Best Cat Food for House Cats! What Your Pet Should Eat to Stay Healthy
Just like us, our cats are individuals with all kinds of different personalities, quirks, and tastes. But be honest – haven’t you ever thought it was a bit strange when your cat would really want to grab that chocolate cookie off your table – even though you know it would make her sick?
As cat owners, we always want what’s best for our kitties so that our babies can be healthy and happy. That also means we have to provide the best possible pet food for them by being informed about the ingredients and the cat food brands.
And what’s a better way to show our baby our love than to give her the gift of proper nutrition that will prolong and better her life?
Luckily, since the cat food industry knows its market’s pickiness, there are all sorts of different cat foods. The nourishing food for your kitty that I’m about to show you is so diverse – including dry and wet food, and lots more – that there’s no way on earth your kitty isn’t going to like at least some of it!
A Thing or Two about Proper Cat Nutrition
It’s surely easy to just lay back and say that cats eat ALMOST anything and still live out in the wild. We feel like this rids us of our responsibility regarding informing ourselves on what our pets are eating.
However, don’t forget that you did take your pet’s natural habitat away from her in a way, and you should make the environment that you brought her to better than the wild, and not worse.
You will see how truly fulfilling and satisfying it can be to really know that your beloved cat is being taken care of in the best way that is possible as soon as you start taking that extra step.
So, forget about the awful “ignorance is bliss” saying – it’s not! Do not cherish ignorance, and show your love for your furry baby through the conscious acts and decisions on her (or his) behalf!
Well, after I (hopefully) motivated you to find out all the really important stuff that – in my firm belief – every cat owner needs to know, I’ll try to walk you through a “101” in cat nutrition.
Unlike their canine friends (or foes?), who could feed on plants if it was necessary, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they CAN'T process vegetable protein. They need meat in their diet.
It may come off as odd, but the only thing that every cat’s diet needs to be rich in – besides water, of course – is animal based high-quality protein. Cat owners stuff their kitties with high amounts of carbohydrates that their cats don’t need.
For some reason, many of them also think that cats can be vegetarian. When put to use, these opinions are harmful to our beloved companions.
I will say this to anyone who will listen: cats should eat a low-carbohydrate diet with vitamins and minerals that they need for their pretty fur to be healthy and to prevent too much shedding.
However, even though cats are cute, they are also stubborn and aren’t at all as tame or at our power as a lot of us would like to think. And if they don’t like it, you can’t make them do it.
Various diseases (and serious at that, too!) may occur if a cat stops eating, or eats too little even if it’s just for a short period of time.
I have for my part witnessed two very loved, but spoiled Persian cats – both of which were cherished pets of a friend of mine – lose weight because they refused to eat new food that was brought to them. In this case, the BEST thing to do is to defer.
To name at least one specific illness caused by hunger, there is hepatic lipidosis, commonly known as a “fatty liver.” It is a hard liver issue that affects malnourished cats. Its symptoms often include behaviors and states such as rapid weight loss due to a massive loss of appetite, excessive vomiting, and diarrhea (which both lead to dehydration), muscle waste and more.
I won’t go very far into the depth of this illness, but I don’t want your or any other cat in the world to get it.
It breaks my heart to see kitties suffering from malnourishment. But, unfortunately, it does happen, and it happens very often and to many cats. There are various studies on this specific cat disease (and other ones, too) to be found on the net, but I’ll move on.
I want pet owners to know that the bad diets of their cats are no joke, and in no way to be taken lightly. I can’t stress enough how very crucial it is for cats’ caregivers to be informed and educated on the matter of proper cat diet.
This is especially true if the kitty has food allergies, or is ill and has very specific needs in terms of diet, such as a need for a kidney diet or diabetic cat food.
That being said, it is of utmost importance that you give your kitty food that is not just nutritious, but also delicious! Believe me when I tell you that you will be losing plenty of sleep if your loved one refuses to eat, and many cats do if they don’t like what’s on the plate.
Just remember my friend’s Persian cats I just told you about. You can’t reason with these little weirdos!
While I am still on the topic of being informed on what your weirdo is putting in her little snout, and I want all lovers of cats to be as passionate about that as I am, I also want to mention the importance of getting amino acids and fatty acids through food. As you have probably heard from your Biology teacher back in school, these acids are essential for health – but not just ours!
Try not to forget that cats have quite similar needs to ours. Both amino acids and fatty acids help when it comes to our health, but they are essential for our cats’ health, too.
