High quality pet food saves a lot of time of the owner and provides pets with all the necessary nutrients, maintaining their health and prolonging their lives. However, not all the types of pet food can be considered as useful, and some of them are even harmful to the cat’s health. How to make the right choice looking at the wide range of products offered?
Offering your cat a new product it is important to watch the reaction of the body to an unfamiliar feed. Even a diet made of the products manufactured by the most well-known and credible brands may be not suitable for a cat because of various reasons: idiosyncrasy of one of the components, allergy, high protein content etc. The feed is not suitable for the pet in case at least one of the following symptoms appear:
- itching, rash or redness of the skin;
- the coat has become dull, dry and comes out;
- when a cat feed is poorly digested, the stool is bulky (the amount of fecal in the litter almost equals to the amount of the feed eaten);
- diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, unnatural color of the stool;
- discharge from the eyes;
- the pet becomes less active.
As a rule, cats can enjoy flavored vile feed but they eat high quality feed with no enthusiasm. To make sure the feed you give your cat is useful, the biochemistry blood test should be passed 6 months after the introduction of the feed to the cat’s diet.
Canned or dry feed?
Some people prefer buying canned feed for cats, fearing to feed their darlings with these completely unattractive croutons. Others give their cats dry feed not willing to pay more for water (the content of which in canned feed sometimes may reach 80%). Indeed, canned feed is almost equal to dry feed, the only difference is in its form (canned feed is usually sold as corned beef or mouth-watering meat pieces). The advantages of canned feed are the following: it is gastronomic appealing and has higher moisture content, which is important when a cat consumes little liquid. However, dry cat feed has its own pros: with a smaller volume of food the cat gets more nutrients, also solid granules partially remove plaque, also dry feed supports digestive system functions. According to veterinarians, it is necessary to combine dry “crackers” with canned feed in a ratio of 70% to 30%. If the owner is used to mix canned and dry food in one feeding, the products should be of the same brand.
How to choose high quality cat feed?
Pet store counters are usually full of feed packages for pets of all kinds; there are lots of attractive names and cute cat pictures. We can read magic words as “guaranteed”, “GMO-free”, “soy-free”, “organic” and so on. It is interesting that low quality feed is usually packed in the most attractive packages, while companies with a good name use modest designs. Confused? You may use a “price-ingredients-individualization” approach in the process of high quality cat feed selection. Details below.
The first thing you should notice is the price per pound of product. Of course, high quality ingredients can’t be cheap. If dry cat feed really contains 40% of meat, how this product can be cheaper than chicken by-products? For convenience cat feed can be divided into three classes: economy, premium and super premium.
Super premium class feed is professional unknown to the wide range of consumers. These manufacturers don’t expect boosting sales. Their customers are veterinarians, zoologists, breeders and experts. The minimum price is about $4 (3 €) per lb. Feed of this class consists of meat or fish, whole grains, whole eggs, vegetables and fruits. The quality standards of the ingredients correspond to those used for food products consumed by people. Such feeds can be purchased at pet stores and veterinary pharmacies only.
Pay attention to the recently appeared holistic pet feeds. They don’t contain grains or in very small amounts. The content of meat or fish is very high (usually more than 50%). The balance of nutrients is close to the natural cat diet.
Premium class cat feeds can be found at a price of $3 (2,5 €) per lb. They consist of meat, grains and vegetables, but the ingredients are usually of poor quality. Cats with good health can be fed with these feeds for many years and feel ok.
Economy class feeds cost cheaper than $2,5 (2 €) per lb. and are widely advertised on TV. Feeds of this class are sold in supermarkets and convenience stores; usually they contain no meat, grains, eggs or vegetables – but only food industry waste, uneatable for people.
Unfortunately, high price is not a reliable indicator of quality. It is important to read the list of ingredients before making a purchase, because it is the only way to find out exactly what a manufacturer put into a nice-looking packaging.
All the ingredients are arranged in decreasing order: in the first place you can see the main component, and the content of the last ingredient in the list is usually less than 1 percent.
It doesn’t really matter what type of feed to choose (a canned one or a dry one), the only things that matters is that all components should have a clear definition. If the package says that this feed consists of chicken, it does not mean chicken breast or leg or something. The work “chicken” as an ingredient may denote its feathers, bones and guts. Beet pulp doesn’t mean beetroot powder, but a by-product. Corn or rice flour is less valuable than whole grains.
For example, the ingredients of a well-known cat feed, that can’t even be called “a cat feed”: cereals, by-products and meat (not less than 4% of poultry meat), vegetable oils and protein extracts, animal fats, vegetable oils, egg products, brewer’s yeast, minerals and vitamins. Grains occupy the first place, i.e. they are the main component. It isn’t specified which cereals and in what form, so it may be really anything. By-products and as much as 4% of meat – also can denote anything, including feathers and bones of some unknown animals. The same applies to proteins, animal fats, vegetable oils and egg products – the manufacturer doesn’t specify what ingredients exactly this cat feed contains. Thus, reading the list of ingredients, consumers find out absolutely nothing about the product, except for the fact that it may contain anything. Coupled with an extremely low price the conclusion is obvious.
And for comparison, the ingredient of the other cat feed: fresh boneless chicken, dry chicken, dry turkey meat, fresh boneless salmon, dry herring, and boneless lake whitefish. These ingredients are followed by meat and fish products, fruits and vegetables, herbs, whole eggs, vitamins and minerals. The word “fresh” in this case means that the product hasn’t been frozen or hasn’t undergone any other form of preservation, but got to the production directly from the farm. The word “dry”, “dehydrated”, or “freeze-dried” means that all the moisture was removed from the ingredient before it got to the production. All the ingredients of this premium class cat feed premium are whole organic products, and not some garbage left after processing.
Individual approach to cat feeding allows providing the cat precisely with all the nutrients it needs. Moreover, the ratio of protein, minerals, carbohydrates and other nutrients can’t be the same for all the cats. For example, older and less active pets need a low-protein and low-fat. Active young cats spend a lot of energy, and therefore should receive a sufficient amount of protein. Dry food for kittens is produced by special technology, according to which protein is easily digested, which is very important for a growing organism.
Besides pet feed lines for different “life stages” there are also medicated feeds available. For example, special diets for cats suffering from obesity, allergies or oral cavity, kidney, heart or digestive tract diseases.
Medicated feed are excellent for supporting the health of recovering pets, but they can be used only on the advice of the vet.
There are special hairball formula feeds, feeds to remove plaque, special lines for pregnant and nursing cats, for gourmets etc. Feed for neutered and spayed cats is a great product for those owners who care about the health of their four-legged friend. There are plenty of alternatives and the main thing is to find the right brand, to analyze its ingredients and then to pick up the product which would be best to your pet.