Commercially Prepared Foods for CatCat Care > Cat Diet > Commercially Prepared Food for Cat
A view is sometimes expressed among pet owners that the food given to dogs and cats should always be home-prepared and that manufactured products are a poor substitute. In the same way, some people eschew all manufactured 'convenience' foods for themselves and perhaps feel that as their pet is a part of the family its meals should be prepared in the same way. In fact, as has already been noted, cats have quite specific nutritional needs and a great deal of scientific research has been carried out to establish exactly what these are. In this way, reputable manufacturers of cat food ensure that then-product is prepared to a high standard and contains the correct balance of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.
So great is the popularity of cats as pets, and so fierce the level of competition in the food market, that no reputable manufacturer can afford to compromise the standard of its product. In fact, it is probably more correct to say that since many people do give their pets manufactured foods cats are now much better fed than they were in the past. When little was known about the dietary requirements of cats, they were often fed on scraps or leftovers, frequently with an over-reliance on white fish. In this way, some cats were inadequately nourished and suffered from deficiency disorders and, consequently, a lowered life expectancy.
Manufactured cat food is now available in three forms. Wet or moist food is the familiar sort available in tins and has high water content, in the order of 80 per cent. Semi-moist food is usually available in sealed, strong plastic bags, and the water content is in the order of 30 per cent. Dry food is usually sold in cardboard cartons, and the water content is much lower and does not exceed 10 per cent.
These foods are normally enjoyed by most cats, and some owners like to offer a combination of all three. If the moist food is offered exclusively, it is necessary to give the cat some-thing suitable on which to chew to ensure that its teeth remain in good order. Both the semi-moist and the dried food contain insufficient amounts of water.
It is especially important to ensure that the cat has access to fresh drinking water at all times if this type of food is usually given. The dried and semi-moist meals are very suitable for those who wish to allow their cat continual access to food so that it can help itself whenever it pleases. Studies have shown that most cats like to eat 'a little and often' and the majority take only the quantity that they need. The drier types of food do not deteriorate quickly or become stale and so are ideal for feeding in this way. Moist types of food, whether tinned or home-prepared, should not be left out for any length of time, and anything left needs to be thrown away fairly promptly. In the warm environment of modern centrally heated homes harmful bacteria and their toxins can soon proliferate on this type of food, which also attracts bluebottles and houseflies. Usually, an owner gets to know the habits of a pet cat and can estimate the amount of food needed quite accurately. If the contents of a tin or other food are not all used at once, they can be safely stored in a refrigerator.
Some experts advise against feeding too much of the dried type of food because of its possible contribution to feline urological syndrome. There is not a fault with the food itself; the problem lies in the failure of some cats to increase their intake of water when eating this kind of meal. If water intake is inadequate, the urine becomes more concentrated and there may be precipitation of crystalline material, which forms an obstruction in the urethra. The disorder affects male cats, which have a relatively narrow urethra. It is thought that dried cat food is only a contributory factor in the development of this disorder. The main cause is believed to be infection with a virus, but a cat that has had feline urological syndrome in the past may require a special diet and generally should not be fed on dried foods. However, many cats thrive on and enjoy dried food, which also provides excellent chewing exercise to ensure the health of the teeth and gums.