Premium Cat Food - The Correct Choice

Why premium cat food?

Choosing the best cat food for your kitty is cost effective because it keeps your cat healthy thus lowering vet bills and your cat will thrive while eating less.

Generally quality cat food is more densely packed with nutrients and calories than regular, or low cost brands so that your cat can often be satisfied with a smaller serving, (your cat will eat as much, or as little, as she or he needs to get sufficient nutrients).

Your cat will find these smaller servings easier to digest, and will be less likely to put on excess weight.

I am using the word "premium" to indicate high quality cat food.  The definition of the word is "something that has a high value". The word in large letters on a package or can of cat food does not necessarily mean that that cat food actually is of high value to your cat.  Get out your glasses and read those labels.

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Many owners report that the condition of their cat's coat has improved considerably, become glossier/silkier, after making the switch to premium cat food from low cost brands.

Premium cat food manufactures seem to be more consistent with their formulas, and change their ingredients far less often than regular brands.

Dye is not used to a great extent in quality cat food (some brands contain none), this will be important to you if your cat vomits as dye makes vomit difficult to clean. Coloring dyes are added to the cheaper brands to make the food look more appealing.

How Do You Know if a Cat Food Has the Nutrients Your Cat Needs?

First you need to understand what the nutrients are that make a cat healthy.  Cats are carnivores - they are meat eaters. They need a high percentage of protein in their diet. There are certain essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in meat, fish, and poultry that cats need to stay healthy.   What they do not need is a high carbohydrate content in their food.  In the wild the only time they eat grains or starches is when they eat the stomach contents of the prey they have caught.

The protein found in grains, legumes, and vegetables are incomplete.  They do not contain all of the essential amino acids that cats need in order to thrive and be healthy.

They also need a certain amount of fat and this fat needs to come from animal sources.  Cats need the essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. Cats do not convert these nutrients from plants into a form that their body can use.

All the vitamins and minerals a cat needs are found in animal food sources and they are utilized much more efficiently than those from plant sources.

Cats also need water to survive. In the wild, cats drink very little water because they get the water they need from the small prey animals they catch. A mouse, for instance, is 70% water. Now think about the fact that dry cat food only contains around 8% water. Cats who are given only dry cat food, even the nutritious ones, are in danger of being dehydrated and developing urinary tract illnesses.

You can encourage a cat to drink more water by providing water in a cat water fountain.  These fountains aerate the water and cats are more attracted to it than to static water that has been sitting around all day.

What About Carbohydrates?

Cats just do not need carbohydrates.  It's a fact.  They do not need grains, legumes, seeds, or vegetables. Their little bodies convert these foods to sugar and just like in humans, sugar  can cause disease such as diabetes and cancer and cause weight gain.

Choosing a Cat Food That Will Keep Kitty Healthy

Cat Food Recall Alerts

From time to time cat food manufacturers are forced to issue recalls on their product or products due to contamination and other safety issues.  You can get an up-to-date list of these recalls here.

When shopping for a healthy cat food consider the following:

  • Stay away from cat food manufacturers for whom cat food is only a sideline.  These manufacturers make 20 to 50 products and pet food is only one of them.  Manufacturers whose only product is pet food are more likely to produce the better food.
  • Healthy cat food is not necessarily the most expensive.  A high price means nothing. The word "gourmet" on the label means nothing. In fact the word "premium" doesn't mean anything either.  These are marketing words used by companies to justify a higher price and make people like you and me think that by buying these products we are being responsible pet owners who really care for our animals.
  • Choose a food that does not have white rice, wheat, rye, oats, or any other grain listed in the first five ingredients.  Some cat foods say they are grain free but look at the first five ingredients to make sure. Also make sure starches such as white rice, white potato, or corn is not one of them. Make sure soy bean meal, soy flour, or soy meal is not listed in the first five. Artificial colors, preservatives, and tapioca should not be in the first five.
  • Avoid foods that list "meat meal"  or "meat by-products as a main ingredient.  What in the heck is it?  Read this horror story about what the term "meat by-products" really means.  Choose food that lists a specific meat or meats such as chicken, turkey, duck, salmon, etc.  It may say chicken meal or duck meal and that is ok. at least you know what it is made of.

Here is the list of ingredients of a popular dry cat food sold in grocery stores in both the U.S. and U.K. (From manufacturer's website.)


There is no meat or poultry named in the first five ingredients -- just poultry by-product meal.  This is what Wikipedia says poultry by-product meal is:  "It is made from grinding clean, rendered parts of poultry carcasses and can contain bones, offal and undeveloped eggs, but only contains feathers that are unavoidable in the processing of the poultry parts.[1] Poultry by-product meal quality and composition can change from one batch to another."

The next three ingredients are starchy carbohydrates which cats do not need and do not digest well.  The fifth ingredient is animal fat (they do not name what kind of animal) and it is preserved with BHA.

The sixth ingredient is really a zinger -- natural meaty, chicken, and turkey flavors.  It has to flavoured with something or cats wouldn't eat it

The truth is there is very little if any meat in this cat food. A cat that is fed this food on a regular basis may become obese, have urinary tract problems, develop diabetes, and have a much shorter life than they would have had if given a food that is actually nutritious for cats.

I would rather spend a little more money on healthier cat food than spend it on vet bills and have a happier healthy cat.

Growth/Kitten Premium Foods

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Kitten foods are formulated for growing kittens, who need a greater level of protein, vitamins, fats and minerals. This is necessary to meeting the growing kitten's higher energy and nutrient requirements. Kittens require as much as three to four times the nutrients needed by an adult cat.

Because of the extra nutrients they contain, growth diet formulas are also perfect for feeding to pregnant and nursing cats.

Having said that, I now have to tell you that kittens can eat the same food as an adult cat if it is a high quality cat food especially if it is a raw cat food.  All the nutrients they need are there but they need to eat more of it than an adult. Kittens need to eat every four to six hours through the day when they begin eating solid food to get the calorie intake they need.  Read more about Kitten Food.

Senior Premium Cat Food

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An older cat (seven/eight years) requires fewer calories and may benefit from senior premium cat food. Senior cats may benefit from a diet lower in phosphorus, with a moderate level of fiber to help prevent constipation.

This changes when a cat reaches the age of 10 to 12 years their needs change.  Their digestive tracts are less able to digest protein and many of these cats become very thin even though they are eating the same amount as they always have.  These cats do not need what the industry calls "Senior Cat Food".  They need a cat food with increased protein and reduced carbohydrate. If their bodies are less efficient in obtaining nutrients from their food then they need a higher concentration of those nutrients in that food. Thus most cats will do better on a high protein food where the protein comes from animals not plants.

Related Information

Best Canned Cat Food

My top picks for the best canned cat food you can feed your kitty.

Best Dry Cat Food

See my top picks for the best dry cat food for your cat or kitten.

Is Your Cat A Messy Eater?

Is your cat a messy eater? Does she drag the food off her plate onto the floor? Read what can be done about your cat's sloppy eating habits.

A Cat Eating Dog Food - Can It Be Harmful?

Do you sometimes catch your cat sampling your dog’s dinner? Is there any harm in a cat eating dog food?

Stop! Don't give your cat that chocolate!

Cats and chocolate don't mix. Just because certain foods, such as chocolate, are enjoyed by us humans and are perfectly safe for us, it does not mean they are suitable for cats.

Feeding Kittens

Find out what to feed your new kitten.  Do you know how long a kitten should be fed kitten food and how often?

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