Every cat lover knows that cats like to hunt and don’t always eat their prey themselves: Sometimes the mouse is placed in front of the bed as a gift.
But how can you keep your cat from hunting and feed it appropriately? Dry cat food is inexpensive – but is it good? Or is wet food better?
Dry food for cats: what should be considered?
Mice, birds, small amphibians and even lizards: no small animal is really safe from a cat. Appreciated as a hunter, cats were never properly domesticated.
To this day they are independent of people and come and go when they want.
Domestic cats are accordingly picky about food: Many animals only eat one or two types of food and are under no circumstances convinced by any other food.
But how about dry cat food? Does good cat food always have to be wet, or can cats also be fed with dry food in a species-appropriate manner? And what should high quality cat food contain?
Dry cat food is the cheapest way to feed a cat. A daily ration of dry food costs around 5 cents at discount stores, while wet food is usually 40 cents.
Fresh meat , fresh fish and home-cooked food, on the other hand, are much more expensive. But what should the cat food contain? If you let cats take care of their own food, they will mostly eat meat.
The small prey animals are completely eaten, so that vegetable food also ends up in the cat’s stomach with the contents of the digestive tract of the animals.
That’s not a lot, and some cats leave the stomachs of their prey and don’t eat them. However, the proportion of vegetable components in dry cat food is usually higher, it can be up to 80%.
Often the feed is mostly made from corn, soy, wheat and rice. Can cats tolerate this permanently?
Good quality cat food can be dry
Dry cat food doesn’t have to be wet food. If cats are introduced to dry food as young animals, they also learn to drink in addition to eating.
This is a common point of criticism: If cats are fed dry food, they usually do not take in sufficient fluids.
Because cats don’t like to drink. However, a lack of fluids leads to urinary tract problems in the animals and can markedly shorten the animals’ lifespan.
When buying cat food, you should always make sure that it contains a lot of meat. The proportion of vegetable components in both wet and dry food should be less than 10%.
Because cats cannot digest plant-based food and especially grain – they lack the necessary enzymes.
If cats eat the digestive tract of their prey, the food is already pre-digested in this digestive tract. The nutrients from cereals and other plants are therefore broken down and can be absorbed by the cat.
Even high-quality cat food is not pre-digested, the digestive tract of the cat has to see how it is getting along.
Numerous studies and tests repeatedly deal with dry food for cats (and for dogs – the food must be appropriate to the species). If you want to rely on a test verdict on dry cat food, see what was tested.
Was the food awarded because it contains exactly what is stated on the package? Or was it awarded for the good price-performance ratio?
Perhaps it also got the good test result because it is actually very crispy and smells pleasant. Take a look at the ingredients of the food: Does the food contain 80% or more animal components that the cat can digest? Is there no added sugar? Has the manufacturer refrained from adding preservatives and antioxidants?
Cats don’t have taste receptors on their tongues, but they do have fangs
In order to digest grain, an animal needs molars. Humans’ molars, for example, are designed to grind hard grains and seeds; carbohydrates are already pre-digested in saliva.
We also notice it: if we chew on pasta, bread, rice or corn for a long time, it tastes very sweet. That’s nice. The cat has no molars.
And it has no taste receptors on its tongue, so it cannot perceive any flavors at all. She tears off small bites from her prey and swallows them all the way down.
Digestion only begins in the stomach. Cats have to chew dry food, it is hard and crispy. That is supposed to take care of the teeth.
In fact, the food contains carbohydrates that are not good for the teeth. Carbohydrates are a great source of calories and can make some cats too fat.
Another disadvantage of grains in cat food: carbohydrates are parasite-friendly.
And another reason speaks against food for cats containing cereals. Grains put a lot of strain on the kidneys and lead to digestive problems, diabetes, bladder stones and cancer in many cats.
If cats are given dry food that is high in plant-based foods, they can develop allergies and tumors.
Why do cats eat dry food that is not good for them?
Cats eat what is available. Even if your cat disdains some food and sometimes comes across as a real gourmet, cats also eat a lot that is not healthy for them.
Dry food for cats can be easy to gobble up and fill up – it swells up in the stomach and draws moisture away from the body. Even so, your cat will still eat the food if it is used to it from the start.
You can compare it to a little kid: We all know that too much sugar is unhealthy. Even so, children would love to eat only sweets if you let them.
And some adults just can’t resist soft drinks, chips, chocolate and gummy bears either. Many types of dry food are basically treats for cats that are not good for them. Nevertheless, they eat the food.
Mammals are all similar in this regard, and humans are no exception.
What should good cat food look like?
It is important that high-quality cat food contains a lot of meat and fish. Cats don’t need carbohydrates, but they do need a lot of protein. The amino acid taurine in particular is essential for them.
And this amino acid is only found in meat and fish. The cat needs this amino acid to build bones, tendons and muscles.
A healthy cat has a lot of it – the nimble hunters go through life wiry-muscular with a species-appropriate diet and do not put on fat. The cat also needs vitamins.
Because the vitamin is needed for various nerve functions. It is contained in liver, for example, as a precursor. Lots of cats love liver!
Appropriate feeding for cats ideally does not provide dry food for cats, but wet food. But you can also try BARF.
BARF stands for Biological Species Appropriate Raw Food. What is meant is that you feed your cat as it would in nature.
Wet food, which consists to a large extent of meat, is a possibility of nutrition. But you can only get really close to the freshly caught mouse if you serve your cat fresh meat and fresh fish. In the wild, cats rarely rob eggs, and above all they always want fresh food. Most animals also disdain the packaged minced meat from the discounter. And they do that for good reason.
You can tell whether you are feeding high quality cat food
If you want to feed cats dry food, you should watch the animals carefully. If your animal is rather low on energy, rages little and still gets fat, the feed is too high in calories.
Mostly this is due to too high a proportion of grain in dry cat food.
If your cat is older, it doesn’t have to get fat. High-quality cat food keeps the animals slim and agile even in old age.
By the way, high-quality cat food is especially important for animals that have to perform well: If your cat is pregnant or nursing, it needs good cat food. A stud male must also be provided with species-appropriate food, because otherwise he is not productive.
Dry cat food is actually made for people
It is completely understandable if cat owners want to keep the food for their animals inexpensive. The manufacturers also know this and advertise dry cat food as particularly attractive in terms of price-performance ratio.
But what does this performance look like? Cats would never buy dry food themselves, that’s for sure – they would buy mice. Dry food for cats has a number of advantages for you as a cat owner.
Dry cat food is cheaper than wet food and, above all, cheaper than fresh meat. The food will last for a long time even if the package is open.
If your cat is outdoors and comes to the feeding place irregularly, you can leave dry cat food there for a few hours – as long as it stays dry, your cat can still eat it and will like it too.
This is particularly useful for working people, but also if you are going away for the weekend and your cat is already living semi-autonomously.
At least your cat can then help itself. So you don’t have to watch the cat all the time trying to understand if it is hungry.
Dry food for cats is usually complete food. The manufacturers state that the food in the specified daily ration contains everything your cat needs.
With some types of wet food, you should still feed meat or provide your cat with nutritional supplements. But be careful: really pay attention to what the manufacturer says! Not all dry cat food is really complete food!
Most cats like the small, crunchy chunks so they can easily accept dry food.
As long as the dry food really consists of meat and not animal by-products (this is a euphemism for waste from slaughter) and grain, there is nothing to prevent you from feeding your cat with dry food every now and then.
And of course you can feed it to the cats if you want to reward them. High-quality dry cat food is particularly suitable as a treat.