What you choose to feed your cat is one of the most important decisions you will make as a pet owner. Responsible cat owners should learn the advantages of buying premium cat food. Your pet is an important part of your family, and good pet parents want to do the best that they can for their cat, and that includes purchasing the best food that is available.
Just as there are benefits to people when they eat a nutritious diet full of quality foods, there are benefits to cats when they are fed a high quality diet. Some foods that claim to be of premium quality are actually just low quality food in a pretty package. Therefore, being knowledgeable about what makes a great quality cat food is the second step in making sure your cat has a healthy diet. The first is understanding your cat’s nutritional needs.
What a Cat Needs
Cats, like people, have certain nutritional requirements. While any food that tastes reasonably good may be enough to satisfy hunger, that doesn’t mean that those foods offer proper nutrition. Some cat foods should be considered an equivalent to the fast food that so many people eat. Yes, it will fill you up. Yes, it tastes good. But it does NOTHING for you in the way of benefiting your health – or your waistline.
Cats need several things to be present in their food in order to have a proper diet. There are certain amino acids that are necessary for good health that cats do not produce on their own. Because these amino acids are not produced naturally, they must be included in the diet. High quality proteins, such as those found in fish and meat, provide all of the necessary amino acids. A deficiency in essential amino acids can lead to health problems in your cat including heart problems, deficient immune system, blindness and a host of other health issues.
One of the essential amino acids required by cats is taurine. Taurine is found in only tiny amounts in plants, but is abundant in many fish and birds. This is one reason that a vegetarian diet is not appropriate for a cat.
Fats and fatty acids are another requirement for a healthy feline diet. A cat’s diet can include a higher percentage of fat than a human’s diet without any known negative effects. For maximum health benefits, a cat food should contain a minimum of around 10% fat. The omega-3 fats that are so important to a human diet are also necessary in a cat’s diet. A lack of these fatty acids can cause problem with a cat’s nervous system, vision and lead to a host of other problems.
While not essential to a feline diet, carbohydrates provide fuel for the energy that your cat requires to complete normal daily activities. Kittens and cats that are pregnant or nursing have different energy requirements. Check with your vet about the best diet for kittens and pregnant or nursing cats.
Several vitamins and minerals are needed for the good health for your cat. All of the required vitamins and minerals will be present in a quality cat food. Keep in mind that too much of a certain vitamin can also be harmful, so gross overfeeding is also detrimental to the health of your cat. One advantage of buying premium cat food is that all of the items required for a healthy feline diet will be found in one place.
Even if you use the best cat food available, under or over feeding your cat can lead to health problems. An underweight cat is more likely to get certain bacterial infections and could suffer damage to their organs. An overweight cat is susceptible to diabetes and heart problems.
If you can feel your cat’s bones, the cat is likely underweight. You should feel a thin layer of fat over the ribs in a cat of ideal weight.
Now that you are familiar with the dietary needs of your cat, you are better prepared to select a well-balanced nutritionally appropriate food.
How to Select a Premium Cat Food
Learning to read the label on a bag or can of cat food is the key to choosing the best food for your cat. While cheap cat food can be found at any supermarket, what you are often paying for is a bag of empty calories that will not provide your cat with a balanced diet. Here is what you need to look for on the label of a cat food product.
- Look for the words “complete and balanced”. These words can only appear when the food meets certain criteria established by AAFCO (The American Associate of Feed Control Officials).
- A protein source that is named (i.e. chicken, beef) rather than just “meat”.
- Ideally, the protein source will be the first listed ingredient.
You want to avoid fillers, so if you see the words “animal by-products” “bone meal” or “animal digest” on the ingredient list, you should choose a different food. Preservatives should also be avoided, so do not select foods that contain BHT, BHA or propyl gallate. Excessive fillers, especially corn meal fillers, should be avoided as well.
Below is a list of some of the benefits of purchasing a high quality food.
- A healthy, shiny coat
- All of your cat’s nutritional needs will be met without the need for supplements
- It will be easier for your cat to maintain a healthy weight
- Your cat will have a higher energy level
- Your cat will be hungry less often, because all of his nutritional needs will be met
- Just like a human who eats a healthy diet, your cat will have fewer problems with illness and will be an overall healthier pet.
While a high quality cat food may cost a bit more, the advantages of buying premium cat food are well worth it for the health of your pet.