Why should I not purchase commercial cat food strictly based on price?

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Scrutinizing the food label for quality ingredients is much more valuable to the health of your cat than shopping by price.

You want to be sure the label has the following information included:

  • A named animal-based protein as the first ingredient: Chicken, fish, turkey, etc.

The reason for this is that cats are genetically programmed to require an animal-based protein. Cats can only get certain essential fatty acids from meat to survive and thrive. If the protein source isn’t named, you could possibly be getting a plant-based protein, which does not fulfill the dietary requirements for a cat.

  • Carbohydrate count: You also want to be sure your cat isn’t getting too many carbohydrates. The recommendation is that carbs should comprise between three to five percent of a cat’s daily diet.
  • Taurine: This is an essential fatty acid that the cat cannot manufacture in its body. It must be included in your cat’s diet. Without adequate amounts of Taurine, your cat can experience blindness, reproductive problems and lowered immunity, which will put it at risk for infections and diseases.
  • The AAFCO logo: Stating that the food is “complete and balanced.”
  • Expiration dates.
  • Water: Cats just don’t drink enough, so it should also be in their food.
  • Vitamins and minerals: You want to be especially sure it includes the antioxidant vitamins–A, C and E. (Natural vitamin E is commonly listed as “mixed tocopherols” on the pet food ingredient list.) Citric acid and certain compounds called carotenoids (like lutein and beta-carotenes) should also be listed.

You want to be sure the label doesn’t have:

  • Chemical preservatives: These include Ethoxyguin, BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate and propylene glycol.
  • Carbohydrates: Your cat doesn’t really need them, but some manufacturers will put them in as fillers, especially corn products. If there are carbohydrates, make sure they only comprise three to five percent of your cat’s daily calories.

Canned food or dried? Dried food can be a little more convenient and economical, but it’s generally lower in animal-based protein. Canned food tends to be higher in animal-based protein. A cat may benefit from some canned food each day for added moisture content.

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