One of the biggest concerns for pet owners is to choose the best food for them to grow strong and healthy, and the fact that there’s a wide variety of processed food on the market does nothing but confusing them. The best thing to do is to inform yourself about the nutritional needs of cats, the different kinds of food available and the characteristics of each food to finally decide which is the best one for your cat.
What are the nutritional needs of a cat?
For the cat to be agile, healthy and alert, he should ingest a balanced diet as close to his animal nature. The first thing to know is that your cat is a carnivorous predator and can never live with a vegetarian diet (despite what some people say).
These are some of the nutrients he needs in his diet:
Taurine is an essential amino acid for the functioning of the heart and vision and is found only in animal protein.
Arginine is another important amino acid, abundant in animal protein, that participates in the removal of nitrogen and the urea cycle. Its deficiency can lead to death.
Calcium and phosphorus are essential for bones and teeth.
He needs animal fats (source of energy) and A, D, E and B vitamins.
The first food he receives on the first stage of life is breast milk (in the case of an orphan puppy, he should be fed with formula milk for kittens), and it´s only after the fourth week when liquid food should begin to be changed to semi-solid food in the form of mush.
Semi-solid liquid in mush form
We can say that a good foods composed of a high percentage of proteins (meat), a good amount of animal fats and a discrete content of carbohydrates (without cereals).
Different kinds of food
It´s a diet based on croquettes. Among its negative aspects are: very low content of water (10%), regular quality protein and high amounts of carbohydrates and cereals. Being a dehydrated food your cat will need to consume plenty of water, otherwise he might develop problems with chronic renal failure or FUS disease.
They come in cans.
They have a 75%-78% of moisture.
Cats really like their taste, texture and smell. Once opened they shouldn´t be stored as they´re easily spoiled.
A good wet food should have meat as its first ingredient, specifying whether it´s chicken, turkey or beef. It shouldn´t have meat derivatives or sub products since these are waste products unfit for human consumption, nor corn, cereals and sugars that are usually added to the gravy (such as sucrose, glucose and caramel).
The advantage of this food is that it can be prepared with fresh ingredients; however you need to know very well the nutritional needs of the cat to provide a good and balanced diet.
What´s a low, medium or high quality food?
Dry foods are very comfortable for the owner for their easy use but aren´t necessarily the best option for the cat. According to the quality of nutritional intake, foods can be classified into low, medium and high quality. For this reason it´s very important to learn to read nutritional labels to choose the best feed for your cat.
Low quality foods
These are made from animal´s derivatives unfit for human consumption, such as feathers, cartilages, organs, claws and beaks. They contain a high degree of grains and fillers plus chemical additives which are harmful to his health, as well as flavorings and dyes that give the feed a striking color. You should never give such low quality food to your cat.
Medium quality foods
They may alternate meat and animal derivatives. The main ingredient is meat but in less degree than high quality foods.
High-quality or premium foods
Also called “holistic foods”. Their ingredients are highly digestible, low in carbohydrates and cereals without artificial flavorings or preservatives. The animal protein is the same used for human consumption, thus ensuring the quality of nutrients and health.
Points to consider
Never give dog food to your cat because their nutritional needs are different.
If your cat stops eating for more than 24 hours, see your veterinarian immediately.
You can save money by sacrificing the quality of his food, but in the future you will pay it with interests on veterinarians and clinics.
Have fresh water available for your cat, 24 hours a day.
Don´t feed him with whole milk but lactose-free (to avoid diarrhea).
If your cat needs to change from one food to another, you should gradually introduce the new food in small quantities for a week.
If your cat has an itch or skin rash, it may be due to an allergic reaction to the food you are feeding him.