The Ideal Cat Food and How to Find It
If you’re looking for ‘the best cat diet’ or ‘the perfect cat food’ for your feline friend, you’ll find that it is as elusive as ‘the best food for humans.’ Many pet food manufacturers and advocates of certain diets may claim that theirs is the best diet for the cat, but the truth of the matter is that, there’s no such thing as a “best food for cats.’
However, there are plenty of cat foods out there, and many of them are excellent for cats. But the most important thing for the cat owners is to understand the nutritional needs of their pets. Once you know what type of foods should be included in the cats’ diet to meet their specific needs, you can check the cat food labels for the same. That’s how you determine which ones are high quality cat foods. The right knowledge can help you see beyond the claims made on the packs and in advertisements of cat foods, and judge for yourself.
The Nutritional Requirements of Cats
When you think cats, most probably, a cuddly fur ball comes to mind. But look closer; you’ll see large eyes looking forward and an agile body ready to pounce. The paws are padded, with the sharp claws hiding inside their sheaths. The teeth are sharp, pointy needles made especially to bite into meat and tear it apart. What more do you need in a hunter?
Cats are structurally adapted to hunt and catch prey and eat their meat. They naturally need nutrients that can come only from animal sources. They include lipids and amino acids that are animal derived. What cats need is protein-rich food because their body is capable of converting this major nutrient into energy in a very efficient manner. Hence they don’t need starch or other carbohydrates for energy.
Moreover, the large intestine of cats is very short. The complex carbohydrates cannot undergo fermentation within the intestine to aid their digestion, so they pass out undigested. Hence, it’s obvious that cats cannot live well on a plant-based diet mainly containing vegetarian items, unless additional food supplements are given. For example, cats need taurine, an essential amino acid not available from vegetarian sources. So it has to be given in the form of supplements.
How to Select the “Ideal” Cat Food
Every cat is different and, obviously, you cannot find a cat food that is best for all cats and all cat owners. On the other hand, we have several complete, balanced diets for cats that can be rated on a scale from acceptable quality to excellent quality.
It is essential that cat owners learn about cat foods that are barely sufficient or adequate for cats, and about the ones that provide excellent nutrition. As we all know, good health and longevity are dependent on good nutrition. It can make the cats more active, and increase their quality of life, besides protecting them from various diseases.
All cat foods that provide adequate nutrition may carry the label “complete and balanced.” That labeling alone does not make a cat food ideal for your cat as many of them meet only the minimal nutritional needs of cats. You should read the label carefully, checking for ingredients such as fish or meat. If they are at the top of the list, it means they are the main components, and that makes the food superior. Meat of fish based cat foods are protein-rich and have sufficient fat content. Even though high quality carbohydrates used in moderation can provide instant energy, and fiber for regulating bowel movements, cats are by and far carnivores. The cat food you choose should not have large amounts of fillers that have no nutritional value. They should be free of chemical additives such as artificial flavors and colors. Cat foods at the top of the spectrum use mainly meat or fish and some plant materials matching the quality requirements of foods meant for human consumption.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of high quality cat foods out there that offer a complete balanced diet for the cat. They are available in a variety of forms such as canned foods, raw foods, home cooked foods, and of course the dry type. What is ideal for your cat is determined by its age and weight, and specific health issues, if any. The cat’s preferences and the budget of the owner are major considerations too. It is up to the cat owner to weigh these factors first, and then choose a high-quality diet ideal for the cat.