Information regarding cat food

DSC02150Cheaper Brands are False Economy

Many first-time cat owners, in an attempt to hold down expenses, buy the cheapest foods they can find for their cat. This is a false economy for a couple of reasons.

  • First, studies have shown that cats eat as much as they need to get the nutrients they require. Therefore, they might eat twice as much of that generously-carbohydrate-filled store brand to get the nutrients they need in a normal feeding of premium food.
  • Second, the continued feeding of substandard foods over a period of years will heavily contribute to, or even cause, serious medical conditions that will require expensive veterinary care. Many skin and hair/coat problems are traced back to substandard foods.

Cats are carnivores, and need a good source of meat protein. They do not need large amounts of grain fillers, especially corn, which is a cheap source of protein used by many dry cat food manufacturers. Cats do not have the enzymes to break down vegetable (carbohydrate) matter.

For these reasons, the old maxim, “you get what you pay for” is particularly true when it comes to cat food.

What to look for on the label:

  • Compliance with AAFCO’s requirements for “Complete and Balanced”, written ON THE LABEL.
  • Named protein source—look for “chicken, lamb, or beef,” as the FIRST ingredient.
  • On dry food, the protein source should be the FIRST listed ingredient.
  • Check the expiration date for freshness.

What to avoid:

  • Words such as “by-products”, “meat and/or bone meal”, “animal digest”, most other descriptions including “digest” or “meal”, and added sugars.
  • Chemical preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propyl gallate
  • Corn meal as a filler
  • Excess of carbohydrate “fillers”.  Dry food can contain as much as 50% grain, which is NOT desired.
  • Semi-moist (soft kibble) diets because of the large amount of preservatives and food dye they contain.

Dry cat food only diets can also contribute or be directly related to certain health conditions:

  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • DRY (chronic renal failure)
  • Urinary crystals (which are potentially fatal to cats)
  • Diarrhea or other allergy-related conditions
  • Dehydration (cats on canned food diets get sufficient water)

We highly recommend added canned food to a cat’s diet for the following reason:

  • is a good protein source
  • is high in water content which keeps the bladder/kidneys flushed
  • has more aroma, flavor and palatability
  • can help with hairball problems
  • is less caloric than dry food
  • has been proven to help prevent diabetes, kidney/liver disease, skin problems, obesity, irritable bowl syndrome


It’s so important to buy good quality dry cat food.    An example:  “poultry by-product meal, ground yellow corn, wheat flour, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, brewers rice”.  Of these six ingredients, four are carbohydrates. Our advice is to pass by this food.  Be sure the first ingredient is a meat, whether it be chicken, lamb, turkey, etc.

Other food tidbits:

  • Most adult cats are lactose intolerant and drinking milk will give them diarrhea.
  • Many owners grow some grass for their cats to munch on. In general, the seeds listed below are acceptable to give to cats (do not use treated seeds, identifiable by a dyed red, blue or green color)                                                                              Oats (cheap, easy, big)        Wheat (not wheatgrass)

Bluegrass                                 Barnyard millet

Fescue                                       Ryegrass (annual ryegrass is cheap/easy to grow, but small)

  • Have clean water available at ALL times for your cat. Be sure to wash food and water dishes frequently bacteria can build up rapidly in them.
  • At the rescue center, we leave dry cat and kitten food out 24/7, which is known as free feeding. Any cat under 12 months should have dry KITTEN food. Over 12 months, feed dry CAT food.
  • Also at the rescue center, we feed canned food, per the advice of our veterinarians.
    • Kittens under 3 months and our geriatric cats 12 years and older are fed a small amount 4 times daily.
    • Kittens between 3-5 months are fed a small amount 3 times daily.
    • Kittens and cats 5 months up to 12 years of age are fed a small amount twice a day.
  • Only use stainless steel, ceramic or glass bowls. The plastic bowls can easily get scratched. Scratched bowls can hold bacteria, which can cause a skin irritation on your cat’s chin.

Cats are carnivores, meaning they are meat eaters. They don’t have the ability to manufacture proteins in their liver as dogs and humans do, thus they have to get their proteins from food.

Taking a little time to select the best food for your cat is one of the best things you can do for the health of your cat.

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