FOOOOOD! Anything is good......RIGHT?!
When it comes to food, some of the first instincts new cat parents, or even cat parents who have had kitties for a long time, often look for the affordable option.
I would say that THAT is a mistake. Usually, the best quality foods CAN set you back a pretty penny each month. BUT, you chose to adopt (or purchase) a cat, you MUST be prepared to give them the best life they can get.
Here's how I look at it:
Cheap, grocery store food = junk food for humans
Humans can't live on junk food alone. Unless you're not planning on living long and dying of a heart attack. We need something substantial to sustain our bodies. Same goes for your kitties.
Now, I know not everyone can afford such expensive, fresh foods like the ones that come in bi-weekly boxes. There ARE affordable options that won't harm your kitty. But, before I delve into the brands of food, let's talk about ingredients you should definitely avoid when buying cat food, wet or dry.
The most harmful ingredients your cat food may contain are:
Now you ask, "why are they harmful?"
MYCOTOXIN is a toxic byproduct of MOLD and FUNGUS. It can contaminate grain crops such as corn, barley, wheat, beets, rice, soybeans, and peanuts before they are even harvested! It mostly affects your kitty's liver, but it may also affect their lungs, kidneys, brain, and heart. YIKES! Avoid mycotoxins by avoiding cat foods that contain cereal grains.
FLUORIDE is found in food that are grown in contaminated soil. Its toxicity is linked to weak bones, bone fractures, reproductive issues, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, and bone cancer. To protect your kitty, avoid low-quality pet foods with added minerals and give your kitty filtered water (aka BUY A WATER FOUNTAIN WITH FILTER).
FOOD COLORING additives provide ZERO nutritional value. The following make up 90% of food dyes:
BLUE 2: increases brain tumors
RED 40: the most used food dye and can contribute to immune system cancers
YELLOW 5: can cause allergic reactions, genotoxicity
MSG, also known as Monosodium Glutamate is used to enhance flavoring in pet food (and even human food). It tricks the brain into thinking that food tastes good while damaging brain cells. MSG consumption also causes obesity. Unfortunately, the FDA allows more than 40 ingredients that contain MSG so it won't be obvious on the label. When buying cat food, look for the pet food industry's favorite form of MSG: hydrolyzed protein.
GMOS, or genetically modified organisms, are created when genes from DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of another plant or animal. It can cause liver, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive diseases. GMOS are found in crops such as corn, soybean, canola oil, beets, rice, and potatoes. The best way to avoid GMOS is to buy organic foods or avoid commonly affected crops: corn, wheat, soy, and rice.
There are other harmful ingredients to look out for, but those are the most common in a lot of cheap pet food. Here are other harmful ingredients to look out for:
Rosemary extract: they are cheap preservatives that are known to cause SEIZURES in cats (and small dogs).
Yucca Schidigera extract: though it is said to decrease the odor in feces, Yucca is on many lists of plants toxic to both cats and dogs.
BEEF TALLOW: it's a cheap fat source and it is quite undigestible for cats.
Animal fat: it's the fat from rendering questionable sources of protein, which can include euthanized animals and the drugs used to kill them with, among other toxins. YIKES!!!
Meat by-products: harmful for long-term health.
Preservatives that are very toxic to your kitties, such as
Ethoxyquin: which is a pesticide
BHA & BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole & butylated hydroxytoluene)
TBHQ, or Tert-butylhydroquinone
CARRAGEENAN: this is a known cancer-causing substance for humans, and it's also known to produce intestinal lesions, ulcers and tumors in animals.
GUAR GUM: this is a sticky substance that may cause canned food to stick more to your kitty's teeth, and it decreases the digestibility in cat food.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL: this is use in antifreeze solutions; very harmful.
HYDROCHLORIC ACID: used in fertilizers, dyes, and chlorides...it's basically ACID
I could go on forever on what ingredients to avoid in cat food, but I'll let you research yourself.
There's three minerals that you should ABSOLUTELY AVOID in wet cat food:
Now, why should you avoid that? Well, it's some of the leading causes in urinary problems in kitties. They are mostly found in grocery store-brand foods. They'll cause crystals to form in the urine, which can lead to urinary stones. And let me tell you...vet bills are EXPENSIVE when you've got to get your kitty to get their stones to pass, and if you're unlucky, they'll need to operate to remove them.
Also, I know you've seen it before: people feeding their pets table scraps. DON'T DO IT.
Though cat food that have "human grade" ingredients are the best ones for your kitties, that doesn't mean you feed them actual human food. They lack the nutrition, and they can cause health problems later down the line.
Here's a quick guide on what to give them:
So, WHAT should I feed my cat?!
Of my hours and hours of research, I have found that the best diet for your kitty is probably a RAW FOOD DIET. Yeah, I know...kinda icky for those kitty parents who are vegan. But, your kitties are definitely NOT vegan and you should never force them to be as such. Cats are born to eat fresh, raw meat...they can eat a whole prey if need be. Having indoor cats doesn't change that biological fact or nutritional needs. That's why a lot of pet food companies try to match the whole "raw" thing with freeze-dried ingredients or whole chicken/meats as their first ingredients.
Anyway, the best way to get raw food for your kitty is actually to make them yourself. I don't feed my cats raw food (I tried, they all hated it and snubbed me for days). But if you would like to try it out yourself, try and make it yourself. There are a lot of sites that offer great recipes. There are even those places that can deliver to your door bi-weekly, and it's not so disgustingly "raw" looking.
I suggest going to several sites to see what you'd like to feed your pet:
Darwin's Natural Pet Products: https://www.darwinspet.com
Nom Nom Now: https://www.nomnomnow.com
Now...ON TO DRY FOOD.
During my research, I typed in "best dry food for cats" and on quite a few sites, I had found the most interesting NUMBER ONE recommended dry food:
RACHAEL RAY NUTRISH NATURAL CAT FOOD
I know, right?! I was pretty shocked to see that too. But her brand of cat food seems to have made the list for best dry cat food.
I admit, I have tried feeding my kitties the "indoor complete" one from Rachael Ray's Nutrish line. I mix it with other dry foods, because my cats are fancy like that...they really are very spoiled. My common food brands that I buy (because if they don't have a variety, they snub me) are:
BFF, Weruva, Tiki Cat, Soulistic, Applaws, Merrick's Purrfect Bistro, some of the Blue Buffalo line, and I'm currently subscribed to NOM NOM NOW and SMALLS.
They are on a current mixture of HILLS Science Diet URINARY HAIRBALL CONTROL Adult, Blue Buffalo Healthy Living, and Cat Person Dry Chicken & Turkey.
I know, these are pretty expensive brands, but hey, I want my kitties to have the best life. There are always sales in pet stores, so don't fret! There are also other affordable, good/healthy food for your kitties.
One other important thing is how they eat. I'm not sure if you've heard this before, but using a raised feeder is actually best for your pets.
It's good for digestion, and it won't lead to choking on their food/water. For me, I'm a little extra, so I built my kitties a raised feeder and they have a water fountain. I know...I'm too much sometimes. But, I love my little rascals, so I try and do everything I can for them and they help me with my anxiety (but that's another story for another blog!).
Well, folks, I hope you learned something today!
As always, be kind to each other, be kind to animals, love your pets!