How To Read A Cat Food Label
To really understand what is in your cat’s food and to compare one brand to another, you’ll need to navigate its nutritional content.
Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis on a cat food label is not at all straightforward, especially if you’re attempting to compare the nutrients in a wet food to those in a dry food. Because the two types of food have vastly different moisture contents , the percentages of fat, protein, and fiber in wet food must be converted to “dry matter basis.”
To convert the moisture-containing guaranteed analysis to dry matter basis, check out these directions from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. You can also call the food manufacturer or ask your veterinarian for help.
AAFCO complete and balanced statement: To ensure that a cat food is nutritionally complete and balanced, it must contain one of three AAFCO statements on its label.
1. The first AAFCO statement confirms that the food’s minimum nutrient profile has been verified via a third-party laboratory analysis. It reads:
is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.
Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that provides complete and balanced nutrition.
3. A cat food manufacturer whose family of products has already met AAFCO’s feeding trials criteria may carry an AAFCO statement for recipes that were not directly tested. That statement reads:
What To Look For In A Quality Biologically
Studies on both indoor, commercially-fed cats, and feral and stray cats show that cats will self-select food sources that result in a macronutrient profile in this range :
- Protein: 52-63%
- Fat: 22-36%
- Carbohydrate: 2.8-12%
What we believe this shows is that cats have evolved to thrive on a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet.
We base our ratings and selections on this assumption.
You can use our formula above to determine exactly what to look for, but Im going to break it down here, too.
First, meat must be the first ingredient.
Second, named meat is important because unnamed meat is usually low-quality, rendered meat product that may come from anything from 4-D farm animals , diseased, dying, and disabled), roadkill, zoo animals, and even euthanized cats and dogs.
Third, there should be few, if any, filler ingredients, like corn, rice, or potato, and little to no controversial ingredients.
Companies include carb filler ingredients because theyre cheap, some can also increase the protein content on the label , and some are used to help form dry food kibble pieces.
You should also know what all the other unnatural sounding ingredients are doing in the recipe.
These include things like guar gum, carrageenan, titanium dioxide, artificial flavors, and more. Some of these hard to pronounce ingredients are controversial or straight-up bad, but some are vital minerals and vitamins. It can be hard to tell which is which!
Check The Animal Protein
Next, look at the list of ingredients. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain large amounts of moisture are likely to be at the top of the list because of the moisture content. Ingredients further down the list may offer even more key nutrients such as protein but may weigh less because the water has already been removed for a dry pet food.
All cat foods should have some source of animal protein and fat. Cats are obligate carnivores and require nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid to be supplied in their diet. These nutrients are only present in animal sources. They are not found in plant-based sources. The animal source may be in the form of beef, poultry, chicken, turkey, fish or other meats. Or it may be in the form of by-products or by-product meals.
Also Check: Calico Cat Breeds
Hills Science Diet Urinary & Hairball Control Cat Food Best For Urinary Health
For cats that need a helping hand in the urinary department, veterinarians like to reach for Hills. This diet is perfect for cats that are prone to suffering from urinary issues, such as indoor cats and overweight cats. The key feature of this wet cat food is the careful balance of minerals to avoid crystals, sludge, and stones forming in the urinary tract. Struvite is one of the most common crystal types formed in our feline friends, and it is principally made of magnesium, so this is the most important mineral to balance. Being a wet diet, this cat food also encourages a more natural water intake for cats.
Please note that urinary problems can be severe and even fatal in cats. If your cat suffers from urinary issues you should discuss their diet choices with your vet. This food is not a cheaper alternative to the prescription diets, so if your vet prescribes Hills c/d or s/d you should use only that food or ask them for an alternative.
- Not as effective as prescription diets
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management Cat Food Best For Weight Loss
Although not a prescription diet, this weight management food from Purina is one of the best wet cat foods on the market. As a veterinarian, I often use this as a less-expensive, non-prescription alternative for cat owners that struggle to afford some of the clinical and prescription diets. It has just 79 calories per can, meaning that it is easy for pet parents to portion.
Cats eating this food will get to have several small meals throughout the day, which is considered ideal for feline behavior as well as satiety . Cats that dont feel full pester for more food, which can be a huge barrier to healthy weight loss. The protein content is also high at 54% , which contributes to satiety and also ensures that cats dont lose condition when they lose weight.
The main problem with this food is its palatability. Like many weight loss foods, palatability can be a concern and there are certain cats that wont eat this food. Still, cats will be cats, and Im the same with Ryvita so we cant blame the food too much! On the whole, it has great reviews so it is definitely worth giving it a go if your kitty is on the porky side!
