When I was a kid, feeding the cat was easy: she got dog food and table scraps. It makes me cringe, now, to think of it, but on the consumer side, not a lot of thought went into pet nutrition at that time. A generation or two prior to that, cats were largely barnyard denizens, left to their own wiles when dinnertime rolled around.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and it can sometimes seem like you need a PhD in Pet Nutrition to make the best cat food choices. Recalls have raised awareness of the how important sourcing can be, yet determining where the ingredients come from is rarely easy.
And, some of the terminology can seem vague or ambiguous. Here are 4 Feline Foodie Terms — what they mean and why they’re important to understand:
“Natural” Cat Food
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a body that sets voluntary standards for the pet food industry, defines “natural” as “a feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources.” In plain English, it means that a food that describes itself as “natural” — like Hill’s Ideal Balance — contains no chemically synthesized ingredients (aside from vitamins).
“Balanced” Cat Food
All the healthy, natural ingredients in the world do your cat no good if the formulation is not nutritionally balanced. Broccoli is a “superfood” but if I eat a diet that consists 100% of broccoli, it’s not much more nutritious than a diet of Cheetos and Cherry Coke.
Cat food is formulated to be the sole source of your cat’s nutrition (the rodentia course has been removed from most cats’ diets), so the ingredient ratios are essential to making the food complete and balanced.
Macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) provide calories, and must be balanced against micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Micronutrients are used in smaller amounts, but are just as essential to your cat’s good health. The wrong ratios of any of these nutrients can result in serious health problems.
Who’s doing it right? Hill’s Ideal Balance is formulated from recipes with optimal levels of over 50 nutrients. Ideal Balance™ provides the perfect balance of nutrition for your pet’s health — nothing more, nothing less. Just right.
“Grain-Free” Cat Food
Just like people, some cats have food allergies and sensitivities and can benefit from a diet free of corn, wheat and soy. Often, food allergies manifest themselves as skin conditions that are resistant to treatments, or require frequent injections to control. I know a number of cat owners who have resolved persistent feline dermatological problems with a change to a grain-free diet.
“Responsibly-Sourced” Cat Food
Where did the ingredients in your cat’s food originate?
Now more than ever, it’s important to feed your cat food containing meat and poultry that’s sourced from USDA-inspected facilities and tested for salmonella before it finds its way into your cat’s digestive tract. Ingredients processed in a factory atop a Chinese toxic waste dump are a ticking time bomb, yet you may unwittingly be feeding them to your cat.
That’s why I know I can rest easy when I feed my boys Hill’s Ideal Balance. Hill’s makes every bag of dry dog and cat food in their own U.S. facilities with the highest quality natural ingredients from North America and Europe. They never contain ingredients from China.
Hill’s takes quality control — and your cat’s health — seriously:
- Quality samples are taken during manufacturing every 30 minutes and tested for key attributes to ensure consistency.
- Hills conducts more than 60 quality checks on every batch of food and has a zero tolerance standard to Salmonella.
- Every ingredient can be tracked by batch or ingredient, within 24 hours.
- Over 1,000 Salmonella tests are conducted every month.
- All Hill’s pet food is inspected and tested before it leaves the plant for a consistent, well-balanced meal, bag to bag.
I’m a foodie who is more than a little selective when it comes to the sources of the food I eat, and many people I know are just as discerning. (Disclosure: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so it’s almost the law around here.) Do the research to ensure that you know the origin of what you’re putting in Fluffy’s food bowl.
Nom Nom Nom
I’ve used Hill’s Ideal Balance as an example of a cat food brand that provides assurance that you’re feeding your cat a healthy, well-sourced diet. But it means nothing if Fluffy won’t eat the kibble. My picky eaters scarf down Hill’s Ideal Balance faster than I can inhale a bag of Cheetos, and that’s why I feel confident recommending that you check it out.
THE FINE PRINT: This is a sponsored post; we have been compensated by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Hill’s Pet Nutrition is not responsible for the content of this article. But, we’ve tried it, we’ve loved it, and have no qualms recommending Hill’s Ideal Balance Cat Food and Treats.