That was our top criteria for selecting the best dry cat food.
If your kitty is ready for their kibble, our top pick is the Taste of the Wild Grain-Free because it scored high marks in all categories.
Dry Cat Food Comparison
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Dry Cat Food Buying Guide
Before you Start Looking
Whether you have just gotten a kitten or you have had one for awhile that you love, choosing the right dry cat food for them is an important part of making sure they stay healthy. Kittens and adult cats have certain nutritional requirements that lesser grade dry cat food doesn’t have. Before you start researching different brands it’s important to know a few things about ingredient labels.
What Out for Advertising Hype – Advertising’s whole objective is to make people want to buy certain products. It doesn’t mean these products are good for your pet. For this reason it’s very important to become an excellent label reader and translator. A lot of the words used on cat food labels are not true to the definition of the word. They are simply put there to sound better. These will be words like “natural”, “premium”, and “quality”. Not all dry cat food that has these words on them is even worth thinking about purchasing. Read the labels before making any decisions.
Great Commercials Don’t Mean Healthy Food – Commercials are designed to make people want to go out and buy the products they see advertised. Cute cuddly kittens and funny cats enjoying all kinds of brand name cat foods make it look like you will have a healthy, happy cat as long as you feed them that food. Unfortunately, you should not and cannot rely on commercials to assure you of the quality of the dry cat food you are feeding your cats and kittens. You have to do a bit of sleuth work. Below we’ll tell you exactly what to look for when it comes to your cat’s food.
What to Look for in Cat Food?
If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients list on a bag of dry cat food, you may wonder what it is your cat is actually eating. The general rule of thumb you want to go with is the shorter the list of ingredients, the less garbage ingredients there typically is in the food. This is definitely the case in the top rated dry cat foods we’ve reviewed for you above but there are others too if none of these work for you.
The most important and significant ingredients in the food is going to be the first five that are listed. You want to avoid anything with “by-products” in it. By products, even if it says meat by-products, are things like hair, beaks, hooves and other things that you would never feed your pets. There is no nutritional value whatsoever in by-products.
Chicken or Turkey Meal (or other identified meat meal) is a good ingredient but it is much better to find dry cat foods with real meat sources (identified) listed first or second rather than just meal. Identified meat sources means that the animal it comes from is named such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, etc. Beware of seeing just “meat” with no identifier.
Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are also not healthy for your cat. Unfortunately you will find a lot of this even in the popular brand name cat foods that are sold in grocery stores. These additives are added to the food to keep it from going bad at a fast rate. There is no need for any of that in a healthy dry cat food. Things like BHA, BHT and Ethoxyqui have been known to cause liver problems, kidney problems, dental issues and allergies as well. Don’t rely on the word “natural” to mean it has none of those things in it. Be sure to look at the label. It should state somewhere on the bag that it is free of all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Other ingredients you don’t want in your cat’s dry cat food are corn, wheat, and soy. None of these are good for your cat and according to veterinarians; these things can cause allergies as well. These are often used as carb sources but your cat will be better off with healthier complex carbohydrates like brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Another important factor to consider is the reputation of the manufacturer that makes the dry cat food you are considering. What is their attention and focus on safe and healthy ingredients? How much do they pay attention to where their ingredients come from? Most pet owners are aware of the problems that have occurred in the past with certain pet food recalls, so it is important that you choose food from a company that has a lot of control over where it gets the ingredients for its food; even better if it lists where it gets the ingredients.
Important Information to Know
Watch for Fish Allergies – As odd as it may sound considering the majority of cat food is “fish” flavored in some way, cats can have fish allergies. If you cat is one that does have this allergy, then it is important to ensure that the dry cat food you purchase does not have any fish products. You can verify this by checking the label carefully.
“Grain-free” still has Carbs – Carbohydrates are not something that cats really need so watch out for dry cat foods that are loaded with them. Too many carbs can also cause your cat to put on too much weight. Many pet owners look for grain-free dry cat foods, but it is important to note that these dry cat foods still have carbohydrates in them, even if the label says grain-free.
Guaranteed Analysis Explained – You may hear that you need to check the dry cat food bag for the guarantee that is mandatory for all pet foods. This guarantee ensures pet owners that the food has the nutrition levels or percentages that are on the label of crude protein, fiber, fat and moisture. Even though the guarantee analysis gives you the information on the levels of these nutrients, it has nothing to do with their quality or the overall quality of the food.
Tips on Feeding Your Cats and Kittens
- If you are starting out with a kitten, understand they will require softer food at first due to their teeth and digestive systems that are immature and still developing. Wetting down the dry cat food will soften it enough for them to eat much easier. You don’t want to add so much water that it becomes a bowl of mush.
- You want to look for cat food that has higher meat content instead of grain content. Since cats are carnivores, they will thrive and flourish on a meat based diet. By insuring that named meats are in the top 5 listed ingredients, the food will be much better for them.
- Table scraps are not a good idea to feed cats. Things like onions, chocolate, avocadoes and other table foods can be toxic to cats. If you give them any scraps at all, make it meat scraps that are not covered in sauces and heavy seasonings and nothing with bones in it at all.
- When it comes to the amount of food to feed your cat, follow the instructions and guidelines that your veterinarian recommends. This will ensure a healthy pet at a good weight.
- Although cats don’t drink as much water as dogs do, make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
- Transitioning your cat from their current diet to a different food should not be done overnight. That can cause digestive upset. The best way to switch them over is to do it over a 5-7 day period, adding more of the new food and lessening the old feed each night. By the end of the week, they will be eating their healthier, better tasting and better for them dry cat food and will live a much healthier life to boot.
Feeding your cat a healthy cat food is not a complicated thing if you know what to look for. The information in this buyer’s guide can help you understand the confusing world of pet food labels. Now when you read an ingredient list, you will understand better what is actually in the food you are feeding them.
Giving them a healthy, high quality dry cat food will prevent many illnesses from occurring and will prevent things like animal obesity, allergies, digestive upset and many more problems that commonly occur due to the poor food a cat may be eating.
Unfortunately brand names don’t always mean high quality, so the knowledge of how to read and decipher the ingredient labels prevents you from being at the mercy of the food manufacturers.
Whether you choose one of the top rated, high quality dry cat foods we’ve reviewed here or you research and find another one that meets the guidelines we’ve recommended in the buyer’s guide. One thing is certain; your cat will live a long, healthy life and be much happier too.
- Taste of the Wild – http://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/#home
- Wellness – http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/cat-wellness.aspx
- Blue Buffalo – http://bluebuffalo.com/for-cats/product-type/dry-cat-food/