The second option for cat parents is to supplement those high-quality, whole-food-based commercial products with homemade meals and treats. With this option, you can guarantee the safety and quality of at least part of your cat’s diet while you still have the convenience of seemingly trustworthy store-bought products. If you go this route, you should choose a high-quality cat food that meets the qualifications just mentioned, with little or no grains in the ingredient list. You should definitely avoid the foods listing “meat by-products”; remember, manufacturers do not have to reveal what exactly that phrase means to them. Expect to pay a premium for those foods, as cheap pet food is very similar to cheap fast food for humans: It offers little nutrition with a bunch of calories.
This feeding option can be a tremendous help for pet owners who have cats suffering from particular health concerns, in that the food types and ratios can be tailored to meet the individual needs of your cat. For example, cats that eat commercial food and suffer from constipation can benefit from having broth poured over their foods to make the food moister, so it can move through their systems more easily. Cats with diabetes can control their blood sugar levels better on a high-protein diet, so supplementing commercial foods with quality proteins, such as organic chicken livers and meat, can help stabilize blood sugars for those cats.
When going this route with a cat that has been on an established diet of commercial food, slowly introduce the natural foods to him or her. At first, your cat may turn its nose up at anything that does not resemble canned food or dry kibble. Be sure he or she is hungry and offer the new food first, in small amounts, then follow-up with the commercial food. Be wary of the flip side — your cat may decide he or she likes the home-prepared foods better than anything out of a package. Be sure to mix the two together to help camouflage the fact that they are two different foods.
Feeding only organic and natural foods
The third option for feeding your cat is to use only natural foods you prepare yourself. The numerous benefits of going natural with your cat only begin with the issues of food safety and purity. There is also simplicity in preparing your cat’s meals. You get to skip the pet food stores because you are buying your tom’s food at your market. Therefore, you have one less errand to run. And while preparing food for your cat may seem like a lot of work, the process can be streamlined and incorporated into the meal preparation you do for the human members of your family. You can create relatively small batches of meals, freeze them, and keep some conveniently thawed in your refrigerator at all times. Relatively small batches would be about the size of a standard, family-of-four dinner that would feed a healthy cat two times a day for a month.
Going all natural in your cat’s diet is kinder to the earth as well. You are not relying on a factory to create food that is then put into cans and bags created out of the earth’s resources or out of potentially dangerous pesticides. That neglected trip to the pet food store means your car is not burning fossil fuels to go to yet one more place. There are also no cans or plastics to end up in landfills.
If you were able to take it one step further and “go organic” with your meats and vegetables, you would be even greener. If a food is labeled organic, that means it was raised without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals. The production of organic foods creates less pollution in the groundwater and soil around us, fewer toxins in the earth, and fewer long-term health consequences for all animals. As reported online in 2007, in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, an international peer-reviewed compilation that is part of the British Medical Journal, several studies conducted in France and the United States have found a definitive causal link between pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, and cancer in people who work with them on a regular basis. Currently, no long-term study exists that proves the safety of consuming small amounts of those chemicals over a lifetime, either in humans or in cats. So, until there is a clear answer to the safety of conventionally grown foods, it may be a good idea to look for organically grown ones as a carbohydrate and meat source for your kitties.
The difference between “natural” and “organic”
Organic food can only be labeled “organic” in the United States if it meets strict requirements regarding the growing and handling of the item. To be labeled “organic,” a food must be free of all chemical preservatives, must have been grown without synthetic fertilizers, and must never have come in contact with man-made pesticides or fungicides A governmental body, on the other hand, does not regulate natural foods. The International Association of Natural Products Producers is trying to create some agreed upon terminology. Until that happens, there is only a generalized definition of natural food: something that comes from a plant, animal, or mineral and is not artificially or chemically changed.
Therefore, all organic products are natural, but not all natural products are organic.