Feeding your Cat

There are many healthy options when feeding your cat. When it comes to choosing the best food there are several important factors to consider in obtaining optimal health for your pet.

When feeding your pet, one of the most important things you can do is read the label. Start by looking at what the first ingredients are. Cats are carnivores and their diet should reflect this. The first ingredient should be protein, a good quality protein. Good quality proteins such as lamb, lamb meal, chicken, chicken meal, and not “by-products”. By-products are often less digestible and can contain many animal parts that we would never consider eating ourselves. Then, look at the carbohydrate sources that are listed on the food label. You should look for ingredients such as, potatoes and brown rice. Try to avoid ingredients such as corn, wheat and soy. These ingredients are inexpensive fillers which means your cat not only needs to eat more to feel full but there is also a lot of waste that ends up in the litter box because your pet cannot digest and utilize these ingredients. Lastly, try to avoid common chemicals and preservatives that are often used in pet food. Ingredients such as, ethoxyquin (a pesticide and rubber stabilizer), BHA, BHT, propylene glycol are now known to be linked to animal cancer and other harmful and life threatening diseases.

Once you have read the label, you now need to decide which form of food you would like to feed your pet. The following is an outline of the different types of pet food that is available.

It is important to your pet’s health to vary or rotate their diet as much as possible. For years we have been told to pick a food and feed that one food for life. Would you eat the same meal everyday for the rest of your life? Would you get bored of eating the same thing? Would your diet be balanced? Studies are now showing that feeding the same diet for life might actually do more harm than good. All foods have varying levels of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. By providing your pet with a variety you are ensuring that they are receiving a more balanced diet. If your pet has been eating the same diet for years, has a sensitive stomach or is a senior you will want to introduce new food gradually over about a 2 week time period. Start by feeding 10% new food and 90% old food and gradually increase the percentage of new versus old.

Dry Food: There are several good quality dry foods available. It is very important to read the labels on the bag of food. Read the ingredients and also the guaranteed analysis. Look for foods with a protein content of 30 % or higher. If possible try to feed a grain free kibble. Cats are obligate carnivores and they need meat, almost entirely. Be conscientious of false marketing, many pet food manufactures claim that there food is a “balanced diet.” Dry food is convenient and can be less expensive than some of the other feeding alternatives.

Canned Food: For years pet owners have been told myths about canned food. Canned food does not build up on your cats teeth. There are many great canned foods available. Cats are designed to get their moisture from their food. Canned food is cooked at a much lower temperature than dry food, which helps to maintain the foods nutritional value. A variety of canned food can become your cat’s main diet or adding a good quality canned food to dry food can benefit your pet’s health.

Raw Food: Raw food is becoming a much more popular way to feed your cat. Feeding raw is going back to what Mother Nature intended. Although your pet cat might not look like his ancestors, domestication has not changed his digestive system. Feeding a raw diet has many benefits. Owners will notice a decrease in the amount of stool, less shedding, healthy teeth and gums and better weight control. In addition your pet will have overall improved health. There are many choices of raw food now available. Again, read the labels. Try to choose a company that uses a whole carcass diet. Whole carcass diets should include muscle meat, organ meat and bone. A large number of raw food companies provide raw food in the form of frozen patties. This makes feeding raw more convenient as the only preparation needed is leaving the patties out to thaw.

As a pet owner you need to choose a food based on what your pet needs to stay or become healthy and what you are comfortable with