Food consumption is an important part to maintain the health of pet cats and preventing any deficiency-related diseases.
Good quality food contains all necessary nutrients, minerals and vitamins along with freshwater allows the cats to grow healthy and strong.
Which is the best cat food brands in India?
- Royal Canine
- Meat Up
- Me O
- Kennel Kitchen
Since feeding your cat with nutritious food is very important, what are the nutritional requirements for a cat?
Cats require a balanced diet that includes a high amount of protein, a moderate amount of fats and a minimal amount of carbohydrates. Apart from these macronutrients, cats require vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and minerals on a daily basis.
The first nutritional requirement listed is animal protein as cats are fundamentally carnivores.
All essential amino acids required for total nourishment and growth of the cats can be obtained from animal protein.
Proteins act as the building blocks of organs and tissues, including cartilage, tendons, hair, skin, blood, muscles and the heart.
They also help in forming enzymes, hormones and antibodies for healthy immunity.
A well-balanced diet ensures the cat has healthy functioning and regeneration of body tissues. It also keeps their claws and fur strong and healthy and prevents diseases.
Meats like turkey, chicken, fish and eggs can be included in cat food to ensure it gets animal protein.
The main source of energy for cats is animal fats or good fats that are present in meat and fish.
These good fats are present in all essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and are important for cat health.
Fats not only help cats maintain body temperature and provide energy but also help in absorbing vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
All cat foods are generally enriched with Omega 3 and Omega 6 for cat consumption.
Carbohydrates are a highly digestible, readily available energy source and should be present in all cat food.
It is not a very essential nutrient in the diet of cats but it plays some important roles in their body and health maintenance.
Grains like wheat and rice are typically used as added ingredients in many wet cat foods and helps cats get the necessary amount of carbohydrates.
These carbohydrate sources are pre-treated to facilitate digestibility and absorption into the cat’s body.
However, uncooked soybeans and other legumes that provide carbohydrates should be avoided as they contain many anti-nutritional factors.
Choosing a balanced and nutritious cat food is very important as most vitamins are synthesized from raw materials in the cat’s food. Vitamins are important for all mammals when fed in the right proportions.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for a strong immune system and healthy vision.
However, too much vitamin A can be toxic and hence the supplementation should be done cautiously and only under veterinarian guidance.
Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin that must not be consumed in excess.
It helps in the proper functioning of bones, nerves and muscles by balancing and retaining calcium and phosphorous in the cat’s body.
Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the healthy breakdown of carbohydrates and maintenance of normal growth and nerve impulse transmission. Vitamin B2 helps in growth and overall good health.
It allows oxygen to be used by the body and helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy.
This vitamin enhances the quality of the cat’s skin and coat. Lack of this vitamin causes adverse changes to the cat’s skin around the eyes and abdomen.
Vitamin B3 is easily depleted through a cat’s urine and must be replaced regularly to ensure healthy skin, gastrointestinal functions and a good nervous system.
Vitamin B6 is important for healthy immune function and red blood cell function in cats.
The requirement of this vitamin is proportionate to the amount of protein consumed as it helps metabolize it. Vitamin B6 deficiency may include signs like growth depression, convulsive seizures and irreversible kidney lesions.
Minerals help information of enzyme, pH balance, nutrient utilization and oxygen transportation.
Minerals necessary for a cat’s health include iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride.
Apart from commercial cat foods that have supplemental iron to meet dietary requirements, iron can also be obtained from liver, lean meats, fish, whole grains, and legumes. Iron deficiency can make the cat weak and lead to anaemia.
Calcium supports bone growth and formation and production of milk in female cats to give to their kittens.
It helps in the maintenance of the overall health of the cat and can be obtained from dairy products, eggs, bones and leguminous plants. Calcium deficiency leads to soft and fragile bones.
Magnesium is found in raw wheat germ, whole grains, soybeans, milk and fish. It helps in the absorption and usage of certain vitamins and minerals for bone growth, enzyme functions and the production of protein.
Dry cat foods containing a minimum of 0.2 per cent sodium supports normal growth and development. It also aids in the transfer of nutrients to cells and the removal of waste products.
High sodium enriched food may cause a temporary increase in thirst and water consumption but extra sodium is excreted in cat urine.
