"What is the best food for my cat?" This very important question is often answered incorrectly by vets, shelter workers and big box store employees. I heard a commercial on the radio, proclaiming a "natural" dry food resulted in the enhanced health of a group of cats that were switched to this food. I found the list of ingredients:
Chicken, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, oat meal, brown rice, whole grain wheat, whole grain corn, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy protein isolate, natural flavor, dried beet pulp, dried egg product, phosphoric acid, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, canola oil, soybean oil, malted barley flour, salt, dried cranberries, dried spinach, choline chloride, calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, taurine, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), manganese sulfate, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), copper sulfate, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, sodium selenite.
The ingredients in bold are not something I want my cats to eat. Cats, being obligate carnivores, should not have grains because they lack an enzyme to digest them properly. Grains lead to diabetes and obesity. Corn and wheat are also common allergens for cats. Pet food manufacturers use grains as a cheap form of protein. By-products can be fine, but poultry by-products is too vague a term; what kind of poultry?; what by-products?; livers and kidneys or beaks and feathers? It is impossible to know the compostition and level of quality. Menadione sodium bisulfite complex is a controversial synthetic vitamin K precursor that is converted in the body and toxic at high levels.
On top of all that, it is a dry food. Cats don't have a strong thirst drive. They need water with their food. A natural diet would provide about 75% water, where dry food only contains up to 10% water. Cats that eat only dry food are chronically dehydrated which leads to serious kidney and bladder problems.
The answer to the question, "What is the best food for my cat?' is: GRAIN FREE WET FOOD. And if you are really motivated, raw food. A good site to read about cat nutrition is catinfo.org.
Read the labels. There are some good foods at the larger pet stores. Check out the smaller independent pet shops. A good site to look at ingredients of many cat foods is petfooddirect.com.