What Exactly is Healthy Cat Food?

August 15, 2013

I am a cat lover! I come from a long line of cat lovers. As such, I want to make sure that I am a responsible pet owner and part of that is feeding my cat well.

As with everything else, our knowledge about what constitutes good, healthy, nourishing cat food has changed greatly over the past few decades. It used to be that there were only a few popular brands on the market, and we all had trust in these brands and that was it.

But did we read the ingredients? I think not! Certainly we read the labels to the degree that we picked flavour, gravy or no gravy and so on. But that was it.

But that is not what has evolved. It is not the way consumers buy now in the 21st century.

We know more about everything concerning animal health -ingredients that add weight and ones that help animals slim down. Foods that are carcinogenic and ones that promote easy digestion and on and on the list goes.

But I must admit to some confusion, as thrown into the mix now is the concept of ' raw food' and all the benefits that it has for cats, especially felines with allergies.

So what do I feed Kenny, my 13 year old male tabby cat? He is my sole house mate and constant companion. Certainly one of the 'cogs'-a cat that behaves like a dog, that is referenced in today's "new speak".

After many hours of searching for and reading information from varied and I believe, reputable sources, these are the most important facts that I unearthed- most of them surprising to me.

  • cats have a better chance of best health if they eat quality canned food rather than kibble
  • cats need animal- based proteins (wet food) not grain/vegetable based protein (dry food)
  • cat food should not be high in carbohydrates- only 3-5 % (canned food) (kibble = 35-50%)
  • water is extremely important to cats for over-all health and for urinary tract health (canned food=78 %) (dry food=7-10%)
  • cheap canned food is better than high quality kibble
  • best of all is homemade food, but it has to be made exactly to a prescribed recipe
  • raw food can be a great choice as long as it says on the package 'meets complete nutritional needs'

After gathering this information, I felt quite unsettled. I met some of the acceptable criteria of a healthy diet for my cat as he does have a high quality canned food twice a day. But beside his feeding dish is a bowl of kibble. It was not cheap…but I went to my local pet food store and read the label. Just what I feared was true…low moisture content, the first item was not chicken, but chicken by-products and most disturbing of all was the amount of grain (carbohydrates) present.

So wet food it is for Kenny from now on. Will it make a difference? I really don't know. What I do know for sure is that it will make me feel better!