How to Choose the Right Food for Your Cat’s Unique Needs
How to Choose the Right Food for Your Cat’s Unique Needs

adp_description_block292
How to Choose the Right Food for Your Cat’s Unique Needs

Your cat is one of a kind, so it stands to reason that you want to choose a cat food that accounts for their unique tastes, age, breed and health concerns. But with thousands of pet foods available, how do you pick the one that’s right for your cat? 

First, it’s important to understand your cat’s nutritional needs. Then, you’ll need to think about your cat’s life stage, lifestyle and any health issues, and do a bit of research on cat food types, ingredients and cost. That may sound complicated, but we’ll make it easy for you — just keep reading.

 

Understanding Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs

Good nutrition is as important to your cat as it is to you — but their nutritional needs are quite different! Unlike humans, a cat needs a high-fat diet with less fiber. And even if you prefer a vegetarian diet, keep in mind that cats are carnivores. They need nutrients from animal protein and fat for optimal health, and they benefit from fiber for a healthy digestive tract and carbohydrates for energy.

 

5 Considerations for Choosing a Cat Food

1. Think about Your Cat’s Life Stage and Lifestyle

Kittens, adult cats, nursing mothers and mature or senior cats are all examples of life stages, and each has different nutritional requirements. All cat foods should state which life stage they are recommended for — as an example, IAMS™ Healthy Kitten and Healthy Kitten Cuts in Gravy, IAMS™ Healthy Adult with Chicken and IAMS™ Healthy Senior all include the intended life stage right on the package. 

Nutritional needs also vary depending on your cat’s lifestyle. A cat whose primary activity is guarding the couch doesn’t need as much energy as one who enjoys roaming outside. Does your cat need to drop a few pounds to reach a healthy weight? Foods tailored to weight management, such as IAMS™ Indoor Weight and Hairball Care, are designed to assist with healthy weight loss.

Finally, consider special medical conditions your cat may have, such as urinary tract issues, sensitive digestion or a dull, dry coat — many IAMS™ cat foods are formulated to help address specific health concerns. If your cat has food allergies, they might require a special diet recommended by your veterinarian.

 

2. Decide on Dry or Wet Cat Food

Once you’ve determined your cat’s life stage and lifestyle needs, decide whether to feed dry or wet food. Most cats thrive on only dry food. This type of food promotes oral hygiene and health as they crunch it up. Some cats, especially finicky eaters, enjoy the smooth, wet texture of canned or pouch foods. Many owners also mix wet food and dry to give their cats the best of both worlds!

Remember: While dry food can be left in a bowl all day, wet food should be thrown away after 30 minutes if not eaten. Want to serve a fresh, perfectly portioned wet food with an easy-open pack that cuts down on the mess? IAMS™ PERFECT PORTIONS™ wet cat foods come in a variety of flavors and are tailored for different life stages. 

fish chicken and more

 

3. Compare Labels

Because cats need the nutrients found in animal sources, it’s best to pick a food in which a primary ingredient (one of the first ones listed) is an animal-based protein source such as chicken, lamb, fish, egg or one of their by-products. These ingredients contain all the essential amino acids your cat needs, including taurine, which isn’t found in a plant-based protein source. Some foods, such as IAMS™ High Protein, contain a high concentration of animal-based protein sources like chicken and salmon to feed your cat’s carnivore nature and keep them ready to pounce.

Foods that include a combination of carbohydrates in your cat’s diet, such as corn meal or barley and grain sorghum, ensure efficient absorption of nutrients and help maintain energy levels. And beet pulp is an excellent fiber source that promotes a healthy digestive tract.

For a soft, thick coat and healthy skin, your pet needs fatty acids like those found in vitamin-rich fish oils and quality fat sources such as chicken.

 

4. Seek Out Quality

Cat food labels provide limited information on the nutritional value of your pet’s food because labeling regulations do not allow manufacturers to describe the quality of ingredients on the package. A reputable pet food manufacturer can explain how they evaluate and ensure the quality of their products.

 

5. Compare Prices

When choosing cat food, the saying “You get what you pay for” definitely applies. A low price may indicate cheap ingredients or ingredients that change as manufacturer costs fluctuate. So while price is an important factor, it shouldn’t be the only one you consider.

Plus, many lower-priced products recommend higher daily portions to provide the same amount of nutrition found in a high-quality diet. To get a better idea of cost, it is the cost per feeding, not the total cost, that counts.

To figure out the cost per feeding for a cat food, divide the total cost by the number of days the product lasts. For example, a 20-pound bag of food that costs $18.99 and lasts 30 days is $0.63 per day. A 20-pound bag that costs $15.99 and lasts 20 days costs $0.80 per day. When compared closely, high-quality pet foods tend to come out on top, from both a nutritional and a cost standpoint.

 

  • Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    adp_description_block282
    Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?

    An upset stomach is more common in cats than you might think. But how can you tell if it's a serious problem?

