Cats need a diet rich in meat proteins and nutrients. Selecting high-quality cat food is crucial to your cat’s overall health. Learning the nutrient profile of cat food will help you identify the best food that meets your cat’s nutritional needs. We give you a rundown of the 4 types of cat food available in the market today.
1. Dry Cat food
What is a dry cat food made up of?
Dry cat food brands have different ingredients and formulations, and they need to adhere to the standards set by the authorities, such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Animal & Plant Health Agency.
They require dry cat food to be nutritionally balanced regardless of the recipe or brand. This ensures that the mix of ingredients meets the nutritional requirements of cats. The most common ingredients you can find in dry cat food are:
- grains and cereals (if not grain-free)
By having a standard to adhere to, cat food companies are compelled to produce high-quality and safe food products. Reliable producers undertake several important steps to uphold this commitment.
This includes testing and examination of primary ingredients. The process involves verifying that these are free from dangerous chemicals, foreign objects, microorganisms, and contaminants.
What are the benefits of dry cat food?
- Dry cat food is convenient as it comes in larger bags and has a long shelf life. It does not quickly spoil if you reseal or clip it tightly after opening. Another way to keep it fresh is to place it in an airtight container. You may also try keeping it in the freezer, although there may be noticeable changes in taste.
- Dry cat food often is affordable. Moreover, since it can be stored for long periods, you don’t need to buy it frequently, which saves you more money.
- Dry cat food is only made up of around 20% of water. This makes it less prone to bacterial growth. Thus, you can leave it all day for your cat to eat without worrying about spoilage.
However, make sure to provide only portion-controlled meals. This will prevent her from gorging on food, which can result in obesity in cats.
Note that due to dry cat food’s lack of water content and hard texture, it can be quite difficult to digest. It might not be the best option for senior cats and cats with health conditions. If you have a cat with health issues, consult the vet so that the best cat food can be provided.
Can I moisten dry cat food?
Adding water to cat food is not recommended. Doing so will increase the risk of bacterial contamination. However, there are other ways for you to ensure that she is well-hydrated despite the lack of water in her food. Here are some things you can do to encourage her to drink more often:
- Cats naturally prefer to drink from running water. So consider getting a cat water fountain. Clean it often and change the filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Plastic water bowl gives cats a weird aftertaste, so use bowls made of steel or ceramic. Choose a water bowl that is wide and flat to make drinking comfortable for your cat as it prevents her whiskers from touching the container.
- Mind where you place her water bowls. These should be located far away from her food bowl and litter boxes. Place it in a quiet area in your home where she can drink undisturbed.
- Place multiple water bowls around your home. This will give your cat easier access to drink wherever she may be in the house. If you are a multi-cat household, provide enough water bowls and put them in the right locations to avoid conflict.
2. Raw Cat food
What is raw cat food?
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they require a source of animal protein to survive. Our feline friend’s ancestors in the wild rely on eating raw meat, organs, and bones from their prey.
The origin of raw cat food, also known as bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food (BARF), stemmed from this belief. This type of diet involves feeding your cat uncooked meat and bones.
What is raw cat food made of?
An ideal raw food should be a completely balanced diet. Since coming up with one can be quite a challenging task, seek help from the vet. They will work with you to come up with a carefully designed raw diet for your cat.
Raw cat food may include the following:
- Raw meat from muscles and organs (e.g. lamb, chicken)
- Raw ground bones
Where to source raw cat food?
The reliable sources for this type of food are DEFRA-registered raw cat food suppliers. They produce premium-quality raw meat since they must comply with regulations. This means utmost care and sanitation are practised to ensure the safety and quality of the meat.
What are the types of raw cat food?
Raw cat food can be frozen, freeze-dried, dehydrated, organic, or homemade. These are available online, in local pet supply stores, or from raw cat food producers. You can also make one at home. Let us take a look at how each of them differs from one another.
Frozen raw cat food
This type of raw cat food is frozen and packed, which makes it easier to store and serve later. You can store it in the freezer and thaw it when it’s feeding time.
Although freeze-dried may seem similar to frozen cat food, its process is a bit different. The process involves quickly freezing the ingredients in a vacuum. As a result, the food retains texture and taste. The vitamins and minerals are well-preserved as well.
Freeze-dried lasts for an extended period. Just make sure to store it under 75F to maintain its freshness. Then, during mealtime, rehydrate it with water and serve it to your cat.
Dehydrated raw cat food
Dehydrated raw cat food undergoes a gradual and gentle process of preservation. Warm air is used to remove water and moisture from the raw ingredients. It does not require any use of artificial preservatives, but the nutrients of the food remain intact.
Dehydrated raw cat food doesn’t need to be kept in a freezer. It will do fine if stored in a cool and dark area. Exposure to high temperatures should be avoided to avoid spoilage.
Organic raw cat food
Fruits and vegetables in organic raw cat food are grown without synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, ionized radiation, or genetically modified organisms. Animals used in raw cat food live free-range.
Homemade raw cat food
Homemade food is less costly, and you have more flexibility in choosing the ingredients and their sources. Moreover, you have control over what goes into your cat’s meal.
