Allegra, Ruby and I are excited to announce that The Conscious Cat was voted Best Website About Cats in the 2012 About.com Reader’s Choice awards!
There were five nominees for this category. The original criteria stated: “The ideal website should be informational, covering topics such as cat care, health, behavior, and other topics, but written in an understandable manner for the lay person. A touch of humor here and there doesn’t hurt.”
According to Franny Syufy, About.com’s Cat Guide, “The Conscious Cat offers all that and more.”
From a reader’s nomination: “Informative without being preachy, easy to follow (very important), entertaining, engaging (inviting readers to participate and provide feedback), down-to-earth and from the heart.”
Says Syufy, “although the voting remained close throughout the entire voting period, The Conscious Cat took an early lead and coasted through easily to the end, with 44% of the vote. Well done!” Continue Reading
I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon, and was eagerly awaiting this fourth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her new kitten Esme, and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. When my review copy of Grey Expectations arrived, I cleared time in my schedule, because I was pretty sure that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I was right.
In this book, we find Dulcie in a happy place. She’s settled in with her boyfriend Chris, a computer programmer, and her relationship with her new kitten, Esme, is deepening. Mr. Grey’s spirit is still around, providing his wise, if sometimes cryptic, counsel not just to Dulcie, but also to Esme, and, much to Dulcie’s delight, to Chris. Dulcie is making progress on her thesis about an incomplete gothic novel written by an unknown author in the 18th centruy, The Ravages of Umbria. Dulcie is trying to uncover the identity of this author, and, in the process of her research, at times almost finds herself identifying with the, for her times, free-thinking and courageous woman, to the point where the mysterious author invades Dulcie’s dream.Continue Reading
The scenario plays out with cat guardians everywhere: the cat is always getting into something, like jumping onto counters, climbing up screen doors or drapes…and the list goes on. It seems like everyone these days is armed with a handy squirt bottle or squirt gun; sometimes, as I’ve seen in clients’ homes, in every room of the house. Somewhere along the line, this punishing tool has become as prevalent and acceptable as just saying a loud “NO!” In response, we’ve had many queries, both on line and in consultations, about the efficacy of this method.
I believe that the squirt bottle is NOT an effective way of changing a cat’s behavior. When I say this, often I’m met with quizzical or defensive looks. The guardian might say, “But, I’ve seen it work. I squirt, and Tigger jumps off the counter. Nowadays, he just has to see the bottle in my hands, and he runs away.” Yes, exactly my point. Tigger is responding, but is it for the right reasons? No.
What is the cat actually learning in this scenario? Is he learning that the counter is a bad place to be be? No.Continue Reading
Every rescue story is special, because every rescue saves a life. Some rescue stories, usually the ones involving disasters or tragedies, are reported by the big media outlets. But for every sensational rescue, there are hundreds of quiet rescues that happen every day. One such story came to me last week from Sue, who heard about me and my love for tortoiseshell cats from Caren Gittleman, who writes Cat Chat With Caren and Cody.
One cold Sunday in February, Sue and her 11-year-old son were headed to church. They took a side road with lots of fields and brush along the way. Sue just happened to glance to her left, and thought she saw a kitten hobbling by the roadside. She knew she had to turn around and check. That split decision changed Sue’s and her son’s lives.
The little tortoiseshell kitten Sue had seen out of the corner of her eye was still in the same spot. Continue Reading
Hepatic lipidosis, more commonly known as fatty liver disesae, is the most fequently seen form of severe liver disease in cats. The liver has many complex functions, including the production of chemicals necessary for digestion and the detoxification of the body. It also plays an important role in metabolism. Because of its vital importance, the body has no way of compensating when the liver fails.
While hepatic lipidosis is considered idiopathic, which means that the cause is not known, it is almost always preceded by anorexia, a cat’s nearly total avoidance of food. When a body is undernourished or starved, it starts to metabolize its own fat reserves for energy. Cat’s bodies are not able to convert large stores of fat. When a cat is in starvation mode, the fat that is released to the liver is not processed efficiently and is simply stored there, leading to a fatty and low functioning liver.Continue Reading
I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about Death Drops: A Natural Remedies Mystery by Chrystle Fiedler. If the two cats on the cover hadn’t caught my eye, the subtitle surely would have. A mystery featuring a naturopathic doctor, flower essences, and a dog and two cats, penned by a writer specializing in alternative health topics? I knew this one had to be right up my alley.