For example, they help to spread vitamins through the body by passing them to their destinations. Both types of acids also help with regulating energy. It is crucial and easy for kitties to get these through food.
Also, your cat’s stomach will always enjoy fresh food much more than the heavily processed, packed ones. Take this into account the next time you’re shopping for pet food and see a really long ingredient list.
Stay with me and keep on reading to see just how a meat-based diet and meals with high-quality protein will benefit your cat, and what the best cat food brands are.
Do Cats of All Age Groups Eat the Same?
So, can cats of diverse age clubs, life stages, and states eat the same food? My answer to this one is a big, easy no – or, at least if you want them to be fine.
There are some age groups of cats that can’t be fed the typical diet (and by that, I mean the diet that healthy, adult cats eat): the young kittens, the pregnant cats, the nursing cats, and the elderly cats. I’ll elaborate in more detail.
You guys all probably already know well that there is a special kind of food for young cats. As kitten food can be (or at least should be) seen all the time as an offer in any and every pet shop out there, you know of it.
The question that often comes to mind is if young cats really need to eat kitten food only or if that’s just a needless luxury as kittens can actually eat adult food as well.
So, to answer the query, I will say that yes, kittens can survive on adult cat food alone, but that does not mean that it’s what they should be eating.
I’m sure that survival is not the only goal for your tiny kitten, as you must want her to grow and become strong and healthy one day, too. Then, my answer would be that a kitten should eat kitten food only. Stay with me to see just why this is.
So, why is that? Well, kitten food is not, in fact, a far cry from adult cat food, but the change that it does make is pretty big.
And if you are wondering: “Well, why couldn’t I just give my kitten more adult food?”… It doesn’t exactly work that way. It isn’t healthy for a little kitten to eat too much, either. It will not do the youngling any good to stuff her or himself with food.
These young kittens need to eat in moderation, which means more portions with less food. They can’t control themselves at all.
Another thing that cat owners often find confusing is finding the right time to switch from kitten food to adult cat food. Remember that changing a kitten’s diet too early is not a good solution for the reasons that I’ve mentioned above.
For the first five weeks of their lives, kittens should rely on their cat mom’s milk to get their nutrients.
And if they don’t have a cat mom, but do have a human caregiver, then they should receive a kitten formula from their human that will satisfy the needs of cats at that age.
Starting from around week five or so, a kitten can start eating solid kitten food. It should go on eating this food for the rest of its first year.
When the young kitty becomes around one year of age – and a vet can normally determine a cat’s age just by giving her an examination – it can finally start eating the regular, adult cat food. That’s the end of it! So, guys, try to wait until then.
Now that we know what kittens should be eating, let’s see what the pregnant cats – the ones that are actually carrying multiple kittens in their tummies – need. Remember that they are eating for… many. Pregnant cats usually carry from 2 to 5 kittens!
That basically means that they have to provide enough energy for at least 3 cats – including themselves. Doesn’t that sound like a huge task?
This is the exact reason why future mommy cats need a lot of protein. These female cats will also need more nutrients to get through the physical stress that the pregnancy is putting on their shoulders.
Now, let’s move on to the nursing cats or the moms who have just given birth, and are now producing milk. Needless to say, these kitties are drained with fatigue. We know that they need extra energy, but just how much do they need, you wonder?
Well, the answer might come as a bit of a shock, but lactating cats commonly need at least twice as much food as they had before.
That’s right. Doubling the amount of those meals for a cat that’s feeding her kittens with her milk is essential, and some people give them as much as four times more food than they normally would. The nutrients will slowly help her get better and healthier. Little by little, she’ll regain all the strength she had lost by giving her all to bring new cats into this world.
And even though cats aren’t taught and prepared for the role of motherhood from an early age by their moms, mother’s intuition is alive and well in cats.
Older cats, just like our human elders, tend to be less physically active. Our aging cats don’t run around anymore like they did when they were young kittens, nor would that be normal for them.
It’s time for them to rest in these late days, but this unfortunately also means that some of their organs are working less effectively, too.Your elderly cat – even though she will forever be a baby kitten in your heart – doesn’t have a highly functioning liver or kidneys anymore, and can’t process as much protein now as it needed earlier in life just to be able to stay active. Elder cats SHOULDN'T have carbohydrates.
Best Dry Cat Food for Your Pet
Both dry and wet cat food have their benefits in terms of nutrition. That being said, dry food is far more convenient in terms of storing, as it’s quite easy to place practically anywhere (as long as it’s out of a hungry kitty’s reach).