When making homemade raw food for your cat, the ingredients you choose must be well-balanced from a nutritional standpoint. Make sure that you’re mixing ingredients that go well together, as there is a certain food that should not be mixed together.
Consult the vet or animal nutritionist to determine the right mix of raw food ingredients suitable for your cat’s diet.
3. Wet Cat food
What are the benefits of wet cat food?
Cats have lower thirst drives than other pets. This means that even if our feline companions are dehydrated, they don’t feel thirsty. Thus, they depend on their food as the primary source of their daily water intake.
Wet cat food contains around 70% to 80% water, depending on the brand. This keeps cats hydrated.
What to keep in mind about wet cat food?
Wet cat food is easy to eat for cats, especially older ones and felines with health conditions due to its soft consistency. Whilst this is the case, here are a few things you should take note of:
- It should not be left out for over 4 hours. If time passes beyond that, the wet cat food is likely to spoil and should be properly disposed of.
- Clean the food bowls after every mealtime. Leftovers should be stored in a tightly sealed container. Make sure that the lid is properly closed to prevent the smell from permeating.
- The leftovers should be kept inside the fridge for only 7 days. If it remains unused, throw it out for food safety.
- Cold, wet cat food might not be appetising for your feline buddy. If this is the case, warm it for about 3 to 5 seconds in the microwave before serving.
What is better for cats: wet or dry food?
Choosing the best cat food should be based on your cat’s nutritional needs. Before you decide, always consult the vet, who will perform a full dietary evaluation to help you pick between dry and wet cat food.
Can I mix wet and dry cat food?
Blending wet and dry cat food is another good feeding method. There are two ways to do this. You may feed your cat dry food during the daytime and wet in the evening. Keep in mind to store or throw out her leftover wet food.
You can also add wet food to the dry one to add extra moisture. Always remember to maintain proper portion control to prevent obesity.
4. Grain-Free Cat Food
What is grain-free cat food?
Any grain ingredients such as wheat corn, oats, barley, and rice are omitted in grain-free cat food. It specifically caters to felines with grain allergies. It is worth noting that only a few cats are afflicted with this type of allergy.
The common triggers of allergic reactions in cats are fish, beef, and dairy. If you suspect that your kitty has allergies, look out for these signs:
- Excessive grooming
- Redness of the skin
- Sores and scabs
- Hot spots
- Hair loss
- Bald patches
Bring her to the vet for examination if she exhibits these symptoms. An elimination trial will be recommended once her allergy is proven to be caused by food. This process helps pinpoint the cause of her food allergy.
What is the difference between grain-free cat food and gluten-free cat food?
As discussed above, grain-free cat food does not contain any grains. On the other hand, gluten-free cat food may contain grains, excluding protein-carrying grains such as barley, rye, and wheat.
Is grain-free cat food low in carbohydrates?
It is a common misconception that grain-free cat food is low in carbs. Grain-free cat food may contain lentils, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca, which are high in carbohydrates.
Excessive fat consumption, over-feeding, lack of exercise, and feeding on table scraps are the primary contributors to obesity. If you want to pick a good cat food that is grain-free and low carb, checking the labels is the way to start.
Questions You Might Also Ask:
How much food should I feed my cat?
The best way to find out the proper amount of food for your cat is by working with the vet or animal nutritionist. When it’s mealtime, portion feeding is recommended by experts to prevent obesity. This means measuring the food before serving it to your feline friend.
In general, cats should be fed at least twice a day, given at least 12 hours apart. Treats such as cat biscuits should only make up 10% of her daily calories.
Can kittens eat adult cat food?
Kittens have different nutritional requirements from adult cats. They require more energy intake than their older counterparts.
Moreover, specific vitamins and minerals are needed to facilitate their growth and development. Adult cat foods do not meet these requirements. Thus, it is best to stick with cat food formulated for kittens.
When kittens reach one year old, they are considered adults. This is the right time to transition them to eating adult cat food slowly.
How To Transition To A New Type Of Cat Food
Take things slow if you’re transitioning your cat to a new diet. Sudden changes in her feeding routine can cause stomach upset.
The best approach is to mix new and old food. Then, slowly shift from the old food to the new one. Below is a rough guide that can help you in transitioning to a new cat food:
Step 1 – Mix 75% of the old food and 25%of the new food. Do this for 2 to 3 days.
Step 2 – Mix 50% of the old food and 50% of the new food. Follow this for 2 to 3 days.
Step 3 – Mix 25% of the old food and 75% of the new food. Feed this for 2 to 3 days.
Step 4 – Her diet should be composed of 100% of the new food.
If your cat experiences digestive problems in the middle of the transition, slow down. Instead of 2 to 3 days per mix, adjust it to 4 to 6 days. This will give her more time to get used to the new food. If her stomach upset doesn’t cease, contact the vet.
What is the best cat food?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. All cats have different nutritional needs. The vet will help assess your cat’s food requirements based on her breed, health, age, and energy levels. The best cat food is the one that meets the nutritional needs of your cat.