Cat food has a rich history behind it. The idea of specialized food for cats occurred long before the dog foods were devised. Several 17th Century accounts make a commentary on the idea of preparing special foods for cats. However, it wasn’t until early 1900s that commercial cat food started to be shelved in most retail outlets. The brands that were introduced during this period consisted mostly of dry, canned or moist brands.
Today, various changes have been made to these brands. For instance, some brands have been fortified while others have been balanced. Additionally, other cat food brands like vegan, prescription lines and homemade foods have been added to the line of cat foods.
Types of Cat Food, pros and Cons
There are different types of cat foods that are widely available today. Different companies have also launched specialized cat foods in a bid to outdo each other. However, there are five basic categories of cat foods that are available in most retail outlets today. These types include,
Dry Cat Food
Dry food contains 8-10% moisture and is generally made by extrusion method. This method involves preparing the food under high temperature and pressure and then splaying the food with oil to boost up its palatability. Other minor ingredients that are destroyed by the high heat when the food is being prepared may be added after the extrusion process. These may include heat sensitive vitamins and minerals.
It is cheap.
It is cleaner, odorless and easy to handle.
It does not require extra preservation and does not spoil easily.
It is ideal for free choice feeding because it does not require refrigeration.
It has dense nutritional content because of the reduced moisture content.
It is less energy dense when compared to other foods.
It is not palatable.
Its insufficient moisture content has been tied to renal diseases that mostly affect cats.
Wet Cat Food
It is also referred to as canned food and contains up to 75-78% of moisture content. Generally, it comes packaged in 5.5 oz, 13 oz (369g) and 3oz (85g) can sizes. Additionally, some manufacturers sell it in foil pouch forms.
It has more moisture that improves general water intake of cats.
It is soft and chewable.
It is highly palatable and acceptable to many cats.
It is more energy dense packaged when compared to other food types.
It is overpriced because of its highly priced ingredients and supplements.
It contains preservatives and other chemical additives.
It can easily spoil if opened and unpreserved properly.
Vegetarian Cat Food
Vegetarian cat foods have also been introduced in the market. They are usually fortified with nutrients like arachidonic acid and taurine. Some of these food brands come labeled that they have met AAFCO’s cat food nutrients profile.
Cats are also fed with homemade diets that mainly consist of bones, vegetable and forms of raw and cooked meat. They may also contain supplements such as taurine and multivitamins. Additionally, ingredients for making home-made foods may also be obtained commercially and be prepared at home.
It is cheap to prepare and acquire.
Additional supplements and food additives can be added during preparation.
It takes time to prepare.
Some nutrients may be sacrificed in the preparation process.
Prescription Line Foods
These cat foods are specially formulated for cats that are suffering from diseases like kidney failure. They are special foods that are formulated to cater to different specific health problems that affect cats. These health problems may include heart diseases, immune deficiencies, kidney failure, diabetes and fur balls.
They control and manage the cat’s condition effectively.
They are very expensive.
Depending on specific needs of your cat, you can shop for cat foods in their different brand names. Also depending on the health condition of your cat(s) and other factors like age, you should be able to determine which cat foods are best for your pet. However, it is highly recommendable you combine the different food types. You can explore available brands of every type of food and combine them. This will not only aid your pet to get maximum nutrients but will save it from some serious illnesses.
Varying types of cat food are available for kittens as well as for older cats. There are also varying types for cats with special needs and for particular breeds.
As cats are natural carnivores, meat would be a big component of their diet, however they do venture to eat some plant food sometimes. When checking on ingredients of their food, ensure that meat is the main ingredient and that other products like corn are not the main component. As cats are prone to kidney diseases, the ash content, which can prevent urinary tract infections and urinary blockages in males, should be low. Taurine, which is an amino acid, will help to maintain good vision and a healthy heart.
Kittens have special needs as they need to grow healthy teeth, hair and their body needs to manufacture muscle. As they age they require protein, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, iron and other vitamins and minerals to allow them to grow strong bones and teeth. Protein is also very important to assist in organ and tissue growth.
When kittens grow up, they no longer have the same energy level and fewer calories and less fat is required to maintain their daily energy level. To make allowance for this process, best cat food for older cats with bad teeth should have a low fat content, protein and carbohydrates that are easy to chew and digest. This will assist in raising their energy levels. Minerals and vitamins should be part of their diet in order to assist with aging joints and to help fight infections. Food with lower phosphorous levels should be given to ensure healthy kidneys.
There are cats who are on a vegetarian diet, and though these foods are fortified with the required taurine and omega 6 fatty acids, this type of diet is not suitable for cats as they are carnivores.
As cats are considered to be picky eaters, the choice of cat food on the market should suffice to satisfy their appetite. To ensure that you experience a long and happy time with your cat, ensure that they get all the necessary proteins, minerals and vitamins that they require.