As a cat owner, you are faced with an almost unmanageable selection of cat food. Kitten food, meals for active cats, senior food, special mixtures for diet candidates, and animals with allergies are on offer. And that’s not even mentioning all the flavors from chicken to salmon to turkey. The price range for cat food is just as diverse. Whether the cat at home appreciates inexpensive varieties or gourmet preparations: cat food that offers the animal all the important nutrients must contain certain ingredients. Read here what you should pay attention to, regardless of price category and brand.
How long has cat food been around?
At the beginning of the domestication of cats, no one seriously thought about their species-appropriate diet. The first cats did not seek human proximity out of sympathy: they hunted the rodents that attacked human supplies as food pests. It was a win-win situation for both humans and cats. The supply situation for the cats was comfortable and consisted of prey mice (the optimal source of nutrients for cats) and, if necessary, leftovers from human food, where occasionally a small bowl of milk or leftovers of fish or meat accumulated.
In the course of the common cultural history, the situation changed for many cats: As indoor cats in urban areas, mice gradually disappeared as a source of food. That was the birth of industrially produced cat food. In 1876, the American company Spratt’s began producing industrially manufactured cat food, which at the time was mostly made from horsemeat. Around the turn of the century, Gaines Food introduced the first canned cat food; a practical, ready-made meal that the pet owner only had to fill in the bowl without any time-consuming preparation. Cat food has long been considered a luxury item; the breakthrough in industrial cat food production only came in the 1950s.
What ingredients are in cat food?
Every mammalian organism needs food that combines a mixture of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins tailored to its metabolism. Cats have some peculiarities. As specialized carnivores, they have relatively short intestines and a gastrointestinal system primarily geared towards digesting meat.
What other essential substances are processed in cat food?
In addition to the cat food ingredients mentioned, additives must be added that are tailored to the species-specific physiology of the animals. The amino acids taurine, methionine, and arginine are particularly important.
In addition, components such as nicotinic acid, bulk and trace elements as well as various vitamins are important for the optimal supply of the cat.
How do I recognize good cat food?
As the section on additives shows, it is hardly possible for you as a cat owner to identify individual ingredients and their sources in appropriate quantities and from suitable sources. If you don’t have a solid knowledge of the BARF feeding method, a quality mark for good cat food is that all the necessary substances are taken into account in the optimal ratio. You can also use as a criterion the extent to which high-quality components have been used.
The proportion of selected meat or fish should be as high as possible, preferably 80 percent or more, and the proportion of animal by-products should be significantly lower. Vegetable products are ideal with a content of up to five percent, with a few grains as possible. A good guide is a note “food grade” on the label and the order of the ingredients, which are listed in descending order of quantity. If sugar is added, it is purely for visual reasons: the cat food appears appetizing to the human eye with caramelized sugar. Apart from an unnecessary calorie intake, it is unnecessary for the cat’s diet.