Having a feline friend is one of the best feelings in the world. They’re fluffy, friendly, and fiesty, and we, as cat owners, want to give them the best life possible. Right?
Part of this responsibility is ensuring that our cat’s health is in an ideal condition, and good health heavily depends on the type of food you feed it.
This post discusses what makes cat food a nutritional food – something all cat parents should know.
Your cat’s food must have all the essential ingredients and meet the nutritional requirements that domestic felines need to maintain their health. So if you’re a new parent or you’re unsure if your chosen cat food is good enough, read on!
Essential Ingredients in Nutritious Cat Food
Not all cat foods are the same – some might have the correct stuff, while others may include filler ingredients that aren’t healthy for the cat. Here’s what makes cat food a nutritional food for your furry friend:
Meat for the Win
Can you imagine a lion consuming vegetables and grains? Sounds absurd, right? Just like lions, cats survive on animal protein and can’t stay healthy on a vegetarian diet.
And while cats can obtain proteins from soy, lentils, beans, etc., it doesn’t mean they should use this stuff as their main source of protein.
This is because proteins in vegetarian diets aren’t exactly ‘complete’ proteins. Veggies don’t have all the essential building blocks of proteins, known as amino acids.
Some of these important amino acids include taurine, arginine, methionine, threonine, leucine, lysine, valine, and more. So the only way your fluffy friend can have nutritious cat food is through animal protein.
But what kind of animal protein? We suggest going for a mix of at least two, or better yet, three kinds of meat. Cats typically enjoy the low-key flavor of chicken and the strong smell of fish, so these two, along with lamb, make up for a high-protein and delicious meal.
Don’t rely on just fish, though – it’s good for the cat with all its omega 3 fatty acids, but not enough on its own. Make sure the fish is combined with either lamb, chicken, turkey, etc.
And since meat is the most important part of cat food, it should be listed as the first ingredient on the packaging.
Fatty Fats for the Cats
It might surprise you, but cats need their fats (if you can ignore the unintentional rhyme). They don’t just need it for energy, but also for carrying out many vital functions.
This includes insulating the body against cold, making essential hormones, dissolving vitamins, guarding organs against impact, and whatnot.
One of the most important fatty acids is Omega 3. It helps keep the cat’s hair strong and glossy and maintain joint and skin health with its anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-6 is another form, which is also what makes cat food a nutritious food.
These are all ‘good’ fats, which are essential for a cat, just as they are for humans.
So, having meat from fish like mackerel or tuna in cat food is a plus point, as they’re full of healthy omega 3’s. For omega 6, oils, like sunflower seed oil, are a good source.
Good brands will have 20-30% of fat content to meet the nutritional requirements for most cats, so don’t forget to check out the little table of nutrients per portion at the back.
Cats are known for their enmity with water. They don’t only hate stepping in it; they avoid drinking it too (unless absolutely needed).
Because they’re not going to visit the water bowl very often, they must get hydration through food. If not, they can be at risk of some serious illnesses, which may prove fatal.
Hence, the best way to supply water to their bodies is through wet or canned food, which is 70%-75% made of water.
Alternatively, you can try soaking kibble in some water if you can’t afford wet food all the time. This method not only makes the dry food more delicious but also smuggles some water into their bodies.
Oh and, never forget to keep plenty of fresh water in a bowl that’s available round the clock for your cats.
Very Vital Vitamins
Vitamins are important for many different things, like enzyme reactions, bone health, eyesight, and much more. Here are some essentials:
- Vitamin D: calcium would be of no use if your cat food doesn’t have a good amount of vitamin D in it, as it helps absorb minerals and maintain bone health.
- Vitamin A: although necessary for sharp vision, there shouldn’t be an excess of vitamin A in cat food. We recommend consulting your vet for recommendations.
- B1 and B2: also known as thiamine and riboflavin, B1 and B2 are required for a multitude of functions, including metabolic reactions and nerve impulses.
Other important vitamins are E, B3, K, and C, which you must supplement to your cats in sufficient amounts.
A good dose of minerals is also what makes cat food a nutritional food and a complete meal. These include calcium for the bones and muscle movements, iron for the blood, phosphorus, and magnesium for absorbing all these goodies.
Carbs and Fiber
Although not necessary, consuming a bit of carbohydrate is good for cats who are more active and playful than others.
This is because carbohydrates can be quickly converted into energy, which will help your cat run around all day long without having to burn any useful fat.
A good source of carbs is potato, while stuff like wheat and corn isn’t ideal – they’re often used as fillers in low-quality cat food.
Also, avoid cat food that uses lots of sugar for supplying carbohydrates – it may lead to obesity. In fact, carbohydrates, in general, should constitute a small proportion of the diet.
Alongside carbs, cats also need some fiber for smooth movement in the digestive tract. Veggies like cauliflowers, potatoes, and carrots can help cats with constipation and other digestive issues.
However, make sure you’re not keeping your cat on a vegetarian diet – veggies are important, but only in small amounts. Meat should be the number one ingredient and be present in an ample amount.
To sum up, nutritious cat food should contain animal protein and plenty of fats. To ensure your cat receives its fair share of nutrition, look for the AAFCO label on the packaging. This means that the authorities have approved it and the food meets the necessary nutritional requirements.
Also, you should choose cat food according to your cat’s age, health condition, and weight. Hence, be sure to consult a vet before settling for a particular brand.