In the wild, cats would rely on numerous sources of food. Feral cats will eat almost anything, from squirrels to mice, and even young rabbits. Despite their airs and graces, they’re not averse to rummaging through the garbage for the odd tasty scrap, either. Though their need for meat has remained much the same. By nature, they are carnivorous creatures. That should not be changed, under any circumstances.
Cats need very few carbs. In the wild, their carbohydrates would only account for a small amount of their nutritional intake. Mostly, cats need a high protein diet, with a reasonable fat content. A study by pet nutritionists in England found that a cat’s daily caloric intake should be: 52% protein, 36% fat, 12% carbohydrates.
So what type of food would hit those marks the best?
Cat owners are not quite prepared to go out hunting for squirrels and rabbits. They do, however, like to give their pet cats the best that the stores have to offer.
Usually the choices available to us in the supermarkets, or pet stores, are wet cat food or dry cat food. Pet food manufacturers inform us that both are equally nutritious, and will make our cats happy and healthy, so they will love us forever. Is there any truth behind that?
DRY Cat Food
Dry food is popular and convenient. Simply place it in a bowl and it will stay edible for days, unlike wet food. There are some who believe cats can become addicted to kibble, much the same as people get addicted to fast food. This is due to the high carb content and added flavorings.
That aside, let’s dissect this a little further and look at the positive features of dry cat food. Proponents of kibble argue it has many benefits. Such benefits are very few, and they are difficult to find.
Here are a few things you need to know about dry cat food:
1. It cleans teeth. Perhaps some of the premium brands may help a cats’ teeth, by preventing the build up of tartar. Generally though, kibble is not any better than wet food for the cat’s teeth. Animals tend to swallow food, without chewing. Even worse, cheaper brands may leave a residue on the teeth. That means it will encourage the build up of plaque and tartar.
2. It’s convenient. Yes, as we have already mentioned, dry cat food is the most convenient option for pet owners. Plus it doesn’t spoil quickly. But free-feeding – leaving food down all the time, without set mealtimes, could encourage your cat to overeat, leading to obesity.
3. Meat content. Again a good point, cats are obligate carnivores, and do need meat to survive. The meat in kibble, though, tends to be of very low quality. MBM meat, and bone meal, constitute the meat in kibble. This means it is made from the non-meat parts of animals, such as intestines, hooves, even fetuses. Also it could be out of date meat from supermarkets and restaurants.
4. Hydration. Added to all of the above, there can be a problem of dehydration, especially when comparing dry kibble with wet cat food which has higher moisture content. If cats don’t have constant access to water when on a dry diet, they will inevitably dehydrate. Kibble expands in the stomach, so needs plenty of fluid to move it along the digestive system.
RAW and WET Cat Food
Wet/raw cat foods generally include tinned meat, fresh meat and fish.
If your cat loves cooked and tinned fish, there is no harm in that, but don’t overdo such foods. Do not feed cats raw fish. As with humans, they are susceptible to suffering food poisoning bacteria that lurks in raw food. Raw fish can kill the vitamin thiamine (B1), which is an essential vitamin for a cat. If you want to feed your cat fish, cook it and only give it as an occasion treat.
Here are a few things to consider:
Raw meat and bones. All raw food must be fresh, and human grade meat. Do not give your cat processed meat, as it may contain harmful preservatives. In the wild, cats will eat the whole carcass of any animal it catches and kills, including the bones.
Meaty raw bones are best, such as the larger bones. Never give your cat a bone it can swallow whole. Do not cook bones, they tend to splinter easier and that can cause a blockage in the gut. This is a great way for a cat to clean its teeth, as it would in the wild. A few bones a week are adequate, any more may cause constipation.
To kill any parasites that may harbor in raw meat, freeze it first. Make sure it’s 100% defrosted before your cat eats it.
Canned cat food. How much you give your cat is dependent on size and age. The good thing about canned food is that it’s higher in protein than the dry food. That’s exactly what your cat needs. Plus, you will not have the moisture problem as with dried food. It is less likely your cat will suffer the consequences of dehydration.
Homemade Cat Food
As with humans, homemade cat food can be great. At least then you have full control over what goes into your cat’s diet. Watch the carbs, a little pasta or rice is fine, but keep portions small. Whether you use fresh raw meat, or cooked meat is also fine, as long as the meat is not processed, such as sausages or bacon. Mix all this with a small portion of pasta or rice. Your cat will love you forever, and may never leave home.