Cat Food: Many Choices

As I began researching articles about cat food, I found many with authoritative documentation and some with personal opinions. I personally wanted to know what would be the best to feed our mature cat. He has been on dry food since birth with expensive treats and occasionally a few pieces of meat – table scraps – of cooked chicken, beef, tuna, salmon or pork. This may not have been the most correct choice.

Our cat Simba, is strictly an indoor cat. He has always had good health and has a beautiful, glossy, smooth, orange tabby coat. He has starting vomiting a little bit, which appears to be unprocessed dry food or treats, and occasionally hair balls. I will leave the hairballs for another article. In this article I will look at cat food options. I decided to find out what kind of cat food we should get for him or if a dietary change is needed.

In my opinion, it often the ‘cost’ that drives the consumer’s decision on what cat food to purchase, even though our cats are very precious to us. I am sure we want the best food we can afford to give our pet, and what is best for him. In evaluating the issue, I believe that ‘costs’ can be evaluated in two ways.

First, we can get the best from the grocery store. Much of our decision is probably based on the advertising we hear or see through the media, and occasionally from a friend. It is often that we are at the store, cat food is on our list, our selection is on sale, it says it’s ‘natural’ or some other persuasive word on the label, and we place it in our cart with little thought to read the ingredient list. At home, our cat likes it when we feed him the selected food, so we think we have made a good choice.

Second, we can do a lot of research, decide to go to a pet store or make a purchase online for a good quality, high protein cat food, and know from what we have read that it is a good choice, and ‘cost’ didn’t really become the deciding factor. Our cat’s health became the more important issue.

Some cat owners are probably a little on both sides when selecting the cat food; I know I am. Cost is important, but the quality of health our cat enjoys is also very important. We enjoy spoiling our cats, and our cats love to be pampered, so sometimes we supplement our cat’s food with cat treats. Spoiling our cats with treats may not be a good decision either. He may want more because he is not nutritionally satisfied with the cat food we give him. How do we make the right decision?

As with ourselves, we feel better when we eat better, and so will our cats. Let me briefly share with you some information I found it articles that I researched.

1. Whole meats such as chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, etc. vs. cat food with ‘meal’, ‘by-products’, ‘animal digest’, and added sugars. Analysis: Whole meat is best, as you may know. If you really want to know what goes into some inexpensive pet food, and your stomach can stand the information, take the time to read about it on the web. Many of the products put into pet foods should not be ingested by any living thing, and these are products are put into pet food by many large pet food companies.

2. Grain based vs. grain free cat food: Analysis: Cats do not need grains. Most grains are used a fillers in canned cat food and as binding agents in dry cat food. Some manufactures believe that grains will add protein content, which it does, but cats need meat protein, not grain proteins. Some cats may also develop allergies to wheat or corn when added to their food.

3. Cat food with vegetables and fruits: Analysis: Often you can observe that vegetables, such as peas or corn, go right through a cat’s digestive tract without being processed in the intestines. Cats process meat proteins, but not vegetables or fruits.

4. Dry cat food vs. Canned/moist cat food: Analysis: Dry cat food is not natural. It has carbohydrates for fillers, such as grains, to hold it together. The label may indicate that it has high protein content but most of the protein is grain or milk protein, not meat protein. Don’t, however, feel that canned cat food is the only answer because it may also contain fillers including grains, meal, by-products, milk, etc. Several articles suggested that a combination of dry and canned may be the best for your cat.

5. Raw meat vs. high-protein canned cat food: Analysis: I never felt this issue was totally resolved. It has much to do with the individual cat and his owner. Canned food is more convenient and has a longer shelf life, and should be kept refrigerated after it is open. Raw food takes more preparation and has a shorter refrigerated shelf life. You can read discussions on this subject on several cat forums.

6. Grocery store cat food vs. pet store or online high quality cat food: Analysis: I believe that we could all come to the conclusion that a high protein from meat is the better choice, and that product would probably best be purchased at a pet store (which also carry the grocery store brands), or online.

In conclusion, here are a few final thoughts.

* Even thought the cost is higher with a better quality cat food, your cat will eat less because it is a better protein and he is nutritionally satisfied. He won’t eat as much, and he will be less likely to develop liver or other diseases. You, therefore, will have less expensive vet bills, and a happier, healthier cat.

* Read the labels, do research (other than asking friends and listening to or reading ads), and become an educated consumer. Purchase the cat food you feel is best for your cat.

* Consider the age of your cat. A kitten shouldn’t eat the same cat food as your mature cat. The brands will indicate on the label which food is best for your age of cat.

* Introduce any dietary changes slowly, probably over the course of a week or so.

* Research the web, read books, or talk with your vet so you can decide which cat food is best.

All cat foods are not the same. Your cat’s taste buds may like some brands or meats better than others. Purchasing the cat food you feel is best will give you peace of mind by giving him the best cat food you can afford, and he will feel better and more satisfied as he adjusts to his new diet.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian

Having had cats and dogs most of her life, Lori Kniff is concerned about the health and safety of our best friends, our dogs and cats.