For optimal nutrition, look for food items formulated to provide animal protein as the first ingredient.
Cats are carnivorous creatures and require nutrients such as taurine and arginine derived only from animal protein for proper nourishment. Additionally, preformed Vitamin A must come from animal tissue sources like meat.
Look for food with prebiotics and probiotics for proper digestion, grains that provide complex carbohydrates, and fruit and vegetables for fiber and antioxidant content. Also avoid chemical preservatives which could be harmful to cats.
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1. Look for High-Protein Ingredients
As obligate carnivores, cats need protein-rich ingredients in their diet for cell repair and to strengthen immunity as well as providing energy. Animal proteins–fish, poultry and meat–are an excellent source of essential amino acids like taurine and arginine that cats cannot synthesize themselves. Instead, these must come from sources other than their diet.
When searching for high-protein pet food, check the ingredients label. When looking for cat foods with high-quality proteins like venison, salmon, turkey, lamb and chicken as the first ingredient – such as plant-based ingredients such as vegetables or legumes, plant protein may not provide as many benefits. Look out for words such as chicken meal, beef meal or fish meal; all are excellent sources of protein!
As well as protein, cats require healthy fats in their diet to provide energy and absorb essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, D and omega fatty acids. Avoid unhealthy fats such as shortenings, hydrogenated oils or trans fats which could increase cholesterol levels in your feline friend.
Always look out for additional vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid to support cell development and red blood cell production, or beta-carotene as an antioxidant that supports your immune system.
If you need guidance, seek the advice of your vet or read reviews for pet food brands that have received high marks from both veterinarians and consumers alike. Such brands employ full-time veterinary nutritionists and place an emphasis on research-driven development of their products – for instance Hill’s Science Diet offers wet and dry cat food tailored to specific life stages that contain optimal levels of protein and fiber for optimal health.
2. Look for a Grain-Free Formula
The best cat foods for adult cats offer balanced proteins and fats to promote weight maintenance, with some natural sources of antioxidants like blueberries and cranberries added for immune support and digestion support. Others contain taurine as an essential nutrient to ensure eye and heart health.
Beef, lamb or fish is often the cornerstone of these formulas; however, plant-based proteins such as garbanzo beans, quinoa and lentils also contain high amounts of essential proteins and provide essential nutrition. Furthermore, these plant-based sources not only offer low glycemic index levels but are a rich source of fiber to promote digestive health and prevent hairballs.
Pet parents increasingly opt for grain-free pet foods on the assumption that grains will lead to food allergies; however, proteins are much more likely to trigger such reactions than carbohydrates. Furthermore, grain-based food provides valuable dietary fiber which may reduce constipation and diarrhea risk in many cats.
Though cats obtain most of their protein needs from animal-sourced protein sources, their bodies can still utilise plant-based proteins as energy and to help absorb essential vitamins. Their systems are very efficient at processing these proteins efficiently for digestion.
Food that provides both animal and plant protein sources is more likely to be of high-quality and nutritionally dense than one that exclusively relies on meat for protein. Furthermore, some of these meat-centric diets may have higher than ideal levels of phosphorus that could contribute to chronic renal disease progression in cats with preexisting chronic renal issues.
3. Look for a Chicken-Based Formula
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require high amounts of animal protein for healthy cell and organ function and metabolic balance. A diet rich in protein will also aid your cat in maintaining an effective metabolism.
Selecting food featuring chicken as its primary ingredient is one way to ensure your cat receives sufficient protein. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Cat Food features poultry as its first ingredient among other brewer’s rice, animal fats, vegetable fibers, vitamins and minerals in its formulation – plus taurine for heart health in adult cats!
Your cat may benefit from eating food made with chicken as its primary ingredient, such as the Weruva Natural Canned Tuna Pate for Adult Cats which contains high-grade poultry as its main component and features prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health, calcium and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy bones and teeth, vitamins and minerals to promote immunity, as well as vitamins that support heart health.
Made by Nacho offers an exceptional kibble option that includes cage-free chicken as its primary ingredient, alongside chicken meal (ground up raw chicken), and freeze-dried liver to provide additional nutrition.
This kibble features a delicious combination of roasted venison and smoked salmon for maximum mimicry of natural foods that cats would find in their environment. Free from artificial colors or flavors, and designed with meat first in mind for all life stages; highly recommended by veterinarians and meeting AAFCO nutritional standards.
4. Look for a Formula With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To ensure your cat receives sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, look for food containing high concentrations of DHA and EPA. Not only will they support brain health but they may also help balance omega-6 fatty acid levels which could become imbalanced over time.
The best cat foods will contain essential fatty acids derived from fish sources. Look for ingredients like salmon, trout, herring and mackerel; plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (such as canola oil) will not offer your pet the same health benefits.
Supplements that add omega-3 fatty acids to your pet’s diet are also available, like PetHonesty’s omega-3 fish oil which comes in triglyceride molecular form for easy absorption, made from wild-caught low mercury fish like sardines, anchovies and herring. Furthermore, this oil is free from gluten, artificial flavors or preservatives.
Taurine and beta-carotene are essential nutrients to look out for when selecting healthy cat food, respectively. Taurine is an amino acid only found in animal proteins and plays an integral part in heart function, eyesight, immune function and reproductive organ health for cats – insufficient amounts can lead to blindness, dilated cardiomyopathy or nervous system abnormalities in some instances. Meanwhile, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant that can promote skin, coat and immune health for your furry friend.
As you shop for healthy cat food, keep in mind that different life stages require specific nutrients. Kittens require more protein and calories to fuel their development while senior cats benefit from having higher fiber contents for digestion. Therefore, you should always select food tailored specifically for their age.
5. Look for a Formula With Taurine
Humans and dogs can synthesize certain amino acids themselves, while cats must get these from their food sources. Taurine, for instance, can only be found in animal protein, and without enough of this essential nutrient cats may experience eye problems as well as heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy.
While homemade cat food may be possible, the best choice may often be commercial formula designed by pet-nutrition professionals to include all necessary vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and proteins for cat health. When selecting such a formula from AAFCO’s Complete and Balanced Feed System Index list to be sure you provide all required nutrition for cat health.
Taste of the Wild Feline formulas from Chewy feature high-quality animal proteins like roasted venison and smoked salmon for balanced nutrition in cats that they will love! In addition to providing essential antioxidants such as taurine, this particular formula also boasts an abundance of vegetables, legumes and fruit ingredients to provide their felines with balanced nourishment and an appealing variety of flavors that cats crave.
Hill’s Science Diet’s focus on optimal nutrition while taking account of each cat’s individual needs is clear; their cat-in-gravy formulations contain high amounts of protein while being low in carbohydrates and sugar, helping cats maintain a healthy weight. They also include whole grains like brown rice as well as higher amounts of crude fiber than most kibble foods to aid digestion and they employ full-time veterinary nutritionists to ensure all products they produce are nutritionally sound and developed by specialists.