My Recommendations for the Healthiest, Best Cat Food
Avoid Dry Cat Food
If you have read my article "10 Warning Signs Your Cat is Headed for an Early Death" or "10 Ingredients in Cat Food That Make Your Cat Sick and Unhealthy," you know that I recommend to avoid feeding dry cat food, as do most holistic minded veterinarians and holistic animal practitioners. Will a cat survive on dry food? Absolutely! Does a cat thrive on dry food? Absolutely not! Dry food is so far from being natural for them, that it has adverse side effects. Continue reading for the best cat food for thriving health.
Feeding a Cat Colony
I understand it is not always financially feasible to feed anything other than dry cat food if you feed a large cat colony (I did so at one time myself, one day a week for about 100 cats). For your own pet cats, try and make this a priority. It will almost always save you money in the long run by avoiding or at least greatly reducing the need for vet visits. For a colony of cats, feeding them very inexpensive canned food is better than even the most expensive dry food. If you feed two times per day, feeding them one meal of canned and one meal of dry will greatly improve their health. Or alternating days--one day canned, the next day dry, and so on. At the very minimum if these two scenarios are impossible, then please do at least avoid using dry food that contains corn, soy, wheat, and artificial colors and flavorings. Cats don't care about the colors. The colors are to entice humans to buy the product, but artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives cause stress and extra work on the organs, which depletes the immune system. They are also linked to cancer.
Best Canned Cat Foods
These brands avoid the ingredients listed in "10 Ingredients in Cat Food That Make Your Cat Sick and Unhealthy." They also do not contain fish. Many cats are allergic to fish or become allergic to fish if they eat it every day. Many canned brands are fish-based. Most fish used in cat food is very high in mercury, other metals and toxins. Fish raised on a fish farm (most fish used in cat food will be) contain high levels of antibiotics and other undesirable ingredients. Feeding fish once or twice a week is a nice treat for your cat, but every day is not good. Foods containing small amount of vegetables and fruits are okay. Cats can use a little fiber from these easier to digest carbohydrates. As you probably experience, your cat may like to eat grass or other greens. Two of my cats, Tuesday and Callie, go nuts when I make a salad. They love spinach, the spicy mesculen salad greens, white button mushrooms, and broccoli stalks. They are allowed a few leaves or bites. Any over that, and they throw it up. Tiger loves cantalope and mushrooms. Steamed vegetables are easier for their digestive tracts.
Most or all of the following products should be available at either Petco (they have a larger selection of the better canned brands than Petsmart) OR a local pet supply store that specializes in more natural, holistic foods and has freezers for raw food. More and more of these are popping up to meet well-informed consumer's demands. If not, they can also be ordered on-line from outlets like Chewy.com (where I more recently began shopping). However, you have to order a full case. Always purchase one or two individual cans first before purchasing a whole case on-line. Make sure your cat will like it.
Choose these canned cat foods
Holistic Select - any of the recipes without fish, but again using one with fish 1-2x/week will probably be no harm (unless your cat is allergic to fish). This is the brand I use, ordering two cases of 12 15-oz cans each per month for 6 cats (I feed 7, but one stray will eat only raw chicken & turkey, no canned. Unfortunately, he started going elsewhere to also eat low quality dry food that other people put out for other strays, and it shows in his energy level, bloated weight gain, and dull fur with dandruff.). My cats are fed canned once per day and raw once per day. This brand is a drier consistency, and therefore you are getting more food. I just add a little water and mix well to make it smoother.
Natures Variety Instinct Originals - This is a good brand. However, they do contain peas and flaxseed. Cats cannot utilize flax--I don't know why companies keep using it. Peas are on my list of 10 ingredients to avoid. However, their small amounts should not pose a problem. This line is one of the best IF you need a limited ingredient recipe for your cat or if you are rotating proteins to avoid formation of allergies and digestive problems. They have rabbit, lamb and duck recipes. My cats have liked all of them.
Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredients - This line does not contain vegetables, eggs or fruits, which the "Originals" does. So, if your cat has digestive problems, this one may be a better choice than the "Originals." It will probably cost a slight bit more.
Nature's Variety uses Montmorillonite Clay, which is cleansing to the intestines by drawing out toxins. It is also helpful for some cats with inflamed intestines, such as those with IBD. (P.s., it's good for humans, too.)
