Victoria, British Columbia

What you should know about Cat Foods

You are what you eat, and this is equally true for the cats that depend on us for “room and board.” Indeed, cat food is one of the most important expenses of feline guardianship, next to veterinary care. It is important also to note that proper diet can eliminate or delay veterinary expense for a number of serious medical conditions.Cats’ Basic Nutritional Needs

  • Protein from a meat, fish, or poultry source
  • Taurine, an essential amino acid
  • Certain other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
  • Water

That’s it, basically.     Cats do not need carbohydrates, although corn, wheat, and/or rice are used as fillers for both canned and dry cat foods. Other ingredients, such as binders, flavoring, and coloring, are added by cat food manufacturers to satisfy the aesthetic wants of the consumer. Although preservatives are necessary, to keep foods fresh for our cats, canned food should not be allowed to remain out for any length of time, in any case.Canned food or Kibble? Many nutritionists agree that cats should get a variety of food, both dry and canned, for several reasons:

  • While dry food is convenient, and can be left out for “free feeding,”
  • Canned food contains water, and many cats do not drink water regularly

Cheaper Brands are False Economy
Many first-time cat owners, in an attempt to hold down expenses, buy the cheapest foods they can find for their cats. This is false economy for a couple of reasons. First, studies have shown that cats eat as much as they need to get the nutrients they require. Therefore, they might eat twice as much of that generously-carbohydrate-filled store brand to get the nutrients they need in a normal feeding of premium food. Second, the continued feeding of substandard foods over a period of years will heavily contribute to, or even cause, serious medical conditions that will require expensive veterinary care.For these reasons, the old maxim, “You get what you pay for,” is particularly true where it comes to cat food.   What to look for on the label

  • Compliance with AAFCO’s requirements for “Complete and Balanced,” as evidenced by that wording on the label.
  • Named protein source – look for “chicken, lamb, or beef,” rather than “meat.”
  • On canned food particularly, the protein source should be the first listed ingredient
  • Check the expiration date for freshness

What to avoid

  • Words such as “By-products,” “meat and/or bone meal,” “animal digest,” most other descriptions including “digest” or “meal,” and added sugars.
  • Chemical preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propyl gallate
  • Cornmeal as a filler
  • Excess of carbohydrate “fillers” (Dry food can contain as much as 50 percent grain)

Cats are Obligate Carnivores, and cannot thrive on vegetarian diets, although most vegetables can be added to cats’ diets, either by the manufacturer or the consumer.Pet food manufacturers cannot print “complete and balanced” on their labels unless one of the following criteria is met:

The food must pass feeding tests for the life stage recommended on the label

  • The composition of the food must meet or exceed nutrient levels established by AAFCO
  • Preservatives, at the level included in commercial pet foods, have never been scientifically demonstrated to cause any problems in pets (or people) at less than 100 times the levels found in such foods. On the other hand, the current trend for many cat food manufacturers is toward using natural preservatives, such as vitamins C and E.

Examples of quality canned food:Innova EvoMerrickInstinct

Examples of quality dry food:Innova EvoFromm Surf & Turf (grain free)Solid Gold Indigo MoonEvanger’s Pheasant & Brown RiceA Taste of the WildOrijenCalifornia Natural – this one does have grain but it is barley and oatmealNatural Balance – has limited ingredient formulas – good for cats with allergies/sensitivitie