According to vets, this is good cat food

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. May 17 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

These are the most important considerations when choosing cat food.


Stores and online shops are overflowing with a plethora of pet foods. As a pet owner, it’s not easy to decide which one is the best cat food for your beloved feline among the numerous types and flavor variations. Below, we’ll go through what you should consider when making your choice. In this guide, experts from Business Insider Reviews will assist us.

You need to consider several factors when chosing the good cat food

The animal’s age, gender, breed, and lifestyle are important too

Let’s go through them: depending on your cat’s age, you can choose food made for kittens, adults, or seniors. This already narrows down the options. It’s also worth noting that most brands offer separate products for neutered animals. Breed can be a factor because some cats, such as Persians, are more sensitive, and there are breed-specific health issues to consider too. Lifestyle-wise, we distinguish between outdoor, free-roaming, and indoor cats, which we’ll discuss further below.

Dry or wet?

Another big dilemma is whether your favorite should have dry or wet food. After all, both options are available within the mentioned categories. For instance, there are wet and dry food options for kittens. It’s important to note here that wet foods contain significant amounts of water (75-78% of them are water), which is essential for fluid intake.

With dry food (which contains only 12-15% water), you need to pay more attention to your pet’s water consumption, especially because cats, due to their desert ancestry, often drink little. In such cases, you can trick them by placing water bowls in multiple locations or getting a drinking fountain. (Cats love fresh, flowing water.)

The animal’s preference also matters: some cats prefer only canned food, while others have no problem with dry food. Experts suggest that a mixed menu is best: if your cat accepts both types, it’s advisable to alternate between them from the beginning.

Generally, it’s ideal for cats to receive both wet and dry food

When wet food is better

As Dr. Bruce Kornreich, director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, points out, certain health conditions may warrant feeding your cat exclusively wet food to ensure adequate fluid intake. This is particularly important for cats with kidney disease.

The composition

Besides texture, another essential aspect is the composition of the product. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet should consist almost exclusively of meat or animal-derived protein for their health. Therefore, it’s important that the cat food you choose is meat-based.

For adult animals, the proportion should be at least 26% protein (30% for kittens) and 9% fat. In wet foods, the nutrient content should be converted to dry matter. Most manufacturers provide this information on their products. If not, you can inquire about it from the company using the provided contact details.

Also, pay attention to flavors, enhancers, and preservatives; your pet doesn’t need these.

Always check the composition of the product!

Price matters

We understand that the price of cat food is an important factor for most pet owners, considering that pet care entails significant expenses. However, we emphasize that this should not be the decisive factor in your choice. First, look for products with the ideal composition, then choose among them based on your budget. Cheap products that contain little meat and are mainly composed of grains and vegetables can cause gastrointestinal issues and lead to obesity, resulting in a decrease in overall condition due to insufficient nutrient intake.

As Dr. Korinn Saker, a veterinarian at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a professor of clinical nutrition, points out, cat foods often contain so-called by-products. These are usually inexpensive animal parts, such as internal organs, that are nutritious for the animal. So, there’s no need to avoid them.

Obesity is also a major health risk in animals

Different needs for indoor and outdoor cats

As mentioned, the cat’s lifestyle is also crucial. Indoor cats, even with the greatest care, move less than their outdoor counterparts. Consequently, they are at a higher risk of obesity. If you notice your cat starting to gain weight or already has some excess weight, consult with your veterinarian and choose lower-calorie foods. These special products usually have lower fat content and contain added fiber to aid digestion.

Glucosamine and fish oil

Veterinarians recommend that glucosamine and fish oil can have a positive effect on older (over 7 years old) or chronically ill animals, such as those suffering from joint problems. These help keep the joints flexible, and the coat may also become shinier and healthier. The latter is beneficial even for cats that frequently regurgitate hairballs. Stronger fur is more resistant and sheds less, thus reducing the frequency of the problem.

Special food only on veterinary advice

There are many cat foods available with unique compositions that offer solutions for various health problems. However, we emphasize that before purchasing any of these, consult with your veterinarian. The nutrient and calorie content of these products can significantly differ from regular foods, so you should only feed them to your pet on veterinary recommendation. Otherwise, nutrient deficiencies can easily occur.

How much is enough?

Instead of the previous one or two feedings a day, veterinarians now advocate for offering smaller portions more frequently (up to 5-6 times a day). This is also supported by the fact that in the wild, it’s typical for prey acquisition to occur multiple times in smaller quantities. Therefore, it’s advisable to distribute the daily portion accordingly.

The determination of the portion size is also crucial, based on the animal’s age, activity level, and health condition. The recommended amount can be found on the packaging of cat foods, but it’s best to ask your veterinarian about this as well.

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