Chloride helps maintain the proper alkali balance and produces hydrochloric acid that helps digest protein.
The majority of water cats need is obtained by them through the food they consume.
Water is essential for the correct distribution of nutrients, maintaining temperature, eliminating toxins and metabolizing nutrients.
Wet food is an excellent source of hydration as they contain 78 to 82 percent water.
In addition to wet food, it is also necessary to always leave out a bowl of water for the cat to avoid lack of water consumption.
Can Cats Eat Homemade Food?
Cats can eat and thrive on homemade food but it is very difficult to create balanced, nutritionally rich cat food at home. So, it is better to keep cats on commercial cat food while occasionally feeding them a homemade diet.
The physical and behavioural features of cats are developed from their carnivorous nature. Being of complete carnivorous nature, it is difficult to raise cats as a complete vegetarian.
Some amino acids like Taurin are essential and they are available in plenty in mice and fish. This is one reason why these are favourite foods of cats.
Here are few homemade food that cat can eat –
Fish is not a part of a cat’s natural diet and must only form a fraction of their diet.
Most cats and their evolutionary ancestors never ate fish even in the wild. However, they can be fed with boiled fish occasionally.
The fish bones must be removed before serving as they may damage the cat’s throat or gastrointestinal tract.
Canned tuna can also be given in small portions. A meal of rice and boiled fish can also be created for the cat.
Eggs are a good source of proteins and have been a part of the natural diet of cats in the wild that raided bird nests.
Many veterinarians recommend hard-boiled eggs or cooked eggs like scrambled as a nutritious treat for cats.
A small quantity of boiled chicken is a great addition to cat treats or meal supplement as cats love the smell and taste of cooked chicken.
If the bones are removed and the chicken is unseasoned, boiled chicken is safe for the cats to consume occasionally.
Chicken broth and rice
Commercial chicken broths usually contain onions, garlic, sodium or other ingredients that are not easy for cats to digest. However, basic homemade chicken broth is very beneficial for their bones and teeth as they are rich in calcium and phosphorous.
Chicken broth can be made in a large batch and frozen for later consumption also. It can be served with rice for a fuller meal and to enhance the diet quality.
Cats are complete carnivores and their nutritional needs can be fulfilled only through animal-based proteins rich diet. Although cats do not derive much nourishment from vegetables, they like munching on plants for fibre.
They can be served portions of boiled vegetables like baked carrots, steamed asparagus or broccoli, green beans or other chopped greens. They must not be served indigestible vegetables like uncooked carrots.
Rice, Potato, Chicken
Potatoes cooked in all different forms of mashed, baked or boiled are safe for cats to consume as their toxins are destroyed in the cooking process.
They can be mashed with rice and a small amount of chicken for a flavourful and easy to digest meal.
Rice, Lentils, Chicken
Lentils are a great source of protein and hold valuable nutrients like iron, magnesium and vitamin B6 that are advantageous for cats. Chicken liver contains iron, copper and magnesium.
Adding boiled chicken liver that is ground or grated into the mixture of rice and lentils provides extra vital components in the cat’s diet.
It should be served in moderation as too much liver may not be good for the cat’s health.
Types of Commercial Cat Food
Commercial cat foods are available in different formulations like dry, semi-moist and canned or wet food.
These food items differ in water content, protein level, calorie density, palatability and digestibility.
1. Raw food
Raw cat food further divided into the two sub-groups: Complete and Complementary cat food.
Complete raw cat food – Veterinarians generally do not recommend raw food diet for cats as they may not be able to digest such food. Complete cat food must contain all necessary nutrients necessary for cat’s nourishment and health.
If the owner decides to put a cat on a raw food diet, it is crucial to determine a complete and balanced diet for the cat with the help of a veterinary nutritionist.
It includes fresh human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones.
Complementary cat food Complementary cat food includes some wet food but particularly treats.
Apart from a complete meal of all necessary nutrients, complementary mid-meals or treats can be provided to the cats according to their dietary requirements.
It can also be decided depending on the age, activity level, likes and dislikes or deficiencies of the cat. It should not exceed 10 t0 15 percent of a cat’s daily calorie intake.
Raw food is generally not advised as treats but can be consumed with veterinary recommendation.
2. Wet food
Wet food or canned cat food is a good dietary source of water as it has a high moisture content of at least 75 percent. It is generally an expensive type of cat food but is highly palatable for most cats.