Wild Calling - This is popular among cats. I used this at one time. However, I found they started using more gravy and less food, and I felt like I was being cheated. I contacted the company asking about this change. The response was that they haven't changed to recipe but that different batches of protein source varied in moisture levels at times (something like that). Feeding up to 7 cats at any one time (2 are strays and come and go), I wanted something less mushy that gives more protein to which I can add water to make it smoother. This will be okay if you are feeding just 1-3 cats or you have more cats and don't mind that it doesn't go as far as a "drier" canned food.
Addiction - So many cats are sadly addicted to dry food. This is a good food to be addicted to! They are from New Zealand. Their Brushtail formula is well-liked by my cats when I give them a special treat. Per their website: "Brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula), a marsupial found in large numbers in New Zealand, eats only the best berries and foliage, destroying forests and wildlife. Unlike farmed animals, Brushtail is free from antibiotics and artificial hormones. By feeding this food, you are not only helping to conserve New Zealand’s plant and animal life but are also providing your pet with a nutritionally superior meal that promotes wellness and vitality. New Zealand Brushtail is an ideal novel protein source for dogs sensitive to chicken, beef and lamb." Brushtails are over-running the land, and using them as a healthy source of food for cats is helping control their population.
Nature's Logic - They have a rabbit recipe, good for cats sensitive to poultry or beef. They also use Montmorillonite Clay.
Ziwi Peak - Also from New Zealand, where all their meat sources are free-range, grass-fed farming.
Soulistic Harvest - Available only from Petco and Amazon (less expensive at Petco). Use only the Sunrise Chicken and Pumpkin Dinner. Appears that all other flavors contain tuna and tuna broth. Remember, you don't want to use fish every day.
Evanger's - Classic Line, Grain-Free Game Line or Organics Line. With the Game Line, beware that this line does not contain vitamins and minerals, no bone for calcium, and the only organ is liver. They do not recommend feeding this daily without adding supplements. I order a case of either rabbit or pheasant (both good for rotation diets). My cats get this one time a week, so I do not worry about it not having the added vitamins and minerals. I use this for a change away from the almost every day chicken. On this day, they are fed raw lamb for breakfast and Evanger's for dinner. This way, they get a different protein source for a full 24-hour period to rest their systems from the chicken. I also feed them turkey once/week, and canned mackerel once/week. All other meals are raw ground chicken and bones for breakfast and Holistic Select canned (containing chicken) for dinner.
Best Prepared Raw Foods
Cats are strict carnivores. They require high protein, fat and moisture to thrive and for energy. They do not require or utilize any carbohydrates. Their bodies cannot process carbs, especially the complex carbs occurring in grains, beans and high starch foods such as green peas and potatoes. This causes stress on their bodies, excess weight, and a whole host of other problems.
Thus, either a prepared store bought food or a properly supplemented homemade diet of raw flesh is best for our furry friends. This will give them the nutrients they need for thriving health and energy.
Store-bought prepared raw foods
This list is forthcoming as I check them all out. I've noticed most brands you see in the regular retail giant stores have too many ingredients that are not the best or not natural for a cat. Plus, they are really expensive! You can make your own raw food at a fraction of the cost. You need only set aside about one and a half hours per month to make a batch to freeze in portion sizes, which I call "cat cookies," and do the clean-up.
Homemade Raw Cat Food Recipe
Here is the recipe I use obtained from Dr. Lyn Pierson, DVM at www.catinfo.org and from Anne Jablonski's www.catnutrition.org. Dr. Pierson's site is FULL of information for a raw diet, the ramifications of feeding dry cat food, photos, and scientific and veterinary explanations.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all cats willingly switch over to canned or raw food. They sniff, sit, stare, sit some more, walk away. You freak out because "he is gonna starve to death," and because you know it's the best thing to do for your cat, but "she just won't eat anything but dry food."
This is where the Thrive Programs come in. Your cheerleader, your coach, holding your hand, your step-by-step guide with helpful tips. A program for switching over, helpful supplements to detox and build immunity, all kinds of natural health-related recommendations personalized for your cat. Check it out here: Thrive Programs
If your cat has been on a dry food diet, no matter how "natural" or pricey it is, been on prednisone or antibiotics, received flea or heartworm products, or been routinely vaccinated, he/she would greatly benefit from a detoxification. Changing the food is key and the first place to start. Just like with people needing to detoxify from toxins, detoxification is a multi-faceted approach which will pave the way for building up a healthy immune system to fight off disease, inflammation and illness. Learn how to detoxify your beloved purr baby here.