When it comes to your cat's nutrition, you want to be certain that your feline companion is getting the very best cat food brand on the market. Unfortunately, similar to dog food, not all cat food is created equal, which is why you must learn what sets the best cat food brands apart from the rest!
In this article, we'll discuss healthy ingredients and nutrition you should consider when selecting your cat's food. We'll also recommend our top picks for the best cat foods of 2020 that will help your feline friend live a long, healthy life.
According to Cornell Feline Health Center, felines are obligate carnivores (true carnivores), meaning they must consume the tissue of other animals in order to thrive. Dogs, on the other hand, are scavenging carnivores. Although dogs are still primarily meat-eaters, unlike cats, they can survive on plant material alone if necessary.
Plant proteins are unnecessary in a feline's diet, as cats are not equipped with the appropriate enzymes to utilize the plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins. Proteins obtained from animal tissue include a complete amino acid profile, the foundation of protein, which is an essential ingredient in a cat's diet.
One specific amino acid essential to cats found in animal tissue is called taurine. Unlike dogs, cats can not make taurine themselves and must consume taurine from animal tissue. Taurine helps felines retain normal vision, digestion, heart muscle function.
Cat's require significantly more protein than dogs because cats use protein as their primary energy source, as well as utilizing the amino acids to maintain muscle, hair, and anatomical structures.
Apart from a cat's critical need for high amounts of protein, they also require moderate amounts of fat, minimal amounts of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
Unless your cat is fed a homemade food diet (or your vet recommends otherwise) your cat will not require vitamin supplements when fed well-balanced commercial cat food.
Now that we've covered important nutrition facts, let's cover how to recognize whether or not your furry friend is receiving the essential elements from their diet, with protein being number one for cats. A guaranteed analysis label will display the minimum percentage of crude (roughly) protein along with crude fat, and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture.
Protein and fat are crucial to your cat's health; the minimum percentage guarantees that the food will always have at least that amount.
Although both fiber and moisture are both helpful to a cat's health, the maximum percentage signifies that it will not contain more than that amount, guaranteeing your cat food has the most critical ingredients.
So how do you know if your cat food contains too little or too much of the above components? You'll have to do some simple math to find the answer. Luckily, we have the equation to get you started!
First, you must know the dry matter content in your cat food. You'll find this amount under crude moisture. Please note that these equations work well with both dry and wet cat food.
100 – Moisture Content = Dry Matter
Guaranteed Crude Protein ÷ Dry Matter Content x 100 = True Protein Content
Guaranteed Crude Fat ÷ Dry Matter Content x 100 = True Fat Content
Guaranteed Crude Fiber ÷ Dry Matter Content x 100 = True Fiber Content
Your cat's protein and fat nutritional needs should fall in between the following percentages unless otherwise noted by your veterinarian.
Protein should be at least 26% (the higher, the better).
Fat should be at least 9%.
Both wet and dry cat food are both excellent sources of well-balanced nutrition. However, both types of food have their pros and cons.
Wet food is often served canned, offering a higher moisture content than dry food, which helps felines combat dehydration if they don't make frequent trips to the water bowl.
Wet food is also a smart choice for cats fighting urinary and kidney issues, as food with higher moisture content can help reduce the amount of urinary crystals, thus reducing the risk of crystal formation.
Unfortunately, wet food is often more expensive than dry food, which can be a strain on the monthly budget for some pet owners. Wet food may also cause some grooming issues in some long-haired cats, as wet food can get stuck in the fur.
Dry cat food comes conveniently stored in bags that can be resealed for continued freshness. Dry food is easily portioned and a good choice for pet-owners that prefer to free-choice feed their pets, or leaving a bowl out throughout the day for your cat to nibble on throughout the day.
Dry cat food is also budget-friendly when compared to most wet food options, making it a popular choice amongst many kitty owners.
However, dry cat food does have its downsides. Unlike wet food, dry food lacks high moisture content making it more challenging to digest for some cats, especially if they're more reluctant to visit the water bowl throughout the day. Dry cat food can also be harder on the gums and teeth of cats already suffering from gum or dental issues.
Contrary to popular belief, neither wet or dry cat food cause adverse or positive effects on the cat's teeth. Wet food plays a minor role in plaque and tartar accumulation, and dry food does not keep teeth clean.
We've covered what to keep in mind when selecting a new cat food and what nutrients are needed when it comes to a well-balanced diet for your feline friend. Now, let's discuss what some of the best cat food brands on the market are today, and what helps them stand apart from the other varieties on the shelf.
This pet food manufacturer is part of the Champion Pet Food Company. Orijen pride themselves in being one of the top pet food suppliers on the market. Orijen's dry cat food contains 40 percent of richly dense protein of both fresh and raw meats without preservatives. Find Orijen on Amazon or your local Petco.
Feline Natural is another top-notch cat food to consider. Feline Natural wet food contains a high moisture content, and a diverse array of fresh grass-fed free-range animal protein, including New Zealand green mussel, organs, and blood. Feline Natural is for all cats and life stages. Find Feline Natural on Chewy, or Amazon.
Dr. Elsey's is not only known for some of the best cat litter on the market, but also their high-quality dry cat food. Dr. Elsey's cleanprotein chicken formula grain-free dry cat food is 100% grain, gluten, and filler-free. Unlike some nutritionally deficient dry cat foods, Dr. Elsey's dry cat food does not include binders like corn, wheat, soy, and potatoes. Dr. Elsey's utilizes gelatin as its primary binding agent to keep this cat food protein-rich and clean.
Another excellent cat food brand is Wellness Core. They offer both dry cat food and wet food varieties. One look at the ingredients label, and you'll see why it made our list of top cat food brands. Wellness Core offers protein-rich nutrition without fillers such as wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products or harmful artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. You can feel good feeding your cat Wellness Core.
There's an array of options when it comes to cat food. When choosing a cat food for your feline friend, stay informed, and choose a food that will provide your cat with the best nutrition possible! If you're looking for a high-quality cat food, be sure to try one of the brands listed above.