You can choose from a buffet of dry, wet, frozen and freeze-dried varieties for your cat.
A stroll down the cat food aisle at the local pet or grocery store can boggle the mind. Dozens of options line the shelves, from dry kibble to canned products, with frozen and freeze-dried varieties also available to cat owners. Which formula should you put in your basket?
Your selection likely depends on the needs (and sometimes the whims) of your cat and the boundaries of your budget. Here’s a run-down on the types of premium and super-premium cat foods available, and the features of each.
Dry aka Kibble
One of the most convenient types of cat food, dry foods come in a range of formulas and flavors. As a discerning pet owner, you might look for brands featuring unique protein sources, such as lamb, turkey, salmon—even kangaroo or venison. A current trend is “grain-free” formulas, which eliminate corn, wheat and other grain ingredients. Such formulas can help with cats experiencing allergy symptoms.
David Bovard, owner of Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply in Seattle, recommends feeding dry food as a source of entertainment for cats. He suggests putting a small amount of the kibble in “treat-dispensing toys and slow feed and puzzle bowls to encourage interactive feeding and better digestion and mental stimulation.”
Wet aka Canned or Pouched
The range of wet cat foods available rivals that of dry foods. Canned foods come in several sizes as well, and Bovard said the smaller 3-ounce size may work well for many owners.
“Unless you’re feeding an army of cats, it helps cut down on waste and keeps the food fresher,” he explained. “Plus it tends to have a lower price point.”
As with dry foods, wet foods are available in many varieties, from kitten- or senior-specific formulas to those designed for weight management. Many companies also source their ingredients exclusively from suppliers in the United States—simply look for the “Made in the USA” claim on the label.
Because cats are obligate carnivores—meaning they are natural meat eaters—many companies now offer frozen raw foods that offer complete and balanced nutrition for cats. Like dry foods and canned foods, these also come in a range of protein sources, from beef to rabbit to salmon.
To feed frozen raw food, you need simply thaw the appropriate-sized portion for one meal. This can become somewhat of a science, as the uneaten portion should be discarded. Still, Bovard is a fan. “I believe in the benefits of feeding raw food to cats,” he said.
This type of food combines the nutritional value of frozen raw food with the convenience of dry food.
“I find people who are less likely to feed frozen raw are more likely to feed freeze-dried raw,” Bovard said.
To feed freeze-dried food, you add a bit of water until the food is about the consistency of canned food. Small bits can also be used as treats, Bovard added.
Still not sure which food to serve for your cat’s next meal? Talk to your veterinarian or ask your local pet store owner for advice. With the range of premium and super-premium foods on the market, it is easier than ever to feed your cat a food that is both tasty and nutritious.
About the Author: Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years’ experience in the pet industry. She is the former editor of Pet Product News and a former staff editor with Cat Fancy, Cats USA, Critters USA and Ferrets USA. To learn more about her work, visit stacynhackett.vpweb.com.