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Cat nutrition is a difficult subject to cover, because there is not one food that is universally best for every cat. Each cat has different needs, so unless you are a skilled cat nutritionalist, finding the right food is a matter of doing careful research, talking to experts and drawing your own conclusion of what food your cat(s) should eat..
If you examine a cat’s diet in the wild, you will notice that everything the cat hunts; mice and other rodents, bugs, lizards, gophers, frogs all consist of wet food. Most cat owners feed their cats dry cat food only. Why is that?
Could it be because dry food is more convenient to store, cheaper to buy, especially if you live in a multi-cat household. Or maybe it is because when you feed dry food, you just pour the contents out and walk away.
With canned food, you have to open each can, put out the contents and be sure and not leave the wet food down for more than twenty minutes because of airborne bacteria.
Some people become upset about “chicken and meat byproducts” in cat food. Their cat would easily hunt and kill a mouse consuming everything except the head. Would the cat worry about meat byproducts found in his commercial food?
I feed both wet and dry food to my crew. They get wet food in the morning and at night, and dry food in the afternoon. I do not free feed, all food comes off the floor after 20 minutes.
Many people claim that dry food is good for your cat because it cleans and scrapes the tartar off their teeth. Have those claimants every watched cats eat dry food? They gulp the food down, rarely stopping to breathe. Many cats vomit immediately after a dry food meal because they inhale the contents of their food bow, this way of eating causes digestive upset. It also explains why so many dogs think that cat feces are delicacies. The food is undigested and is pure protein. The dog becomes a litter pan diver the minute the scent hits his nose.
You want to avoid red-dyed dry cat food. Or cat food that has been dyed all the colors of the rainbow. Those colors are for your eyes, not good for your cat’s system. Some of the dyes can cause cancer.
When pet food is being processed, it comes out the color of charcoal. Knowing that consumers would pass up such dark looking food, pet food companies will dye the food to draw you in. When you buy dry cat food, look for dark even-colored kibble.
Does price matter? If you buy the most expensive food, are you buying quality? Not all the time. Do your research, read the ingredients and make an informed choice. Feed the same dry and canned food to your cat consistently unless the cat develops health issues such as allergies, diarrhea or constant vomiting.
Changing food needs to be done on a gradual basis, or digestive upset, diarrhea and other problems will result. Let your cat tell you what she likes, feed her the food she will eat without problems.
Your cat should never go over twenty-four hours without eating. If she does, serious health issues become a major concern.
Use common sense in feeding your cat. Stay with a wet and dry diet daily, do not free-feed. Make sure you provide fresh, clean water daily. Don’t overfeed; cats have small digestive systems. Regardless of what some people think, fat cats are not cute, they are a health crisis waiting to happen.
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.