Many cats are picky eaters and a wide range of wet food is available to help cat owners pick the right ones.
Canned food has the longest shelf life when unopened and can be refrigerated once opened to maintain quality and prevent spoilage.
Meats such as kidney or liver and whole meat by-products are some commercial gourmet canned cat food.
It is important to read the nutrition label on these canned foods to understand if it has complete nutritional value for cats.
3. Semi-moist food
Semi-moist food contains approximately 35 percent moisture content. Generally, the primary ingredients of semi-moist food are meat and meat by-products. Soybean meal, cereals, grain by-products may also be added to these products.
They have a mid-range cost and are more appealing than dry cat food to some cats. The lifespan of the package once opened may be short as it may dry out soon and become less palatable.
4. Dry food
Dry food contains 6 to 10 percent of water content. A mix of ingredients is extruded and dried to make tiny pieces based on its formulation.
These ingredients generally include meat or meat by-products, poultry or poultry by-products, grain or grain by-products.
It may also include fish meal, fibre sources, milk products and vitamin and mineral supplements.
These pieces of dry food are often coated with flavour enhancers, such as animal fat, to make the food more appetizing. These products are relatively inexpensive and can be fed any time as it does not dry out soon.
However, dry food, in general, maybe less palatable for cats compared to semi-moist and wet food. It may also be less digestible depending on the quality and type of ingredients.
Storing the dry cat food for a long time may decrease the value of its vitamins and the fats will become rancid.
To prevent nutrient deterioration and to maintain flavour, it is good to store dry cat food in an airtight container.
Is Wet Cat Food Better Than Dry?
Though dry and wet cat food contains equal amounts of nutrition, wet cat food has more water which keeps cats full for longer and is believed to help reduce kidney problems. Pet parents need to consider that both types have their own benefits & cats should be fed a balanced diet.
Many veterinarians suggest dry cat food as it is good for the cat’s dental health. However, it cannot replace regular dental care or professional dental care completely. Many cat owners prefer dry kibble as it is more convenient.
A cat with a choosy appetite may find canned food more palatable compared to dry food. It also has a much higher water content and is beneficial for cats with kidney problems or lower urinary tract disease.
Canned food helps in keeping cats better hydrated and helps them produce more dilute urine that alleviates or reduces the frequency of symptoms related to urinary diseases.
How to Choose a Commercial Cat Food in India?
Choosing the best cat food in India is not an easy task considering ther are several aspects needs to considered while buying one.
Here is the list of essential things that you should keep in mind while buying a comerical cat food from the market.
Consider Nutritional Value
Cat food should have a quality source of protein.
The nutrition label and ingredients at the back of the cat food products must be checked to understand their nutritional value.
Low-quality food ingredients with artificial flavours and no animal protein will not benefit the cat’s health.
Animal protein is very crucial for the overall growth and development of cats.
Good quality cat food contains ingredients like chicken, beef, fish and will not include fillers such as soy protein.
Cat food should be rich source of Vitamins
Cats need nutritious food that contains enough calories and vitamins for healthy growth and optimal function. Taurine, an amino acid found in animal protein, is needed by cats for their bodily functions.
They also require vitamins A, B and E to maintain their sharp eyesight and reflexes. Vitamin C and D enriched cat food helps in boosting immunity and promotes a calcium-rich diet.
Consider Types of Cat Food
Canned food or wet cat food has high moisture content and is more palatable for most cats.
It typically comes in aluminium cans or plastic pouches and has food that replicates the flavour, smell, and texture of fresh meat.
It comes pre-portioned and contains all necessary nutrients to qualify as a complete meal for cats. Cats of all ages and sizes enjoy wet food as it does not strain their teeth much.
Dry food is typically a mix of ingredients in bite-sized shapes with individual flavours. This type of food comes in boxes or plastic sacks of various volumes and flavours with a tasty blend which is liked by cats.
Anyone owning multiple cats or using an automatic food dispenser must go for dry cat food. It is necessary to reseal and store this type of food to stay fresh for weeks or months after it is opened.
Life Stage of Cat, Breed & Weight
If the cat shows signs of undesired weight loss such as a change in eating habits, frequent vomiting and changes in bowel movements, it may lead to malnutrition. It is advised to consult a veterinarian for allergies or illness.
