One of the most important considerations a dog or cat owner will have, is to decide what kind of diet to provide his pet.   There is a stark difference between a pet merely surviving on a diet, rather than thriving.   By researching the ingredients found in dry food, canned food, raw food, and specialty blends, it is the owner’s responsibility to supply his cat with a balanced and nutritious diet, as the kitty is unable to do so for himself. Knowledge is power, and being aware of what is going in your cat’s bowl will help inform your decision at the pet food store.

The ugly truth: The first thing to be aware of is the amount of unhealthy, useless and even dangerous additives that are being mixed in by most major pet food production companies. It is much easier to manufacture cat food in bulk, with low quality ingredients, rather than preserve the integrity of the product. Unfortunately many manufacturers fall into this, and as a result pets are eating what is basically glorified waste, and their health is suffering for it.

While shopping for pet food, scan the back of the package and keep an eye out for harmful ingredients. Be wary of “meat meal” or meat “by-products” which can incorporate protein from animal carcasses found on farms, pounds, and feeding lots. Unspecified ingredients like “fats” and “grease” could merely be recycled oil and fat used in restaurants. Other detrimental elements can include preservatives and disguised chemicals (such as ethoxyquin) which are toxic when in contact an animal’s skin, and are illegal in human food. Similar contaminants, dyes, and chemicals which are harmful to animals are routinely incorporated in the pet food products, and are listed as “fish meal” on a food product label.

When purchasing pet food, try to avoid these following ingredients: BHA, BHT, and propylene Glycol, corn and wheat gluten, ethoxyquin, rendered fat, food dyes, etc. Focus on purchasing cat food with animal-based protein with combinations of vitamins nutrients, and proteins such as fish, that have natural elements like fish oil and omega-3s. Similar elements to be added are animal bone, cartilage, liver, heart, organs, salmon oil, and egg yolks, etc.

Dry Foods:
Typically, dry foods have been extensively processed, and are carbohydrate heavy. Cats do much better when they have a diet that is comprised primarily of meat and proteins. Cats struggle to digest plant based foods the way dogs and humans are able to, and unfortunately many dry foods are plant based. Felines require a consistent and healthy dose of taurine (the protein found in meat), and are more likely to suffer from blindness if it is excluded from their diet.  If you are going to feed your cat a dry food diet, the best way to provide him with the nutrients he needs, is to ensure that the product is at least made with 40% protein, and is supplemented by canned food every few days to bring balance. Also see that your cat is also given plenty of water while on a dry food diet, so that he does not become dehydrated.

Raw Foods: Though many opinions are divided about whether or not raw food diets are beneficial to your cat, looking at nature will show that eating raw meat is a part of a cat’s natural inclination. In the wild, cats would hunt and kill, living off of fresh raw meat. While shopping for raw cat food, ensure that the product emulates the diet cats would have in nature, and that the meat is fresh. The food should be primarily of specified animal fat and meat, and should be very low on starches. Another great option is to assemble the raw ingredients yourself at home to see that the quality of the food is up to standard, and that the meat is fresh. A homemade diet allows the owner to oversee every detail of their cat’s nutritional intake, providing exact blends of what the feline needs.

Canned Foods: Canned foods are naturally more hydrating, and are a great option for your cat, provided that there is a high percentage of animal protein. Reliable pet food companies give you the option to choose the specific kind of meat in the canned food, such as beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, guinea and water fowl, turkey, or salmon/fish, etc.   A canned food should be primarily protein only, made with at least 80% animal meat. Be wary of any artificial ingredients, as consuming them will do your cat no favors.

Specialty foods:  
Like humans, cats require different nutrition at specific intervals of their lives, from the time they are kittens to their later years.   Kitten food and senior cat food both focus attention on providing probiotics, enzymes and micronutrients in addition to the protein-heavy blends, in order to help the cat grow and stay strong. In addition to this, many cats battle allergies and require a hypoallergenic diet, or grain free food to ease digestion. Many high quality cat food companies also offer gourmet products of organic and rare meats as a special treat for your cat. The most certain way to combat future health complications in a cat, is to supply your pet with the best nutrition possible for his well being.