Updated: August 3, 2023 by CanCat Eat
Learning about the best foods for our cats can be downright daunting. But with the help of Innovet Pet, we created a list of 10 nutritional facts that will turn you into a nutritional wizard overnight.
1. The Majority Of Pet Cats In The United States Are Overweight
A whopping 59% of pet cats in the United States are overweight or obese, and while that doesn’t top U.S. adults (69%), it beats dogs (53%).
2. Cats Don’t Enjoy Weight-Loss Diets
Losing weight boils down to calories (energy) in/out. Consuming more calories in a day than you need will result in those calories getting stored as weight (fat, muscle, and glycogen) on the body, consuming fewer calories than your body requires, and it uses that stored weight for energy instead which results in weight loss.
Because the majority of cats in the U.S. are overweight, they’ll need a diet that restricts the number of calories/food they can eat, but while we and our dogs are decent at tolerating calorie restrictions, cats just aren’t. They see less food in their bowl or don’t feel as full as before and they are gonna make sure you know about it.
This is why you’ll often see specialized weight loss foods for helping cats lose weight. Another trick is to switch them to wet food if they are on dry food to trick them into accepting fewer calories because the food is more delicious. Keeping their food amount the same and increasing their exercise, so they are burning more calories is another great idea.
3. There Is A Lot Of Bad Info About Our Cat’s Nutrition
While many have the best intentions when criticizing the issues with commercial cat foods, some take it too far. Some claim veterinarians are bought by big pet food companies and have a poor grasp of nutrition.
While it’s true that veterinarians don’t spend their days learning the ends-and-out of nutrition, they take more courses on it than the average person. Combine that with all the classes they take on animal biology, physiology, etc., along with the fact most have pets themselves and research things on their own time, and you have a person with an incredible grasp on pet nutrition.
4. There Are Three Main Types Of Commercial Cat Food
There are three main types of commercial cat food: kibble/dry, semi-moist, and wet/canned.
They all have their pros and cons and often it will be your cat that decides which is best.
5. Pros and Cons of Dry/Kibble
The most convenient and inexpensive type of food you can give your cat is dry food/kibble. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be the best for your cat. Many cats do just fine on kibble alone, and kibble is great for keeping their teeth clean by breaking up plaque and tartar.
The biggest issue with kibble is its low water content, which isn’t best because cats prefer to get their water from their food vs. drinking it as their thirst drive is significantly lower than humans or dogs.
Besides introducing wet food into their kibble diet to provide extra water, you can also look into a cat water fountain as many cats prefer drinking from them vs. a water bowl. Cats are naturally wary of standing water.
6. Pros And Cons Of Semi-Moist
Semi-moist food contains approximately 35-65% moisture and sits in the middle cost-wise between kibble and wet/canned food. One may think they are getting the best of both worlds with semi-moist, but unfortunately, when put to the test, semi-wet comes dead last.
While semi-wet has more moisture than kibble, which is good, it’s often loaded with more sugar and salt than both kibble and wet. Then, because of the additional moisture, it won’t clean your cat’s teeth like kibble will.
7. Pros And Cons Of Wet/Canned Food
Containing 75% moisture, canned foods are the most expensive commercial option, but are often seen as the best because cats prefer to get most of their water from their food. A con of wet food is it will not help clean your cat’s teeth as kibble will. You can introduce dental treats for this issue, but that adds more calories, and wet foods can be quite high in calories.
8. How To Choose The Best Food For Your Cat
If you rarely see your cat drink water, which is normal, high moisture foods become more necessary in their diet and may be the only thing that’s appropriate for them.
If you see your cat drinking water randomly throughout the day, a combination of kibble in the morning for teeth health then wet at night or vice versa is a brilliant idea. Not only will wet food once a day help ensure they are getting lots of water, important for kidney health, the high protein content of these foods can offset the lower protein amounts found in kibble.
9. Homemade Diets Are Often Too Much Trouble
Creating a nutritionally balanced diet at home is tricky. It’s very difficult to nail down the right quantities and proportions of nutrients for your cat.
There is a reason billions of dollars have gone into creating and perfecting nutritionally balanced commercial foods for our cats, and while there are issues with some, the fact that the extreme majority of people rely on them is good.
10. Knowing How Much Food To Give Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
To maintain a healthy weight, most cats need between 24 to 35 calories per pound. This means an 8lb cat needs between 192 to 280 calories a day. After getting your cat within that range, you can tell if they need to be on the higher or lower side by monitoring their appearance.
A cat in the healthy range will have visible ribs with only a slight bit of fat covering them. The width of their abdomen will be identical or only slightly longer than the width of their head.