It can be transported very easily, too. I like to put dry food for my cats in a large Tupperware bowl. Once you close it, you can feel no smell whatsoever.
In case you are the owner of a chubby cat that is desperately in need of a diet, then you must know how much dry kibble can be helpful in measuring specific portion sizes.
Portion measure is way harder to do with wet food. Also, wet food must be either eaten or thrown away shortly upon opening the package, which brings me to my next point.
You will notice that once dry cat food is opened, it can stay that way for a long time without going bad at all. It is perfect for cats who like to graze as it can be left in the bowl for hours and still taste good, making it really helpful to pet owners who don’t supervise their pets’ eating. I know that that really is what a lot of people with overly busy schedules are looking for.
In addition to this, dry cat food is high in energy, which is always a good thing as your kitty needs to be active in order to stay well. It is recommended by some to keep dry food as a part of the daily diet for nursing cats, as well as growing kittens in need of energy.
Don’t forget that cats and humans are alike in quite a few ways. This is very true when talking about the development of teeth, where baby cats need time to develop theirs.
This is where dry kibble can play a major role. Remember how our parents would always make us eat the crust even though we like it cut off our sandwich? Well, kibble is pretty much crust for cat teeth.
There is dry kibble for adult cats as well as for young kittens that need a special kind of kibble for their undeveloped teeth. As I said, regular dry cat food is excellent for keeping adult cats’ teeth strong and healthy.
For cats with dental issues, dry food is much more practical than wet food. Since wet cat food is so sticky, it can get stuck between the teeth way more easily than dry food, in which case dental cleanings may be required.
Furthermore, many cats simply find dry food more appetizing and delicious than other kinds of food, which is also a matter to be taken into account when feeding a pet as food is an important thing for your cat.
It isn’t there just for its nutritious value, but also for pleasure in the sometimes monotonous life inside of a house (remember that your fluffy baby is actually a wild animal!)
There is another useful piece of info about (most) dry cat foods that I want to bring to attention, and that can’t be overlooked. And it’s, well, the price.
Let’s face it; cat ownership is not just for the wealthy, and a vast majority of people isn’t exactly rolling in dollar bills (or bills of any currency - excluding Monopoly money, obviously).
For this reason, I am going to take a wild guess that most of you folk who are reading this have an “approachable price” bullet point that you want to check.
With that in mind, I want to let you know that dry cat kibble is often in the “lower price” category, and that is commonly one of the main reasons that many people opt for this kind of cat food.
As I said before, dry kibble – in the majority of cases – is a source of most of the nutrients that your cat needs, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals (and a few carbohydrates, too). Some dry cat food can also provide your baby with an additional valuable thing that is fiber.
There aren’t that many studies pointing to the exact, specific benefits of fiber in cat diets. However, we do see improvements in the overall health of cats that are presented with dry food that contains fiber as an addition to other important nutrients.
An example of a dry food that is rich in fiber is Blue Wilderness’s dry cat food with chicken flavor. This one, although dry, is grain free.
I personally haven’t tested this one on any of my cats just yet, but I have heard many positive things from people who have given it to theirs, so I will not refrain myself from spreading the good message!
Orijen Cat & Kitten Food is a brand that mostly specializes in dry, “biologically appropriate” food, and has a very diverse set of products on their shelves.
They claim that their food contains animal protein in a large percentage (90%) and that it has no plant-based protein, which are both good, and indeed how cats should eat according to their biology.Anyhow, in case you opt to feed your cat only dry food, don’t ever forget to leave lots of fresh water out for your baby to drink, and I mean lots! With all of its pros, dry food still fails to cater your cat with enough water, which she needs to survive. Don’t let your kitty become dehydrated, as this could lead to all sorts of illnesses, such as urinary tract issues and kidney disease.
The 3 Best Dry Cat Foods on the Market
This food contains a simple formula and is made mostly from duck meat with the addition of green peas and a few other ingredients. Notably, it contains a limited amount of carbs and is completely free of grain.
The ingredients in this cat food are designed to help keep your little friend’s fur and skin in great condition, incredibly shiny and healthy. If she’s shedding a lot, this food can potentially help with that problem.
Sadly, this is a food that’s low on protein, so if you want your little hunter to feel like she’s in the wild – though luck.
It’s also not highly caloric or filling, so your cat might need to eat a lot of it to get her fill. If she already happens to have some weight problems or stomach problems, this will be a particularly bad food for her.
The best thing about this food is that it is great for your kitty’s stomach. If she’s having constant trouble with vomiting or even coughing up hairballs, then this food should be able to give her a bit of a reprieve.
