How to Choose a Cat Food

Finding the Best Cat Food for Your Cat

Cats know what they like to eat, and many aren’t willing to deviate from what they want to eat without coaxing. Many people think it’s because cats are difficult, but their selectiveness is actually an evolutionary feature that prevents them from eating poisonous foods. Simply put, your cat only ate certain foods as a kitten, and now is certain that only those foods are safe to eat.

That’s why protein type, mouthfeel and the food type can be so important to adult cats. To make mealtimes easier, consider trying to decode your own cat’s preferences for preferred proteins, preferred food types-and if your cat eats wet food-mouthfeel. Once you understand your cat’s preferences, you’ll be able to pick the food they’ll like reliably.

If you need to change foods or broaden your cat’s palate to meet nutritional or health goals, slow transitions work for most cats. Because moisture consumption is essential to cats’ long-term health, we always recommend incorporating at least some moisture-rich foods into your cat’s diet when possible. Some cats may also need to transition between food forms or avoid certain proteins for health reasons.

two different cat food textures

four different cat food textures

The Differences Between Cat Food Forms

Kibble: Some cats love these crunchy bits of food, and many owners love that kibble is easy to store and creates substantially less packaging waste than most other foods. Kibble can be the backbone of a nutritionally sound feline diet, but we always recommend pairing it with a moisture-rich food or additive, such as bone broth, to prevent chronic dehydration.

Wet Food: Many cats adore wet food because it’s cooked and smells more than other food forms. When choosing cat food, consider both protein and texture. A cat might snub a chicken pate but love a can of chicken cuts. Once you’ve uncovered your cats preferred texture and protein, look for our custom stickers in the Mud Bay wet cat food aisle to identify what foods meet your cat’s inclinations.

Gently Cooked: Gently cooked food is heated to a much lower temperature than kibble or wet food, which helps overall nutrient retention. The applied heat helps kill any dangerous microorganisms and gives it the cooked taste that many cats prefer.

Frozen Raw: Primarily made of ground raw meat, frozen raw has intercellular moisture that’s particularly healthy for cats. It’s also one of the highest protein diets that you can buy, which can be particularly appealing to these small obligate carnivores. For people interested in feeding their cats the least-processed diet that closely mimics what they’d consume in the wild, frozen raw food is an excellent choice.

Freeze-dried Raw Food: Freeze-dried food is easier to store than frozen raw food, but it provides many of the same benefits as frozen raw. Because freeze-dried raw food doesn’t contain the intercellular moisture of frozen raw food, you should rehydrate the food when feeding your cat. Although it’s freeze-dried, it should be rehydrated with water or bone broth.

Dehydrated and Air-dried Food: Foods in this category may be lightly heated to remove excess water, but most foods in this category are less processed than kibble and wet food. To serve this food to your cat, add some warm water, wait for the food to rehydrate, and give it a quick stir before giving it to your cat.

How We Choose Cat Food

With hundreds of cat food manufacturers, winnowing down our selection of manufacturers is a challenging proposition. But before we agree to bring any food into our stores, we ask a lot of questions and even ask our prospective food partners to fill out a questionnaire. Ultimately, we want to know how each food contributes to feline health. And our concerns go beyond how each food is formulated: We also want to know that excellent quality control, superb production oversite, and pet food expertise are cornerstones of their business.

Our interest also goes beyond the food in the can, pouch or bag. We only want to partner with stable companies that act with integrity, so we can trust them to make the right decisions when addressing recalls, ingredient sourcing and other concerns. We also want to offer foods that offer real value to our customers in terms of price and ingredient sourcing. And we’re also looking for foods that offer the solutions to common cat issues with palatability, mouthfeel and protein sources.

two stacked cans of cat food