Cat Food: Why It Pays to Get It Right

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Hello, this is Dr. Karin. Read my bio, get to know me more, and meet his five cheerful cats: Clutch, Cyril, Alex, Zelda, and Zazzles.

One of the most common questions asked by pet owners is: what is the best food for my cat• The honest answer is that there is no such thing as the best food.? The best food for your cat may be the worst option for the cat living next door.

There are literally hundreds of different pet food brands and types because every cat is different, every household is different, and every budget is different. So how can you make the right choice for your cat?

First, you should know that while I rarely classify cat foods as “bad,” some are definitely better than others. When you purchase FDA and AAFCO compliant cat food from a reputable source, you are purchasing a product that has been tested to be safe for cats. However, just like human food, “safe to eat” does not necessarily mean “good for you.”

The most important advantage of feeding your cat commercially available food over homemade food is that it has been analyzed to ensure it contains the right balance of fats, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. That’s it. This can be achieved with homemade food, but requires more planning. So today I’d like to focus on commercial, or commercially available, cat food.

Classic dry food has its advantages…

Too many options – how do I choose?

One of the simplest pieces of advice for choosing the best food for your cat is to choose the highest quality food you can afford. This obviously means that the better the quality, the higher the price, but I don’t necessarily agree that the most expensive food is always the best food, and that it certainly is the best for a person. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good food. your Cat.

So how do you know which foods to choose? I would like to ask you a few questions to narrow down your options.

  • What life stage is your cat in? Kitten, young adult, mature adult, or senior?
  • How active is your cat?
  • Is your cat overweight or underweight?
  • Does your cat have any health conditions or potential health problems due to breed or genetics?
  • Does your cat have allergies?
  • Does your cat go outside or is he completely indoors?
  • Do you prefer wet or dry food?
  • How concerned are you about toilet odor?
  • How much is the budget?

wet and dry

Which one is best? Again, it’s up to your cat. Some argue that wet food is better for hydration and kidney health, while others recommend dry food for dental health. Neither is correct; neither is correct.

Dry food is only good for your cat’s teeth if it has large grains that are designed for your cat to chew. Otherwise, there is actually very little chewing of dry food.

Wet food usually contains about 80% water, so it’s a good way to boost your cat’s hydration, but on the flip side, cats who eat dry food tend to drink more water, whereas wet food Cats eating food rarely go to drinking fountains. If there is no problem.

Some cats prefer wet food to dry food, some cats may vomit or regurgitate dry food, and some cats may not tolerate wet food very well. Therefore, it is up to you and your cat to decide whether to feed wet or dry food, or a combination of both.

Alex, an orange cat, tries to feed by dispersing dry food
Alex enjoys distributed dry food

raw food

This is something that has grown in popularity in recent years, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Cats fed a raw diet are at increased risk of acquiring internal parasites and pathogens, but with proper preparation and storage this risk can be minimized.

Again, the best way to ensure your cat’s raw diet contains the right balance of nutrients is to source it from a reputable pet food provider. Feeding your cat only raw meat can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies, which can be dangerous.

Why does price matter?

This comes down to the quality of the protein (meat) used, how much “other” ingredients are included, and how mass-produced the product is.

As you might expect, cat food made from high-quality veal, produced in small batches to minimize additives and allow for more rigorous quality control procedures, is primarily made from meat meal and carbohydrates. It will be much more expensive than the hood it is based on. , mass produced in large batches. Again, these foods are safe, but not very good.

Another thing to be careful about is food. look attractive. When commercial cat food is manufactured, it is usually heat treated to remove potential pathogens, but this process also extracts most of the natural pigments from the food. This is why you often find premium diets and veterinary diets to be a sea of ​​browns and beiges. If your cat’s food contains bright oranges, reds, or greens, it’s because of artificial coloring, which is done to appeal to us rather than the cat.

As an example, here is a comparison of two dry cat foods.

The one on the right is a high-end brand often recommended by veterinarians (which I also feed my cats).

On the left are popular brands available at pet stores and supermarkets. Both are certified safe for cats, and there is no danger in feeding your cat the left food unless your cat can tolerate it. But it gives you an idea of ​​what you are paying for.

Food comparison table

budget dry food ingredients Premium dry food ingredients
Powdered yellow corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols, liver flavor, meat and bone meal, marine fish meal, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, salmon meal. , tuna meal, shrimp meal, dehydrated seaweed meal, taurine, minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins. [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K)]yellow 5, Dl-methionine, L-tryptophan, red 40, blue 2. Dried poultry protein, rice, corn, vegetable fiber, wheat, isolated vegetable protein*, animal fat, hydrolyzed animal protein, corn gluten, beet pulp, yeast and parts thereof, minerals, soybean oil, fructooligosaccharides, fish oil , psyllium husk and seeds (0.5%).

Vitamin A: 14000IU, Vitamin D3: 700IU, E1 (iron): 33mg, E2 (iodine): 3.3mg, E4 (copper): 10mg, E5 (manganese): 43mg, E6 (zinc): 129 mg, E8 (selenium) ): 0.07mg

This is not a guilt trip!

To be clear, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about your cat eating a low-budget diet. You are not putting your cat at risk. You are not a bad cat parent. And if your cat is happy, healthy and growing, there’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

However, I see many normally healthy cats who are always hungry and produce a lot of loose, smelly poop, but in most cases this can be addressed by changing their diet. That doesn’t mean you need to start buying the most expensive food at the store, but you might be willing to spend a little more.

everything is in the box

In other words, it’s a trash can. Just like us, when our cats eat foods that have too many additives or more ingredients than they should, we too see the consequences. If your cat farts frequently, poops more than once or twice a day, or cleans up the room when using the litter box, these are signs that your cat isn’t digesting its food properly. This could mean you have a health problem, or it could simply be a sign that you’re not eating the right foods.

My home office doubles as a cat room, and the litter box is right next to my desk. As a owner of 5 cats, litter box odor and hygiene are a top priority for me. Because of the type of food my cat eats and the type of litter I use, I can only smell cat poop for a minute or two. Therefore, if I am not in the room at the moment they leave, I do not notice the smell. And I have a pretty sensitive nose.

So I spend a little more on food and the toilet, but unless I spend the whole day sitting next to the toilet, I could probably spend a little less.

price and value

One of the main considerations when choosing the right food for your cat is price. Obviously, high-quality bait is more expensive, but in most cases the amount of bait is also significantly lower.

Using the food example we just discussed, the amount of budget food you would need to feed a 10 pound cat is about 3/4 to 1 cup per day. For cats of the same size, premium brands will require half to three-quarters of a cup per day. It still costs more, but a pound of food lasts twice as long on her.

if you watched my video distributed feeding, You may have noticed that I took a scoop of food out of the bag. That spoonful is just over 1 cup, enough for all 5 cats. Yes, for 5 cats he takes 1 cup twice a day, which equates to about half a cup per day per cat. I’m not hungry and I feel good. Except for Cyril. He really distorts the numbers!

Hey Dr. Karin – What is the best food for my cat?

Sorry, there is no right answer. But we hope this is a guide to finding the right food for your cat and your budget. Consider your cat’s age, health, and preferences. Figure out which features are important to you and take the time to research the ingredients to find the best product within your budget that your cat will enjoy.

Check with your veterinarian to make sure there are no other specific needs that should be addressed for your cat, and use tools such as: Physical condition scoring Make sure your cat is eating the right amount of food; overfeeding can lead to wastage and your cat becoming overweight.

Next time, I’ll talk about another important office/cat litter feature for me: how to choose the right cat litter.

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