My human refuses to feed me a steady diet of tinned tuna, no matter how much I meow and bite her hand. Am I doing something wrong? All I want is to eat like the beast I am.
Frustrated and Furry in Phoenix
It’s certainly normal for a cat to want to eat nothing but tinned tuna, and compared to some of the cat foods on the market, it seems like it would be a decent diet. However, to make sure we give you the best eating advice possible, we’ve done some research into healthy eating for cats and this is what we have found out:
Cats are Carnivores
Sure, cats, dogs, and bears are all members of the family carnivora, but unlike dogs and bears, who actually have very omnivorous diets, we cats are dedicated carnivores. That means we need to eat meat and nothing but meat to be healthy.
A lion eating a warthog
Look at the wild cats. Lions, cheetahs, pumas… these felines are all predators, at the tops of their food chains. You don’t see them foraging for corn meal or veggies. Our bodies are the same, albeit smaller and possibly fluffier, but like our wild cousins, we need to eat a meat-based diet. We do need a little roughage to help us digest this meat, as any cat who has ever gone outside specifically to nom grass can tell you. Good sources of roughage are grass (as mentioned), some fruits such as pumpkin, and some leafy vegetables such as spinach, as long as the bulk of our diet is meat.
So, you may say, why not the tinned tuna? Well, my furry friend, if you’ve ever been on an African safari and watched Simba eating, you’ll notice that our wild cousins don’t just eat the muscle, like our humans tend to do. They eat the organs, the skin, the eyeballs, and the cartilage, and then they crunch up the bones and eat the marrow. There’s almost nothing left for the hyenas and vultures. To be honest, I don’t even know how those scavengers survive on the lions’ left-overs. Organs and all that other good stuff contains loads of nutrients that we can’t get from muscle alone. A good cat food will contain lots of animal products, unlike a tin of tuna, which contains only muscle meat.
And that brings us to:
Best and Worst Cat Food Brands
When you’re choosing your cat food brand, have your human first read the ingredients. Don’t bother with the gimmicky or persuasive words splattered in big print on the front of the bag, like “gourmet,” “premium,” or “vet approved.” Just find out what’s actually in the food.
Good, healthy cat food should be made of meat. That’s pretty straight-forward, isn’t it?
Here’s a list of things to avoid in your cat food:
- By-products – these are the parts of slaughtered animals that aren’t even good enough for hot dog wieners, like brain, blood, and lungs. They’re not so bad but shouldn’t be the main or only source of animal product in your food.
- Proteins from corn (“corn gluten meal” “corn meal”)
- Proteins from soy (“soybean meal”, “soy flour”, “soy meal”)
- Grains such as wheat, white rice. They are high in carbs and wheat has gluten, neither of which cats can digest.
- Rye. It is very harsh to digest and pets don’t like it.
- When 3 of first 5 ingredients are grains
- Potatoes (except sweet potatoes). They are high-glycemic, causing peaks in blood sugar.
- Tapioca, also high-glycemic.
- Artificial preservatives and colorants, which are not necessary in pet food and some have been linked to cancer.
You’ll have a difficult time finding a cat food with none of the above, but if you can find a food that is mostly meat and has very little of any of the other stuff, you’re going to be healthy.
According to “Cat Food Dispenser Reviews,” these, then are the top best yummy cat foods based on their ingredients:
Orijen Cat and Kitten Formula
Orijen is made with fresh meats which are free of preservatives. It is grain-free and contains all the essential amino acids a cat needs.
Petcurean Go Fit Grain Free Formula
Petcurean Go! Fit + Free Grain-Free is made with a variety of meats, including turkey, duck, fish, and chicken, and has added chicken fat for energy instead of carbohydrates (which cats can’t digest.)
Acana Pacifica Regional
Acana Pacifica Regional formula is made with wild fish caught in the Canadian Pacific, such as herring, flounder, and hake, and it also includes some fresh fruit and veggies. This cat food contains all the essential amino acids you need.
Read all the info on these and other great cat-food brands on the Cat Food Dispensary website by clicking here.
Our research led us to the top WORST cat foods according to their ingredients, too. BHA is a preservative found in many pet foods that has been linked to cancer!
The main ingredients in 9 Lives are corn, chicken by-product, corn, soybean, and wheat. Yuck! Cat’s can’t digest any of that stuff! That’s why this cat food also has a bunch of added fat for energy and vitamins so you won’t die. This nasty stuff also has BHA added as a preservative, so if you eat it for your whole nine lives, expect to get cancer.
The first five ingredients of Fancy Feast (Filet Mignon Flavour) are corn, corn, poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, and animal fat. There is no filet mignon listed anywhere on the ingredients, so I think it’s false advertising. It’s like when your humans drink kool-aid and call it juice.
Friskies is another unhealthy cat food choice. Its main ingredients are also corn, corn, poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, and animal fat. This cat food has a lot of artificial flavour and colour added so your humans will like the look of it, but believe me, this is not what constitutes a healthy kitty meal.
You can look at the List Mart website for more details about these and four more of this year’s worst cat food brands by clicking here.
Some humans erroneously believe that we get all the water we need from our wet food. While it is true that wet cat food is up to 80% water, the truth is that all pets of any species need access to fresh, clean drinking water at all times.
I like this one, which I found on Thirsty Cat Fountains, because it’s functional yet decorative. You can click on it to find out how to get one for your house.
If you’re like most cats, you probably don’t drink from your cat water dish as often as you drink from the tap or lick up the water drops in the shower stall after your human has finished showering. That’s because our natural instinct is to drink running water whenever possible. I’d recommend your human provide a nice water fountain for you so you will enjoy drinking your cat water and won’t feel the need to follow everyone into the bathroom in the hopes of getting your nose under the faucet. If your human is on a tight budget and can’t shell out the big bucks for a cat water fountain, encourage them to at least clean and refill your water dish regularly. There is nothing less appealing than a dish of stagnant water sitting on the floor with dust and hair floating in it and algae growing in its depths.
How Much and How Often a Cat should Eat
Lancy enjoying a nibble of grass
Everyone is different, and your eating habits should depend on your body type and life style. Once you have selected your cat food of choice, have your human talk to your vet about quantity and frequency of feeding.
Treats are the best, and we all love them. In a perfect world, we could survive solely on treats such as tinned tuna. However, in actual reality, your humans need to limit the amount of treats you eat. Treats are high in fat and low in nutritional value, and if you eat too many of them, you won’t have room for your healthy dinner.
I hope this helps. Thank you for your question, and remember, everybody, you can ask me anything!
Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker.