There are so many cat food brands around today, each claiming they’ve got the holy grail of food that will keep your cat happy and healthy all year round. This simply isn’t true. Careful consideration should be given to your cat’s individual needs and to what food will best address them without costing you a fortune.
Just as with us humans, cats’ tastes and needs vary from cat to cat. They even change periodically, meaning the cat food that was best for your cat three months ago is no longer up to the task of satisfying them. Let’s hope you didn’t buy and stockpile too much of it!
From the best brands to how to save money, this quick guide should help introduce you to the basic considerations that will help you on your way to buying a good cat food that keeps you, your cat and your bank account happy.
What Types Of Cat Foods Are There
There are a few ways to divide up cat foods. Unfortunately this often leads to one type being heralded as the miraculous answer to all your worries.
If there aren’t any medical factors forcing your hand then it’s best to just choose a type that suits you and your cat best.
Do I Choose Wet Or Dry Food?
The argument between wet or dry food often divides the cat owner community. If you’re sticking to the best brands though, then you can rest assured that either choice can provide your cat with nutritionally complete meals. The biggest difference is of course that wet foods contain a lot more moisture.
As long your cat is keeping hydrated regardless of what food they then there’s no cause for alarm. There’s nothing stopping you from giving your cat a variety of both types and giving them all the benefits of both (providing you refrain from overfeeding, of course).
In some special cases where health concerns are affecting your cat’s appetite, then a certain type may be better suited to their needs. We’ll talk a little more about that and what your options are shortly.
It’s clear that separating wet and dry is the first way and most natural way for us humans approach cat food and nutrition. There are plenty of other ways to categorize cat food that might not be so obvious at first though. Let’s quickly look at a few other ways in which the cat food market is split.
Kitten, Adult And Senior Food
Aside from wet and dry, age ranges are usually the second most common thing cat owners are concerned about when looking to buy a healthy cat food. Rightly so, your cat’s age range heavily influences their dietary needs.
Kittens need slightly higher levels of fat and significantly higher levels of protein in their food because they develop very quickly. A kitten begins to reach the stages of adulthood after as little as 1 year.
It’s recommended that kittens get a minimum of 30 percent crude protein in their food. It’s absolutely vital during this stage that the kitten food you choose is made up high quality ingredients.
Adult cats are somewhere in the middle ground and require a healthy balanced diet. In special cases however, you may find that kitten or senior cat food has the right macro-nutrient profile for your adult cats’ needs, but you should get this advice from a professional veterinarian that understands your cat’s needs well.
If you’re feeding a senior cat then you’ll want to make sure they are fed a diet that matches their lifestyle.
In case you weren’t aware, senior cats are typically cats aged 8 years or older. As cats age it’s natural that health issues occasionally effect their appetite, this brings us nicely into our next divide.
Cat Foods For Special Health Requirements
With age comes health problems, they’re something you can’t avoid but often you can adjust to cope with them better. If your cat has special dietary needs, your first source of advice should always be your veterinarian. They may even prescribe a certain brand or type.
With that said, there are plenty of foods that work to help prevent or alleviate some medical conditions in cats all while providing a healthy meal.
If your cat suffers from urinary tract health issues, then rest assured there are foods tailored to help relieve symptoms and break down the crystals that form in your cat’s bladder. These work in a variety of different ways, some even work using entirely natural ingredients.
Likewise with hairballs and cats with sensitive stomachs, healthy foods that are gentle on the stomach can work miracles to restore normal eating habits. There are a select few cat food brands that tend to be best at creating these foods, Royal Canin are especially well known for their excellent health formulas that are proven to stop cats vomiting.
Foods with special, tailored health benefits usually come at a premium cost. It’s more often than not a waste of money buying these foods unless your vet believes they will help. In the cases where they do prevent illnesses progressing, they end up being extremely cost effective in the long run.
Feeding To Maintain A Healthy Weight
Managing your cat’s weight is something that depends entirely on their activity levels and their current weight. Despite there being an increasing epidemic in feline obesity in recent years, a number of cat owners still don’t understand the best practices for feeding their cat a balanced diet.
Maintaining a health weight is a process that might require some trial and error. You can give yourself a good head start
If you have a skinny cat on your hands, you may be looking to help them pack on a few pounds to return to a healthy weight. The only sure way to get advice on how to do this is to visit a veterinarian, they can point you towards cat foods designed for weight gain.
Cat foods come in different calorie densities. Half a cup of a high calorie food could contain as many calories as a full cup of different cat food.
Opting for a high calorie cat food and a closely controlled portion size ensures that you avoid bloat and overfeeding while encouraging weight gain at a healthy rate.
Just remember that changes to your cat’s weight should be gradually, never sudden. It’s important to exercise patience.See our full guide to Weight Gain Cat Foods here
Those with overweight cats are usually much slower to spot the symptoms that at the other end of the scale (literally). Weight loss in cats is something that needs to be handled very delicately.
If you cut back portions to the point where their meals are no longer nutritionally complete, you put them at risk of a whole host of health issues that can affect the eyes, kidneys, and much more.
Cutting back on treats can help a whole bunch with weight loss.
Treats should never make up more than 10% of a cat’s daily calorie intake , but removing them from the equation altogether could be the difference between the scales creeping upwards and the scales returning slowly to a healthy reading.
Again, we have to stress the importance and unrivaled value of your vets advice when it comes to diet changes. Even though many cat foods are labelled as vet recommended, that recommendation wasn’t made especially for your cat’s needs.See our full guide to Weight Loss Cat Foods here
What Are The Best Cat Food Brands
This is another one of those questions that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Brand names are usually a very strong indicator as to the quality of food you’ll get. A household name like Purina is a very safe bet with regards to the quality of the ingredients used.
Different brands often excel in different areas. Royal Canin are without a doubt one of the industry’s top experts for producing high protein low fat cat food. You pay a considerable amount more for them though, so for day to day feeding you could definitely argue that Hill’s Science foods are a better balance of price and function.
The same goes for BLUE Wilderness, they have some excellent foods tailored for indoor cats, but others weigh in a little calorie dense and as a result would probably not be suitable for indoor cats.