Natural cat food…is there any other kind? A survey of store shelves, even in the most conservative, big-box chain, proves that the natural pet food craze isn’t just for hippies anymore; it’s a way of life for most pet owners. Familiar, cheaply-produced brands like Meow Mix
are available in a pinch at the local drugstore at midnight, but they’re heavy on filler and low on nutrition. Unless you’re flat broke or in a hurry, there are few reasons to buy supermarket quality brands. You can do research by reading product labels on natural pet foods and comparing user reviews from Amazon
and other sites. Your cat, however, determines the real verdict at mealtime.
First, let’s look at the good stuff-the nutritional components cats need in their food to ensure optimum health.
Like people, cats need protein
in their diet on a daily basis, from fish, meat or poultry.
They also need an amino acid called taurine.
You may recognize this name from the labels of some energy drinks like Red Bull, but don’t worry, this ingredient won’t turn your cat into a whirling dervish. Cats need a steady amount of taurine in their food, which is available from canned meat products. Lack of taurine in a cat’s diet can cause blindness and heart problems.
Cats also derive most of their water
intake from wet food. Felines aren’t big on slurping lots of water from a bowl, unless there’s an intense heat wave. Cats need Vitamin A
for ahealthy liver, niacin
to stave off infection and develop a shiny coat and arachidonic acid,
derived from animal fats, to stay strong. While PETA and other organizations support vegan and vegetarian diets for cats, let’s face it, felines are carnivores. If you’ve ever seen a cat chase a mouse or bird, you can vouch for that fact. Proteins and fatty acids from meat, poultry and fish-based wet food, balanced with grains and veggies from both wet and dry foods, are the best way to keep your cat happy and healthy.
Types of Natural Cat Food
Frozen and freeze-dried cat food mimic the diet cats eat in nature. No recipes or mixtures are used – just naked meat, vegetables and fruit like cat would encounter it in nature. Since most people don’t have the time to serve raw rabbit meat, duck, clam, potatoes, broccoli, apples, ground chicken bones, etc. to their cat, many companies specialize in this type of food. It’s usually available in the freezer section at your pet store or shipped frozen direct from the manufacturer. Raw cat food has risen in popularity since widespread recalls of tainted cat food in 2007,
Many premium cans of cat food sport labels that read “Human Grade Product manufactured by human consumption manufacturer” or something similar. While there’s no legal definition of “human grade” cat food, it implies that the food within is natural, produced without preservatives and made with ingredients that can also be used to produce food for family as well as kitty. The exact meaning may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, so read the listed label ingredients to verify this.
Plants grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals and animals raised in a natural, chemical-free environment such as a small family farm are said to be “organic.” There are no current FDA rules about labeling organic pet foods.
The AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials)defines a natural cat food as one that uses ingredients from an animal, plant or mine, cooked or uncooked, without preservatives or chemical processing.
Complete and Balanced.
In order to pass muster as a true “complete and balanced” product, a cat food must contain all the nutrients listed in the AAFCO cat food nutrient chart. The AAFCO can also conduct a feeding trial under strict guidelines to establish that the product provides proper nutrition.
Monday : Reviews of 5 Top Natural Food Brands
See something on the Internet that you'd like us to profile in this column? Anything about pet fashion, technology or interesting is good. Send us an email to email@example.com or leave a comment below.
About the author:
Marianne Moro is a freelance writer and publicist living in Hollywood, CA. She has written for many publications, clients and websites, including USA Today, Blogcritics Magazine, Modamag and Entertainment Today, among others. She's the proud co-o...