As pet parents, you have a great responsibility on your shoulders to maintain the health and hygiene of your feline partners. Aside from vet inputs, you can get suitable cat food tips from the internet and social friends. However, finding the best cat food can confuse a new pet parent.
Choosing the best Kitten Cat Food involves getting a grasp of your cat’s nutritional needs, standard and specialty food ingredients, best sources of nutrition to monitor calories, age stage of your feline pal, the right protein, and vitamin intake, among other essentials. Here is a complete rundown on cat food and nutrition to optimize your information and make you a sensible pet parent.
Introduction To Cat Nutrition
Water is a constant; cats have specific basic nutritional needs. They need proteins from a meat/poultry/fish source, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and essential amino acids like taurine.
Cats do not have a specific carbohydrate need. However, carb-fillers like corn, rice, and wheat find most use in dry and canned cat food. Other than this, cat food manufacturers add binders, coloring, and flavoring agents to please the aesthetic needs of the picky cat. Although preservatives are essential in canned foods to increase freshness and longevity, avoid keeping canned foods out for a long time.
Knowing Cat Food Ingredients
To crack your cat’s nutritional needs, knowing the cat food ingredients is essential. Let us start with the elementary details like proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Cats are carnivore species meaning meat-eaters. Meat is essential for them to stay healthy. Some nutritional vitamins like taurine exist only in meat sources. If you trace your little cat’s evolutionary history, our meow friends ate a diet high in proteins and less fat and carbs. Whether dry or wet cat food, check out the mention of protein on your cat food label. Words like ‘beef,’ ‘salmon,’ ‘chicken,’ or other classified meat are a fair indicator of quality. Check the expiry date of freshness also for your cat’s safety.
If you find the cat food label saying ‘poultry’ or ‘meat byproducts,’ you may get less than the desirable animal parts in the food pack.
Should you see allergy symptoms in your kitten, try avoiding the primary protein source in their food to understand your feline companion’s allergy source.
Carbs get a poor reputation because excess consumption can make one fat. Still, carbohydrates are as important as proteins as they help break down carbs for later use in your cat’s daily running-around activity. Remember that rice, potatoes, and oats are good carbs in your feline diet. Dry kibble has more carbohydrates than wet cat food or freeze-dried or fresh staple. Check the cat food label to see the number of carbohydrates in a serving.
When buying cat food or packed eatables, don’t forget to read the statutory line mentioning that the food contents meet the AAFCO guidelines. AFFCO is a governing body to keep a tab on balanced nutrition in animal food.
Minerals and Vitamins
Your feline friend’s food should have a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, namely:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Folic acid
The vitamins and minerals mentioned above help build stronger bones and teeth and healthy joints. Do not include supplements as the critical component in your cat diet. Consult a vet before feeding supplements to your cat, as they can be harmful.
Amino acids and Fatty acids
Amino acids are protein building blocks. Leucine and Lysine amino acids help make and maintain bones, muscles, tissues, organs, and skin coats. Since younger cats have double the energy needs of an adult cat, they need protein-rich food.
Taurine, arginine, and arachidonic acid are part of animal protein. Meat food should contain these three essential ingredients.
Cat Food Choices–Dry, Wet, Or Canned
There are two types of meal options–wet and dry food. Most pet parents feed their cats with dry and wet food. Pet nutritionists suggest a balanced serving of wet and dehydrated cat food and canned food for several reasons:
While dry food is convenient and cost-efficient for cats, it may not fulfill their water requirements. Dry food can also cause dehydration with filler ingredients. Canned cat food has water to cover up for your cat’s liquid diet needs.
The wet cat food is more palatable and has higher moisture and protein levels. Since they have a lower calorie and nutrient density, they can quickly get spoiled when left open.
Do your research, check websites, talk to the pet parents and veterinarians before deciding on the right proportion of kitten and Adult Cat Food. Some felines have finicky food habits, so explore different food combinations to meet optimum nutrition.
In recent times, gluten free cat food has become extremely popular. It is helpful to cats that are gluten-intolerant or allergic to wheat. A gluten-free diet is not a feline must, except for the rare cat with a gluten allergy. Gluten is beneficial for meeting your cat’s protein needs.
Watch The Portion Size
Besides quality, how much you feed your feline companion matters. Overfeeding your cat can cause obesity and make it prone to other health issues like heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, breathing difficulties, and cancer.
Though you will find feeding guidelines on the cat food carton, use your discretion while feeding your meow friend. Reduce cat food serving if you sense some uneasiness in your furry animal.
Consider starting a lower calorie or weight management formula for overweight cats to give them low calories per serving each day. Feeding them with less fatty food can also make your cat underfed.
After every few weeks, check your cat’s overweight symptoms by feeling their ribs when you hold their trunk. Your vet will tell you about the Body Condition Score (BCS) that uses a 5- or 9-point scale to find the right amount of body fat in cats. It will help you understand the ideal weight for your feline friends.
Match Food Choices To Cat Life Stage
Many pet food brands state in their packaging that their packed food is complete for all life’s stages and balanced. This may not be clinically true for your kitten or older kitty. Cats have different nutritional requirements for different life stages, like humans. Hence, choose cat food ideal for your feline’s life stage. Here is a breakup of foods to serve your kitten and adult cat.