- Palatability may be an issue
Also Check: What Was The Cats Name On The Smurfs
Whats The Right Amount Of Food To Eat
Being within a healthy weight range is important. Nearly 60% of cats in the United States are overweight, and this can lead to the same health problems seen in people.
To lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, keep your cat in the right weight range.
For pets with weight problems, specific calorie counts per unit of food help divvy up portions, so you know exactly what your kitten is getting.
Check out our post on how much to feed your cat to get a more in-depth look.
Worst Cat Foods 2021 How To Choose A Quality Food
Worst cat foods, sounds really bad right? Whether you buy cat food at the grocery store or at a pet store, you may be buying something that’s actually bad for your pet. Even some of the healthy food options are complete garbage and end up doing more harm than good.
Ask yourself the following:
Would I feed my kids or myself candy and potato chips at every meal? If not, why do the same to your cat? Do I know why carrageenan is so bad? Why not pick a food with preservatives?
We’ve compiled a thorough guide to help you make wise decisions. Learn what you should feed your fur baby. Understand the key ingredients that ensure you’ve made the right choice.
You love what you see? Purrfect! Rest assured that I put these products on the list specifically due to their genuine quality and not for other reasons. I would just like to be transparent with you and inform you that FelineLiving may obtain a share of sales or other monetary compensation from the links on this page. I hope your furry friends will love these reviewed products and that it will spark joy in each pair of feline eyes!
Here at FelineLiving.Net we have a dedicated mission to provide cat owners like you with well-researched information so they can provide the best care and nutrition to their cat.
FelineLiving.Net is supported by our readers. If you make a purchase through one of our links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of operating our free blog. Thanks for your support!
You May Like: Calico Cat Types
Is Cat Health Insurance Worth It Ask An Expert
Taking on the care of another living being is a big responsibility. When your pet is young and healthy it might not seem necessary to pay monthly premiums for pet health insurance, but investing in pet insurance early can save you thousands of dollars down the road. More importantly, it will ensure your pet has access to care when they need it the most.
Pet insurance is a valuable investment that can keep your four-legged family member healthy and prevent you from spending too much money on vet care.
How do I know this? Well, my fiance and I rescue, rehabilitate, and foster cats in Brooklyn, NY. We’ve seen our fair share of vet bills, and my own cat Greyson was lucky to have pet insurance to reimburse us for a $1,200 dental extraction .
Best Bang For Your Buck
Dont feel like spending hundreds of dollars a month on cat food? I feel you. These are a few great options that wont have you eating top ramen every day.
*slightly less-than-ideal ingredients are highlighted in red
Natural Balance canned cat food
Get it on Amazon
First 5 ingredients:
Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Duck
$30-35 for 24 6-oz cans
Not grain free
Natures Logic canned cat food
Get it on Amazon
First 5 ingredients:
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, Dried Egg Product,
$23 for 12 5.5-oz cans
There are other canned food options out there, but from my digging these appear to be your best bet . Know a great brand* that you dont see here? Please leave me a comment and Ill commence my obsessive research.
Also Check: Is Terramycin Safe For Cats
Low Or No Carbohydrates
Dry cat food is especially susceptible to being packed with filler ingredients that are often made up of wheat or corn. These act to keep the dry food glued together, but grains are not a natural part of a cats diet.
Your best bet is to aim for natural dry cat food that labels itself as grain free.
This ensures the carbohydrate levels in the food are low and you get more healthy protein for your money, everyones a winner.
Best Wet Cat Food Formulas Of 2022
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.
When you bring a new cat home, one of the first decisions you have to make as a new pet parent is what type of cat food to feed your feline. And while there are hundreds of foods and cat food brands on the market, most cat owners will choose between two types of formulationswet cat food and dry cat food.
While there are benefits and drawbacks to both, wet cat food can offer a variety of benefits to our feline friends. In general, wet food tends to be higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates compared to dry food, says Dr. Ericka Carroll, a San Francisco-based veterinarian who works for Hello Ralphie, a telehealth platform. Wet food also has significantly high moisture content compared to dry food.
Finding the best wet cat food for your four-legged companion will come down to your cats individual needs and preferences. But this guide will provide information about what to look for and consider when shopping for wet cat food and which brands and formulas you should consider for optimum nutrition.
Don’t Miss: Cat Age Chart Human Years
Senior Cats Need Increased Protein Levels
As cats age, their protein requirements increase due to reduction in digestive efficiency.
Many cats of 12 or more years of age should be fed a diet containing nearly 50% protein. Many diets formulated for older cats have decreased protein levels due to concerns over kidney disease, which is common in the aging cat population.
