Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food

October 6, 2010

in Cats

To get your cat eating healthy food that meets all its nutritional needs, you will probably have to do a lot of studying of labels on cans and food packages. This is because some generic or supermarket brands tend to skimp on nutrition, putting in various kinds of fillers that add bulk but not much else. But fortunately, government requirements mean that all cat food manufacturers have to place certain information on their labels, and these can provide you with a lot of telling data.

One important thing to look for on pet food labels is a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO. If you see this statement, it means the food has passed strict tests.

You also want an animal protein at the top of the ingredient list, or at most, in second place. This means things like chicken or beef, and not by-products. The “life stage” of the cat should also be on the label, meaning kitten, adult or senior. The “dry weight protein” on the cat nutrition description should be twenty-six percent for an adult cat, and more for a kitten.

Changing cat food, if you decide to switch brands, should be gradual. Cats have a fairly simple digestive system that gets used to one type of food, so a sudden change can sometimes induce stomach upset. Add a bit of the new food in an adjacent bowl, gradually changing proportions between old and new. And while a cat eating kibble may seem easier and less odorous, canned food is better because it helps the cat stay hydrated. It does mean more attention to the teeth, however. Perhaps feeding some of each is an option.

And of course there must be treats, especially if you get those with tartar or hair ball control. When cats eat those, they will help remove a little bit of the plaque that may build up on their teeth, and of course cut down on those nasty, up-chucked hair balls. By no means, though, should you resort to human food as treats, because you don’t know when something in the food may be poisonous to your cat. The cat food you buy that is prepared especially for your cat will be sufficient nourishment, and enough to keep your cat healthy.

For more great tips on cats and other pets, visit the House Pets site.

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