About Cat Food

Cat food is manufactured for consumption by kittens and cats. Although cats are carnivores, most commercial cat food contains both animal and plant material, supplemented with various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Homemade Cat Food

Many cat owners feed cats homemade diets. These diets generally consist of some form of cooked meat or raw meat, ground bone, pureed vegetables, taurine supplements, and other multivitamin supplements. Although cats are naturally resistant to many of the bacteria that raw meats contain, meat can sometimes also contain parasites and other harmful organisms and for this reason raw meat is sometimes frozen for periods of time before being used.

Some cat owners use human vitamin supplements, and others use vitamin supplements specifically engineered for cats. Veterinarians sometimes recommend including digestive enzyme supplements in a homemade diet. Some cat food manufacturers offer packaged versions of a raw food diet that closely resembles such homemade diets. These packaged versions are generally kept frozen, with individual portions being thawed in advance.

Commercial Cat Food

Major brand-name commercial dry cat food manufacturers often use primarily grain-based ingredients like corn and rice with meat by-products or animal digest making up the meat ingredients. Some manufacturers offer 'premium', 'natural' or 'holistic' formulas that are by-product free and contains less or no grains. Grain-free dry diets still contain carbohydrates, from sources such as potato or tapioca as the starch in those ingredients is needed to allow the kibble to hold its shape. Cats have no metabolic need for carbohydrates as the feline system prefers to create glucose from protein.

Dry cat food is generally made by extrusion cooking under high heat and pressure. It may can be sprayed with fat to increase palatability and other ingredients to complete its composition. Cat owners often prefer dry cat food due to the convenience and price. Besides usually being significantly cheaper, dried cat food can also be left out for the cat to eat at will over the course of several days; whereas, canned or raw cat food spoils or becomes unappetizing after several hours. Dry cat food is recommended by some based on the idea that cats break apart dry foods with their teeth, which causes the food to scrape off dental calculus (like brushing their teeth).

Cat owners and veterinarians who recommend a diet consisting largely or entirely of canned, homemade or raw cat food point to higher water content of such food and the increased total water consumption in comparison to a dry food diet as an important health benefit. Wet cat food also generally contains significantly less grain and other carbohydrate material, although many are made with fish ingredients. Canned cat foods in pop-top containers may play a role in the development of hyperthyroidism in cats. In general, canned, homemade, or raw cat foods are thought to either help treat or noticeably reduce the likelihood of numerous health issues including urinary tract disorders, diabetes, chronic renal failure, constipation, and obesity.