The task of choosing a high-quality cat food can be difficult for some cat owners simply because there are so many different options to choose from. If you walk into your local pet store you will see multiple aisles filled with
bags of cat food from different brands and you may also notice that most brands offer a number of different formulas. So how do you choose a healthy at food for your Bengal cat without spending hours and money at the pet store?
The best place to start when shopping for cat food is to read the cat food label. Pet food in the United States is loosely regulated by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and they evaluate commercial pet food products according to their ability to meet the basic nutritional needs of cats in various life stages. If the cat food product you are looking at contains this statement you can move on to reading the ingredients list.
Cat food labels are organized in descending order by volume. This means that the ingredients at the top of the list are used in higher quantities than the ingredients at the end of the list. This being the case, you want to see high-quality sources of animal protein at the beginning of the list because protein is the most important nutrient for cats. Things like fresh meat, poultry or fish are excellent ingredients but they contain about 80% water.
After the product is cooked, the actual volume and protein content of the ingredient will be less. Meat meals (like chicken meal or salmon meal) have already been cooked down so they contain up to 300% more protein by weight than fresh meats.
In addition to high-quality animal proteins, you want to check the ingredients list for healthy fats and a limited amount of digestible carbohydrates. In terms of fat, you want to see at least one animal source such as chicken fat or salmon oil.
Plant-based fats like flaxseed and canola oil are not necessarily bad, but they are less biologically valuable for your cat. If they are accompanied by an animal source of fat, it is okay. Just make sure that the fats included in the recipe provide a blend of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This will help to preserve the skin condition of your Bengal cat.
For cats, digestible carbohydrates include things like brown rice and oatmeal, as long as they have been cooked properly. You can also look for gluten-free and grain-free options like sweet potato and tapioca. It is best to avoid products that are made with corn, wheat, or soy ingredients because they are low in nutritional value and may trigger food allergies in your cat.
You also want to avoid commercial cat foods that contain a large amount of carbohydrates since the cat’s body is not adapted to digesting plant materials as effectively as animal products. Cats only need a very small amount of fiber.
In addition to checking the ingredients list for beneficial ingredients you should also know that there are certainly things you do not want to see listed.
Avoid products made with low-quality fillers like corn gluten meal or rice bran – you should also avoid artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Some commonly used artificial preservatives are BHA and BHT. In most cases the label will tell you if natural preservatives are used.
reading the label for commercial cat food products you need to be careful about taking
health claims and marketing gimmicks with a grain of
Just because the label includes words like “natural” or “holistic” means that it is true, you cannot make assumptions about what those terms actually mean since the definitions are not regulated for pet foods like they are for people food.
It’s important to check for the AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy as well as the ingredients list instead of just trusting what the manufacturer says about the product.