On a food label, what is the definition of premium?

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Although AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) has no definition for premium cat food, it is generally more densely packed with nutrients and calories than economy brands and also more consistent between bags.

Your cat’s nutritional needs are based on age, activity level, temperament, environment and physical makeup. Premium cat foods typically have higher quality protein sources, no artificial dyes, and added antioxidants and vitamins. If you’re unsure about what to feed your cat, follow these four basic nutritional needs:

• Protein from a meat, fish, or poultry source
• Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
• Taurine, an essential amino acid
• Water

Cats are carnivores and need meat in their diet to maintain their health. Corn, wheat, and rice are often used as fillers even though cats need very few carbohydrates in their diet. Economy brands typically use more carbohydrate filler in their products, resulting in cats eating much more than they would if given higher quality foods. The continued feeding of low quality foods over a period of years will contribute to, or even cause serious medical conditions that may require expensive veterinary care.

Carefully examine the ingredient list on the back of the bag. Protein can come from a variety of sources, including plant matter, so you need to make sure the bulk of the protein is derived from meat and poultry products. The list of ingredients is based on their percentages in the food, from greatest to least. It is best to look for diets with meat products making up at least three or four of the first six listed ingredients.

Also be mindful:

Preservatives: Chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin should be avoided. Natural preservatives such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices are a better alternative. Natural preservatives do not provide as long a shelf life but are generally safer.
By-Products: By-products can vary from batch to batch.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are often added to cat food to supplement and help a cat’s
immune system. Antioxidants can help deter many diseases
Artificial Dyes: Artificial dyes are often used in pet foods for visual purposes, but it is not necessary and may, in fact, contribute to allergies and other problems.

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