Choosing a cat food is an important process. Fortunately, there are some things you can look for.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement or AAFCO Statement
Formulation method (Good):
“Brand ABC Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Cat Food Profiles for maintenance of adult cats.”
Feeding Trial Method (Better):
“Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Brand X Cat Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult cats.”
Feeding tests using AAFCO procedures are a scientific way to evaluate pet food. This is considered the gold standard and is better than simply coming up with a recipe that looks good on paper.
The ingredients are listed on the side of the bag. Unfortunately, these lists can be confusing and are easily manipulated. For example, sometimes cuts of meat from different parts of the animal have to be listed as separate ingredients. This can give the impression that there is less meat in the bag than if a single ingredient was used.
Human trends make their way to the pet food market. For example, consumers may prefer potato or barley as a carbohydrate source over certain grains, like corn or wheat. Pet food manufacturers will oblige by creating foods tailored to popular opinion. There is nothing wrong with this process but it is important to remember that new foods should be tested using AAFCO procedures to make sure that they actually result in healthy animals under real world conditions.
Your cat’s unique physiology
It is also important to remember that cats are individuals and that there is no one universal food that is ideal for all cats. What makes one cat thrive could result in illness in another cat. There are dozens of good cat foods on the market and more choices than ever.