How to Choose The Best Cat Food (Nutrition Facts)

Despite the fact that cats are by nature, independent animals, like any living creature, they need constant care, love, and attention. In order for a pet to live a long, happy life, it is very important to create all the necessary conditions for care. It is especially important to think over, choose the right diet for your furry pet. In this article, you will find out how to properly feed your cat and how to choose the best cat food.

What Should Be Your Cat’s Diet?

Unlike cats that walk freely on the streets, animals that have never crossed the threshold of their own home, almost don’t consume energy. Of course, there are moving, hyperactive cats among pets. But even in this case, the domestic cat sleeps most of the day, lies on the bed, and rests in its cozy house. For you to choose the best food for your cat, you are going to have to learn how to read the labels an ingredients of pet food.

A decrease in physical activity leads to the fact that the energy that enters the body with food has nowhere to go. As a result, the animal begins to fatten up. For this reason, the nutrition of domestic cats should differ significantly from the diet of active, freedom-loving relatives. Dry food might not be the option for a lazy cat because it can contain a lot of carbohydrates. We recommend choosing cat food options according to the type of cat that you own and their activity level.

Nutrition Basics

The nutrition of domestic cats should vary. It should include a balanced in the content of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nutrients. Essential acids, vitamins, macro- and micro-elements necessary for normal growth, development, and physiological state must be present in the cat diet. The imbalance of the diet, the feeding of pets with low-quality dry food and products leads to metabolic disturbances, hormonal changes, obesity, and malfunctioning of organs, and the immune system of the body.

To prevent possible health problems, you must use high-quality, varied feed.

Nutrition for a domestic cat is selected individually. The energy value of the diet, the need for certain useful components depends on:

  1. From the general physiological state of the animal (pregnancy, lactation)
  2. The level of fatness, body weight, condition
  3. Health conditions, presence/absence of chronic diseases
  4. Age, breed features
  5. Conditions of detention
  6. Seasons, ambient temperature
  7. Level of activity

Nutritional Needs of Domestic Cats

Domestic cat’s diet should contain crude protein and essential amino acids: tryptophan, threonine, methionine, histidine, lysine, isoleucine. Protein deficiency leads to the fact that the liver, with the help of enzymes, will begin to break down the protein of its own cellular structures. Insufficiency of methionine, taurine, cystine in tissue cells can lead to the development of degenerative processes in organs and systems, serious diseases (cardiomyopathy, central retinal degeneration, impaired reproductive function).

The nutritional value, the calorie content of food for cats, is affected by animal and vegetable fats, which are the main source of energy. For cats, vegetable oil is less palatable than animal fats. The norm of fat content in the diet of adult animals is 15% for small kittens – 20%.

A pet should receive carbohydrates and fiber, along with food. In order to prevent obesity and problems with metabolism, for 1 kg of body weight, an adult cat needs 2.7 g of easily digestible carbohydrates, 0.31 g of fiber. The need for carbohydrates increases by 25-50% during pregnancy and lactation.

These nutrients should also be present in a cat’s diet: beta-carotene, vitamins of group B, E, H, PP, C. Of the minerals: calcium, magnesium, manganese, fluorine, iron, cobalt, zinc, sodium, molybdenum.

Some of these can be found on the cat food ingredients section or pet food label. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) contributes to regulations of product labeling, including animal food labels.

Features Of The Digestive System Of Cats

By their physiology, instincts laid by nature, cats are predatory animals. Therefore, a pet should receive a sufficient amount of complete protein and fatty acids with food.

Cats are known to be extra picky. The taste and smell of food are of great importance. The attractiveness of cat food is affected by its consistency, moisture, particle size, and hardness. Cats don’t like cold food, and they will not eat spoiled foods. Even with uniform consistency, the animals will choose the smallest particles that they didn’t like. Therefore, each cat owner must choose the optimal diet for your pet.

Domestic cats can be kept on natural food or fed with specially designed, prepared, dry, or canned industrial foods that are completely balanced and have all the necessary components. A mixed diet is contraindicated for domestic cats. Combined feeding can lead to disturbances in the digestive, endocrine, and urinary tracts system.

Regardless of the type of diet, the bowl should always be filled with fresh filtered water. You must change the water daily. This should be done two times a day. Also, it is crucial to choose a reliable cat food brand that focuses on food manufacturing without lots of moisture content.

Pro tip: The checklist with all the required nutrients and forbidden ingredients will help you to properly score the products and find out which foods are the best on the market.

Things To avoid

Feline eating at the park

Since the domestic cat devotes a lot of time to licking its hair, lumps of hair can get into the digestive tract, some of which come out naturally, but some of them animals spit out. A similar problem is especially relevant for fluffy, long-haired breeds.

Mixed with food, dead hairs form large lumps, which can lead to blockage of the digestive tract. Therefore, probiotics, fiber, and ingredients that accelerate the process of removing wool balls should be present in food.

