The Food You Feed Your Cat
Do you know what the food your cat eats has in it? I am not going to tell you what foods to feed your cat but educate you on how to find out what you are feeding your cat to be able to make better-informed decisions about the food you give your cat. Some food brands and types have been known to have very unsafe ingredients and can make cats sick or even die.
Where You Buy Cat Food from Can Make a Difference
Most of the food you buy at a grocery store, or a large multi-department store, are not foods with the best ingredients in them. Some of the ingredients in low-quality food are known to be toxic but are still allowed to be put in our cat’s food. Recalls happen more often with low-quality food, after causing a lot of health issues or even death to multiple or hundreds of cats.
Ingredients on the Back of the Bag of Cat Food
Always make sure to read the ingredients on the back of the bag and do not rely on what it “claims” on the front of the bag. These are marketing words and/or phrases that the company knows will get more people to buy their food. If you read the ingredients, you might find out that what they are saying on the front is not entirely true.
What to Look for in the Ingredients of Healthy Cat Food
When looking at the ingredients in cat food look for words that you can pronounce and read or as few of the ones that you cannot read or pronounce as possible. If your cat has any diseases made worse by inflammation, make sure the food does not have ingredients that are known to increase inflammation. These foods include corn, soy, white rice, white potatoes, and highly processed meat (meat byproducts or meat meals). Cats should have very little carbohydrates in their diets. Their bodies do not do well with them, and they cause extra weight and inflammation. These foods should be avoided if your cat has arthritis, skin issues, chronic bacterial or yeast infections, chronic diarrhea, and constipation, among others. If your cat has any type of chronic disease, you should get less processed food to allow the body to heal and not have to do so much work breaking down food.
Make sure there are no artificial colors or flavors in your cat food. These can be toxic and cause inflammation. Our cats do not need these substances and the food companies do this to make us want to buy the food not that it makes our cats like the food anymore. Another great reference for adding fresh food to your cat’s diet is Dr. Pitcarin’s Compete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
Different Types of Food for Your Cat
Kibble is the most processed food we can give our cats. All the ingredients are mashed together and cooked at high heat. Food companies add vitamins and minerals to make sure the pets get the AAFCO regulatory amount. Next would be canned food. These are normally the same ingredients as the counterpart to the kibble of the same brand and type of food not cooked at such high heat and with water added to it. Then you have fresh food that is normally just slightly cooked to fully cooked meals in tubes, patties, or frozen, depending on the type and brand. Then there is raw and freeze-dried food. These foods are minimally processed, and minimally changed from the food you would cook at home for your cat.
If you do home-cook food you should add in a vitamin. Check out this supplement to help.
How Much Work Each Type of Food Takes the Body to Break Down and Use
Kibble is the hardest of the different types of food to break down since the body must first rehydrate the food and then the body can start to break down the food. Therefore, if you have an older cat or cat with kidney disease you should add water to the kibble before feeding it so the cat doesn’t use up fluid in the body that is already lacking water and a lot of energy rehydrating the food. Cats can be picky about the texture of the food, so make sure to slowly add water if you are going to do this, and make sure you have multiple protein sources if they get tired of one or more of the new foods you are trying to feed. Therefore, feeding canned food can be better for cats with kidney disease and older cats over kibble. With raw food, the body must learn how to use this food and if you do a transition from kibble to raw you need to make sure you do it over a few weeks to a few months to make sure it does not upset your cats’ intestines and slowly if they have any disease or are older. Usually, cat parents slightly heat up or cook when first introducing raw food to make sure the cat does not have stomach issues. You do need to be careful if you decide to cook raw since there are normally bones in them and cooking bones and feeding them to your cat can cause the bones to become sharp and can cause damage to the intestines. Just slightly heating the raw food with bones is different than cooking it. It just depends on if you prepare all the food yourself and add the bones in after heating, do not use any bones, or if you use the prepackaged stuff to know what is in it. There are so many different companies making fresh food now so make sure they have good ingredients and do not have a lot of fillers or proinflammatory foods.
Final Thoughts on Healthy Cat Food
Whichever type of food you decide to feed your cat make sure you do not feed them too much. Most bags of kibble advise you to feed a specific amount of food based on the weight of the cat and if you feed that much every day your cat could become obese. These measurements are based on active cats and most house cats are not that active and therefore do not need that many calories. If you are starting with new food and your cat is at an ideal weight, then start with how much you are currently feeding and watch them for weight gain or loss and adjust as needed. Normally in the winter when cats are in the house more or not roaming as much, you can feed a little less than you would when they are more active. Most cats are overweight or obese and for them to live long happy lives they do need to be on the thinner side. A good rule to remember is how much fat is on the outside of the ribs there is that much fat around the heart making the heart work harder and less efficiently. If you have concerns about food, always talk to your veterinarian before changing the brand, type, or amount of food to make sure it isn’t going to harm your cat.