It is also completely free of grain and the number one ingredient is real whitefish meat. While this makes it tasty it is also certainly not for cats that are allergic to fish or fish oil.
Due to being made from fish, this food also smells a lot. Don’t leave it lying around for a long time if your cat doesn’t eat it all since the smell can remain for days. Be sure to feed your kitty in a room that you can air out afterwards.
Overall, it’s a highly nutritious food that will help your cat with stomach problems for sure.
This is a great chicken-flavored dry food that is made without any added grains and is full of protein. It also contains no artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives. It’s also high on protein content so your furry friend will surely like it.
However, it also has a lot of carbs, meaning that it might not be the best choice of food for overweight kitties or small kittens.
It might cause some stomach problems or gassiness. In some cases it might even cause diarrhea, so if your kitty has a sensitive stomach, this is not the right food for her.
The price of this food is great, especially for the quality you get here. It can also last for a long time so you can get large amounts at once without worrying about spoilage.
Overall, it’s good, just make sure it fits your cat or there might be trouble.
Best Wet Cat Food
It is a common opinion among us cat lovers that, if our feline buddies could talk, most of them would talk us into buying wet food for them! (Well, at least after telling us to stop bothering them with affection so much when they just want peace and quiet.)
And while yes, dry food can too be quite delicious to kitties, I do bet that wet food would win the popular vote among them.
Now, some people go so far when it comes to the benefits of wet cat food and the cons of dry food that they even recommend a completely grain-free diet, but I would rather say that everything is good in moderation. Diversity is key!
Even so, no one can deny the IMMENSE benefits that a diet based on wet food can bring to our precious sweethearts, so let’s see them.
Once a cat owner starts to feed their cat wet food regularly, their baby starts radiating good hydration, and therefore good health as well.
Wet food also continues to win the overall health vote when we take a look at its common ingredients and compare them to those of most dry food. It mainly has fewer carbs (good!) and more protein (even better!) than dry cat food. So there’s that.
Cats eat wet food more easily, as it’s easy to chew. Also, eating the same amount of wet and dry food in grams will definitely result in eating different amounts of calories over the course of one meal.
This is because wet food is practically water in its largest part. This will inherently lead to your cat losing weight, which is great for obese and overweight cats (be careful around thin cats).
Moreover, there is a group of cats with certain health issues that I think can benefit the most out of a diet based on wet food. Namely, it’s the cats that have urinary tract issues that have got to have wet food meals often!
If you have a cat that has diagnosed issues with her urinary tract such as infections, or perhaps a kidney stone, then wet food is the answer and the ultimate kidney diet.
When it comes to wet cat food brands, some of the best choices available are probably additive free Applaws’s tuna with sea beam in broth, as well as Fancy Feast’s grilled seafood variety pack. A good example of canned wet food would be Ziwi Peak’s canned chunky lamb meat.
Don’t forget that, although sure, it can often be quite pricey, wet food can prevent and treat many health issues, unlike other kinds of cat food. It is certainly of key importance to keep in mind that the price of food should not only reflect the physical amount of the food inside but also its nutritious value.
This is one of those pay me now or pay me later cases, as some folks would say.
The 3 Best Wet Cat Foods on the Market
This wet canned cat food is a bomb of necessary nutrition for your little furry baby! It’s just what it needs to stay healthy and fresh.
It is made using real, premium chicken meat instead of by-products, which is why it has a high amount of protein. It also has a ton of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary for a healthy adult cat.
The amount of water content in this food is high as well, meaning that your little fuzzball won’t be dehydrated after eating it.
The food in the cans is a little bit too chunky, though, so you might have to cut it or grind it into smaller chunks before your cat can eat it.
While this cat food is mostly good, the quality is sadly not consistent. One batch might be fine but the next could be completely bad – you never know. Because of that, buying it in large amounts is QUITE risky.
Lots of cat foods are quite inconsistent. Based on just one batch, it might seem like my cat’s new favorite dish, but the next batch she won’t even touch!
Well, this cat food is consistently good, thanks to the extensive testing done on each batch. You’re almost guaranteed the same quality, each time.
It’s also a good food if your hairball is getting a bit too big recently. This food won’t be just something delicious they can eat on a regular basis - it will also help them lose weight.
The food can be a bit too much on the watery side, though. If your cats seem to dislike wet food that is more ‘brothy’ than ‘chunky’ then this is not for them.