While protein restriction may be beneficial for certain cats with kidney disease, a more conservative approach to protein restriction is now recommended and is a topic that should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Cat Food Vs Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish And Egg Recipe
So how does Natural Balances formula stack up to Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ocean Whitefish and Egg Recipe? Well, for starters, both are grain-free options. Both companies also stress a commitment to high-quality, real ingredients with nutritional balance overseen by experts. While Natural Balance provides a way to actually track your specific bag through its website, Purina Beyond does specify a traceability guarantee for each of its sourced ingredients. Price-wise, the Purina Beyond option is just slightly cheaper, with an 11-pound bag priced at $30, approximately the same cost as Natural Balances 10-pound bag.
In terms of health benefits, the Purina Beyond option doesnt list specifics. On the other hand, Natural Balance lists strong muscle tone and a healthy, shiny coat in addition to healthy digestion as health reasons for choosing its formula. A side-by-side comparison of ingredients, though, shows great similarity, so a lot of the difference between these options will come down to your cats personal preference and whether or not you notice a change in the health and energy of your cat.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best premium dry cat foods available.
Definitely worth trying.
Also Check: How To Get Cat Pee Smell Out Of Hardwood Floor
Common Sources Of Protein In Cat Food
There are two main sources of protein used in cat food: animal protein and plant protein. Although vegetarian diets and alternative protein sources may appeal to pet parents, cats are not able to meet their nutritional needs with plant sources alone. Certain nutrients are present only in animal tissues and not in plant products. For example:
Taurine, an essential amino acid for cats, is present in animal tissues but not in plant products.
Methionine and cystine are amino acids that are required in high amounts in cats, especially during growth. Plant sources do not generally provide high enough levels of methionine or cystine for cats. Deficiency of these amino acids can result in poor growth and crusting dermatitis. Kittens require that 19% of their diet consist of animal protein to meet their methionine requirements.
Proteins from animal sources generally have higher biologic availability, and are therefore more readily used by the body than proteins from plant sources.
The Cats Natural Diet
According to a 2011 presentation in The British Journal of Nutrition (Estimation of the dietary nutrient profile of free-roaming feral cats: possible implications for nutrition of domestic cats, by Esther A. Plantinga, Guido Bosch, and Wouter H. Hendriks, The results show that feral cats are obligatory carnivores, with their daily energy intake from crude protein being 52 %, from crude fat 46 % and from N-free extract only 2 %. These estimates coincide with earlier estimates from researchers. On a dry matter basis, the cats natural diet can be estimated as 72 78 percent moisture content, with protein, fat, and carbohydrates on a dry matter basis as 63 percent protein, 23 percent fat, and 2.8 percent carbohydrates.
Don’t Miss: Who Sings Cats In The Cradle
What About Cats With Grain Allergies
Cats that have been diagnosed with allergies to a grain like rice, corn, or barley should of course eat a diet thats free of those ingredients.
However, because food allergies are best diagnosed by intradermal allergy testing or expensive blood testing, many pet parents who believe their cat has allergies are relying on their own assumption or a suggestion of possibility by a friend, trainer, breeder, or veterinarian.
Food allergies in general are much rarer than pet parents believe, and grain allergies are present in a vanishingly small portion of those animals that do truly possess food allergies. Allergies to animal proteins such as chicken or fish comprise the majority of food allergies in cats.
If your cat has not been diagnosed with a grain allergy by a veterinary dermatologist or other professional, talk to your regular veterinarian about any symptoms your cat is having that make you worried about food allergies, such as:
Scabs on the skin
They will be able to make sound recommendations about the role that diet might play in your cats condition.
Blue Wilderness Indoor Chicken Dry Cat Food
Delicious, grain free and packed full of protein. Blue Wilderness have produced an absolute stand out contender for the best dry cat food ever.
BLUEs dry cat foods are cold-formed, a process that avoids excess heat to ensure the ingredients dont lose their nutritional value. Much like what happens if you cook vegetables on a high heat they lose some of the heat-sensitive nutrients.
The TRUE BLUE promise gives you peace of mind that the protein comes from natural, real chicken instead of any nasty by-product. It also promises that their foods contain no artificial flavoring or colors, and no grain, wheat or soy!
Its ingredients clearly list the of all proteins, fats and amino acids which gives you peace of mind that theyre coming from natural sources. Best of all, its totally grain free.
GRAIN FREE: You can read below to find out why this is important, but the gist of it is that cats dont need to eat any grain based foods and it can be detrimental to health in some cases.
Supposedly inspired by the diet of the lynx, this tasty cat food really is the perfect blend of high quality, tasty ingredients and health benefits, making it the best there is. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken review.
Don’t Miss: Short Haired Calico Cat