Choosing cat food

Getting a new cat or a kitten is the greatest thing ever. While most of the supplies you need for a new cat are easy to choose and buy, the question of cat food is a bit more complicated. There’s a wide variety of cat food in every country, with misleading labels and proclamations. In order to choose the best food for your cat, you need to know how to read cat food labels, and take into an account other factors.

Choosing cat food for your cat

Budget – Caring for a cat doesn’t have to be very expensive. Don’t be upset if you can’t buy the most expensive food – it’s not always the best food, and your cat can thrive on many kinds of cat food. When you set a budget, it can be for dry food only, for a combination of dry and canned food, or you can go for raw food. When checking out prices of dry food bags, calculate the price per pound (or per kilo).

Thought you don’t need to buy the most expensive food out there, note that when the food’s quality is high, cats eat less of it in order to satiate themselves. So, a smaller bag of a good quality food is better than a huge bag of corn-stuffed dry cat food.

How many cats? – If you have one cat, don’t buy big bags of dry food. Dry cat food loses its nutrients after 3-4 months, because it’s exposed to air. Buy small bags, or find a few friends that have cats, and buy in bulk together – big bags are cheaper in terms of dollars per kilogram. Of course, if you have more than one cat, then bigger bags of food are the way to go. When you open a bag of food, mark the date on it and take note on how long does it take your cat(s) to finish it. This way you’ll have a constant supervision on the amount of food your cat consumes.

Ingredients List – Learning how to read and decipher the labels on cat food bags and cans will help you make a better choice of food for your cat. There are a few basic rules and considerations:

  1. Ingredients are listed in order – the first ingredient is the one that’s most abundant in the food and so on, so it’s important to note the first 3-4 ingredients on the list, because they consist of most of the food.
  2. Meat first – if the first ingredient on the list is corn or any other kind of grain, don’t buy the food. The first ingredient on the list must be a protein, like chicken, turkey, duck or fish. It’s best if the second and third ingredients are of the meaty kind, but if your budget doesn’t allow it, at least get a food that has protein as the first ingredient, and maybe a second kind of protein further down the list.
  3. Dehydrated meat is better – even if it’s first on the list, “fresh” meat contains a lot of water, which means that a lot of its mass isn’t of nutritional values for your cat.
  4. Grain free is great – try and choose the food with the least amount of corn, wheat, rice and other grain. If you can afford it, go for grain-free food.
  5. Protein percentage – 30%-32% of protein is the minimal requirement for cats. Kittens and nursing queens need more protein and fat, so you may want to choose special food for them.

These are basic rules for analyzing the ingredients of cat food. If you want to delve deeper into this subject, check out this excellent site, which has detailed analysis of many kinds of cat food.

how to choose cat food

Cat’s reaction to the food – watch you cat and note its reaction to the food. Is the cat eating the food normally, or avoiding it and asking for something else? Is the cat eating too much of it (might be a sign of unsatisfying food)? Is the cat’s fur shiny and thick? You should also monitor your cat’s poop, especially when changing to a new kind of food – the cat’s stool should be firm, dark in color and it shouldn’t be too smelly (don’t expect the smell of roses, though). If your cat refuses to eat the food, or show signs of indigestion, you should try another kind of cat food.

Beware of recommendations – pet shop owners and sales persons often don’t know much about cat food, and will recommend the most popular food, or the kind of food that brings them the most profit.

Medical advice – if your cat has special needs or medical issues, consult your vet. There are many great medicinal foods out there, and only a professional veterinarian can advise you on what kind of food you need in these special cases.

Company reputation – it’s also important to consider the reputation and ethics of the company that produces cat food. Search the web and ask around – if you hear too many stories about worms in the food, pets getting sick because of food and supply problems, avoid buying this company’s food. Some people prefer to avoid food made by companies who perform experiments on animals.

Congratulations! You have decided to adopt a new friend-for-life – a cat! Consider yourself lucky – having a cat around is great experience – they are smart, funny animals, and will give you tons of love and hours of laughter and delight.

