Some people say cats are picky eaters, but you can’t blame cats. After all, they don’t make their own food choices, we do!
When selecting a wet cat food, it’s important to read the label and pay particular attention to certain ingredients—or lack thereof.
Here are five things to avoid, according to veterinary experts, to help you chose the best cat food to feed your feline friend.
Low Protein Content
You might not think of your cute kitty as a natural-born meat-eater, but scientists classify cats—yes, your little housecat included—as obligate carnivores. That means they need to eat animal proteins to get all the nutrients and amino acids essential to their daily diet.
In fact, most veterinarians, including Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, a veterinary writer, editor and consultant in Fort Collins, Colorado, say that the protein content is the most important characteristic to look for when choosing a wet cat food.
So how much protein is enough? Dr. Heidi Pavia-Watkins, DVM, at VCA Airport Irvine Animal Hospital in Costa Mesa, California, recommends a food with at least 8.8 percent protein. So, a canned cat food like Miko Salmon Recipe in Consommé would fit the bill with its 12 percent crude protein.
A Lot of Carbs
Interesting feline fact: Cat saliva, like human and dog saliva, contains amylase, which is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates, or starches from a plant source, like potatoes. Pretty cool for a meat-eater!
That being said, Dr. Coates says that carbohydrates should play a minimal role in a cat’s diet. That puts spuds at the bottom of the list when it comes to ingredients you want to see in the bowl.
How do you know if a wet cat food contains carbohydrates?
When checking the ingredients label, look for grains like wheat, corn, soy, rice or anything with starch in the name, as well as white potatoes and pulses like lentils. Whether you’re looking for a low-carbohydrate cat food in particular or just a balanced and complete meal, counting carbs counts for cats!
Grains, If Your Cat Is Allergic
There’s a lot of talk—and opinions—when it comes to grains in pet foods. We already know that cats can digest carbohydrates, even from grains, so what’s the big feline fuss about?
According to Dr. Coates, grain-free cat food is a good option for cats who have a confirmed allergy to one or more grains, which could include wheat, corn or soy.
If you suspect your cat may have a grain food allergy, feeding your cat a grain-free cat food, like Miko Chicken Recipe in Consommé grain-free cat food, is a good way to test out your theory. Dr. Coates recommends feeding a wet cat food that does not contain any grains for around eight weeks.
“During this time, your cat’s symptoms should resolve, or at least get much better, if it is indeed a grain allergy,” Dr. Coates says.
Be sure to speak to your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has a food allergy.
For some cats, it’s not only grains that can be the source of potential food sensitivities.
“There are food allergies, and then there are ingredient sensitivities, which are caused by food additives,” says Sarah Wooten, DVM, at West Ridge Animal Hospital in Greeley, Colorado. “These may show up as gastrointestinal disturbances like nausea, loose stool or gas.”
Because it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact culprit behind a kitty’s upset tummy, some veterinarians suggest opting for wet cat food recipes that limit the number of food additives in the bowl. The idea is simple—the shorter the ingredients list, the fewer the potential triggers of food sensitivities in some cats.
“When choosing a wet cat food, I generally recommend avoiding canned cat foods that contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives,” Dr. Wooten says.
Low Moisture Content
Lastly, when looking for the best cat food to feed your feline best friend, always take a look at the moisture content. If you look at any canned cat food, you’ll see a percentage for moisture under “Guaranteed Analysis.” It’s basically a food manufacturing word that means how much water is in the food—which, according to most veterinarians, is essential to keep cats healthy.
That’s because, hard as you may try, most cats aren’t great at drinking water to keep themselves hydrated, so they tend to rely on water from their food.
To add adequate hydration to your cat’s daily meals, Dr. Pavia-Watkins says to choose a high-moisture cat food—a moisture content of upwards of 80 percent. By that standard, Miko cat food recipes might be a good choice for your cat because they have an 82-percent moisture level from real broth.
Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a wet cat food, you’ll be set up for success to keep your kitty happy and healthy.