Every cat parent wants to provide a good, balanced diet for their four-legged friends, but choosing the purrfect diet to ensure they're getting proper nutrition can seem like a daunting task. Good news: By following just a few guidelines, finding the best food for your furry family members can be easier than you think.
Involve Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian should be a big part of determining your cat's nutritional needs. A vet will do a nutritional assessment to evaluate if they are receiving the proper nutrition and in proper amounts.
Your veterinarian will also likely ask you questions about your cat's exercise and current food intake. If your companion is determined to be at risk for any problems, such as obesity, your vet may recommend a monitoring plan or a special diet.
Rely on the Pros
Provided your cat doesn't have special nutritional needs, the decision of which food is best is ultimately up to you and your cat’s taste buds. Dr. Leslie, our in-house veterinarian, says the advantage of feeding a commercial food — as opposed to homemade or alternative options — is that reputable cat food companies have done the work.
"They have balanced the diet, inspected the ingredient facilities, manufacturing facilities, rechecked the nutrients in our ingredients, cooked the food in a way we know pathogens and toxins are not in the food, and tested the food to ensure the nutrients are in the food and available to the cat," says Dr. Leslie.
Most cats get the essential nutrients they need in over-the-counter commercial food. However, Dr. Leslie says supplement nutrients in certain treats can help fill some gaps.
Seek Extra Help for Special Needs
So, your best fur-end has super special needs? If your veterinarian determines your cat has specific nutrient requirements that are not addressed in any over-the-counter or veterinary therapeutic diets, you can reach out to a veterinary nutritionist to help your cat stay happy and healthy with their diet.
"They can help modify existing diets or formulate a diet specifically catered to your cat's needs and your own lifestyle and preferences," says Dr. Leslie.
Approach Alternative Diets with Caution
When it comes to cat food, all sorts of people declare themselves experts. Dr. Leslie recommends cat parents understand all the scientific evidence on alternative diets from reliable sources. For example, she says there is no scientific evidence to suggest that raw or vegetarian food is better than commercial diets. In fact, she adds, less than five percent of homemade diets deliver essential nutrients to cats. And, furry family members with compromised or less effective immune systems may be put at risk of exposure to pathogens from raw diets.
In short, don't believe everything you read on the internet. "If something sounds too good to be true, radical or conspiracy-riddled, it's probably not good or true," says Dr. Leslie.