The nutritional requirements of such cats must be discussed with the veterinarian keeping the likes and dislikes of the cat in mind. However, overweight cats carry several health risks as well.
Cats of a different breed, gender, age and sizes have unique individual food requirements.
Some breeds with genetic defects or deficiencies require more specialised care and may have personalised food consumption choice.
Cats with certain allergies that can be identified through signs like itching, fur thinning and diarrhoea have different food requirements. In such cases, cat food with grains, soy or artificial ingredients must be avoided.
They may also be allergic to plant-based or meat-based protein which must be checked and avoided. Natural food is less likely to cause allergies.
Food for Kitten vs. Adults
Kittens are not fully matured both physically and neurologically as compared to adult cats and have special dietary needs.
Their food should contain DHA, folic acid, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to promote optimal brain and nerve development.
Older cats have specific nutrition requirements that differ from kittens and early adult cats. Cats over 10 years of age may lose appetite and have trouble eating due to diminished taste buds, weak gums and loss of teeth.
These cats must be provided with cat food that is easy to chew and digest.
Wet kibble or dry food which is small in size is ideal for older cats to chew. A mixture of wet and dry food is also a good option.
Consider Lifespan of Food
The type and storage method affects the shelf life of cat food.
Dry food is generally available in larger quantities and can be stored for longer periods. This type of food can be transferred to an air-tight container or stored in the original bag tightly sealed for several months.
Wet food needs to be kept sealed until it has to be served as a meal.
It generally has years of shelf life when not opened. Once the cans or pouches are opened it needs to be consumed immediately.
Cat’s tongue contains a smaller number of taste buds but they are unique and have highly specialised senses.
The sense of taste of carnivores is often highlighted and they have a taste palate that is different from that of omnivores.
Hence, cats are picky towards eating sweet food or vegetables and tend to choose more savoury flavours. They like roasted chicken, steaks and salmon compared to bland boiled vegetables.
Certain brands of cat food are more expensive than others. This is due to the difference in the quality of the ingredients and extra costs of packaging design and advertisements.
It is not always that the items that are more expensive ensure higher quality.
Thus, it is important to read the labels and ingredients before purchasing cat food products. Referring to the internet for testimonials and cat food recommendations is a good option.
Best Cat Food Brands in India
Royal Canin has different products available for cats of all breeds, sizes and ages.
It has a unique formula that helps in the removal of ingested hair and reduces the occurrence of hairballs. It has an adequate amount of protein content and helps maintain the urinary health of the cat.
Whiskas cat food provides the required nutrition to support the growth, good health and development of the cat.
It has a range of wet and dry cat food for kittens and adult cats. This cat food ensures great taste, healthy eyesight and a shiny coat.
Meat up cat food has a special blend of nutrients that support the vital system of cats.
It is available in different flavours to suit the palates of kittens and adults cats. This cat food is made with high-quality ingredients to provide all necessary nutrition.
Purina cat food ensures gourmet taste for cats of all breeds, ages and sizes.
It has great savoury flavoured cat food that contains all necessary nutrients and vitamins. It supports the overall health and wellness of the cats.
Drools cat food brand offers amazing nutritional food options for fussy and choosy eaters.
It delivers optimum protein content which is a great source of energy to keep the cats healthy and active.
Purepet cat food contains essential animal protein content which helps in the overall strength and health of cats.
It contains Taurine, an amino acid that helps in the good growth and development of cats. Most cat food from their range provides hair-ball protection and controls urinary pH.
Me O cat food brand has specially formulated products that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
These help in providing excellent coat and skin for the cats. Their products are available in multiple sizes. They provide different flavours and varieties for cats of different ages.
Kennel Kitchen brand provides home-cooked nutritional cat food which is wholesome and of the best quality. They use high-quality ingredients that meet the required levels of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.
All their ingredients are sourced regionally and procured fresh from farmers. Kennel Kitchen does not add any fillers or artificial flavours.
We hope to have helped you get all the information required about cat food. Make sure you check out the nutritional requirements of the cat before giving them any food.
We have also mentioned some of the most trusted and popular cat food brands that you can consider buying.
Apart from this, we have also researched and written about the different home-cooked foods that you can feed your cat.