Cats Food: Everything You Need to Know On How To Feed Your Cat

Cats Food: Everything You Need to Know On How To Feed Your Cat

If you already have a cat or are thinking of having one, you need to know that food is an important aspect of a cat’s health. In fact, if you wish to make your cat healthy and happy you need to feed them the right cats food.

Feeding your feline friend a well-balanced diet including all the nutrients they need is important for their bodies and energy levels. You have a number of options to choose from when it comes to cat food. There are wet, dry, semi-moist products, and homemade food.

To help you understand what is related to cat food, we have written this article to guide you all the way. Keep reading to gain a full understanding.

1- What Are the Important Cat Nutrients?

As the majority of us know, nutrients are components of your cat’s diet that plays a given role in your feline body.

Before finding out the appropriate food for your cat, you need first to understand the role that all these nutrients play in your cat’s body by reading the following:

– Protein in Cats Food

Cats need to consume a lot of protein to maintain their tendons, skin, nails, fur, enzymes, hormones, and others. They should take animal protein as their bodies need all the nutrients this type of protein provides.

Once your cat eats the protein they need, it breaks down through its digestive tract into amino acids. The latter is the protein your cat’s body needs. Your cat requires eleven important amino acids, they are the following:

  • Arginine
  • Lysine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Taurine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan

These crucial amino acids can be found in meat and other animal tissues.

The Meaning of Crude Protein: Simply, crude protein is the amount of protein we get after measuring the amount of nitrogen present. To know so, you need to do little math so that you can know whether that specific food meets or exceeds the level of protein your cat requires.

Can Protein Be Problematic for Cats? Yes, protein can lead to many potential problems. If you provide your cat with too much low-quality protein, this may result in kidney diseases as well as food allergies in the cat. In order not to unintentionally hurt your cat, it is better to ask your vet about the best type of food that works for your cat.

– Fat in Cats Food

Fat is an essential source of energy for your cat. Also, fats have the ability to conduct nerve impulses. Both essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important to keep the health of your cat’s skin and coat. Moreover, they help in healing wounds and inflammation.

Fat as well as the essential fatty acids your cat needs are found in liver, chicken, salmon, or beef.

– Carbohydrates in Cats Food

For other animals, Carbohydrates are essential to get the energy they need. But this does not apply to cats as they bring their energy from protein and fat. However, you can include a small number of carbs in your cat’s diet.

Remember to keep it small. Otherwise, your cat may gain weight and develop other health issues such as diabetes. To be exact, your cat should take less than 10% of carbohydrates to keep their form.

– Vitamins in Cats Food

Vitamins are organic compounds that include carbon. Your cat needs just small amounts in its diet. They are necessary for enzymes that help the metabolism of your cat to function normally. 

Vitamins are naturally included in various cat food ingredients such as grains, animal tissues, vegetable oils, seeds, and others.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), your cat requires many types of vitamins, some of them are the following:

  • Vitamin A: This type is essential for your cat’s vision, bone as well as tooth growth, reproduction, and for keeping your cat’s skin.
  • Vitamin D: It helps the growth and maintenance of the bones by increasing both blood calcium and phosphorous levels.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is known to be a crucial antioxidant for cats.
  • Vitamin K: If you wish your cat to have normal blood clotting, then this vitamin is what you need.
  • Thiamin: This type of vitamin plays a huge role in carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Riboflavin: Provides energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  • Pyridoxine: It makes it possible to metabolize fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids.
  • Vitamin B12: It is needed for metabolizing fat and carbohydrate and nerve conduction.
  • Pantothenic Acid: Your feline friend needs it for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids.

Do Your Cat Needs Vitamin Supplements? If you are sure that your cat is having a healthy balanced diet, other vitamin supplements are not really important. They can even be dangerous sometimes.  Before giving your cat those vitamin supplements, you need first to consult your vet.

– Minerals in Cats Food

If your cat‘s body is not functioning normally, you have to contain minerals. The latter are inorganic compounds that do not include carbon. To get the minerals your cat needs, consider animal and plant-based ingredients like bone meal.

Based on AAFCO, here are some of the minerals that must be included in your cat’s food:

  • Calcium: It is vitally important for the growth of your cat’s teeth and bones.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is essential for normal metabolism as well as for the maintenance of bones and teeth.
  • Potassium: It is known as an electrolyte that helps in heart rhythm, and nerve function.
  • Zinc: Essential for lipid, protein, as well as nucleic acid metabolism.
  • Iron: It helps in transporting oxygen throughout your cat’s body.
  • Iodine: You have to include this one in order to make thyroid hormones.
  • Magnesium: Incorporating magnesium into your cat’s diet will aid in enzyme function and the metabolism of all carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

– Water in Cats Food

Water is the most important nutrient for cats. Indeed, it makes up most of your cat’s body and it is important for their metabolic function. If you own a cat, you need to know that they get water from their food rather than their water bowl. Therefore, you need to know the types of food rich in water. For instance, whole meats are rich in water.