Death Drops’ protagonist Dr. Willow McQuade gives up her practice in Los Angeles to run her beloved Aunt Claire’s Nature’s Way Market and Cafe on Long Island after her aunt is found murdered. Next to her aunt’s body lies a bottle of flower essences intended to provide stress relief. Did they contain the poison that killed her aunt? The police’s investigation focuses on Willow, who had motive since she inherited her aunt’s business and the rights to an anti-aging cream formula that her aunt had been working on. Continue Reading
Proper nutrition is just as essential for your cat as for you. Like humans, a poor diet for your cat can lead to obesity, diseases, malnutrition, and even premature death. The problem is that many cat owners don’t have the time to study feline nutrition, so they pick the first food they find in the grocery store and hope it will give their pet the nutrients it needs to thrive. Choosing the perfect diet for your cat requires more effort, so we’ve put together this article to help remove some of the guesswork of proper feline nutrition.
Please keep reading to find our reviews of the best cat foods of the year, including the best wet and freeze-dried raw cat food options on the market today.
The tables below display nutritional data from food manufacturers, based on how the food is found in the bag or can (guaranteed analysis). Wet foods contain more moisture than dry, typically over 60-65%, which results in lower nutrient percentages compared to dry kibble. However, this doesn’t imply lower quality or fewer nutrients. When comparing products, it should be done based on dry matter, or between products with equal moisture content. Additionally, it is important to prioritize ingredient quality over quantity when making a choice.
The 12 Best Cat Foods
1. Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food Subscription – Best Overall
Chicken thigh with skin (42.6%), chicken breast (37%), chicken livers (4.7%), green beans (3.8%)
200 kcal/5 oz
Smalls is a cat food delivery service that provides protein-rich formulas in textures cats love. The company’s Fresh Smooth Bird recipe is our pick for overall best cat food thanks to its familiar, pate-like texture and protein-focused recipe. With real chicken parts as its first three ingredients and a unique blend of vitamins and minerals, you know you’re providing your cat with the best fresh cat food recipe possible. In addition, this recipe has a low carbohydrate content and is high in moisture to ensure cats get the hydration they need to thrive.
Each of their products comes in a 5 oz bag, and 1 bag meets the nutritional needs of a 10 lb (4.5 kg) cat for a day. Their conveniently portioned recipes are AAFCO-compliant for cats of all life stages (from weaned kittens to seniors).
Since Smalls is a delivery service, it is pricier than most foods you will find in the grocery store. You’ll also rely on their deliveries to get your cat’s food since it’s unavailable in stores. That said, their subscription service is convenient and easy to configure to a delivery schedule that works with your budget and needs, making it worth the slightly higher investment. You can even try them risk-free: Smalls proudly offers a full refund if your cat doesn’t fancy their sampler within two weeks (cats typically take about two weeks to adjust to a new food). From the natural, whole, human-grade ingredients to the convenience and their customer service, we know you and your cat will love Smalls just as much as we do.
High in protein
Real chicken parts are the first three ingredients
Convenient delivery service
Low in carbohydrates
Rich in moisture
Not available in stores
2. Hound & Gatos Lamb, Chicken, and Salmon – Best Wet Cat Food
The Hound & Gatos 98% Lamb, Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a plant protein-free wet food perfect for your cat’s carnivorous diet. This recipe is made of high-quality lamb, chicken, and salmon, with the majority (98%) of the recipe’s protein being derived from animal sources. This limited key ingredient formula has no added grains. This food has a pate-like texture that most cats are drawn to right away, though some may find it too thick. This can be remedied by adding a smidge of water to thin the consistency.
This food also has a gel layer on top which must be mixed thoroughly before the contents of the can are offered to your cat. This makes the preparation of the meal slightly longer in some cases. All in all, we think this is the best canned cat food available this year.
Free of plant proteins
Ingredients are 98% animal protein
Somewhat gelatinous texture which must be mixed well before serving
3. Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties – Best Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
Vital Essentials Rabbit Dinner Patties Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Freeze-Dried Cat Food is our pick for the best overall dehydrated and freeze-dried raw cat food. These patties provide a limited-ingredient cat food, perfect for pet owners looking to reduce their pet’s exposure to overly processed food. It’s made with a novel protein for most cats—rabbit—and features organ meat such as liver, heart, and kidney. This formula is free of any additional flavorings and fillers. The raw meat recipe is freeze-dried during manufacturing to preserve the nutrients and maintain freshness.
As with most freeze-dried food, it must be rehydrated before serving, which can be time-consuming.
