Everyone has heard the cliche, "you are what you eat."
If you eat crap, you aren't giving your body anything of quality to work with, and it reflects in your health. Why should we expect cats to be any different?
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they must have a diet made of meat. Dogs can live and thrive on a vegetarian diet, cats cannot. Look at their teeth...they are made for rending and shredding, not grinding beans.
You want the first ingredients in your cat's food to be made of meat. And you want that meat to have a name. Turkey, rabbit, chicken...you know what those animals are. If something says meat, or animal....you are feeding your cat some of the 2.7 million animals that are euthanized in shelters, as well as the poisons that kill them. Or it could be roadkill, or animals that were cancerous and dying and unfit for human consumption. Even spoiled supermarket meat can be returned to the company and resold as pet food. The pet food industry exists to make money, and cheaper is better for them. It is certainly not the case for your cat!
Meal means a food has been dried and ground. Turkey meal is great. High in protein, and nutrients.
By-products are what's left when all the meat is gone. Chicken byproduct meal is feet, beaks, feathers, spinal columns, and half formed eggs. While it is still high in protein, no one's daily diet should be made of leftover parts.
Cats evolved in a desert climate, where they got most of their water from the prey that they ate. This is why many modern day cats have a low thirst drive. If your cat is eating only a dry kibble, they may not be getting enough moisture to support healthy kidney function. This is why BCR makes sure our cats and kittens have at least one wet food meal a day.
Cats also like to "find" water. In addition to the regularly placed water bowl(s) in your house, try occasionally putting water bowls in different rooms. Even if its in your bathroom, you might be surprised to see how much more exciting a new bowl can be. Fountains are also fantastic for encouraging cats to drink more water...and they tend to be cleaner sources of water as well!
Let's break down two dry foods. One is a common barn cat food, one is a food that BCR feeds our fosterllings.
Meow Mix ~$5:
Chicken By-product Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Soybean Meal, Beef Tallow (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ocean Fish Meal, Animal Digest, Salmon Meal, Turkey By-product Meal. (and then all the vitamins and minerals.)
I'm seeing leftovers held together with grains. Cats cannot digest wheat and corn. Corn is a huge contributor to diabetes in cats. It also leads to larger, smellier poops. Call me crazy, but more litter box scooping is not my favorite part of having cats in my life! Brewer's rice has been processed from the small milled fragments of rice and is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice. Its a fiber filler, which again, leads to more poops! Soybean meal is typically fed to farm animals, and has no place in a cat food. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste. Its like putting chocolate frosting on a raisin bran muffin. Yum?
Meow mix provides protein, fat and fiber, as well as a mineral load that is formulated for cats. It is certainly better than not being fed, but it isn't the best food for a long and healthy life.
4 Health $8:
Chicken, chicken meal, egg product, cracked pearled barley, ground rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), salmon, potatoes. (and then all the supplements, vitamins, and minerals)
Chicken is a whole meat! That means that your first ingredient here is whole muscle meat. Chicken meal is flesh and skin dried and ground. Egg product is dried eggs, sometimes whole, sometimes only whites, without the shell. Barley and rice are much more digestible than the really glutenous grains, and provide fiber. Salmon is a great source of omega 3 and 6, and potatoes are there to provide a more sustained energy source. Seeing as foster kitten Gemma always wants to steal my mashed potatoes, I believe it!
No one says you have to break the bank to feed your cat. If I could afford to feed Orijen and the raw food diet to all my cats and fosterlings, I would! But then BCR's entire budget would go to cat food. And the numbers of cats we could help would plummet.
But spending the extra $3 to make sure that you won't be running to the vet with cancer, kidney issues, diabetes etc....PRICELESS.
Remember, you are what you eat.
The Captain of Browncoat Cat is a self proclaimed crazy cat lady. Of course, we're all mad here...