When I first started this website, I wrote an in-depth blog: A Quick Guide to Cat Nutrtition and Tips for Choosing Cat Food Products. Here, I present five easy to remember tips for choosing the right cat food for your feline friend.
Tip One: Look for a cat food that is high in protein.
Cats are obligate carnivores, so the first product listed in the ingredients should clearly be an animal protein.
Rule of thumb: Crude Protein analysis should be 10% or above in wet food. Wet food and dry food are not directly comparable (see original guide), so look for at least 30% or above in dry food products, more if that is the foundation of their diet
Tip Two: Ensure the first animal protein is from a high-quality protein source.
Meat meal and byproducts are what is left on the floor after an animal is butchered. You wouldn’t eat hotdogs every day, why would you feed hotdog ingredients to your cat? Liver is okay for the second or third ingredient as is protein isolate or eggs.
Rule of Thumb: Look for whole proteins like: Chicken, Turkey, Rabbit.
Tip Three: Avoid/minimize filler ingredients and unnecessary additives.
Most dry foods and some wet foods have fillers like corn, rice, potato, wheat gluten, and even ash. Peas or sweet potato are a better alternative, but unless the cat food is very high in protein, steer away from products where those ingredients make up one or two of the top three ingredients.
Food dye is an unnecessary additive, as cats are more interested in the smell of their food. It’s not a deal-breaker, but if the cat food product also has lots of unpronounceable ingredients, walk away.
Rule of Thumb: If a strange ingredient makes up more than 2% of the Guaranteed Analysis, either research what it is or put that cat food back on the shelf.
Tip Four: Choose wet or raw food over dry food.
There are many reasons to limit the amount of dry food your cat eats. First, cats have a low thirst drive, so feeding them a dry diet sets them up for not getting enough daily fluids. This can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney problems. Second, dry foods tend to be lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates. Third, the storage of dry food can lead to bacterial contamination. Think of dry food as the “fast food” of your pet’s diet. It is probably okay in small amounts, but shouldn’t be relied on as the sole or major component of your cat’s diet.
Tip Five: Don’t be distracted by buzzwords like “natural,” “grain free,” or even “veterinary diet.”
Pay no attention to what it says on the front of the package or whether you purchase it at a veterinarian’s office or fancy boutique. Cat food is not regulated like human food and those buzzwords have no real meaning. Instead, head to the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis on the back or side of the bag or can. I think you’ll be surprised at how many very costly cat food products are made from utter crap! Here’s what a high quality canned cat food might look like (Tiki Cats):
FINAL STEP BEFORE BUYING
The final step before purchase should be to do an internet search looking at how many times the product has been recalled. There are several cat food products out there that would nail all of the above tips, but further research showed their products had been recalled on multiple occasions for product violations that ended in the death of people’s pets.
You should also search reviews and cat food comparison websites just to double-check your analysis. I have used the following websites when doing my own cat food searches. They are independent reporters and not paid by the cat industry to review their products:
For tips on transitioning your cat to a new food, go to the end of my first blog on cat food diet and nutrition: HERE.