What did I look for when selecting the food?
* the AAFCO certification or something equivalent. This is a particular certification that means the formula used by this particular brand reaches the necessary standards to be a cat’s sole source of nutrition.
* that the food is meat-based and includes no ‘mystery meat’. I wouldn’t eat ‘mystery meat’ and I’d never feed it to my cats either. Some of the big brands (I’m looking at you Whiskas) use mostly ‘by-product’ meat and lots of cereal (like corn). This is very unsuitable stuff for cats, who are mostly carnivores and can’t digest the stuff. That’s why cats who eat this kind of stuff poop more and stink up the place considerably, their bodies can’t process things like this and they just get eliminated. While by-products aren’t necessarily bad, they shouldn’t be the main source in dry food.
In case you’re wondering, byproducts are the internal parts of an animal that isn’t meat, like organs and bones, usually ground up. Those parts left over that cannot be used in human consumption. It’s still a good source of protein, but the brand should be mentioned in their ingredient list where it’s sourced from. If it’s unspecified, best avoid it. I do my best to avoid any brands that include unspecified meat, meat by-products or meat meal, even if it’s mentioned as a brother, animal fat or liver.
After all, there was a claim a while back that some brands use euthanized pets as their primary source of food after traces of the drugs used to put animals down were found in some pet foods. If it’s true or not, I don’t know, but such drugs surely don’t belong in my cat’s food bowl.
* that the food does not contain synthetic preservatives, as these have been found as quite harmful to animals. If the brand you want to use includes preservatives like BHA, BHT, TBHQ or ethoxyquin (quite a mouthful, I know), you should stay away. Natural ingredients like tocopherols – vitamin E, citric or ascorbic acid – vitamin c, rosemary, sage is clove are far better choices and are the ideals ones to keep food from spoiling in the package unopened for months.
* that food is mostly meat based, with meat, meat-byproducts or seafood being the first listed ingredients. Apparently, brands are forced to list ingredients in the order of weight, so a brand using mostly meat in the composition of its food is far better than one that’s mostly using cereal or veggies.