We love our kitties and want them to be happy and well fed, but how do we begin to know what food is best for them? is it simply the food they enjoy the most? or the foods that will help them to be healthy and well nourished. our cats may have an answer to that question, but we know the right answer is what’s best for their long-term health, and that starts with understanding what they really need, nutrition-wise.
Cats are known to be obligate carnivores. that means that it is essential for them to have meat in their diet, this is because they require certain nutrients that can only be found in animal meat. “Without nutrients like taurine and arginine (found in meat and fish) in their diets, your kitty could become seriously ill,” says lucie wilkins, registered veterinary nurse and cat blogger at kitty cat tree.
what is the best food for your cat?
What a cat needs in terms of nutrition will change, just like humans, with their age and living situation. “As an experienced veterinary nurse, I would always recommend life stage feeding for your cat,” says Wilkins. This means that the food it eats must contain the different levels of protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fats (animal fat will ensure that your cat has enough vitamin A) that it needs for its development.
For life-stage feeding, Wilkins says, most cat foods generally fall into the following age groups:
kitten – up to 12 months
adult – 1 to 7 years
senior – 7 to 11 years old
Geriatric – 11+ years
When choosing cat food for your beloved feline (unless she has specific dietary needs), it’s important to choose a food that is listed as complete rather than complementary. “The complete meal will include everything that is required to keep your cat happy and healthy,” says Wilkins.
the ingredients that your cat’s food should have
So what ingredients should you look for when looking for a quality pet food for your cat?
First of all, a named protein source. “A high-quality cat food should specify which meat or fish the protein comes from rather than listing it as ‘meat,'” Wilkins says. You’ll want to search for ingredients listed, like “chicken heart,” for example.
Cats don’t need carbohydrates to thrive, however they are added to cat food as “fillers.” “They’re needed in dry food to help combine and bind all the ingredients together,” says Wilkins, who advises avoiding foods that include fillers in the form of wheat or grains (cats are often allergic to these ingredients). it’s best to look for foods with listed ingredients, such as potato starch, sweet potatoes, or peas.
a specific source of fat listed
wilkins says an example of this would be something like chicken fat, turkey fat, etc. and in some premium foods you can also find oils as an ingredient in the list.
Many higher-quality cat foods will have added vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, according to Wilkins.
A taurine deficiency will have detrimental effects on your cat’s health, says Wilkins.
important tips for cat nutrition
make sure your cat has access to clean water
In addition to finding foods with the ingredients listed above, it’s important that your cat always have access to a clean water source. “A question I often hear is whether to give a cat milk to drink,” says Wilkins. “Cats should never be given milk, most cats are lactose intolerant and milk can cause severe stomach upset,” says Wilkins. In addition to disagreeing with them, milk also contains sugar, which is unnecessary in your cat’s diet and can cause your kitty to be unhealthily overweight.
don’t share human food with your cat
Wilkins also recommends that as cat owners, you don’t share your human food with your cat, there are a few reasons why this is not recommended: “Some cats that are used to being fed alternative foods will later reject theirs, it throws off their balance.” it’s a cat’s diet and often makes them gain weight,” Wilkins says. Lastly, your cat may act out during your meals, so she is fed.
don’t put your cat on a vegetarian/vegan diet
Don’t try to feed your cat a vegetarian or vegan diet, Wilkins warned, your cat will be malnourished and unhealthy. It is important to always put your cat’s health first.
so what should cats eat? these options are a good start.
the best cat foods, recommended by veterinarians