Moreover, you might find in the ingredients something like “water sufficient for processing”, which means that they add water to the commercial cat food so that it can be easy to mix. Also, canned food is richer in water than dry food. The first is a healthy choice that enables cats to get the amount of water they need.

2- Types of Commercial Cat Food

Commercial cat food is divided into dry, semi-moist, and canned. All of them are different from each other in terms of water content, protein levels, and others.

– Dry cats food

Dry food is highly convenient. First, it does not cost you much and it will last for several months.  Furthermore, it provides you with “free choice” to feed your feline. Dry food includes around 6 to 10% of water and a mixture of ingredients. These include:

  • Fish meal
  • Milk products
  • Both vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Meat byproducts
  • Grain byproducts

However, dry cat food is not very palatable and your cat is likely to turn its nose up at it if its diet consists of only dry food. This also depends on the types and the quality of the ingredients. Some of them are less digestible.

As we have mentioned above, some pet owners buy a large amount of dry food and store it for months. If you are doing the same, make sure to store the other portions in a cool and dry location. It is also important not to forget about the expiration date.

It is advisable to store dry food in an airtight container. This will help you to keep nutrients from deterioration and maintain the flavor.

– Semi-Moist Food

The primary ingredients of this type of food are meat and meat byproducts. 35 percent moisture is included in this cat food in addition to other materials such as preservatives, soybean meal, grain byproducts, and grain byproducts that generate the final product.

The price of semi-moist food is mid-range. The majority of cats prefer semi-moist foods over other dry cat food. But bear in mind that once opened, the food may dry out and thus become less palatable.

– Canned Cats Food

Canned cat food is known to be the most expensive type of food. It contains a moisture content of at least 75 percent, which makes it a good source of water for your cat. Canned food is palatable for a number of cats. You can also find various varieties available in the market. Before you open it, canned food can last for a long. Yet once it is open, you need to refrigerate the unused portion.

Remember to read the nutrition labels in order to make sure that the food you choose for your cat includes all the nutrients needed for their health.

– Homemade Diets

Today many pet parents want to make their own cat food. If you are one you need to know that doing so needs much effort and time. Also, you may not reach the right quantities as well as the proportion of nutrients your cat needs. For all these reasons, it is advisable to carefully choose and purchase nutritionally commercial foods available in the market.

In cases where your vet asks you to prepare your cat’s food at home, the vet is likely to provide you with some recipes assigned by qualified veterinarians certificated in animal nutrition.

– Treats

Giving your cat occasional treats is not going to harm them. However, you should not depend only on treats as they do not include the nutrients your cat needs to be counted as a balanced diet. Indeed, treats have not to exceed 10 to 15 percent of a cat’s daily caloric intake.

3- How to Choose Food for Your Cat

As a pet owner, you are responsible for making a healthy as well as tasty choice for your cat. This will help your cat not to suffer from a number of health issues as well as nutrition problems. You need to get your cat a balanced diet that combines all the nutrients needed to stay healthy and happy.

To make the right choice, you have first to read the label on the food packaging. You have to be certain that the one you choose carries an AAFCO-approved nutritional guarantee referred to as “AAFCO statement,” as they are considered to be nutritionally complete and balanced.

The needs of your cat related to food tend to change according to each step in their lives that include kittenhood, adulthood, pregnancy, and lactation. You have to pay attention to the nutritional claim on the label to know which food is appropriate for which stage. You will find, however, that some cat foods are suitable for all cats regardless of their life stage.

4- What to Consider When Choosing Cats Food?

As we have mentioned before, cats in general need the following to be included in their meals:

– Animal protein

Animal protein is essential for your cat as it provides them with the amino acids they need for building muscle, maintaining their skin and coat, and having their organs function healthily. The most common protein sources are chicken, salmon, sardines, tuna, prawns, liver, beef, soya, corn, and others.

If you choose the right type of food that contains the required protein for your cat, you will help your cat achieve the following:

  • Your feline requirements for the amino acid are fulfilled.
  • Avoid gastrointestinal problems and sensitive stomach issues. (Read more about sensitive stomach problems in cats here).
  • Keep their coat healthy, at the same time reducing shading and keeping hairballs under control. (Here you can find how to reduce shedding in cats).

