With the recall of Wellness, peeps were on the hunt for some new canned food for us. In the past, peeps have always fed whatever foods the vet recommended...never really knowing why certain brands were considered better than others. When the Wellness recall happened, peeps went out on their own and researched exactly what makes a certain cat food a chomp above the rest. They thought maybe I'd want to share their findings here with you and I said sure. If there's one thing I enjoy writing about, it's food!
First and foremost, the information I'm giving here is information peeps found during their research. They are not veterinarians or cat food experts. As they researched, they felt that they learned a lot and wanted to share some of that knowledge with other cat lovers.
Secondly, all the information they're sharing is about canned (moist) cat food. Dry cat food is another beast all together. Basically, the overall consensus is that it should be kept to a low percentage of the overall diet. Most dry foods are very high in carbs and very low in moisture which means they aren't really good for us kitties. Try to think of what a kitty would eat if it were out in the wild. Ultimately, something as close as possible to that should show up in the bowl come meal time. Last time I checked, you won't find a cat chasing down a herd of kibble on the African savanna! ;) Personally, we all love dry food in my house and we do get it sometimes. Just like with canned food, peeps try to make an informed decision and pick a brand that they feel is as healthy as possible.
And finally, peeps believe that as long as a pet owner gives their pet the very best that they can, then that's all anyone can ask. Generally, the more you spend, the better quality, healthier food you'll get, but that doesn't mean that you can't make informed decisions with lesser-priced brands. Here are some basic rules to follow when choosing a canned food:
1. Make sure some form of meat-based protein is listed first in the list of ingredients. When choosing a meat, look for a muscle meat (chicken, turkey, duck, rabbit, etc) as the first ingredient rather than a by-product, liver, fish, or beef.
2. Keep moisture high...although not so high that there's no room left for the important ingredients. Most good brands will have ~78% moisture.
3. Keeps carbs and fat low.
So...overall you want to keep protein high (make sure it's from animals, not plants), water high and carbs/fats low. Try to stay away from foods having corn (maize), wheat and/or soy if you can. These grains have absolutely no logical place in your cat's diet and high quantities can even be detrimental to their health. And let's not forget that the huge pet food recall in 2007 was due to contaminated wheat gluten - something that shouldn't even be in cat food to begin with!
The first thing that peeps learned on their journey was that a "raw diet" was the very best thing. Some people make their own, but after peeps learned more about this, they didn't think it was for them. Trying to get all the vitamins and minerals just right so that we would all have a nutritionally complete diet scared them. So next they checked out the commercially available raw diets. Peeps really didn't do a lot of research on these because financially, this just wasn't a feasible choice for us.
So...now we move on to the canned cat foods. The "meat" of this blog so to speak. ;) Peeps found that there were basically three categories of canned food. Ultra-Premium, Premium and Supermarket. If you look at the labels and follow the basic rules above, you should be able to tell which category a specific brand best fits into. Sometimes it's not black and white though. There are shades of grey...
For example, some of the grain-free brands end up being pretty high in fat. Is it better to have grains or better to have higher fat? Based on all the research peeps have done, higher fat would be the choice. Fat is normally a much better source of calories for a cat than carbs. But, for someone like me (of the rotund variety), peeps want to be careful of too much fat in my diet so...that particular brand might not be the best choice for me all the time. I need something without carbs/low in carbs but also lower in fat. It's a cat food conundrum! It goes without saying that peeps are still researching and trying to come up with just the right combination for all of us.
|Dinner time at my house|
These brands can be found at specialty pet stores in your area and online and they provide the highest quality, healthiest, and most nutritious ingredients. They contain nutrient-rich ingredients such as real meat as the primary protein source, whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, and (if not grain-free) fiber-rich whole grains like brown rice. They don't contain artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. They also don't contain wheat, corn or soy. They are usually fortified with additional vitamins and minerals and will use the best natural sources for fatty acids to support the immune system and help build healthy skin and a beautiful coat. You should expect to pay a little more for these brands than you would for other types of pet food, but remember, with healthier foods you can often feed less since they are more nutrient-dense.
These brands are often found in high-end grocery stores, pet stores, and veterinarian offices and they contain higher-grade ingredients. They contain real meat as the primary protein source, but may still include some elements of "supermarket" foods, such as artificial colors, artificial flavors, and chemical preservatives. They will also normally included a higher level of carbohydrates than "ultra-premium" foods with grains. It's especially important to read the label when buying this category of canned cat food because there is a lot of variation. These foods are usually more expensive than "supermarket" foods because their ingredients are of a higher quality.
These brands are found in grocery stores and mass-market retailers and are typically made with lower-quality, less-digestible, inexpensive ingredients and, therefore, are a cheaper alternative. While easy on the pocketbook, these foods normally do not provide your cat with the healthiest, most nutrient-dense ingredients.
So there you have it. I didn't feel comfortable throwing out brand names for each category because as I stated above...this is all just based on some research peeps did for us. If you follow the basic rules as much as possible then you'll find a good cat food that works for you. I don't think there's any brand out there that is 100% perfect in every way. If there is, peeps haven't found it yet! Right now we're eating 3 different brands and peeps will probably be adding a 4th sometime soon. Most of us will eat just about anything, but Louie and Max can make changing foods very challenging. Louie is just a picky eater, but before Max came to live with us, he ate one of the "supermarket" foods that tasted great, but offered little in nutritional value. Changing this diet was akin to feeding a child fast food for awhile and then trying to convince them that broccoli tastes just as good! ;) Mmm hmmm. Not easy!! So...trying to find something more healthy that Max actually
likes...well...it's always been a challenge and it probably always will be. And when you add in the big sad eyes that Max gives peeps when his food bowl isn't to his liking...it's scary stuff! But so far, so good. He's slowly but surely starting to clean his bowl again with our new foods. :)
And, just one last note...if you decide to change your cat's food, make sure to do it slowly - mixing in a little of the new food with a lot of the old food at first. Then, sloooooowly, over time, give more new food and less old food until the old food is gone from the diet completely. Obviously, in our case, we couldn't do this as slowly as peeps would have liked because of the recall, but we've all survived the injustice! I don't mean to tattle on my siblings (ok...fine...I love doing it), but Polly's tail had to be...ummm...washed a few times, but that's the worst there was. She's a diva though, so what do you expect? ;)
Until next time...