Your favorite feline companion deserves the best food a cat can eat, whether that food comes from a bag or from a can. When figuring out what to feed your cat, make the quality of ingredients your top priority and consult a veterinarian, especially for cats with special dietary needs.
Cats are carnivores, so when selecting your feline friend's canned food, check the protein content. The protein should be animal-based, not plant-based, because plant-based proteins have less biological value for cats. The food should also contain taurine, an amino acid that is essential for cats, and one their bodies can't produce on their own. Check the label for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials -- AAFCO -- that the food is balanced and complete. Be aware that this statement in itself does not guarantee that the company uses high-quality ingredients in its food.
If your cat craves a change from dry food, consider supplementing her diet with canned or moist. Because of its high moisture content, moist food provides extra water -- a definite plus, since cats need plenty of water to stay healthy. The best canned foods are low in carbohydrates, low to moderate in fat, and high in protein. When you check the ingredient list, make sure that at least the first three ingredients are protein sources.
Raw and Homemade
Raw and homemade diets are controversial. They're based on the philosophy that cats are carnivores and should eat a diet as close to their natural one as possible. If you wish to forgo commercial foods and the risk of recalls and contamination, you'll need to educate yourself completely on cats' dietary needs. High-quality commercial foods should contain the correct balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for optimal kittycat health. Homemade diets need to do the same, and to contain the types of meat cats eat in the wild, such as poultry and rabbit. Because poultry has the risk of salmonella contamination, thoroughly cook any that you plan to feed your cat. To be sure you provide your cat a healthy diet, it's best to consult an experienced and educated nutritionist for animals.
Foods to Avoid
Be wary of feeding your cat too much fish. Although kitties might adore tuna, the risk of mercury poisoning means it should be only an occasional treat. Avoid feeding your cat grains or grain-based foods, because cats are carnivores and grains have little nutritional value for your cat. They're filler. Also avoid chocolate, bread, raisins and grapes. And because many cats can't break down lactose, don't give milk to your cat.
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