SPECIFIC FOODS I RECOMMEND
This list is not complete, but it is a place for you to begin. You need to learn to read pet food labels and to make your own decisions.
Although I've listed a number of foods, it may interest you to know what I actually feed my cats. I feed commercially prepared raw frozen diets: Rad Cat, Feline's Pride, and Nature's Variety Raw Instinct. But about 50% of their diet is home prepared raw (usually rabbit). Raw food resources are listed on the "links" page. They also get canned food on occasion, usually Fancy Feast in the flavors listed below or Tiki chicken flavors.
In late 2011, I switched from a combo of canned and raw to virtually 100% raw due to issues with two of my cats -- extremely odiferous poop along with intermittent, chronic diarrhea. After spending $$$ on tests that turned up nothing, I found myself doing what many of us do: LET'S ADD MORE ____TO THE FOOD TO FIRM UP THE STOOL ... fiber, probiotics, enzyme, etc. For what I've spent on testing and supplements to put a Band-Aid over the situation, I could, ummmm .... just buy the right kind of food for these two cats. Since then, there has been no reoccurrence of the diarrhea in the two sensitive cats since I decided to go 90+ % raw. This means that kittens born here are weaned directly on the raw diet and stay on it until adoption.
Below is The List. Most cats should do well on an all canned meat-based diet or a combination of canned and raw.
To give you some frame of reference when you attempt to read those labels -- a cat living off the land (in the wild, as it were, with no PetCo around the corner) would be consuming a no grain, meat-based, wet diet consisting of approximately 45 - 55% animal protein, and less than 3 - 5% carbohydrates. This, then, is our goal in choosing foods for our carnivorous friends. If you can get their protein intake around 50% and their carbohydrate intake under 10% (on a dry matter basis), you are doing fairly well. A wet food that lists approximately 75% - 78% moisture and 9% - 15% protein is going to have about 45% - 55% protein on a dry matter basis. Accurately calculating carbohydrates based on the sketchy information found on the pet food labels is virtually impossible, however I believe the foods below to be low in carbohydrates and grain free but, again, check labels as manufacturers are continually changing their formulas and their marketing ploys.
Here is an excellent reference compiled by a veterinarian listing the levels of protein and carbs in most of the canned foods on the market as of 2013:
Current list of commercial foods I recommend to my kitten buyers:
**NOTE: It's a personal preference of mine to avoid foods with fish as a main ingredient, so I try to stay away from those flavors in any given group. Fish is a flavor enhancer for cats and can cause them to become addicted to them and yet fish, in general, is not particularly nutritious for cats.
Feline's Pride: www.felinespride.com commercial pre-mixed raw food. Excellent raw, frozen, shipped to you. Formula is based on the ideal w/no grains, fruit, veggies. (NOTE: if you purchase their chicken, the cost with shipping is on par with Rad Cat with the added convenience of delivery, but may not be feasible year around since they ship from the east coast).
Rad Cat: www.radfood.com commercial pre-mixed raw food. Another excellent raw frozen food. Look for it in a freezer at Pet Food Express, may also be carried by other stores, so ask if you don't see it.
Nature’s Variety raw frozen: Nature’s Variety comes in several flavors and nugget or patty sizes. Look for it in a freezer at Pet Food Express. This does show some veggie content, but it's not much.
Before B.G. Grain (by Merrick): B.G. I like the ingredients of this product - all meat based with a little bit of egg and no by-products. You can buy it at PetCo.
Innova EVO: cat and kitten food
Tiki: chicken flavors (there are only two)
ProPlan: Chicken and Liver Entrée - both in adult and kitten variations (This is the only flavor I’ve found that is grain free.) Note that the kitten variation has rice in it, but in a small quantity as its quite a way down the ingredients list. It's a little higher in protein, than the adult variation.
Fancy Feast: Fancy Feast has a surprising number of flavors that are grain free. The food is very palatable to cats and reasonably priced. The only draw back - if you consider it a draw back - is that it includes meat by-products. In general, I don't consider this a deal breaker. The following flavors are grain/veggie/fruit free (these flavors are meat based & low carb – stay away from the other flavors):
1. Turkey & Giblets Feast
** When pricing pet food, my first goal is to save money down the road on veterinary bills and the heartache of chronic illnesses that may be related to diet. Feeding a high quality diet is not inexpensive and it is not always the most convenient way to feed your pets, but can be worth it in the long run. Each pet owner will have to decide for themselves.