In addition, some users have reported the patties being crushed during the shipping process, making portioning somewhat difficult. Finally, the reconstitution process makes this product unpalatable for some picky cats.
Novel protein options
Limited ingredient diet
Contains organ meat
No artificial flavors or fillers
Freeze-dried to maintain nutrition
Patties might not travel well during shipping and crumble
Like Smalls, Darwin’s Natural Pet Products produces fresh and natural food for cats. The difference between the two is that while some recipes of Smalls are slightly cooked, Darwin’s recipes are raw. Their chicken recipe provides a great source of protein and B vitamins, which cats need for proper carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. The meat is hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free, so it’s something you can feel good about feeding your cat. This raw formula is made primarily of muscle meat, organs, and bones and is minimally processed to preserve nutrients.
Also, like Smalls, Darwin’s is a pet food delivery service, so you should expect to pay more than you would for food in your local pet store. There are also some consumer complaints about the food not arriving frozen as it should be.
Made with real muscle meat and organs
Hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free
Convenient delivery service
A bit on the expensive side
Some consumers had issues with shipping
5. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food
The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Grain-Free Chicken Cat Food is a USA-made food packed with whole food ingredients such as free-range chicken and sweet potatoes. Add warm water to serve this meal that will rehydrate to four times its weight. This formula features no by-products, fillers, or GMO ingredients. It is boosted with probiotics to help support your cat’s digestion and features bone broth for extra flavor and protein. This formula is great for kittens and is AAFCO compliant for all life stages.
This recipe is higher in carbs than others that made our list. It also has an average amount of protein and more fat than others.
Made with human-grade ingredients
No by-products, fillers, or GMO ingredients
Boosted with probiotics for digestion
Made with free-range chicken
High in carbs
Lower in protein than other similar products
6. Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein Turkey Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a low glycemic formula that provides just 4% of energy from carbohydrates. It features real turkey as the first ingredient and turkey liver as the third, providing a hefty dose of species-appropriate protein. This formula is supplemented with vitamins and minerals like riboflavin and biotin. It contains no added fillers or gluten and has a smooth pate texture cats love.
Some consumers have reported palatability issues, and found their cats are not fond of the flavor or texture of the meat.
Rabbit, Water Sufficient for Processing, Pork Liver, Dried Egg Product, Montmorillonite Clay
212 kcal/5.5 oz can
Nature’s Logic Feline Rabbit Feast Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is a grain and gluten-free formula low in carbohydrates. It has real rabbit as its first ingredient and boasts over 90% animal protein to help mimic your cat’s natural diet. Rabbit is a novel protein which can be great for cats with allergies to other protein sources. That said, it does contain pork liver, which doesn’t make it a single-source protein. This recipe includes whole foods like apples which can be good for cats thanks to its calcium and vitamin-rich skin, and blueberries for a dose of antioxidants and fiber. In addition, this formula contains naturally occurring taurine, an essential amino acid cats need in large amounts for eye health.
This food is extremely expensive, making it inaccessible for many cat owners.
The Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food is a venison-based recipe containing muscle meat, broth, and organs like the liver, lungs, and heart. As with most Ziwi Peak recipes, this formula includes the company’s standard green-lipped mussels, providing a species-appropriate source of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This single-protein recipe is made without cheap fillers. All the meat that Ziwi Peak uses for its recipes are ethically and sustainably sourced.
The company uses tin with an internal lacquer for their cans. These cans are “BPA-NI”, which translates to “BPA non-intent,” meaning no BPA is intentionally added to the lacquer but it cannot be labeled BPA-free.
This recipe contains chickpeas which increase its carbohydrate, making this recipe moderate in carbs.
This formula features sunflower seed oil as its third most prominent ingredient. This oil is often added to canned food as a fat source but isn’t as diverse as other carnivore-appropriate fatty acids such as fish oil.
This recipe has zero carbohydrates which may not be as healthy as it sounds. Cats need energy that they acquire from protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbs may help promote proper metabolic feeding balance.
Made with real chicken
No artificial colors
Rich in animal-sourced protein
No carbohydrates at all
Heavy emphasis on plant-sourced fat
10. Weruva Press Your Dinner! Chicken Paté Cat Food
The Weruva Classic Cat Paté, Press Your Dinner with Chicken Wet Cat Food is made with wholesome ingredients and is gently pureed into a texture that cats will either love or hate. The texture is a bit pudding-like in consistency, making it a great pick for senior cats or those with dental issues. It’s made with real chicken and chicken broth for a high-protein, hydrating meal. It has an 82% moisture content to promote urinary tract health and ensure your kitty gets the hydration it needs to thrive. In addition, this formula is free of artificial colors, flavors, and MSG.
