Your feline friend adds so much joy and wonder to your life, it makes sense that you’d want to keep it happy and healthy with the best cat food. The only problem is that there’re so many choices out there that it’s hard to know which option is best.

The first thing you’ll need to keep in mind when choosing the right food for your cat, is that there’s no perfect food for every cat. There’s no single meal that’s going to give every cat the shiniest coat, the healthiest eyes and the most energy. Just like people, cats are individuals, which means that you’re going to need to take time figuring out what works best for your pet.

However, you can make sure that you get started on the right track, by following some of these helpful tips.

Start with an Age Appropriate Diet:

Cats progress through three stages in their life, starting with kittenhood, followed by the adult and senior years. Where your cat is in the life cycle is a big factor when it comes to determining the ideal diet plan for its needs. Food for your cat should be formulated to meet the requirements of its age.

For instance, kittens need a diet that’s particularly high in fat and protein to help them build strong muscles, teeth, and bones. Kittens are generally more active than older cats, and they can convert calories into energy quickly too.

On the other hand, adult cats need a lower calorie diet than their younger counterparts, with considerations in the area of weight control. Problems with weight, just as the case can be with humans, can cause diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and more as your cat continues to age. Unless your cat is pregnant, it will need the same calories required by kittens.

Finally, the best cat food for senior cats is generally as low-fat as possible, with plenty of highly digestible protein that reduces the burden on their kidneys.

Knowing How to Read the Label of Cat Food:

Perhaps the easiest way to make sure that you’re buying the best cat food for your furry friend, is to look at the label. A healthy diet is the best defense that your pet has against diseases. Though many foods come with a range of different ingredients, the basic four you should keep a watch for are protein, taurine, vitamins, and water.

Remember, preservatives are necessary in most cases to keep food fresh, and fillers such as wheat and corn are added to canned and dry cat food to provide more bulk. Better brands will typically offer meals with fewer fillers and preservatives.

When reading the ingredients, ideally you should look out for any foods that include a lot of byproducts, including meat and bone meal. Additionally, stay away from added sugars, corn meal, and excessive amounts of carbohydrate fillers. You should also avoid any chemical preservatives that may be dangerous, such as propyl gallate, ethoxyquin, BHT, and BHA.

Feeding your Cat a Varied Diet:

Once you’ve found what you consider to be the best cat food for your feline friend, you might find that you’re tempted to keep giving the same food every day. However, many feline nutritionists recommend offering variety to your pet as often as possible. Dry food is a convenient way to make sure that your pet always has access to extra snacks when it needs it, but since cats don’t always drink water regularly, it’s important to make sure that they have a source of wet food too. Remember, wet food needs to be eaten fast, as it often spoils fast without proper refrigeration.

Keep in mind that a range of rotating food choices will help to stop your cat from growing bored with the same flavors. Just like humans, cat can get tired of the same meals every day, so it’s worth making sure that there are various options to choose from. Additionally, since different cat food recipes contain different minerals and vitamins, alternating choices can help you give your cat a more balanced diet.

What if My Cat Eats Dog Food?

One of the most common concerns that people have when it comes to feeding their cat, is whether it’s safe for the cat to eat dog food, particularly when cats and dogs often coexist together. In the event that your cat simply tries your dog food, you don’t have to panic. It won’t cause any damage to the cat to consume the same food – as long as your dog doesn’t mind. However, it’s not a good idea to allow your cat to eat dog food regularly.

The nutritional requirements of your cat has are very different from the nutritional requirements of a dog. Mineral and vitamin supplements in high-quality cat foods are important to give your pet a balanced diet. For instance, taurine isn’t generally added to dog food, because a dog produces enough on its own.

If your cat eats nothing but dog food, then it could become deficient in various nutrients that are important to good health. This can also result into  a number of life-threatening illnesses.

Foods to Avoid:

Finally, when it comes to choosing the best cat food, it’s important to make sure that you’re staying away from anything that could potentially pose a danger to your cat. Usually, homeowners allow their cats to share some of their foods, which can be fine in some instances, and very dangerous in others. Make sure that you stay away from the following ingredients:

– Milk: While milk is okay for kittens, an adult cat’s digestive system cannot tolerate dairy foods.

– Onions, Chives, and Garlic: In any form, whether raw or powdered, these substances can break down your cat’s red blood cells, leading to serious illness.

– Canned tuna: Although cats often love eating tuna, it can gradually lead to problems with malnutrition.

– Alcohol: Exposure to alcohol can potentially kill your cat. Even foods that contain alcohol can be very dangerous, so be wary.

– Grapes and raisins: Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in cats.