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Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food

By Patricia Leyland

To get your cat eating healthy food that meets all its nutritional needs, you will probably have to do a lot of studying of labels on cans and food packages. This is because some generic or supermarket brands tend to skimp on nutrition, putting in various kinds of fillers that add bulk but not much else. But fortunately, government requirements mean that all cat food manufacturers have to place certain information on their labels, and these can provide you with a lot of telling data.

One important thing to look for on pet food labels is a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO. If you see this statement, it means the food has passed strict tests.

You also want an animal protein at the top of the ingredient list, or at most, in second place. This means things like chicken or beef, and not by-products. The “life stage” of the cat should also be on the label, meaning kitten, adult or senior. The “dry weight protein” on the cat nutrition description should be twenty-six percent for an adult cat, and more for a kitten.

A change in cat food needs to be done gradually, because a sudden change can cause digestive upsets. And you may feel you need to decide between canned food and kibble, rather than using both. Some people say kibble is easier, less messy and certainly less odorous, while others advocate canned pet food because it contains more water and keeps the cat better hydrated. But for variety, why not alternate or provide a little of both?

And of course there must be treats, especially if you get those with tartar or hair ball control. When cats eat those, they will help remove a little bit of the plaque that may build up on their teeth, and of course cut down on those nasty, up-chucked hair balls. By no means, though, should you resort to human food as treats, because you don’t know when something in the food may be poisonous to your cat. The cat food you buy that is prepared especially for your cat will be sufficient nourishment, and enough to keep your cat healthy.

For more great tips on cats and other pets, visit the House Pets site.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Leyland, Patricia "Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food." Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food. 7 Oct. 2010. 26 Oct 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Leyland, P (2010, October 7). Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food. Retrieved October 26, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Leyland, Patricia "Understanding The Nutritional Label On Cat Food"

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