8 Tips On How To Choose Cat Food – What to Look for in the Label
Picking a nutritious and tasty cat food can really be a challenge for new cat parents. Mainly because most supermarkets shelves have aisles dedicated to cat food products, all with attractive packaging and some with pretty deceiving labeling. So, how to choose cat food?
As a responsible cat parent, you need to see through the marketing mumbo jumbo and find out if a particular commercial food is actually good for your cat.
Vets often recommend freshly cooked homemade diets for cats. Those are always going to be your best options. When cooking a meal for your cat, you get to choose the ingredients and because it’s freshly made there are no preservatives (natural or otherwise) and no artificial coloring.
However, this post is for people don’t have the time or don’t want to endure the pain of cooking meals for their cats. While there are plenty of bad cat food products, there are also many good ones that have the right balance of nutrients and are extremely palatable. Your job as a pet parent is to figure out the best cat food brands when shopping online or at supermarkets.
In this post, we teach you how to read the labels and more importantly what to ignore. The following are 8 tips to find the best cat food products for your pet.
8 Tips On How To Choose Cat Food
1. Check AAFCO Statement
AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) is a private organization that checks the quality of pet food products. They also have strict guidelines that pet food manufacturers to need to adhere to.
AAFCO statement is printed at the back of the label and it clearly describes the quality of the food. It may say that a particular cat food product is balanced and complete for all life stages. Look for “complete and balanced for any or all life stages” in the AAFCO statement.
2. Check the List of Ingredients
Cats generally need a more protein-rich meal than dogs. That’s why it’s okay for a dog food product to contain a bit of carbohydrate or grain. However, cat food needs to be almost all protein, fat, and water, with a few essential micronutrients added in. Any filler or grain in the ingredient list should be a cause for worry.
Make sure the protein source is clearly mentioned and not something as vague as “animal byproducts” or “Meat.” The first ingredient on the label needs to be chicken, turkey, or fish. Some reputed brands even go further and mention the type of fish used to make their products. That’s always desirable because some fish breeds can have heavy metals such as mercury.
3. Research the Manufacturer
It doesn’t matter what appears on the label if the manufacturer is not trustworthy. Research the manufacturer online to see if they had problems with food quality in the past. While a few isolated reports can be ignored, manufacturers that sees numerous consumer complaints for making unhealthy cat food should obviously be avoided.
4. Buy Cat Food Brands that Hire Licensed Nutritionists
Some cat food brands and companies hire licensed Ph.D. nutritionists to formulate their products. These cat dietary experts make sure the products manufactured contain the right blend of ingredients. Go to the official site of the manufacturer to find out if they have a qualified nutritionist on their staff.
5. Don’t Believe the Marketing Buzzwords
Never believe anything written on the front of the cat food product packaging. There is little to no regulation that prevents pet food manufacturers to make false claims as long as the nutrition label is correct. For example, a preservatives filled cat food product can be labeled as “all-natural” in the front as long as the preservatives are mentioned in the back. Don’t believe the buzzwords, just check the ingredients list.
6. Don’t Buy Cat Food in Bulk if You Only Have One Cat
Once the pack is opened, cat food kibble has a very limited shelf life. Wet food can last a week if refrigerated properly while kibble can last 30 days if stored in an airtight container.
This means if you buy food in bulk and you have just one cat, a lot of the nutritional value is lost overtime.
7. Check the Sequence of Ingredients
You want fish, chicken, lamb, or turkey listed as the first ingredient. The ingredients list should ideally be short and understandable. Avoid chemical preservatives such as BHA, ethoxyquin, BHT, and others. It also doesn’t make sense to buy a product that contains artificial colors as cats do not care if the color of the food is bright or pale. By checking the sequence of the ingredients, you can figure which ingredients make up the bulk of the product. Mainly because ingredients are listed in order of how much they are used.
8. Check for Hidden Sugars
Sugars are bad and the cat food manufacturers know it. That’s why they try to hide them using clever names. Look out for names such as dextrose, maltose, sucrose, corn syrup, or fructose.