Kittens require food to support their hair growth. Therefore, it should include single source protein items like beef, chicken, tuna, lamb, turkey apart from folic acid and fat.
Adult cats are less active than kittens, hence having less protein and fat dietary requirements. At this stage of your cat life cycle, consider feeding your cat with portion size or planned meals to avoid making them an anytime eater and putting on fat.
Senior cats are seven years or older. To avoid digestion problems and obesity, serve them with foods lower in protein and fat to avoid your meow from gaining excessive weight. Senior cat foods should have a balanced mix of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to boost the immune system in older years, reduce stress on kidneys, and prevent kidney disease.
Despite your effort in serving optimum food to your cats, some feline species may develop a food allergy or have a bad tummy day. Mold in the food bag can also be a reason for your cat’s stomach problems. If your cat throws up after eating or starts losing interest in foods or weekly treats, consider getting new diet options or talk to your vet about any deeper health problems your cat may have. When you see the transition in your cat, from kitten to adult to senior, start introducing age-appropriate foods to your cat so that it throws up less and adjusts to the changes in diet.
Know When To Mix Dry With Wet Food
Kibble food is convenient and cost-effective for cats. Canned food has 75% more moisture and finds a hot spot in cats. How to balance these two and get the most benefits? Combine dry and wet food to give your cat the best of both worlds.
Your moody cat may love exploring wet cat food as a topping to dry kibble food. Serve your cat a teaspoon size wet food in the morning and night for a balanced approach. Smaller amounts of wet food save you wastage for graze-loving cats. Also, wet food does not have a long shelf life when opened. Cover and refrigerate the canned food when opened to restore its freshness and safety.
Another benefit of feeding your cats with a smaller amount of wet food is absorbing the moisture they need. Cats do not need a lot of water. However, less water intake can start dehydration, fever, and vomiting in them.
Consider adding a bone broth or a spray to their kibble to give your feline companions extra flavor, moisture, and nutrients. Feeding your cat with a dry and wet food combination helps clean their teeth from the hard crunch of dry kibble. Since the nutritional analysis of dry cat food differs from wet food, ideally, read the food labels to know the nutritional value of each.
Gather Knowledge On Grains
Grains are a valuable item in cat food. They are much-admired for keeping fatty carbohydrates away from cat food. They are also building blocks for energy in feline species. However, grain-free food does not mean a lack of carbs.
If you want lower-carb food for your meow pet, check the carbohydrate amount on the carton. You may still choose to buy fewer grains of cat food rather than go for grain-free cat food.
New pet owners may cite food allergies from grain cat food. In reality, grain allergies are rare. General food allergies can happen from protein, like dairy, chicken, or beef.
Whole grains have valuable nutrients for cats, such as minerals, vitamins, fiber, and fatty acids. Barley, quinoa, and brown rice are some whole grains to look for in a cat food brand.
Know The Items To Avoid When Feeding Your Feline Friends
Cats enjoy tempting food and may stare at you when you eat. Certain items can cause a harmful reaction to your pets. Make a note of some foods you should avoid giving to your cats.
Milk: You may like to associate it with the image of a kitty licking milk from a bowl from the ad you saw on television or a magazine. However, drinking milk can cause diarrhea and lead to dehydration in cats.
Raw fish: The enzyme in raw fish is toxic to kitties and can lead to seizures and death.
Raw eggs: Can cause salmonella disease, food poisoning, and skin problems in cats. Egg yolks contain mostly fat and some protein that can increase the fat content in your cat diet.
Chocolate: Never share chocolate with your feline friend, as it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, or muscle tremors.
Avocados: Stay away from feeding your cat with avocados, as they can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.
Grapes: Raisin items like grapes can cause kidney failure.
Garlic and onions: Can cause cat blood vessels to rupture or stop transporting oxygen in the body.
Bread dough: The enzymes in bread dough can create carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, which may get absorbed in your cat’s bloodstream and cause respiratory failure and seizures.
Tomatoes: Solanine in tomatoes is toxic and has fungicidal properties. It can cause gastrointestinal problems in cats and induce lethargy.
Explore Budget and Nutrition
Kittens have many food options–dry kibble, freeze-dried, and canned food. Mixing dry with wet food is an excellent way to increase cat food quality, moisture, and variety. It will also help you balance cost and nutrition.
- Spray fish oil on dry kibble to get omega-3s to feline diet
- Pour salmon oil over kibble for more omega-3s
- Consider adding freeze-dried meats to regular kibble in every cat meal
- Include raw foods in your cat meal also to get a variety
- Feed your cats with raw meats bought from the grocery store. Include hearts, livers, beef chunks
- Make homemade kitty foods as a supplement to your cat kibble diet.
The Bottom Line
Reduce trial and error by requesting online cat food companies for free samples. Low-cost feline fare may have a lot of fillers and less substance that may not benefit your picky pet. Consult a vet before feeding your cat with eggs, as it may cause gastrointestinal symptoms and induce vomiting and diarrhea.