What kind of quality pet food can I feed my cat?

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Answered by: Kristopher, An Expert in the Feeding and Nutrition for Cats Category
A mistake I see all too often when people by food for their pets is that they assume they're akin to humans in their dietary needs. The various corporations prey upon this misconception, using it to successfully market cheap - and very damaging - pet food. Cats are strictly carnivores, which means they need a lot protein in their diet and not much else. Carbohydrates, while essential to the human body, is only a cause of disease and weight gain in our feline friends despite it being used so often in dry kibble foods. Starches and vegetables are used to promote a higher shelf-life and to meet nutritional guidelines, and while in moderation these are actually positive things, lower-quality pet foods use this to excess as filler.

The best idea, then, is to choose quality pet food while keeping high protein, but low carbs in mind. Not so fast, though, because that's not the only rule you'll need to follow: the quality of ingredients matters very much. The ingredients list on a package will always list the ingredient with the most presence to the one with the least, so it's easy to tell the quality of a pet food from its first five or six listed ingredients. Starting at the bottom, by and away the most offensive ingredients are corn, soy, wheat, and wheat gluten. This is entirely filler, all of it indigestible at best - promoting more, and more odorous waste - and actually promoting illnesses at worst. This is not the stuff you should be feeding your feline friend, and if any of them are listed in the first three or four ingredients, then it's a brand you need to pass up.

Moving up the list, by-products are slightly better than the filler corn and wheat, but not by much. All of them are an extremely unreliable source of protein, and while some sources are better than others, what you can get is a mixed bag. Roadkill peeled from the streets and diseased livestock feature heavily. Also featuring are pets put down euthanasia, and if the implied cannibalism isn't enough, then the fact that your pet could be ingesting the chemicals used to kill other animals should be. By-products are not a healthy source of nutrition by any stretch of the imagination, and should be avoided if at all possible.

On the other end of the spectrum, ingredients that are very much positive and should be looked for are whole meats, such as 'chicken', 'beef', 'turkey', and such, and even more vague descriptors such as 'meat'. With these ingredients, you're getting exactly as promised: whole, healthy sources of protein, and these should definitely be the first or second (after water) ingredient present in the pet food you are buying. Other positives include trace amounts of fruits and vegetables, which is what a cat does need and would find in wild, in the contents of their preys' stomachs.

Really, though, cat food is much easier than dog food, because while a dog may require carbohydrates and other sources of nutrition, a cat needs only meat. Picking a high-quality pet food for your pet is easy, and the decreased shedding, waste elimination, healthier coats and more energetic personality is all the thanks needed to make the higher cost of these foods worth it. Pet ownership is two-way, and, really, think about it: would you want to eat McDonalds every day of the week? That's what some of the cheaper foods are like to our pets, and we owe them better than that.

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