    Every cat owner recognizes the warning signs of an upset feline stomach: the mournful meow, gagging, and heaving retch. But in a flash, the cat seems to snap back to good health while you're left scrubbing the carpet.

    The scenario is a familiar one for Cynthia Bowen of Cleveland, Ohio. As the owner of four Maine Coons, Bowen has cleaned her share of messes. "It would happen every couple of months or so," she says. "Otherwise, they were perfectly healthy."

    Although it's not a pleasant subject, vomiting is something cats seem to do almost on cue. Many cat owners accept this as a natural part of owning a pet, but it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing what triggers an upset stomach and what you can do about it will make for a better relationship with your cat.

     

    Cause for Alarm?

    Repeated cat vomiting should never be ignored because it can lead to dehydration. But, because vomiting is common in cats, how do you know what's normal? "A general guideline is that if the cat is vomiting one to three times a month, we consider this 'normal,'" says Dr. William Folger, a DVM from Houston.

    He considers it serious if the vomiting occurs twice daily for two or three days. If your cat stops eating, seems to have stomach pain, or retches continuously, or if there's blood in the vomit, take her to a veterinarian. And, as always, if you're suspicious that a lingering problem could be harmful to your pet, call your veterinarian. A visit to the office can help relieve your cat's discomfort and your worries as well.

     

    Why Cats Vomit

    Many owners attribute their cat's vomiting to hairballs, but that's not the only culprit. "It's careless to assume that most cases of vomiting in cats are due to hairballs," says Dr. Folger. Two other frequent causes of an upset stomach are:

    • Eating too fast. Cats sometimes eat too much, too fast. When the stomach wall expands too quickly, a signal is sent to the brain to cause regurgitation. In these cases, the mess on your floor is from regurgitation, not actual vomiting. When a cat regurgitates, he brings up fluid and food from his esophagus by opening his mouth–unlike vomiting, where there's gagging and retching. Regurgitated food is still formed, and may smell fermented. "Cats that eat too quickly because they are gluttonous or stressed by food bowl competition can regurgitate right after eating," says Dr. Sara Stephens, a DVM from Montana. But don't assume regurgitation is always a case of eating too fast. It could be caused by esophageal problems, obstruction of the digestive tract, hairballs, or dehydration. If you've forced your cat to eat slowly and he still has problems, contact a veterinarian.
       
    • Curiosity. Grass, carpet, and toilet paper are just a few things cats may digest and later vomit. The vomiting is a protective mechanism–nature's way of cleansing your cat’s system. Sometimes, though, curiosity can lead to more serious problems. String, toy parts, and feathers are favorites of playful felines and can lodge in the stomach or intestine, causing repeated vomiting and severe distress. If your cat exhibits these symptoms, take her to a veterinarian immediately; surgery is often necessary to remove the object.

     

    Preventative Measures

    Often, owners accept their pet's vomiting as a natural part of their behavior, but just because cats seem to have more than their fair share of tummy troubles doesn't mean you have to sit idly by.

    One simple preventative measure is to get your fast-eating cat to slow down or to simply eat less. Stephens recommends smaller portions, elevating your cat's food dish slightly, or putting an object, such as a ball, into the dish. The cat will be forced to eat around the ball, and thus her intake will be slowed. If you do this, make sure the ball isn't small enough to swallow. And you may need to feed cats in a multiple-cat household at different times and places to reduce competitive eating.

    If simple solutions don't work, watch your cat's eating behavior and reactions. Bowen, for example, tried changing her cats' diets. "Since switching to IAMS®, they rarely throw up," Bowen says.

     

    "Usually, when you change to a higher-quality diet, there is no problem," Stephens says. Here are some tips for helping make sure your cat's change is as successful and comfortable as possible:

    • Go slowly. Make the transition gradually to allow your cat time to adjust. "Make sure the cat eats something every day," Stephens advises. "A cat that quits eating suddenly can develop liver problems."
       
    • Add appeal. Switching from wet to dry or vice versa should also be done gradually. Many cats find canned food more palatable. If you switch to dry, add water and warm it slightly for more appeal. Discard uneaten food after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage.
       
    • Measure up. How much should you feed? Your cat's age, sex, breed, activity level, and overall health need to be taken into consideration. Talk with your veterinarian, then read the manufacturer's recommendations. Premium foods like IAMS cat foods are more nutrient-dense than many non-premium diets, so don't be surprised if the recommended amounts seem low.
       
    • Pay attention. Beyond careful measuring, also regularly weigh your cat and adjust the feeding amount accordingly after switching to a premium food. Your cat may appear happy if you overfeed him. But over time, he may become overweight. Tummy troubles can be in the past with your veterinarian’s help and a little effort on your part.

both email signup

WANT MORE IAMS™?

Get pet care advice, product updates, event information and more when you sign up for the IAMS™ newsletter made with your pet in mind.

SIGN UP

Shop Dogs

Shop Cats

Why IAMS™

© 2022 Mars or Affiliates. US Patents Pending. Other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
chat icon

CHAT WITH AN EXPERT