– Animal fat

As we have said early, fat is an important source of energy for your cat. Moreover, fat gives your cat the essential fatty acids they need. These include:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Arachidonic acid
  • Omega-3 and omega-6

– Vitamins and minerals

Make sure that the food you choose for your cat includes the vitamins we have included above as well as the minerals. All should be given in the appropriate amount so that they can be beneficial to your feline friend.

Some food may cause allergies for your cat. Kindly click here to know more about the issue.

5- Check Some Facts before Choosing Cats Food

While you must read the label to make a sound decision, you need to focus on three components. These are the following:

  • Flavors Your Cat Likes
  • Ingredients list
  • Guaranteed Analysis

The more effort you make, the more you have chances to make a better choice.

– Flavors Your Cat Likes

Well, you will know when your cat likes a given flavor. However, the word flavor indicates that the food only contains the essence that tastes like the meat, chicken for example, rather than the meat itself.

– The Ingredients List

The list of ingredients must include all the products found in the food in order. In this case, meat should be the first on the list. If you happen to see any vague terms such as animal derivatives, it is better to avoid them.

You should also look for these signs: ingredient splitting and undecipherable scientific names.

– Ingredient Splitting

If you find that the meat source is followed by  grains and cereals, you need to see if any of these are repeated:

  • Corn gluten
  • Ground corn
  • Corn meals

– Undecipherable Scientific Names

Some common ingredients that you do not know are basically the following:

  • BHA and BHT
  • Propylene glycol
  • DI- methionine
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Niacin supplements

All of them are not necessary for high-quality food. One of the signs that show the high quality of food is a short ingredient list that clearly shows what it included.

– The Guaranteed Analysis

The main role of guaranteed analysis is to make it possible for you to know the amount of each nutrient group found in the product such as protein, fat, moisture, and others. If you do so, you have to find the meat first and a few grains or cereals.

6- How Much You Should Feed Your Cat?

To answer this question, we have to consider many factors. These include:

  • Age: If you have a kitten, you should know that they have high energy needs. On the other hand, senior and adult cats are known to have fewer caloric intake requirements.
  • Size: Cats have different sizes. Large breed ones such as Maine Coons need to eat more than smaller breeds. In addition to the size, their body frames tend to change as well. “Petite” cats need less food than “big-boned” ones.
  • Activity Level: Cats who exercise a lot require more food as they burn more calories as compared with those who do not practice much. This is known as the metabolic rate. The latter differs, some are high and others are low.
  • Body Condition: If your cat is overweight, it will need fewer calories because they are less active.
  • Health  Status: Your cat can face certain diseases that may affect the amount of protein that should be included in your cat’s food. Some kinds of illnesses affect your cat causing them to burn more calories.
  • Reproductive Status: Pregnant, as well as nursing cats, will need high calories given the fact that they have huge nutritional demands their bodies require.   On the other side, spayed and neutered cats need a few calories because of their slower metabolism due to the lack of hormones.

7- How & When You Should Feed Your Cat?

You have to make a decision on how and when to feed your cat. Do not forget, once you follow a certain method, your cat will be familiar with it. The following are some methods that you can follow:

– Free Feeding Your Cat

If your cat is hungry all day long, you can follow a method called free feeding. This specific method makes it possible for your cat to eat several small meals per day once they feel they are hungry and ready to eat. You need to, plainly, provide only dry food as wet food can be spoiled.

But you need to be aware of the fact that free feeding can result in obesity. It also makes it difficult for you to recognize your cat’s eating habits.  If you choose to follow this way, it is still essential to measure the food you give to your cat.

– Schedule & Meal Feeding Your Cat 

Another method that you can follow to feed your feline is schedule feeding, also called meal feeding. You need to start serving food for your cat at a certain time of the day. This is also beneficial if you want to know the amount of food your cat is eating.

Some experts argue that you should feed your kitten three times a day. But once a cat, feeding twice a day is perfect.

– Combination Feeding Cat

It is possible to combine the two feeding options. Here, you can feed your cat canned food two times per day, while dry food should be available all day. This is also beneficial in the sense that your cat will have the chance to try out both dry as well as wet food.

Last Words

Getting your cat a well-balanced and nutritional diet is essential for your cat’s health and well-being. You must take the whole process seriously and try to fully inform yourself before making a decision concerning your cat’s food.

Your cat deserves to live happily and healthily. The first step to make this happens is choosing the right type of food and knowing how to feed your feline friend.

Your cat is a member of your family. Thus, taking good care of them.

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