Another possible problem with this food is that it is not grain-free. It does contain rice, which can be unhealthy for cats. So, if you want to make sure your little ones stay completely healthy, this might not be the best choice.
One of the best things about this food is its high protein content. It’s made without any grains and is free of artificial colors or preservatives. It’s made with 95% chicken meat and no by-products. This ensures that it’s not only nutritious, but also paw-licking delicious!
This food is also made to mimic the cat’s natural food and contain all the same nutritional contents. With this you’ll be sure your cat’s diet is as close to natural as possible.
If your cat is allergic to fish or fish-based product, though, you shouldn’t get this food for them. It might not be immediately apparent, but this cat food uses fish oil and that change happened recently.
Besides that, the cans of this cat food can be surprisingly difficult to open. I’ve had some serious trouble opening them in the past.
Should You Feed Your Cat Bones and Raw Food, or BARF
If you are wondering about whether you should put your cat on a raw food diet or not, my advice would be to go to a vet FIRST and start from the doc’s advice.
It really takes additional knowledge of the facts, as well as the approval of a professional, to truly know whether the raw food diet is right for you and your kitty. So, what exactly are cats fed when put on the BARF diet?
First of all, and for those of you who haven’t heard of this diet for house cats, don’t let your heart fail you – cats can feed on raw food alone, and still be very healthy and get all of the proper nutrients that they need!
I get your concerns about germs, bacteria, viruses and other organisms that can cause diseases, but stay with me so you can see how these issues can be dealt with.
The acronym BARF can stand for two, essentially similar things. The first one – the one I have already mentioned, would be Bones and Raw Food, whereas the second meaning behind the 4-letter name is Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
All in all, BARF represents a diet based on uncooked muscle and organ meat, as well as bones.
For the cat owners who are considering this, or have already opted for feeding your cat the “natural” way, there are two options, which are homemade raw food, or commercial frozen raw cat food – and there are multiple brands that sell it.
I’ll proceed to give you some FURTHER useful info about both choices, hopefully providing you with a wider insight into the BARF diet.
In the age of vastly extensive free info, more and more cat owners are becoming interested in trying to save up on money by giving up some of their leisure time. This can prove to be a very useful hobby in case you want to feed your cat raw food, as you can be in more control over what she is eating.
Making cat food all by yourself can be both fun and economical, for sure. But did you know that it could also benefit your cat’s overall health?
As I’ve said before, heavily processed, packed food with a large list of ingredients is not something that anyone’s stomach wants (even if we like to think that ours sometimes do – they don’t, it’s a trap!)
It’s the same with cats, really. And as feeding a cat exclusively, raw food clearly requires more effort and hassle than giving her ready-made meals, preparing homemade cat food can be the great answer that many of you want to hear.
It isn’t always easy to have to hurry home to prepare meals for your baby, but it definitely can’t EVER be a waste of time to go a mile further for her!
There are plenty of pet food recipes out there on the net, and you can easily find a “how to” for ways to serve your cat raw food right. It is easy to follow these step by step, just to be safe.
I also want to remind the ones considering the raw diet for your cat to also just ask around to see if any of your friends, colleagues or family members feed their cat this way, and to share tips.
However, perhaps this is not the most convenient option for you at the moment, but you still think that you should go on and feed your kitty nothing but raw food.
In this case, it’s a great thing for you that there are multiple brands that cater to your group of buyers and sell frozen raw cat food! I’ll present a couple of them to you in the next passage.
Some of the really nice raw cat food brands that I have heard good things about and need to mention here are “Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Market Nuggets,” and “Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Cat Food,” among others.
Needless to say, both brands market their products as food that is very much like the food that cats that are outside, in their natural habitat, eat.
In the end, I do need to stress that you should not leave your kitty with no fresh water at any time. This stands notably if you are giving her dry food only, as she won’t get nearly enough hydration from it.
But, do try to make sure she always has enough water in her water bowl even if she only eats wet food. Water supply is very important, and a cat could lose her life if left without any.
The choice of what your cat will eat is yours alone, but I sure hope I helped out at least a little bit! I will continue to share my knowledge and experience accumulated through a lifelong friendship with cats with you on this blog.
But at the end of the day, your cat’s destiny is in your hands alone, so shield her from all the cruel things that could get her if she wasn’t in your care!
Have I covered all of the basic things that you wanted to see in this (quite lengthy) article? I am sure that you also have valuable tips to share and can help the community, so make sure to comment below and let me know about your opinions and experiences! Let’s help each other and make the world a better place for cats and their lovers.