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How to easily understand the cat food selection

author Lucy Byrne | Care and raising

Even though pet food is normally classified into several groups following its quality, purchasing a premium or super-premium product doesn’t provide a guarantee that you’re giving your furry friend a balanced diet that they will thrive on. Even various pet foods in the same group can greatly differ in quality and it’s not always true, that the more expensive one must be better. That’s the reason why it’s necessary to understand the contents. To know what shouldn’t be missing and on the contrary, what shouldn’t appear.

Cats are more or less satisfied with one type of diet, but it must have good quality and be balanced. The main component should always be meat, enriched with vitamins, mineral substances and fibre. Generally, it is true that the more detail the producer provides on the package, the better. It shows that they have nothing to hide.

Description of pet food contents

One of the most important indicators of quality granules is a clear determination of all the ingredients (rice – not grains, chicken fat – not poultry fat and the like). Definitely try to avoid pet food that includes “by-products of animal origin” in its contents, sometimes also as “meat and products of meat origin”.

Meat versus grains

Individual components are stated in a descending order, therefore, look for such pet food that states meat and its derivate on the first place. Don’t forget that a cat is exclusively a meat-eater after all. If you would feed her with products of the economy class (the so-called market products) that mostly have only about 4% of meat, she won’t be excited about it. The share of meat should in no case fall under 30%.

Are quality pet foods expensive?

To put it simply: the less grains, the better. And you say that such pet foods are expensive? That’s a mistake. With quality pet food – that is, pet food with a greater share of meat – the cat will consume less. Since it will provide her with enough nutrition and energy in a smaller portion than that of a cheap pet food. Therefore, compare the price of a daily feeding dose, not of a kilogram of pet food.

You will save also on the amount of purchased litter. Grains will pass through the cat’s body essentially unchanged. The amount of produced poo will be higher when feeding with cheap pet food and you will take out the toilet more often.

More frequent occurrence of various diseases has been proven (allergies, issues with the urinary system, obesity...) in cats fed by pet food with a high share of grains. So, what you “save” on cheap pet food, you might pay several fold at later visits to the veterinary.

Vitamins and minerals

Fortunately, all complete pet foods for cats usually contain vitamins and minerals in a sufficient amount, so it’s not necessary to buy any more food supplements.

Flavours and colorants

However, the issue arises with colorants, flavours and artificial preservatives that should not appear in a quality cat food at all. Most producers of cheap pet food rather don’t list these ingredients on the label or they hide it under chemical names (BHA, potassium sorbate) that a laic doesn’t understand.

Although the pet food shines with colours and it may appear attractive and tasty to you, trust me, that the cat doesn’t care about the colour. The only proven effect of colorants is, unfortunately, that they burden the kidneys and the liver.

Cheap pet foods won’t do without flavours either. Which cat would happily eat up a portion that more or less contains only grains, whether it’s rice, corn, wheat or soy? Well, no cat would. That’s the reason why flavours come in and your cat will only lick one’s lips after such food.


Preservatives in pet food can be natural or artificial. The artificial ones are of course the cheaper variant, but they burden the cat’s organism. Also take care that the pet food doesn’t contain salt, which causes serious issues with the urinary system.

However, not all the components added to pet food are unhealthy. A positive effect on the organism have, for instance, herbs (they support the metabolism, flush out toxins from the body), glucosamine (good for the joints), probiotics (for good digestion and to strengthen the immunity). Trust me, that if the pet food contains some of these components, the producer will definitely not keep them a secret and you will see them highlighted on the packaging.

How to see through the tricks of the producer

Watch out: some producers will divide the proportional content of the grains (e.g. they will state the percentage of wheat and corn separately). This way, meat will get to the first place, but in reality, there is a greater amount of grains in the food than of meat. The important fact is always the sum of all the meat components versus the sum of all the grains included in the pet food.

Other producers will shoot up the meat content by including it in its fresh state. But this consists of about 70% of water, that will evaporate in drying and meat meal will remain, about 30% of the original value.

How can I tell that the cat is thriving because of the food?

What you’ll notice immediately, are the small piles in the toilet. The faeces should be firm, dark and the amount should not be like from an elephant :). In a few weeks, the quality food will also show in a positive way on the hair, skin and on the mental and physical condition of the cat. The hair should be shiny, pleasant to stroke, it shouldn’t be falling out much. The skin should be elastic, not dry or even with flakes.

Don’t follow the price or a pleasing advertisement when you’re choosing pet food. If you like your cat, find a bit of time, go through the individual contents and choose such pet food that will provide her everything she needs.