We continue our series of recommendations for new cat owners. See the entire new cat shopping list here.
The most important thing your cat needs is healthy food. There's a lot of debate over which commercial foods are the best. The one thing that's hardly ever debated is the fact that all cats do better on a wet food diet. Simply avoiding dry kibble gets you halfway to the finish line!
Raw food diets are also becoming more popular because they more closely emulate what a cat would eat in the wild. Our highest recommendation goes to raw foods. There are several good frozen and freeze-dried raw foods that make this easier than it may seem at first glance. Our top recommendations go to RadCat frozen foods and Primal Freeze-dried Nuggets.
You can also mix up your own raw diet with meat you purchase from the grocery store. Just know that the meat alone doesn't include sufficient nutrition. You need to add a feline supplement like Wysong's Call of the Wild powder. The Amazon listing refers to this as a supplement for dogs, but rest assured that it's designed for cats as well. They even picture a cat on the label.
Our second-highest recommendation goes to high-quality, canned food. Avoid those you see on the shelves at the grocer. You'll need to examine the ingredients as thoroughly as you would for your own food. The main ingredients should all be clearly listed as meat (not meat by-products) and any non-meat ingredients should be far down the list.
Our number one canned food recommendation is Ziwi Peak. This is the only canned food that's almost as good for your cat as a raw diet. Unfortunately, it's made in New Zealand and that adds to the cost for those of us who don't live down under.
A close second in the canned category is Nature's Variety Instinct line of canned foods. By far, our favorite, and our cats' favorite too, is their Ultimate Protein chicken formula. The first four ingredients are chicken, turkey, chicken liver, and chicken broth. This food also has the advantage of being available in both 3.5 oz. and 5.5 oz. sizes, unlike Ziwi Peak. Instinct also has the advantage of being widely available at a reasonable price.
You'll soon learn that many pet food manufacturers have clever ways of spinning the cheap ingredients they use as fillers. Many cat foods have "grain free" on their labels, but still include large amounts of other non-grain fillers like potatoes. I seriously doubt that any sane cat would ever do anything more than play with a potato, so why is it included in their food? It's included because it's cheap! The more wary you are of these deceptive practices, the better choices you can make for the cats who're depending on you.
Many cats love fish flavors but they would rarely eat fish in the wild. The fishy flavor can be so strong that it spoils a cat for any other foods. In addition, many cats develop allergies to fish proteins. In our opinion, it's best to avoid fish ingredients altogether. Be sure to check with your veterinarian to find out what their suggestions are for your cat.
If you'd like to dig deeper into what's best for your obligate carnivore, check out CATINFO.org, an amazing cat food information resource created by Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM. Another excellent resource is from the Cat Care Blog's list of Today's Best Cat Foods. They've studied a lot of the commercially available foods on the market and present their results for all to see. While these aren't comprehensive resources (no resource ever is), they can certainly give you a good head start when it comes to choosing foods for your feline.
Cat Food & Water Bowls
Compared to all the food choices out there, food and water dishes for your cat are pretty easy. You can never go wrong with high-quality, stainless steel bowls. Shallow, round or oval dishes are better because your little friend may be put off by the way their whiskers rub the edges of the dish. Avoid plastic and ceramics as they can harbor bacteria. This is especially important if you feed your cat a raw food diet.
We've had great luck with DuraPet bowls. These are great because they have rubber bases that keep them from sliding around. They're also available in several sizes so you can get a larger water bowl and a smaller food dish.
Every cat should have fresh, clean water available 24/7. While some find that their cats are more interested in water when it's dispensed from a fountain, a bowl just like the food bowl but filled with water is adequate. Just like the food dish, the water bowl should be cleaned and refilled daily.
We'd also like to add a brief word about automated feeders. Unless it's an emergency where your cat won't get fed otherwise, don't do it. Feeding time is an opportunity to bond with your cat daily. Just think--there are only a few things your cat looks forward to each day. Meal times are high on the list. Your cat will develop rituals and expectations around meals. You really should choose to be a part of them.
Don't forget to pick up some healthy treats! These can be useful as a training tool as well as a great way to get your new roommate up and about at playtime. Choose something that's as close to 100% meat as possible. We particularly like the jerky treats made by Ziwi Peak, and our cats do too!
Also included in the treats category is catnip and cat grass. Cats normally consume this kind of roughage in the wild, so it's perfectly safe for them, however it is possible to overdo it. When choosing catnip products, try to find the ones that are 100% organic. We recommend Meowijuana products. Yes, you read that right. Meowijuana produces some of the best catnip products around.
So, those are our suggestions. What're yours? What munchies make your cats do backflips? Comment below and let us know!