Let me guess – You’re reading this because your cat owns you and has been very picky with the (wet) food you’ve been giving him/her lately or you are looking for high quality cat food to feed him/her and don’t know where to start (I don’t blame you, there is so much on the market!). Keep on reading to learn more about making better choices for your furry baby.
My own cat food journey actually had a different reason to begin with; Onyx was living with us for about three months when he started to throw up regularly. His previous owners had never given him any wet food since he was a kitten and he’d been given either Tom Poes (for the Dutch people who are reading and I made you cringe: I totally feel you! 🤗) dry food or dog food. I am not kidding, Onyx was being fed dog food for years, including dog snacks! I grew up not knowing better than buying both, dry and wet food, in the supermarket. I never understood why people spent so much money on cat food from pet shops, because I always thought the supermarket food couldn’t have been bad (otherwise they wouldn’t sell it, right?). I took him to the vet and she told me he wasn’t badly ill and he was behaving perfectly normal too. His stomach was upset and she gave him an injection for his nausea and he had to take medicine for his upset stomach until there were no more sachets left. She told me to consider switching to high-quality cat food and keep an eye on what he ate, because there was a possibility of an intolerance of some kind. I started looking into cat food in general, because something didn’t feel right. Also, because he never got fed wet food by his previous owner, it made me think. I found out that there are cats with food allergies and I started off with feeding him high-quality grain-free wet and dry food. He still throws up so now and then, but that’s usually because I couldn’t find any grains (wheat) on the ingredient list while the wet food brand isn’t stated grain-free and the wet food probably contains something that upsets his stomach (I cut it down to wheat and too much tuna). Rice, potatoes and corn usually don’t mess with his stomach). As soon as I give him even snacks that contain grains, he throws up. I always buy the Applaws Chicken & Salmon dry food, because that’s the one he always seems to eat and he never responds badly to it. Sometimes I try different brands to give him a change of flavour, but he always ends up going back to Applaws.
There is a lot of scientific information about cat food these days, such as how well cats can digest grains and other carbohydrates, but sadly not everything is yet known. From the scientific research done up until now you can’t conclude what is the best to feed your cat yet. There are up and downsides to all kinds of feeding (wet, dry or raw). What we do know, is that they need a high percentage of protein in their dry and wet foods because cats are naturally carnivores.
I’m not saying that grains are all bad or should be avoided completely in cat food. I mean that the abuse/overuse of grains in low-quality cat food is not good for your feline because it’s mostly used as a filler to make it cheaper. The percentage of grains are usually a lot higher than the protein in those foods. Cat’s do need grains, but just like for us humans getting tons of carbohydrates in our bodies and less other nutritious ingredients/ proteins etc. can result in weight gain.
So why would I call supermarket cat food ‘bad’?
Most supermarket brands like Whiskas, Felix, Friskies, Purina and so on contain far too much carbohydrates, or as I’d like to call them: fillers. Just like for ourselves I’d like to take an example: Pasta fills you up for a little while, but don’t you ever notice you get hungry again a few hours later after eating? They’re quick carbohydrates which means they spike up your blood sugars rapidly and makes you eat more after because you’re still hungry. It’s not as nutritious for your body as vegetables or meat. You can find grains like corn, wheat, and rice in a lot of cat food brands. It makes it cheap to produce and allow the food manufacturers to meet the carbohydrate requirements for their foods while saving themselves money. A lot of cat foods contain potatoes as well. They over-use colouring’s and flavourings (next time you are in the supermarket, check the ingredient list and see how high caramel colour and titanium dioxide are on the list), also poor-quality ingredients are being used. To explain this in one sentence: low quality cat food is basically like fast food for humans, it hasn’t got enough nutrition.
It is important not to assume that grain free cat food is a low carbohydrate diet. In fact, some grain cat foods contain carbohydrate levels similar to or even higher than diets containing grains. In many grain free diets, ingredients such as potatoes replace the grains in the food and often these ingredients have more carbohydrates than the common grains used in cat food. If the carbohydrate content is higher than the protein content, your cat will be hungrier because he will need to eat more to get the needed animal protein content. This will result in more carbohydrates being ingested, and the possibility of excess weight gain as a result.
(The source of the following information comes from PetMD)
Balanced and complete nutrition is important for any animal. However, the nutritional needs will vary depending on the cat’s life stage. For instance, the nutritional needs of a kitten are much different than the needs of an adult cat that leads a sedentary life.
Here are four reasons to make sure that your cat’s food is designed specifically for their life stage.
- Kittens that are growing require pet foods with a higher protein level and a higher calorie count than most cats to meet their growth requirements. If these nutritional demands are not met, your cat’s growth may be stunted and/or your cat may become ill.
