… like searching for the “best” human food or diet. No such thing exists despite the claims of pet food companies and passionate diet advocates
Searching for the one “best” cat food or cat diet is very much like searching for the “best” human food or diet. No such thing exists despite the claims of pet food companies and passionate diet advocates. Instead, many diets are available that can provide excellent nutrition for cats. In order to choose the ideal cat food for his or her pet, each cat owner needs to learn about the nutritional needs of cats in general and his or her cat in particular. A cat owner also needs to know what to look for on a pet food label and what makes a truly high quality cat food. Armed with this information, each owner can look beyond the hype and the claims on cat food packages to determine the best food for his or her cat.
Feline Nutritional Requirements
… their short large intestines mean that they are unable to effectively ferment and utilize complex carbohydrates … cats cannot thrive on vegetarian diets unless these diets are supplemented with nutrients
With their large forward-facing eyes, muscled bodies, sharp teeth designed for tearing and piercing, padded paws and retractable claws, cats are clearly well adapted to be hunters.
Their bodies are designed to catch and consume prey, so it is no surprise that cats require nutrients, including some amino acids and fatty acids, that are only found in animal flesh. In addition, their systems efficiently convert protein into energy, but their short large intestines mean that they are unable to effectively ferment and utilize complex carbohydrates. This means that cats cannot thrive on vegetarian diets unless these diets are supplemented with nutrients, including the amino acid taurine, that are not found in plant based foods.
Selecting the “Ideal” Cat Food
To find a good diet for cats, owners need to learn how to read labels. All adequate cat foods will be labeled as “complete and balanced.”
There is no one size fits all food that is best for every cat and every cat owner. Instead, there are a range of complete and balanced feline diets that range from acceptable to excellent. In order to select the best food for their pets, cat owners need to learn the difference between cat foods that are simply adequate and those that offer superior nutrition. After all, good nutrition can help prevent health problems, promote longevity, increase activity levels and encourage improved quality of life for pet cats.
To find a good diet for cats, owners need to learn how to read labels. All adequate cat foods will be labeled as “complete and balanced.” In addition to this minimal requirement, high quality cat foods will have meat or fish listed among the first ingredients. They will be high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. While cats can use high quality carbohydrates for quick energy and for fiber to regulate the digestive system, cats are meat eaters. This means that most superior cat foods contain more meat than grains or other carbohydrates. High quality cat foods also use natural preservatives instead of artificial preservatives. They are free of artificial colors, and they do not contain fillers. Very high end cat foods will use only human quality meat and plant materials.
The Bottom Line
Cat owners will find a variety of complete and balanced feline diets with high quality ingredients. These diets include dry foods, canned foods, home cooked diets and raw diets. The best diet for each cat depends on the cat’s age, weight, health status, taste preferences and the owner’s lifestyle and budget. Each cat owner needs to balance these factors in order to choose the diet that will provide his or her pet with exceptional nutrition.