Now more than ever, there is an endless number of cat food brands on the market today. Even the most discerning cat-owner can become overwhelmed by trying to learn what the best food is for their beloved pet.
So what is the best?
The answer is always…
It depends on the nutritional needs of your individual cat. Just like people, every cat is different, and they don’t all thrive on the same food. Let’s look at where to start when learning what foods suit your cat best.
The healthiest cat foods are the ones that make the most sense for the digestive anatomy of a cat. Despite living as pets for over 12,000 years, the way their bodies break down food has remained the same.
For example, carnivores like our cats lack an enzyme in their saliva (called “amylase”) that plant-eating animals possess which aids in the breakdown of carbs. This tells us plant-based carbs are not meant to be a significant part of their diet by any means. Cats also possess the typical carnivore’s short digestive tract, which is designed to quickly pass meat through their system before it spoils inside them. This is as opposed to herbivores which possess long digestive tracts because plants take longer to break down. From these two traits alone, we can plainly see cats are built to consume foods with high meat content, and low carbs.
Look for foods that fit these criteria FIRST. Let your cat stay on a chosen food for at least a few weeks before determining whether it is working well for your cat, as it sometimes takes time to adjust to a new food.
Choosing which type of food...
Variety is super beneficial! Some say exposing your cat to many types of food from a young age helps to prevent the extreme finickiness we so often see in cats. Anyone who’s owned a cat that would rather starve than eat certain foods should consider there are many different forms and textures of cat food that are worth trying to keep your cat interested.
Dry cat food is the most convenient and widely-available option, since its long shelf life allows you to leave food in your cat’s bowl throughout the day.
It’s important to be aware that some cats on a solely dry diet experience urinary tract issues. This is because it’s not always instinctual for cats to drink water from a bowl since, in nature, they would be getting 90% of their moisture from their prey.
Here’s a tip: One way to help your cats intake enough water is to provide them a pet water fountain that circulates the water and stimulates their desire to drink!
Wet cat food is especially beneficial for cats as it provides that much-needed moisture in the same way they would receive it in nature - in their food. It is slightly less convenient than dry food since it can’t be left out all day, however the pros certainly outweigh the cons because of just how incredibly important moisture intake is to a cat’s overall health.
Moisture is not just necessary for urinary tract health, but also to prevent a whole host of issues that are caused by dehydration. All the same benefits we receive from proper hydration - our cats do too!
There are two forms of wet cat food: pate and shredded or diced meat in a gravy. Some cats prefer one over the other, so it’s good to be aware of the choices and expose your cat to both to encourage openness to different foods.
Natural vs Artificial
It’s also important when choosing a cat food to note the difference between “natural” ingredients and “artificial” ones. That’s because vitamins and minerals from natural sources are going to be much more easily absorbed by your cat’s body than artificial ones. Some examples of “artificial” ingredients to avoid are:
- Corn gluten meal
- Sodium nitrate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
- Potassium sorbate
- Titanium dioxide
Examples of “natural” ingredients are more obvious, because they’re easily recognizable - such as:
- Coconut oil
It’s important to also be aware that some ingredients you may not necessarily recognize, such as Niacin and Selenium, are actually vitamins or minerals that are necessary for your cat’s health. Generally, the last portion of items on an ingredients list in pet food are the added vitamins and minerals needed to make the food complete and balanced.
Another factor you’ll want to take into account is what type of formula your cat needs. Some examples of the different formulas are: Kitten, Adult, Mature/Senior, Indoors, or Hairball.
- Kitten formulas contain a slightly higher amount of certain nutrients to support the growth of a kitten from 8 to 26 weeks of age.
- Adult cat foods are formulated to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed to meet the daily maintenance needs of an adult cat.
- Mature/Senior formulas are generally lower in fat and higher in fiber - perfect for older cats who’ve started to slow down, maybe gained a little extra weight, and need a slight boost to their digestive regularity. The age at which a cat should be put on a Mature formula depends on the individual cat.
- Indoor cat formulas may be beneficial for a cat that is somewhat less active than an outdoor cat would be, as this type of food generally contains fewer calories to prevent an indoor cat from gaining too much weight.
- Hairball formulas have higher fiber to allow for the natural passing of hair through your cat’s digestive tract, as well as certain enzymes that help to stop hairballs from forming at all.
A great place to start...
Even when narrowing down your options with these criteria, it can still feel daunting to choose. One excellent option to try is Ivory Coat wet pouches.
Our pouches use only natural ingredients and are complete and balanced for daily feeding. With meat as the number one ingredient and zero grains, these pouches are made with the strict carnivore in mind.
But Ivory Coat takes these pouches one step further by adding a unique blend of coconut oil, fish oil, sunflower oil, and flaxseed oil. These powerful omega 3’s and 6’s support healthy skin, coat, AND brain, allowing your cat to look and feel their best well into their older years.
You may never have to search for another cat food again!