- Obesity is the most common nutritional disease seen in cats today. One reason for this is improper life stage feeding. For example, a cat — especially one that leads a sedentary lifestyle — may become overweight or even obese if fed cat food meant for kittens. Of course cats eating cat food that’s designed for adult maintenance can also become overweight if overfed, but the higher calorie levels in kitten foods will certainly contribute to the problem.
- Female cats that are pregnant or nursing have higher nutritional demands than those that are not active re-productively. During the pregnancy and while nursing, the mother cat is literally eating for more than one. If her nutritional demands are not met, her kittens may suffer from a lack of milk as a result. In other words, the mother cat may be unable to produce an adequate amount of milk to feed all of her kittens. In addition, nutritional deficits may also lead to disease for the mother as well. For example, a calcium deficiency can lead to a serious disease called eclampsia, which involves tremors, seizures and even death for the mother.
- Senior cats often have special nutritional requirements as well. Cats with mobility issues may benefit from a pet food that contains glucosamine and/or fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. Older cats may also suffer from illnesses such as chronic kidney disease or heart disease. In some cases, feeding the appropriate cat food can actually be an effective method to manage these diseases.
I’d like to give a comparison of two different brands that are well known in most countries (I removed the supermarket cat food brand name). I added extra information or my opinion in red.
”Well known supermarket brand” Poultry Dry Cat Food
Grains, meat & meat by-products (clean non-rendered “parts”, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. For example: lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.) (10% with minimum 4% chicken & 4% turkey in the dark red and light brown kibbles), vegetable protein extracts, oils & fats, vegetable by-products, minerals, yeast, vegetables (green & orange kibble: 0.13% dried vegetables equivalent to 1% vegetables).
Nutritional additives/ kg: copper (35mg), iron (148mg), iodine (2.4mg), manganese (15mg), selenium (0.24mg), taurin (900mg), vitamin D3 (1000 IU), vitamin E (90 IU), vitamin A (12500 IU), zinc (187mg).
Applaws Chicken Dry Cat Food
Dried chicken meat (65%), freshly prepared chicken mince (17%), potato, brewer’s yeast, beet pulp, chicken gravy, salmon oil, vitamins and minerals, dried egg, cellulose plant fibre (0.03%), sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, seaweed, cranberry, DL-methionine, potassium chloride, yucca extract, citrus extract, rosemary extract.
Additives (per kg):
Vitamin A [retinyl acetate] (27,850 IU), vitamin D3 [cholecalciferol] (1,200 IU), vitamin E [alpha-tocopherol acetate] (615 IU), selenium [from sodium selenite] (0.13mg), iodine [from anhydrous potassium iodine] (1.5mg), iron [from ferrous sulphate monohydrate] (80mg), copper [from copper sulphate pentahydrate] (48mg), manganese [from manganese sulphate monohydrate] (38mg), zinc [from zinc sulphate monohydrate) (135mg).
E1705 enterococcus faecium cernelle 68 [SF68;NCIMB 10415] (1,000,000,000 cfu) as an aid in the establishment, maintenance and restoration of a balanced gut flora in cats.
I looked up why Applaws doesn’t have taurine stated on the ingredient lists, because it is a necessary ingredient for your cat’s health: Applaws wet food recipes can provide a reliable source of natural taurine because they are made with up to 75% muscle meat from chicken breast and fish fillets – such as tuna, mackerel, sardine and salmon.
So to make a quick comparison:
- ”Well known brand” has about 8% of meat (or rather the clean non-rendered parts) while Applaws offers at least 80% of meat.
- If you think about it, if ”Well known brand” has only 8% of meat, it must contain a huge amount of grains a.k.a. fillers/replacement for the protein your cat needs. The Applaws chicken version contains only 15% carbohydrates and is cereal-free (Onyx loves the chicken and salmon version and that one is 100% wheat free!)
- You can compare the additives list yourself, as I said I’m not a specialist. What I really like about Applaws is that they add Salmon Oil to their dry foods, which is an amazing ingredient for your feline’s fur for example.
I usually buy my cat food from Zooplus, because they have a lot to offer and they have a separate option on the website for grain-free cat food. There are lots of great brands out there and it doesn’t always have to cost you a rib. Yes, it does cost more, but I think my cat deserves a good diet like I do. I hate calling Onyx my pet (it just sounds so degrading) and I want him to have a healthy and happy life because he deserves it too. If you think about it, you probably spend just a little less per month on the cheap supermarket food then if you buy it in bulk at once (for example like I do online).
I’ll try to add more information to this post in due time, I am still learning myself.
What is your opinion so far on this subject? Let me know in the comments below!