What is a healthy cat diet? With the wide variety of options on the market, this question can be difficult to answer. Nutrition is a critical component in cat wellness and behavior, and what you choose to feed your cat is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Ideally, you will reach the right diet decision for your cat through a combination of research and consultation with your veterinarian.
There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to selecting a healthy cat diet: home-prepared.
Providing optimal nutrition through home prepared diets will take more time, commitment, and research than feeding commercially available diets. Expect to spend a few hours a week to a few hours a month on preparing your cat’s diet.
It can also be more expensive than many commercially available diets, but advocates of both home prepared diet camps will argue that what is spent on quality nutrition results in long-term savings through the reduction of expensive medical bills. If you are looking to save money on preparing your cat’s homemade diet, it is worth checking to see if there are any co-ops in your area. Co-ops are cooperative buying groups where a number of individuals interested in similar products pool their resources to buy in bulk and thus pass on the savings to co-op members.
Catster provides informational forums to help you create your cat’s homemade diet; there is a raw feeding and home prepared food forum on the site.
Commercial Cat Diets
Many veterinarians will try to dissuade pet owners from feeding home-prepared diets and will try to encourage the feeding of commercial foods for pets, citing risks to both human and pet health. Keeping a sanitary kitchen and following the same protocols you would when handling/preparing meals for your family will reduce these risks. Home-prepared diets can be a great alternative to commercial diets, but research is needed before you can prepare these diets correctly and preparing them incorrectly can be dangerous for pets. A high quality commercial food is preferable to a poorly constructed home prepared diet.
Cat nutrition is big business, and companies have recognized our love for cats and responded by offering a cornucopia of options and widely divergent quality from one brand to the next. Cats are carnivores, so any diet for your cat should have high meat content. Ideally, meats or meat meals should constitute the first three ingredients on the label. It may take a little research and experimentation to find the right food for your cat, but you will be repaid for these efforts by many happy, healthy years with your favorite animals.