and will generally list the minimum amount of protein and fat by percentage and the maximum amount of fiber and moisture, also by percentage.
By comparing the nutrients of two different pet foods, a more accurate analysis is possible when it becomes dry matter. Otherwise, the moisture content can significantly skew the comparison. Comparing the guaranteed analysis of a dry food to a canned food regardless of moisture content is like comparing apples to oranges.
It is important to remember that, while the guaranteed analysis provides a measure of the various categories of nutrients, it does not provide any information related to the quality of ingredients in foods, their digestibility, or the overall quality of the foods.
Follow some feeding guidelines with the help of your veterinarian
All pet food is required to contain feeding guidelines . However, different cats will require different amounts of food.
Ask your veterinarian to perform a body condition test on your cat every time you examine him. Determining your cat’s body condition is the best way to determine if your cat is overweight, underweight, or her ideal weight.
Under normal conditions you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs. If you can’t, your cat is probably overweight.
Feeding your cat to keep it lean and at an ideal body weight will keep it healthy longer . Adjust your cat’s feeding protocol accordingly. For some cats, the guidelines provided on the food label may be accurate. For others, they may need to be adjusted.
If you find yourself straying too far from label guidelines, check with your vet. The food you have chosen may not be appropriate for your cat’s individual situation. Some cats may require special foods to help them lose weight.
Research the cat food brand
Procurement and quality control in manufacturing are other important considerations when choosing a pet food. Unfortunately, cat food labels are not required to provide this information.
You may be able to find the information on the company’s website. Alternatively, a call to the company’s consumer relations department should provide you with the answers you need. Any reputable company with a quality product will be happy to interact with their consumers.
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