Selecting the correct diet for your cat can be a struggle, because pet shops, supermarkets and vet clinics stock various types, brands and qualities of foods. But we’re always happy to offer advice…
There are a few things to consider when selecting pet food – and price or convenience may not be the most important reason for purchasing a particular brand of pet food.
- Wet food – A large number of wet foods are not a complete diet and should be fed alongside another type of food to give your cat the correct amount of nutrition. As wet food is around 70% water, this can cause more waste material to be produced.
- Dry diets – These are commonly referred to as biscuits, which are medium quality and are baked. Many owners are attracted to the colours and shapes of the biscuits, but your pet doesn’t really see or taste any difference. Kibbles are the best dry food to choose as they are made to suit different jaw sizes, different stages of life and are highly digestible. This means that less waste is produced, as your cat will digest all of the nutrients and ingredients in the kibble. It is also a great advantage to dental health.
- Homemade diets – This is very involved for the owner and means making and cooking the appropriate food from a recipe. This can be a problem, as nutritional imbalance can occur if all the elements are not there.
The quality of your cat’s diet is rated by many factors. Pet food is typically broken down into three categories:
- Economy foods – these are the bottom end of the scale in terms of price and quality. The appeal to your cat, as well as its ability to digest the food, will be low and there are no added extras in term of beneficial ingredients. These foods are cereal based and the feeding volumes will be very high to meet your cat’s energy needs.
- Premium foods – This is the middle ground for pet foods and is more commonly found in supermarkets and sometimes pet shops. The packaging is very attractive and the food inside is of a reasonable standard. Care needs to be taken when selecting a diet, as colours and preservatives in these foods can cause hyperactivity in some animals.
- Super premium foods – This is the best money can buy and the manufacturer uses all the best ingredients to produce this food. All the ingredients are very easy for your cat to digest as well as having a high level of attraction as a foodstuff. As everything is so digestible, the feeding amounts of these foods are much less than other foods, so in the long term they can save you money. These foods are normally found in pet stores and veterinary clinics. They are normally tailored to the size and stage of life your cat is at, as well as being fixed in formula. This means that all batches of the products are made the same and from the same ingredients – so there’ll be no digestive upsets when you switch from one bag to another.
There is a misconception that pets become bored with foods if they are fed the same thing day in, day out. Some pet foods have acknowledged this and market foods in different flavours. This can be very misleading, as to be called that flavour, that particular ingredient only has to make up around 4% of the food. This means that three packs of food all labelled as a different flavour can contain the same primary ingredients. Pets do not choose foods on flavour – cats only have around 500 taste buds (humans have 9,000). This means that they choose foods according to texture and smell. Cats need protein in their diets and cannot live without a certain percentage of their food being made up of meat-based products. They would not naturally eat fish in the wild, so this is also marketed at owners rather than the pet.
A note on neutering!
Once your cat is neutered, it will require 1/3 fewer calories than before the operation. If you’re not aware of this, it can often lead to obesity after surgery. This can be prevented with careful food management or by introducing a special neutered diet. These diets are perfectly tailored to prevent weight gain along with maintaining a decent amount of food for your cat so the amount of food does not need to be reduced. There are also products that promote correct growth as some animals are still growing at the time of neutering. We stock various neutered diets at your local surgery, so please ask for advice if you’re interested.