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The best cat food: What is the difference between natural cat food, organic cat food, holistic cat food, even raw and homemade cat food? This page has it covered!
It can seem like a daunting task, finding the best nutrition for your cat. Every brand claims to be the healthiest, best cat food on the market.
What does a cat need? What should he not consume? What exactly are fillers? Well, as we all know, cats are carnivores.
Actually, they are called obligate carnivores, meaning they have to eat meat. At a minimum, meat should be the number one ingredient in your cats food. There is so much to say about the ingredients that we have another page on that: cat food ingredients.
Dry cat food has its proponents and those who are staunchly against it.
Dry cat food has the advantage of convenience. It is long-lasting, and can be left out without measuring for free feeding.
When using dry food, owners should take care to make sure there is always fresh water available. Since cats are designed to digest moist meat, they must drink extra water to compensate for the dry food.
Many cats just don't drink enough to compensate for the dry diet. So supplementing your cats diet with some wet cat food can help ensure they are getting enough moisture. Also, it's nice to add a little flavor variety to their diet, and it can help them from becoming finicky. A high-quality wet food is closer to a cats natural diet.
Another benefit to wet cat food is that it may provide any vitamins or minerals that the dry food lacks. Many high quality dry cat foods aim to provide a complete and balanced diet. Since they are constantly improving, it's safe to say they are not perfect yet!
Do you really know what's in your cat food? Finding the best cat food starts with understanding ingredients. Cat food ingredients can be mysterious, from corn gluten meal to chicken meal.
This section gives an overview of what you need to know in order to choose the best cat food for your cat.
In addition, wheat gluten should be avoided especially if your cat is diabetic. The best cat food for diabetic cats is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate food. You can prepare meat yourself, or buy high-quality wet food. This can really help, and in some cases eliminate, their symptoms.
Many have heard, often from the vet, that a diet of dry cat food helps protect against gingivitis. The action of chewing and crunching the dry kibbles helps to clean the teeth.
Fans of a raw cat food diet point out that in the wild, when a cat tears and chews raw meat, the grinding and scraping action keeps teeth clean and healthy.
What does this really mean? There actually is a definition for natural cat food, according to The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO):
"A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices."
It's a mouthful. All the ingredients have to come from nature, and no man-made ingredients can be added, such as chemically synthetic additives. So, this means meat by-products are natural, as are corn and wheat.
It's not the USDA, but the AAFCO that oversees the manufacture of pet food. There is currently no official definition of "organic" by the AAFCO.
So there isn't really an industry standard when it comes to organic pet food. It may differ by company. Some pet food is actually marked as being "USDA certified organic".
So, these companies have taken it upon themselves to produce organic cat food that meets the USDA specifications to be organic. In this case, USDA organic would mean that the fruit, vegetable and grain ingredients are clear of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
No synthetic preservatives, artificial color or flavor has been added. And, the livestock that was used was fed a natural diet and not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
This is another term not clearly defined by the AAFCO. But, there are guidelines that the companies who produce holisitic cat food use.
The term "holistic", with it's root word of "whole" has come to mean many things. In pet food, it means that whenever possible, minimally processed whole food ingredients are used. So, the food is made with ingredients containing the vitamins and minerals needed.
Also, the whole-body health of the animal is taken into consideration. Healthy skin and coat, hairball control, and weight management for example.
Where many dry cat foods will contain foods and additives we might not be able to pronounce, the list of ingredients on a bag of holistic cat food will read more like fresh foods found at the supermarket.
The ultimate, the best cat food is a homemade or raw cat food diet. Many pet owners make this commitment, and reap the benefits of having a pet who is absolutely in top condition.
There's no denying the fact that a diet of homemade cat food, or raw cat food prepared by an owner is the best cat food around.
It's also true that many folks simply aren't able to go that route. If so, buying high-quality pet food is a great choice for a healthy pet!
Choosing the best cat food for your furry friend is the first step to providing a beloved pet with the longest, healthiest life possible. Not to mention fewer visits to the vet!
There have been a few very good "best cat food" and nutrition questions asked in our Cat Questions section. These questions have been archived into a very informative FAQ's page related to nutrition. Read Nutrition and Food Q & A's for more.