Cats are not very difficult to take care of – they need attention, medical care and food, of course, but they are rather independent and when they are adults, they sleep during most of the day. Still, consider adopting two cats – they ARE independent beings, but they do love and need company, and will be happier this way.

You and your house need to be prepared to receive a new cat. You need to prepare a few things, find a veterinarian and get ready for a few days of adjustments. It’s best if you have things ready in advance – it will help the cat to adjust more easily and quickly.

So, what will you need to properly welcome you new feline friend? Here are some cat essentials.

Equipment and Supplies for a New Cat

Cat Food or Kitten Food

Choosing the right cat food isn’t easy. There’s a big selection and budget concerns, along with tons of contradicting recommendations from vendors and vets. The basic information you need to know is this: choose a cat food that has at least 30% protein. Cats are carnivores, so it’s better to choose a food that has as little cereals as possible. Make sure the first ingredient on the ingredient list is meat or fish – preferably dehydrated meat. Don’t choose a cat food in which corn or cereals are the first ingredient. Remember: ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominance by weight – which makes the first 2-3 ingredients very important. Note that the weights of ingredients are determined as they are added in the formulation, including their inherent water content. That’s why it’s better to choose a food that has dehydrated meat or fish listed as first ingredient. Don’t forget to stock a few cans of tasty wet food. Cats love that, and it’s a great treat for them.

Food bowl and drinking bowl

Basically any nice, stable bowl will do as food and drink bowl for cats, but if you want the best choice – go for stainless steel bowls. They are easier to clean than plastic, and they don’t collect as many bacteria and dirt on them. Make sure you wash the bowls regularly, and fill the drinking bowl with fresh water – cats don’t like water that stood too long. If you really want to pamper your kitten, buy them a drinking fountain. Most cats adore running water, and it will encourage them to drink more frequently.

Litter Box and Cat Litter

There’s a lot of debate surrounding the issue of a cat’s litter box. Some people prefer an open box, and some swear by the advantages of a closed cat litter box. If you have a small apartment and not many places to hide a litter box, or if you are sensitive to smell – choose the closed box. A closed litter box will prevent nasty smells and will give your cat privacy when they are doing their thing. Also, the swinging door on a good closed litter box will prevent the cat from spreading kitty litter all over the place. Make sure the box is big enough, even if you have just adopted a kitten – they do tend to grow rather quickly. As for the litter itself – avoid crystal litter. Cats need and want to DIG and COVER their feces. Get a nice clumping litter, which makes it easier to clean the litter box, and prevents odors. Don’t forget to clean the litter box on a daily basis – cats prefer a clean bathroom. You will also need a good litter scoop.

Scratching Post

It’s not easy to prevent cats from scratching your favorite chair, sofa or speakers, but you can train your cat and make them understand that the only acceptable scratching place is their very own scratching post. There are many sorts and models, so choose a good, sturdy scratch post according to your budget. Remember that cats also use the posts to stretch, so it needs to be high and vertical. There are also cat trees, which are playing complexes, that include hiding places and sitting platforms for the cat. Again, choose according to your budget.

Cat Toys

Many cat owners are tempted to buy complex, expensive toys, only to realize their cat sneers at them, and really prefers a crumpled piece of paper, a fallen leaf, a bottle cap or a used Q tip that it snatched out of the garbage can. If you really feel the need to buy toys, get a few toy mice (preferably fury ones, but not made from real fur!) and one or two pole toys – which allow you to be an active participant in the cat’s game.

Visitors to the Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo, Hawaii should know they might get some cute (but weird) visits from a cat named Rubble. This cat is very friendly and apparently has no shame, too. Here’s a nice clip, made by a guy called Zack Scott, that shows how Rubble visits them 3 nights in a row, and gets treats, food and petting.

Remember that saying about how cat train US? Well, there you have it 馃檪