To help your cat enjoy a healthy and long life, it is important to understand proper feline nutrition. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they completely rely on the nutrition that they obtain from animal sources.

Many cat foods on today’s market contain a lot of carbohydrates, and cats are unable to process them properly. By knowing what to look for in food for your cat, what to avoid and how much to feed it, you may help your cat to maintain a proper body weight while avoiding certain diseases.

What to Look For

When you are shopping for cat food, you should make certain to read the labels. Cats need to have food with a high content of water. In nature, cats are hunters that get most of their water from the bodies of their prey. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, dry cat food has a moisture content of as little as six percent. High-quality canned cat food, by contrast, has a moisture content of as much as 75 percent.

In addition to the moisture content of the food that you are considering, you should also look for foods that are made in America. There have been problems in the past with pet foods that contained ingredients from China, for example. According to Pet Safe, many pets around the world died from kidney failure in 2007 after they consumed pet food that contained wheat gluten that was contaminated with melamine. The ingredient was sourced in China. More recently, chicken jerky treats for pets from China have been causing similar problems. In order to make certain that the food that you buy for your cat is regulated, it is best to purchase foods that only include ingredients from the U.S.

When you are looking at the label, the ingredients will be listed in the order in which they are concentrated. Make certain to read the ingredients past the main ones to the preservatives. You should choose foods that use all-natural preservatives such as vitamins E or C and avoid those with artificial preservatives. Finally, if you can find foods that contain human-grade ingredients, choose them. Very few pet foods will meet this standard and be allowed to place this claim on their labels, however.

What to Avoid

There are also several things that are commonly found in cat foods that you should avoid. You should not purchase cat food that contains wheat or corn gluten. Simply looking for a cat food that proclaims that it is grain free is also insufficient. Since plant proteins are cheaper than animal proteins, many companies will fill their cat foods with plant-based proteins that are derived from soybeans, rice, and others. While they are not grains, they are also difficult for your cat to process and should be avoided.

Other ingredients that you should avoid when you are shopping for cat food include the following:

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Propylene glycol
  • Food dyes
  • Rendered fat

How Much to Feed Your Cat?

The amount of food that your cat needs will depend on its age, weight, breed, and whether it is lactating. As a general rule, Catster reports that a healthy adult cat requires about 30 calories per day per pound. If your cat weighs six pounds, this means that it needs about 180 calories per day. One cup of an average dry cat food contains approximately 300 calories, which would mean that your cat should eat about 2/3 cup per day. The average 6-oz. can of cat food contains around 240 calories, meaning that your cat could eat one and one-half 3-oz. cans per day or three-fourths of the larger 6-oz. can. You can check the label on your cat food and follow the recommendations that are given on the package for your cat’s age and weight.

Cat Nutrition Myths

There are many myths about cat foods and proper nutrition for cats. A common myth is that dry cat food is best for cats. In reality, dry cat food may cause chronic health conditions because of its low moisture content. If you give your cat dry cat food, make certain that you also have a supply of fresh, clean water at all times for your cat.

Another myth related to dry cat food is that it is necessary to clean your cat’s teeth. Cats are carnivores, and their teeth are designed to shred and tear the food that they eat rather than grinding it. If they are fed cat food that contains high amounts of carbohydrates, the carbohydrates can form a film on their teeth that attract the growth of bacteria.

A third myth about cat nutrition is that you need to leave food out for your cat to eat whenever it wants. If you do this, your cat may simply overeat and become obese. You should instead feed your cat the correct amount for its needs at the same time each day. If your cat eats everything that you give it, don’t overfeed it by adding more food to its bowl.

What Are Some of The Best Foods

Business Insider has identified some of the best cat foods that are available on the market. It reports that ZiwiPeak offers the best canned cat food available. The cat food is made from 95 percent seafood, fresh meat, organs, and bones from New Zealand and are natural and grain-free.

Another wet cat food that was highly rated by Business Insider is Nature’s Variety grain-free wet cat food. This cat food is made up of 95 percent turkey, chicken, and liver and is balanced with all the nutrients that cats require.

Finally, if you still want to give your cat dry cat food, the top-rated dry cat food is made by Acana. It is a premium cat food that contains mostly protein and is made according to the life stages of your cat.

Shopping for cat food can be a confusing process because of the wide variety of different foods that are available on the market. By understanding what to look for and what to avoid, you can make a better choice for your cat. With cat food, the adage that you get what you pay for is true. You may need to pay a little more money for premium cat food, but it is worthwhile for the health of your cat.