Cat Food Buying Guide

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The dietary needs of cats can vary quite a bit. It is, of course, best to follow your veterinarian's advice. This is your basic guide to cat food  and is meant for the average healthy cat. If you notice any abnormal eating behaviors, dramatic weight changes, or unusual coat/skin issues, see your veterinarian immediately.

The Basics

  • Cats need meat . It is not recommended to put a cat on a vegetarian diet. It is unnatural and usually very unhealthy. If you really believe a vegetarian diet is the right choice, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to have your cat go veggie.
  • No table scraps! Do not feed your cat anything from the table . Human food can upset their stomach, make them sick, and cause obesity.
  • Got milk ? Contrary to popular belief, normal milk that humans drink is not good for cats. Milk can upset their digestive system. Some people actually think cats can live off of milk, but this is very untrue. Cats need meat to get their essential vitamins  and nutrients.
  • Beware of allergies. Many cats are allergic to red dye in some dry food, dairy  products, wheat , or even plastic bowls or dishes .
  • Always feed them food made for cats, not dogs. Cats and dogs require totally different vitamins and nutrients.
  • Although it is important to consult your veterinarian about the proper foods for your cat, beware of brand pushing. Many vets receive free or discounted food or even money in exchange for their endorsement of the brand. If you notice posters advertising one particular brand, your vet is probably going to insist that that particular brand is the best. Try to ask questions regarding specific ingredients or dietary needs than asking broad questions like "what should I feed my cat?"
  • If your cat is between 6 weeks and 12 weeks of age, it will need about four or more small meals throughout the day. At 12 weeks of age, it is normally fine to increase the size of each meal and spread the meals out to three meals a day. At 6 months, gradually spread out the meals to equal two meals a day. Of course it is best to listen to your veterinarian, as he knows your particular cat and its needs. Always make sure the cat has fresh water  (usually the water needs to be changed about twice a day, but it varies. Change the water at least twice a day and whenever the bowl is empty or the water is tainted in any way).

Wet or Dry?

People have argued for decades over which type of food is better for cats. The truth is, it probably makes very little difference. Cats fed dry food  and cats fed wet food  have pretty much the same lifespan on average. If anything, it is best to feed cats a variety-- try feeding your kitty dry food in the morning and canned food at night. Studies show that cats enjoy variety and can stop eating if they get really bored of their food.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Cat Food

  • Vitamins and nutrients-- Make sure the food you choose has all the essentials of a healthy diet. Cats require protein (from a meat ,fish , or poultry  source), taurine, and water in their food, so take a good look at the label before purchasing any food.
  • Ingredients-- Look for the words "complete and balanced". Make sure the protein source is named, and not merely referred to as "meat". The protein source, especially on canned food , should be the first ingredient listed. Make sure the food isn't spoiled by checking the expiration date! Avoid any food mentioning "by-products", "meat or bone meal", "animal digest", and added sugar. Also avoid chemical preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propyl gallate. Make sure the food does not contain excess carbohydrate fillers (such as grain) or corn meal fillers.
  • Special Needs-- Many cats need special diets, for reasons like age, weight, allergies, and illnesses. Make sure you buy the right food for your cat. Avoid obesity by feeding your cat special "weight control" food and not leaving extra food out. Kittens need softer food with special vitamins  and minerals  to ensure proper growth. Older cats also need softer food. Ask your vet about any special dietary needs.
  • Price-- Watch out for really inexpensive foods. They usually contain by-products and lack the vitamins your feline needs. Price is usually a good indicator of the quality of the cat food, like the old motto "you get what you pay for". However, even the most expensive foods could lack what your cat needs. Always check the label to ensure that you are getting the very best for your kitty cat.

Related Guides

Meow! Check out these guides on more aspects of keeping your feline friend healthy and happy!

Bowls/Feeders
Cat Care

Litter Boxes
Litter

Grooming
Cat Toys

Bedding
Scratchers
Stain Removers

Collars
Transport

International Resources

For this resource in your home country, please see:
NL: Kattenvoer Shopgids