Cats have a reputation for being difficult to shop for. While ultimately you need to find a premium food your cat will eat, there are a few things that should take high priority when you get to the point of purchase for your feline companion.
The first major point when deciding what to feed your cat is this, they are Carnivores. Cats need meat and lots of it. Unlike herbivores and omnivores cats have a very short digestive tract and can’t metabolize grain. Because of these traits cats will become hungry quickly and often, usually consuming multiple small meals throughout the day.
The second major point to consider is, their need for more water. Studies have shown that cats have a very different thirst drive than many other animals. Their body doesn’t tell them they are thirsty until they are almost 10 percent dehydrated. Once any mammal gets 12 to 15 percent dehydrated they often won’t recover. Furthermore, drinking water is the least efficient way for the body to hydrate. We actually absorb more moisture from the foods we consume.
A little of Both
So then, what to choose? I am of the opinion that a mix of dry and wet foods is the best way to assure that your cat is getting everything they require. A dry cat food should consist of as much meat as possible. Grain free formulas are usually going to meat (pun intended) this requirement. But one should still look at the ingredient label as not all grain free diets are created equally. A good metric to use is the amount of protein. More protein means more meat, 40% or more is a good place to start.
While dry cat foods are very convenient for feeding they are “dry”, they have very little moisture. So to keep our cats hydrated it is a good idea to supplement every other feeding with wet foods. Canned foods are very convenient and come in many varieties so try a couple different flavors and see which one they like. I like to feed frozen raw diets once or twice a week also. Raw has, even more, moisture and your cats will retain more because it has gone through less processing.