It’s important that your kitten gets started on a quality high protein cat food diet.
You know protein is important for a cat or kitten’s health, but do you know why?
Protein supplies the essential amino acids cat’s bodies need. They need twenty-two of them, but only eleven are processed in their bodies—the other eleven must come from a food source.
These proteins are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and taurine.
Taurine is especially needed from their food in high amounts for bile formation, eye health, heart function, reproduction, and in-utero kitten development during feline pregnancy.
Protein is also necessary for a kitten’s growth, development, structural makeup, and immune system.
Choosing a High Protein Cat Food
For the record, high levels of protein is not the only factor in finding a quality cat food. The source of the protein is very important as well.
Meat protein, as opposed to plant protein, allows more amino acids to be formed at the correct levels.
It is for this reason to be extra cautious if you prefer to feed a dry-food diet: many of these (with some exceptions) are often comprised of more plant-based protein than is optimal for your kitten’s health.
Wet and canned foods are almost always low carbohydrate cat foods, lower in plant proteins, and higher in meat proteins which is better for her.
Of course, not all wet foods are created equal, so compare the ingredients before you buy.
When choosing a high protein cat food, you also want to look for the levels of ingredients.
Net protein sometimes factors in more than just digestible protein, so make your choice based on the order of ingredients listed in order of weight instead.
Meat Sources in High Protein Cat Food
Chicken or turkey is common in the more popular brands, and this type of meat is more appropriate than beef or lamb, as poultry is more in line with a cat’s ancestral diet.
White fish should never be fed to cats or kittens as their only protein source.
A Caution About Fish: While cats love the flavor of fish, white fish–especially tuna–is very high in ash which affects the kidneys. Male cats especially can suffer from urinary tract blockages if exposed to too much tuna. Feeding only minimal amounts of fish and seafood is recommended for this reason.
When looking at ingredients, you may see “meat meal” near the top. This sounds weird, but it’s actually healthy. It is simply meat with the water and fat removed, and ground into a powder.
As with everything else, though, the price of the high protein cat food is not always indicative of the quality.
While you do want to stay away from some obvious health-depleted brands (9 Lives, Meow Mix and the like) there are certain so-called “high-end” brands that are not as healthful as they seem.
For example, you may be surprised to see the ingredients lists of Eukanuba and Science Diet!
Can There be Too Much Protein?
The extra protein in a high protein cat food that is not synthesized by your cat’s body is either excreted in the urine, burned as calories, or stored as fat, so there is not a danger of your cat having too much protein in a high protein cat food.
The exception would be if your cat has kidney disease, in which case a cat food very high in protein can exacerbate this condition. However, it will not cause it.
It would be prudent to have your cat checked out by the vet before switching to a high protein cat food, just to make sure she doesn’t have any preexisting conditions.
You also want to make sure, especially if you are feeding a dry cat food, that plenty of water is available to your kitten.
The high protein and lack of moisture can be tough on her kidneys, so it may be a good idea to mix a little warm water with her food and turn it into a gravy, just to make sure she gets the fluids she needs.
The Best High Protein Cat Food Brands
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Variety is a great choice, as it contains 95% meat protein, and is completely grain-free.
For dry, Innova Evo Cat Food has a very good reputation as well.
Of course Wellness CORE Formula is another dry food, and it is one of the very few dry high protein cat foods that is also grain-free.
Then there are the commercial raw cat foods. These are pricier than your standard commercial food, but offer great health benefits for cats:
A great brand is Stella & Chewy’s Raw Food Recipe. Though not frozen, it’s a freeze-dried food that you reconstitute with water. It’s made with cage-free chicken and contains no hormones or antibiotics.
Primal Raw Frozen is another great high protein cat food. It grinds bones into the food, which provides important calcium intake for cats as well. It’s pricey, but worth it if you can afford it.