All pet parents want only the best for their furry pals and it all begins with the food they consume. Healthy food is important for your feline’s proper development and growth, so you need to make sure you’re choosing the right one. Here are a few tips on the matter.
What Kind of Food Does Your Cat Need?
Before you choose any type of food for cats, it’s essential to get to know what kind of nutrition your cat needs. Just like humans, cats also need a balanced diet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should feed your cat with fruit and vegetables.
In fact, cats are carnivores, which means they need a lot of animal proteins, moderate amounts of fat and very minimal amounts of carbs to keep their muscles, skin and coat healthy. Foods such as chicken, turkey and different types of fish are great sources of protein, while fish and soybean oils are great for giving your feline the optimal amount of energy. Carbs, such as corn, wheat and rice are also energy providers, even though they shouldn’t be considered a replacement for proteins and fats.
But aside from proteins and fats, cats also need certain other vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fatty acids. For instance, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are most commonly found in eggs, flax seeds and fish oil and they’re essential to give your cat gorgeous and voluminous fur and smooth skin underneath. Calcium is one of the most important minerals to give your cat strong and healthy bones and muscles, and vitamins C and E are great to protect its immune system and keep it in shape.
Finally, don’t forget to give your cat enough water. Cats have a low thirst drive, which means they won’t feel the need to drink water until they dehydrate, and dehydration is one of the main causes of bladder problems and urinary diseases.
Choose the Right Cat Food
It’s important to choose premium food for cat to ensure your ball of fur gets just the right nutrients on a daily basis. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping.
Pick a Reputable Brand
One of the most trusted brands among cat parents is “Fancy Feast”. They produce gourmet cat food with natural ingredients. Their huge range includes products made following recipes inspired by cat owners and their cats’ favourite dishes with added vitamins and minerals.
“Hill’s Science Diet” is also one of the most trusted brands producing premium food for cats. Not only are they 100% recommended by veterinarians, but they also use only natural ingredients with high-quality proteins to support healthy skin, coat and immune system.
The list of trusted brands doesn’t stop here – “Friskies”, “Royal Canin”, “Dine” and “ALDI Silvester’s” are just some of the many other great brands offering healthy foods for cats.
Types of Cat Food
Even though there’re many types of commercial food for cat, they differ in water content, protein levels, caloric density, digestibility and palatability. You can choose between dry, semi-moist and canned food.
Dry food contains around 10% of water and other different ingredients that are combined, extruded and dried into bite-sized pieces. Such ingredients can be meat, poultry, grain, fish, fibre sources, milk products and vitamin and mineral supplements. These pieces are often coated with flavour enhancers such as animal fats, to make the food tastier for your feline.
But even though dry food for cats is one of the cheapest and the most convenient options on the market, have in mind that it may be less palatable and digestible for your cat. Also, dry food is not recommended for cats suffering from flea, so make sure you don’t rely on dry food only.
Semi-moist food contains around 35% of water, and the rest is most commonly meat and meat byproducts. Aside from these ingredients, semi-moist cat food can contain soybean meal, cereals and grain byproducts.
But even though this type of food is a bit more expensive than the dry one, know that it’s more palatable and healthier for your kitten. Also, once you open it, have in mind that the food will dry out and become rancid, so make sure you store it properly or don’t buy huge packages that you’re going to throw away.
Canned food is the best option for your kitten, since it contains 75% moisture, making it a great dietary source of water. The other 25% are usually meat such as kidney or liver and whole meat byproducts, which makes this type of food the most expensive, but at the same time the healthiest option for your feline.
Choose the Food According to Your Cat’s Age
Different cats have different nutrients requirements in different life stages, so it’s always best to choose the cat food according to their age.
Food for Kittens
At this stage, your kitten is in its development phase, which means it’s still growing its bones and joints and this is why you should feed it only with high-quality and balanced commercial food. But make sure you avoid dry food, since moist ones are excellent for promoting your kitten’s urinary tract. Also, don’t feed your kitten with raw meat until its 20th week, since its immune system is not strong enough to fight the possible pathogens. Cooked bones are also a bad idea since they can splinter and cause damage to the intestinal tract.
Food for Adult Cats
Same as when it was a little kitten, your adult cat’s diet should be based on high-quality commercial food too, but make sure you check the label and see if the food contains enough nutrients to meet adult cats’ needs. Foods such as fresh or cooked meat or fish are also recommended since they’re a great source of proteins. Just make sure they’re human-grade, since some cat meat products may contain preservatives that can be harmful to your feline’s health.
Food for Senior Cats
Some senior cats may experience health issues, and that’s why you should carefully pick what you feed them. If this is the case with your cat, make sure you check with your vet about the most appropriate diet. However, senior cats are best fed with moist food, so make sure you include both, canned moist food and cooked or fresh meat into their diet.
Ingredients to Avoid
Even though some foods are healthy and beneficial for humans, they can be harmful and poisonous for your cat.
For instance, chocolate contains antioxidants that boost your brain’s activity, but at the same time, it contains methylxanthines that cause vomiting, diarrhea, high body temperature and muscle tremor in cats. Methylxanthines are also found in caffeinated beverages and products, so make sure you avoid them too.
Also, dairy products such as milk and cheese can harm your lovely feline too, since they contain high levels of lactose which can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Even though this doesn’t occur in every cat, it’s not recommended to feed it with any dairy product except for their mother’s milk in the first couple of weeks.
Grapes and raisins are also a bad idea since they can make your cat ill and cause vomiting within 12 hours of ingestion. But these aren’t the worst symptoms, since only a small amount of such foods can also cause liver failure, lethargy, abdominal pain, reduced appetite and decreased urination.
Finally, never feed your cat with food intended for dogs. Even though it’s not toxic and harmful, know that food for dogs doesn’t contain the required nutrients for your cat. Dogs need much lower levels of proteins and vitamins than cats and are able to produce taurine and arachidonic acid, unlike cats that need to consume these nutrients through their food. Without a sufficient amount of them, your cat can develop heart diseases, dental and vision issues.