Natural Cat Food

Finding Organic Cat Food That is Healthier for Your Cat and the Planet

Felines can be particularly picky about their diets and their little bodies can be very sensitive to the kinds of foods you choose to feed them. A healthy, natural cat food diet will have her climbing trees and chasing mice for many, many years while likely lowering your vet bills. And organic cat foods are better for the earth, too!

 

Separating healthy cat foods from all the rest

Stroll through any pet store or grocery store and you’ll be faced with a wide array of natural cat foods from which to choose. So how do you know which natural pet food is best for your animal companion? Let’s start by reviewing a cat's basic nutritional requirements:

  • Animal-source protein: Cats need (ideally) between 60% and 85% meat protein in order to get enough of the essential amino acids, including taurine (the most important), arginine, lysine, cysteine, methionine, and tyrosine. This protein should come from chicken, beef, pork, fish, or liver. Many conventional cat foods today supplement the ingredients with taurine to avoid deficiency of this nutrient. Liver is particularly important because it contains a lot of vitamin A and cats cannot make vitamin A on their own (many recommend there should be at least 4% of this animal protein).
  • Animal fats: Not only are these important for their omega fatty acids (which are needed for healthy skin and hair, circulatory and urinary systems, and more), they also make the cat food tastier. Kittens need 35% fat while adult cats need 30% fat.
  • Calcium to phosphorous ratio (Ca:P): This ratio should be 1.0 to 1.3 parts calcium for every 1 part phosphorous. Packaged cat foods often rely on bone meal for this nutrient.
  • Fiber: Although this is less of a concern for cats, fiber is important for the full feeling you’re after. Moderate fiber is recommended for cats, though studies are still being conducted to determine optimum levels.
  • Low carb: No, your cat isn’t on a diet, but carbs (sugars, starch) should be at lower levels for kitties - below 10% in fact.
  • Water: Of course, water is added to most natural cat foods, and this can be as much as 10% to 30% of the total weight of the food.

 

Spotting the healthiest natural cat food ingredients

So what makes a healthy, natural cat food? These basic guidelines will help you choose between adequate and exceptional foods for your feline:

  • Look for certified organic ingredients where you can to minimize your pet’s exposure to harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Seek out foods that are made with free-range and organic animal proteins to ensure that the animals raised to feed your pet were not treated cruelly and to avoid exposure to growth hormones, antibiotic feeds, and rendered meats.
  • Select brands that have developed formulas without the use of artificial color, flavor, or preservatives. The food should contain specific claims regarding these ingredients.
  • Avoid things like animal “byproducts” and “meals” and go for whole animal proteins instead.
  • Ensure that grains like corn, peas, potatoes, tapioca starch, and oats are low on the list of ingredients (grain-free foods are even better).
  • Choose natural preservatives like vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) instead of synthetic preservatives like BHA, BHT, or sodium nitrate are always preferable. Be aware though that this may reduce the shelf life of the food - check labels.

 

Recommended natural cat foods

If looking for the best natural cat foods on the market, here’s a list that has made the grade.

For more options, see the EcoBusinessLinks site for more natural and organic cat food manufacturers. You may just find one in your own town! Check out our homemade cat food recipe guide to learn how to make your own natural cat food

 

Vegan and vegetarian cats

We’ve said a lot here about the importance of feeding your cat the proper protein for her to stay healthy, but there are those who are firm believers in a healthy vegan diet for their cats. The environmental benefits of a vegan cat diet are great, but this is a controversial subject and one you should thoroughly research if it’s something you want to pursue. Some commercial options include Evolution Diet Evanger’s Vegetarian Dinner and Ami Cat Vegan Cat Food. PETA has many other cruelty-free pet food brands you can try in the Companion Animal Food Guide.






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