There appears to be some issues with consistency from can-to-can. Some have slightly different scents or colorations that may turn cats off.
Stella & Chewy’s Tummy Ticklin’ Turkey Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food combines the benefits of a raw diet and the convenience of freeze-dried meals. You can serve these morsels as-is or rehydrate them by adding water. Rehydrating the morsels is a great option if you know your kitty isn’t getting the hydration it needs from its water bowl. This formula is made in a USA-based kitchen with responsibly sourced, cage-free turkey and organic fruits and vegetables. The recipe is 98% turkey, organs, and bone. It doesn’t have any artificial preservatives or colors added.
Rehydrating the morsels can take a while, and they sometimes don’t mix well with the water. There are also reports of the food being crumbly upon arrival.
Can serve dry or rehydrated
Made in USA-based kitchen
Made with cage-free turkey
98% animal protein
No artificial preservatives
Inconsistency in morsel texture
Can take a while to rehydrate
12. Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Raw Freeze-Dried Nuggets
Primal Chicken & Salmon Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Cat Food is made with antibiotic and hormone-free chicken meat and organs. Chicken accounts for the bulk of the protein in this recipe, but it also contains wild-caught salmon as one of its main ingredients to provide your pet with a good source of omega fatty acids. This formula focuses on whole-food nutrition and has no synthetic vitamins or minerals in its ingredient list. It’s fast and easy to serve when rehydrated with water or Primal Raw Goat Milk. In addition, this formula doesn’t have excessive bone content and is free of artificial ingredients.
This recipe heavily focuses on fruits and vegetables, which aren’t necessarily species-appropriate for your little carnivore.
Antibiotic and hormone-free chicken
Salmon for omega fatty acids
No synthetic vitamins or minerals
Easy to serve
Some cats may be allergic to salmon
Heavy focus on fruit and vegetable ingredients
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Cat Food
Are you still feeling overwhelmed by all your cat food options? Raw, wet, dehydrated – how can you know which food type will be best for your cat’s needs? Read on to learn more about choosing the best cat food for your feline family members.
Raw Food Diets
A raw food diet for cats is a highly controversial topic. Your kitty’s wild ancestors certainly ate raw foods to survive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your highly pampered domesticated kitty has the same nutritional needs.
A raw diet focuses on unprocessed foods made with natural ingredients. You already know that your obligate carnivore needs animal tissues to thrive, and raw foods provide this by placing a heavy emphasis on uncooked meat and organs. Many raw diets also include ground bone for calcium and phosphorus.
The biggest concern with a raw diet is that it may pose an infectious disease risk for both your cat and you. A one-year study tested commercially available raw foods for bacteria and found that nearly 25% of the samples tested positive for bacteria like Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes.
A wet (or canned) food diet is one of the most often recommended cat diets.
Canned food is designed to help increase your cat’s water intake. Most wet food has a moisture content of around 75% (compared to dry foods’ 6% to 10%). Dehydration is a huge issue for indoor cats, leading to health problems like urinary tract blockages and constipation.
Wet food is highly palatable and strongly scented, two factors that can entice a picky or sick cat into eating.
The biggest downside of a wet food diet is that it is expensive, especially when compared to dry food. However, raw and dehydrated food diets are likely much the same in price.
Dehydrated & Freeze-Dried Food Diets
Freeze drying is a process whereby food is frozen and put into a vacuum to sublimate the water content. The resulting product is then put into an air-tight package to remove any remaining moisture, providing a much more shelf-stable food. Freeze-dried cat food isn’t cooked or pasteurized, making it raw.
Dehydrating is a different technique cat food manufacturers use to achieve the same goal as freeze drying—removing the moisture to create food with a stable shelf life. The dehydration process requires heat, but not enough for the resulting food to be considered cooked.
Both processes (freeze drying and dehydration) are popular options as the quality nutrients and vitamins of the food’s ingredients are not lost through cooking.
The problem with feeding your cat dehydrated or freeze-dried diets is the same as if you were feeding a raw diet. The biggest concern is contamination, as illness-causing pathogens can survive the freeze-drying and dehydration processes.
