Dietary Guidelines for Dry Food for Cats

A proper diet is essential for any pet, and many owners wonder if they are better off purchasing canned food or dry food for cats. In order to make sure that your pet receives the nutritional elements that he requires, it is helpful to recognize the differences between dry foods. Although all FDA-approved dry food diets will contain the essential nutrients that your cat needs, foods vary considerably from brand to brand and there is no one perfect cat food. Familiarize yourself with the dietary guidelines for feline dry foods as follows.

Feline Nutritional Requirements

Wilds cats are carnivorous animals. They subsist entirely on the other animals that they catch and eat. Over time, cats developed without the capacity to process certain nutritional elements that may be essential to other animals. The dietary profile of a feline dry food should generally match a raw food diet that a cat would find in the wild.

As carnivores, cats require huge amounts of protein. A good dry cat food should contain roughly 50% protein content, derived from animal sources like turkey, chicken or fish. Without this crucial staple, cats will suffer from a number of health problems related to malnutrition, including underweight issues, immune system suppression and more.

Along with the protein content in meat comes a significant amount of fat. A packaged cat food should consist of about 20% fat, also derived from animal sources. Cats do not require fats from vegetable or other sources.

Dry cat foods typically also contain a mixture of other essential minerals and vitamins. The breakdown varies according to the brand and type of food. This portion of the dry food attempts to replicate the various elements that wild cats consume in the bones, organs and other parts of animals that they catch. Cats require fiber, calcium and phosphorous, although pet foods may also include other helpful elements as well.

Selecting a Dry Food for Your Cat

Each cat requires the basic nutritional ingredients listed above. However, cats of different breeds, ages and health conditions have various specific needs. As you shop for cat food at the grocery or pet store, you may have noticed the wide variety of options, including foods designed for kittens, for older cats, for weight loss, for diabetes and other conditions as well. Take care before purchasing any of these specialty foods, however, because they have different dietary profiles.

If your cat is suffering from a specific condition, or if you hope to increase or decrease his weight, speak with your veterinarian for a recommendation of a particular brand and food type. It is always important to make sure your pet's food meets the basic guidelines as listed above. Failure to do so may mean a number of health complications.

Cats are finicky eaters, and your pet's preferences for flavor and consistency may change over time. Be prepared to select a new brand of cat food periodically, if necessary.