Most dry cat food contains lots of carbohydrates; that is why it is crucial to read the ingredient labels and look for all the protein sources. Some kittens food even contain preservatives like propyl gallate and ethoxyquin. Also, try to avoid foods that contain artificial colors.

Allowed And Prohibited Products For Cats

  • Chocolate. May cause heart rhythm disturbances, excessive thirst, and increased urination.
  • Onion and garlic. They have a substance that destroys red blood cells, which can lead to hemolytic anemia.
  • Milk. May disrupt the gastrointestinal tract and cause diarrhea.
  • Alcohol. Makes the animal excitable, causes tachycardia, impaired coordination of movements, and difficulty breathing.
  • Yeast dough. It causes increased gas formation.
  • Fruit bones. Hydrocyanic acid is secreted and can cause poisoning.
  • Grapes and raisins. They have toxins that can lead to kidney failure.
  • Avocado. May cause breathing problems, disrupt the stomach, and intestines.
  • Macadamia nuts. They provoke vomiting, fever, and impaired movement.
  • Sweetener xylitol. This increases insulin secretion, which can lead to vomiting, convulsions, impaired coordination, and even loss of consciousness.

The following products can be included in the diet of the animal. But, of course, they can’t be given randomly.

  1. Meat and offal: chicken, turkey, rabbit, beef. It is better to freeze or boil the meat in order to destroy the harmful microorganisms that may be in it.
  2. Low-fat boiled fish without bones, it is better to choose marine.
  3. Egg yolks. Better boiled.
  4. Cheese, cottage cheese, and dairy products of medium fat content.
  5. Cereals.
  6. Raw or cooked vegetables in the form of mashed potatoes: carrots, cauliflower, green beans.
  7. Greens: salad, spinach.
  8. Vegetable oil.

Tips For Choosing Cats Food Variety

Careful monitoring of cats allows us to conclude that these animals are very conservative with regard to nutrition. Most of them are mistrustful of any innovations on the menu. Sometimes owners who, for medical reasons, need to transfer the cat to another brand of food or a medical diet, face serious resistance while dogs perceive such changes relatively calmly.

Of course, some food with a strong meat aroma can attract cats like a magnet, and then they do everything to beg the host for a “treat.” However, believing that they are fed up with food is still wrong. Most cats do not need a lot of carbohydrates, check all canned cat foods, and look for quality ingredients labeled products.

Checking the ingredients for meat byproducts is something that we stress to our readers. You want to look for chicken or beef as the source of protein written on the label. As carnivores, nutrients like arachidonic acid and taurine should be part of the cats natural diet.

The cats nutritional diet should include beef, chicken, and other meats. Avoid carbohydrates, especially if your cat has health issues and needs to lose weight.

Most experts recommend a low carbohydrate and high protein complete and balanced diet for felines. This diet can keep a cat healthy thorough out all the life stages. Look for cat food manufacturers that you can trust, and that use natural preservatives. All these small tips could help you improve your pets diet and help the feline to maintain a healthy weight. If you notice any food allergies, make sure you take your pet to the cat care center.

Five Simple Rules For Cat Health

  1. Follow the regime and feed the animal at the same time. For example, at the age of three months, a kitten should eat 5-6 times a day, from 3 to 6 months – 4-5 times; from 6 months to 3 times a day; after 8 to 2 times.
  2. Don’t mix natural food with feed. The pancreas produces various enzymes, and the body doesn’t have time to rebuild in order to digest food.
  3. Don’t mix food from different manufacturers to please the cat with a variety of nutrition. Animals aren’t human and don’t need to eat a varied diet.
  4. If you buy raw food by weight (premium and super-premium foods are also sold by weight), ask the seller how long the package with this food has stood open. It is better not to buy such food, as it loses many properties, including taste.
  5. If you’re feeding your feline with natural food, you should pay attention that it should not contain any salt. Adult cats should never be given milk, pork, liver, bones, garlic and onions, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bread and fruits, and the others mentioned above. Most of these foods are toxic to animals.

And Remember: stable weight, beautiful shiny coat, good appetite are signs of your pet’s health. With a properly balanced diet, a cat can live up to 20 years.

Tip: We have a detailed post explaining what human food is safe for cats to eat.

Article Summary

Cats are close relatives of lions. King of all animals is an obligate carnivore. Cat’s prey is much more modest, but still, your fluffy is a small predator. In the wild, cats feed on small mammals, attack birds, lizards and frogs, feast on fish.

Eating prey as a whole, cats receive all the necessary nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. As pet parents, you need to provide good quality foods according to the cats preferences. Choose healthy cat food that provides enough animal protein and try to avoid any food sensitivities.

The diet of domestic cats shouldn’t be different from the diet of cats living in the wild. Therefore, food from your table, such as fried fish, potatoes, or sausages, isn’t suitable for a domestic predator. All those table foods will reduce feline health and lifespan.

Now you have all the information in order to form an animal diet that doesn’t cause health problems. Follow our blog if you want to know more about dog food options, potty training on the litter box, and other ways that owners used to feed cats. Good luck!

Last Updated on 26/05/2020 by Karen Snow

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