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Healthy cat food: What to look for & our top picks

Maine coon looking happy in front of food advice © Shutterstock

Giving your cat a healthy, balanced diet is the best possible way of ensuring they lead a long and happy life. Here’s everything you need to know about healthy cat food!

By Alice Lang

Did you know that many common cat food brands contain just 4% of the stated meat or fish content? Many cheap cat food brands contain numerous unhealthy, unnecessary ingredients yet lack in the one thing your kitty needs most: quality protein.

A healthy, meat-based diet with lots of vitamins and minerals is sure to keep your kitty satisfied, fit and happy. But with so many cat food brands filling the shelves, it’s difficult to know which one is best for your feline bestie.

The healthy cat food debate: wet or dry?

Cat sat at a table
"Wet OR dry... just give me the food!!!" ©Shutterstock

While a mix of wet and dry food may be suitable for your kitty, only feeding your cat dry food isn’t a good idea.

We bet you rarely see your cat drink water, right? Well, cats have evolved to have a low thirst drive - so that’s actually perfectly normal. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need water. Without it, they’re likely to develop bladder and urinary tract problems or constipation.

But, as you know, cats aren’t exactly water-lovers. Sometimes, the only way to make sure they’re keeping hydrated and warding off the risk of UTI’s is to feed them moisture-rich healthy cat food.

Dry food is (generally) around 5-10% water. On the flipside, wet food boasts around a 78% water content. Do you see what we’re getting at here? Tinned, canned or tray wet food is your best bet of keeping your cat well-hydrated. Make this the bulk of your cat’s diet.

Healthy cat food: what to look for

If we had to give one piece of advice on picking healthy cat food, it would be this: always read the label.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need a primarily meat-based diet in order to survive. Without meat, they will become extremely unhealthy and might even die.

When inspecting cat food labels, Homeward Pet advises looking for:

  • Meat and fat products that are identified by species, such as “deboned salmon meal.” If the species is not identified (i.e., ingredients include “meat”, “poultry” or “fish” products) then you can’t be sure of the quality.
  • Foods with meat as the first ingredient(s), and starches lower on the list. Carnivorous animals like cats will find foods high in meat easier to digest and absorb.
  • Grain free foods, when available. When grains are used, look for high-quality whole grains such as “whole brown rice".
  • Whole fruits and vegetables, especially as a replacement for grains in food, high up on the ingredients list.
  • Organic ingredients.

And to avoid:

  • Any sort of meat by-products, especially of an indeterminate origin. By-products may contain high-quality ingredients, but can also contain parts of an animal that do not contain any nutritional benefit (such as beaks and feathers).
  • Artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives, especially BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate.
  • Grain fragments.
  • Corn and soy. Corn is a cost-effective though non-nutritious filler that is hard for pets to digest and a common allergen. Soy is another cheap and non-nutritious additive.

Healthy cat food brands in the UK: our picks

Natures menu

Craig Taylor, managing director of Natures Menu, says: “As pet parents, we need to make sure that we make the best food choice for our family and our furry friends,”

“Choosing a natural, healthy diet for our pets is a responsibility for all pet parents and Natures Menu provides the largest selection of raw and raw inspired products to help you make the best choice for your pet”

The team at Natures Menu believe pets deserve real food rather than the junk that's often put into commercial pet products. We’ve had a close look at their ingredients and they really do put healthy nutrition and proper ingredients at the heart of what they do.

Thrive

Thrive’s brand story says it all. The owners had 30 years experience in the food industry - but even with their food knowledge, couldn’t work out what the ingredients in their pet’s food actually were.

They were sick of feeding these mysterious, vague and low-quality ingredients to their pets, and so, started making their own high-quality pet food and treats. Now, they have a fantastic range of healthy cat food boasting the highest quality ingredients, gentle processing and 0% ‘nonsense’ (additives, flavourings and fillers).

Lily’s Kitchen

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lily's Kitchen (@lilyskitchenpetfood) on

Remember when we told you to avoid meat by-products and meat meals? Well, Lily’s Kitchen is extremely particular about what they put in their cat food, promising their products contain only real meat, which is fit for human consumption.

You’ll find this food stocked up in most UK pet shops, making it simple to feed your kitty an irresistible, nourishing meal every day.

Purrform

This healthy cat food brand bases their products on the fact that cats are obligate carnivores who eat real, raw meat in the wild. If you're interested in feeding your kitty a natural, raw diet but don't have the time to prepare it fresh yourself, this is a great choice.

Purrform's recipes are completely raw, grain-free, high in quality protein and all the vitamins and minerals your cat needs to thrive.

Wellness

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Wellness Pet Food (@wellnesspetfood) on

Wellness cat food is made with fresh meats, easily digestible carbs, fruits and vegetables. But the best thing about this wholesome pet food? There’s guaranteed to be no wheat, corn, soya, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives - so you can keep your cat happy and healthy without the worry of added nasties. Winner!

So, now you know exactly what to look for in the search for healthy cat food. We hope you find the ideal diet for your furry feline friend - good luck!