Finding a suitable food for our pets is an important part of ownership. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet of meat. It is biologically necessary, so, selecting an appropriate diet becomes even more important. There are a number of types of food products available on the market, it can be hard to know which type is the best.
Kibble is the most widely available product on the market, and usually the most cost effective too. Kibble can vary in quality from very poor to high. Generally, the price reflects the quality of kibble you are purchasing, but there are some exceptions to this rule. Kibble diets are a commercially produced product in large-scale production facilities. The food is made from a variety of ingredients and usually fortified with vitamins and mineral to be considered a complete diet, not requiring additional supplementation. Cats, originating from a desert animal, do not have a high thirst mechanism and therefore often do not consume enough water. This can contribute to medical problems like bladder stones and urine crystals to name just a few. Many professionals and pet owners believe it is important to encourage cats to get as much moisture in their diet as possible to reduce these types of issues so they may choose to add a wet or canned food to their cat’s diet, in addition to kibble.
Soft Moist Food:
Canned and Pouches Canned foods are the second most popular type of food for cats. It is typically fed in addition to a kibble diet to help increase moisture in the cat’s diet. A similar product may also be sold in packets or pouches. The main difference in these products is the packaging itself, but both have a long shelf life until they are opened. The remaining opened food must be stored in the refrigerator and used within a few days. Cats can be very picky about their food choices. They may not like particular flavors, but more importantly, the texture will be the deciding factor as to which consistency they prefer.
Canned food and pouches are manufactured in many textures. You may need to try different textures and flavors to find one your cat likes. Do not be surprised if, after weeks of feeding them the same food, they suddenly change their mind and decide they no longer like that one.
• Pate- Finely ground food, smooth, uniform texture.
• Flaked/Shredded/Sliced- Meat that has shape but flakes into small pieces, or long strings of meat. Usually packed in gravy or jelly.
• Stew- chunky pieces in a thick sauce or gravy.
• Morsels- Chunky pieces of varying size, in gravy, jelly or sauce.
• Broths-mainly liquid. May or may not contain small pieces of meat.
Raw, Freeze-dried and Dehydrated Foods
Raw food is a new product on the market for cats. There are different types of raw diets, but the basis is raw meat. This really is not so far from a natural, predators diet, as cats would eat the small animals they catch. Commercial products may be sold as ground or chunks of meat and sold fresh or frozen. Some food will come in pre-portioned patties. Many pet owners insist that raw is the most natural diet and therefore the best choice for their cat. It is also more expensive than traditional kibble. Raw food requires refrigeration or to be kept frozen until use and must be used quickly to avoid spoilage.
A short shelf life has pushed manufacturers to branch out from regular raw into dehydrated and freeze-dried raw food products. Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have a similar look and consistency as a finished product. Both have the moisture content removed during processing to create a shelf-stable product. They can easily be reconstituted with warm water to re-hydrate the food before being fed. Raw food may or may not be considered a complete and nutritionally balanced food, depending on how it is prepared. You will need to double check the label on the product for feeding guidelines and if you can feed the product solely on its own or use it with supplementation for a complete and balanced diet. Cats are very decisive creatures. They know what they like and want, and know what they will not touch. This is true when it comes to their food. Ultimately, you, the pet owner has the final decision as to what food to feed your cat, but your cat may have its own plans as to what it would like to eat. If you are struggling to find a food they are excited about, it is recommended to try different flavors and textures.
There are plenty of options to choose from. After some trial and error, you are sure to find something that works for both of you.