There may be risks of nutritional deficiencies due to dietary imbalances, though this can be sidestepped by choosing a food labeled as complete and balanced. Many dehydrated and freeze-dried cat foods are designed to be used as meal toppers and not your cat’s sole food source, so they don’t contain all the vitamins and minerals your kitty needs to thrive.
What About Dry Food?
You’ve probably noticed by now that the list above contained no mention of dry food at all. You’re probably wondering why that is, and the answer comes down to the following:
It is low in moisture.
It is high in carbohydrates.
It focuses on protein sourced from plants versus animals.
It can promote overeating.
It is low in moisture
The biggest difference between wet, raw, and dehydrated cat food and dry food is the moisture levels. Dry food contains around 10% water; the remaining 90% is dry matter like carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. Wet food, on the other hand, contains approximately 70% water. This is especially important if your cat has certain health conditions that would do well with a moisture-rich diet.
It is high in carbohydrates
Carbohydrates act as an essential energy source for many animals. However, this isn’t as true for cats as they’ve evolved to derive most of their energy from the protein and fat they ingest. Therefore, carbohydrates should play a small part in a cat’s diet. Unfortunately, dry food is much higher in carbs than other food types.
According to PetMD, diets that are too high in carbs can cause weight gain and related health issues like diabetes.
It focuses on protein sourced from plants versus animals
Many dry foods require grains like rice to assist with kibble processing. In addition, some foods contain more plant-based proteins than meat, which is not ideal for your obligate carnivore kitty who needs animal protein to thrive.
It can promote overeating
Cats evolved to eat diets rich in protein and fats but deficient in carbohydrates. As such, consuming fat and protein does a better job of signaling to a cat that it is satiated and should stop eating. Unfortunately, consuming carbohydrates does not have the same effect, resulting in overeating and, eventually, obesity.
We hope our reviews have shed some light on the always-important topic of feline nutrition. Now that you know the best cat foods on the market, you can decide which will be healthiest and most appropriate for your kitty and its tastes.
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!
It seems that there are more and more commercials featuring cats lately. On the whole, I think this is a wonderful trend. While I’m not a huge fan of cats being made to do things they wouldn’t naturally want to do, I do believe that some cats love the challenge of being trained to do “tricks.” As long as this training is done responsibly, I have no problem with it. And if done right, training your cat can be an extension of play, and enhance the bond between cat and human
I don’t care for commercials that show cats in clothes, or portray them in other ways that most self-respecting cats would consider less than dignified. With all the advances in computer animation technology, it’s possible to make funny commercials without putting cats through something that just isn’t very cat-like. And even then, there’s a fine line between something being funny, and making fun of someone at their expense.
Learning how to read feline body language is one of the best ways to understand your cat. Even though cats express themselves vocally, they primarily use their face, tail and body to communicate with each other and with the humans in their lives.
Watching a cat’s eyes, ears and tail can speak volumes about what the cat is trying to tell humans or other cats.
A cat’s eyes can give you many clues about her emotional and mental state. Wide open eyes are an indication of trust. Eyes that stare without blinking can be an attempt at dominance. A slit-eyed look can be a sign of aggression or fear. This is different from the sleepy-eyed look, when a cat appears to blink at you, which is generally thought to be a sign of affection.Continue Reading
“Cats make their own decisions, follow their own instincts. French cats are probably the most independent and enigmatic of them all.” This perfect quote from The French Catsets the scene for a collection of beautiful cat photographs in a beautiful setting. Award winning photographer Rachael Hale says this assignment was like a love affair for her. Having previously photographed animals in a studio setting, this project allowed her to work with them in their own environment, using natural light.
Born in New Zealand, she moved to France with her new husband in 2009. France intensified Hale’s creativity. “Every corner I turn…makes my mind and eyes explode with inspiration.” And then there were the cats. “The…wonderful thing about French cats is that they occupy one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Artists through the ages have relished France for its old-world villages, rustic charm, and most of all, for the luminous quality of its light.”Continue Reading
We recently covered petting aggression and play aggression in cats. Today, I’d like to address one other form of feline aggression, and it’s one that can be very frightening, as well as damaging, for cat guardians. This form of aggression is called redirected aggression, and it happens when a cat is agitated by an animal, event, or person it can’t get at. Unable to lash out at the perceived threat, the cat turns to the nearest victim. This may be another cat or pet in the household, or it may be the cat’s humans. These attacks happen seemingly out of the blue, and they can be fairly damaging to the victim.
Redirected aggression is not unique to cats. The human equivalent is the man who gets so angry he wants to punch someone, and ends up punching a wall instead.Continue Reading