Are expensive cat foods worth the price?

by Rita Reimers

baby sadie eating

One of my clients called me recently, panic filled her voice.  She had recently added a new cat to her feline family, and the rescue organization gave her “the talk” about pet foods. 

“My cats are so picky, they just won’t eat those fancy cat food brands. Am I going to make them sick if I feed them the grocery store brands?”

I have felt this same panic after watching my cats turn up their noses at various “healthy” cat foods in favor of the regular store brands. So I did some research about cat food and started reading labels. While I do not endorse nor denounce any brands in particular, I have found that you do not have to spend a fortune on cat food to provide a healthy diet. Here are a few guidelines to help take the worry out of feeding your cat.

  • Research the internet. If you don’t know as much about your cat’s nutritional needs as you’d like, do a little Googling and read the information. But don’t let it overwhelm you. While there are plenty of great unbiased websites, there are also those created by the cat food companies that are aimed at selling you their products, sometimes using fear as a motivator. Be warned that some of what you read may be very upsetting.
  • Not all cat food brands are alike. It pays to read the labels. If you see “meat by-products” in the list of ingredients, pass on that brand. Likewise if corn, wheat, or glutens are the main ingredients in the cat food, you may want to choose another brand that lists chicken or fish as the primary ingredient instead. 
  • Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian, feed a combination of dry and canned for optimal health. Canned cat foods can be up to 85% water, while commercial dry foods can be high in starch and calories. Fed separately, they often do not provide total nutrition (depending on brand and the state of your cat’s health). Fed together, they compliment one another.
  • Watch those table scraps! If you are feeding a balanced diet, there is no need to feed your cat anything from your dinner plate. In fact some of the foods we eat can be harmful to your cat, such as onions and garlic. Our foods also tend to be too rich for your kitty’s sensitive tummy and vomiting may occur if she shares your dinner.
  • Dog and Cat foods are not created equal. If you feed your cat a dog food diet, she will be deficient in the nutrients that cats need to maintain optimum health, such as taurine needed for eyesight and a healthy heart.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Use a pet fountain to encourage her to drink if she doesn’t readily do so on her own.

If you stick to these guidelines and consult with your veterinarian, you will be feeding your cats the quality and nutrition they need to live a long and healthy life.


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