Cat food has many types. The basic ingredient in cat’s food should be meat. Dry cat’s food is not as preferred as wet food. Organic food is better as compared to food for cats with preservatives. Food for diabetic cats, old cats and kittens should be selected carefully. Adult cats food is not suitable for small cats. Cat’s diet for brain development, bone development, allergies, kidney care and IBS are available these days in all sort of flavors and types.
There are many types of cat food available these days. It is observed that those cats that eat raw meat as compared to commercial foods are more healthy and active. Cats that are malnourished and weak should also be given raw meat in order to quickly recover. However, if owners choose to feed their cat homemade food then they have to be well educated about the nutritional needs of a cat and which type of meat suits the needs so as to provide a balanced meal.
Homemade vs. Commercial Cat Food
Homemade meals are also better than commercial meals because they provide adequate water needed by cats and the owner has full control over the ingredients and their freshness. On the other hand it is more convenient and often cheaper to buy commercial premium food. Thus the choice lies with the owner- even though raw meat is more nutritional but it is also more time consuming. It is also recommended to offer a combination of commercial and home cooked meal.
Raw Meat vs. Cooked Meat
The main debate in this area is whether to feed cat raw meat or cooked meat. If given raw, the meat might have parasites that are harmful for the cat’s stomach; and if cooked then nutrients are lost due to processing. Many cat owners, who opt for home made food, feed their cats a combination of the two depending upon the meat used. Rabbits are usually fed raw while chicken, turkey and fish are usually semi-boiled before serving.
Commercial Cat’s Foods
A good cat feeding product will contain all the above mentioned ingredients in the right quantities. There are mainly three types of commercially available diets: dry, semi-moist and wet. They vary mainly in the method of processing and water content rather than in ingredients or nutrient content.
- Dry Foods: Dry foods only contain 10% moisture and 90% matter. They include different forms of kibbles, cereals and biscuits designed for cats. These have high protein concentration and thus can fulfill cat’s protein requirements. In order to also fulfill their water requirements, water or gravy can be added to dry foods. From owner’s perspective these foods are cheapest and most convenient to serve.
- Semi-Moist Foods: These foods contain around 25-45% moisture and 55-75% matter. They are made of chewy moist pellets and are usually available in sachets. These foods are more expensive than dry foods and have a smaller shelf life as well, but they have higher palatability for cats and thus are usually used as cat treats.
- Wet Foods: These foods contain about 90% moisture and 10% matter. They are preserved in cans, pouches and trays and contain different forms of chunks in gravy or jelly. These foods are most expensive among cat food types but have the highest palatability as well.
Choosing the Right Food for Cats
It is advised to serve cats a variety of food types. All type of foods for cats have the advantages and disadvantages. Whereas dry food is good for cat gums and convenient to serve but it is also associated with kidney problems, diabetes and free feeding of cats. Kidney problem can be solved with high moisture canned foods but these cans are also expensive. Also, just like humans, cats prefer variety in food. Furthermore, eating same type of food for a long time might cause the cat to develop certain food allergies. Lastly, cats are likely to get addicted to certain food product, and in case it is not available in the market then they refuse to eat any other brand or product. To avoid such a situation it is always better to get the cat accustomed to different products. Veterinarians often advise wet or semi-moist foods as main diet for cats and dry food as complementary or side dish.
As far as nutritional needs of cats go, in case of commercial food products, owners should look for the phrase ‘complete and balanced nutrition’ on the container. If this phrase is present then owners don’t need to worry about any further vitamin supplementation for their cats. Another tip is that the pack should contain named protein source i.e. the type of meat used, as the first ingredient. All types of cat food should be used so that cat gets a variety and various sources of nutrition.
Fresh water should be available at all times. As mentioned earlier, cats obtain 70% of water from their diets. But cats on dry food diet should drink around one cup of water per ten pounds of body weight in a day. Cats that consume wet diet only need one third of what dry-food diet cats need. If cats do not drink enough water they can suffer from dehydration, chronic renal failure and urinary tract infection.
Cats’ digestive system cannot process chlorine. Thus if chlorinated water is used to feed cats, then it should be left to stand for a day so that most of the chlorine escapes. It is best if cats are fed bottled or filtered water.