The food you feed your cat is the single most important thing you can do for her long term health. Making savings in the short term could lead to health issues over time that would cost more to put right. Research suggests this is something pet owners are well aware of and that owners are working hard to get the best value without compromising on their cat’s diet. A recent survey we conducted among owners highlighted that only 4% have made cut back on their pet’s food despite belt tightening in many other areas.
There is something to suit all purses and preferences so you don’t need to compromise on good nutrition
The nutritional needs of cats are complex and they need over 40 nutrients in their daily diet for healthy body function. Buying a “complete” prepared pet food ensures a nutritionally balanced meal that meets all of your cat’s needs. There are very good complete pet foods catering for the pet’s life stage, lifestyle, taste and the owners convenience that are available at all price ranges. Table scraps and leftovers from family meals shouldn’t take the place of a specially formulated pet food. Cats in particular need taurine, arginine, niacin, preformed vitamin A, and specific types of essential fatty acids. If their diet is deficient in any of these nutrients they can suffer severe health problems. Family leftovers may also contain some ingredients they can’t tolerate, like onions as well as being a source of hidden calories.
Finding the best quality food that is available, at a reasonable price
Zara Boland, vet and nutrition expert gives some guidance on what you need to consider when choosing a cat food.
Pet food manufacturers formulate recipes to ensure the correct blend of ingredients according to lifestage and lifestyle. Once you’ve established the appropriate category for your cat, then when it comes to choosing between different ‘complete’ cat foods the main point to consider is quality. Ingredient quality is a measure of how digestible the cat food; high quality means high digestibility. Read the pet food packets, the ingredients will be listed on the label and these will differ from brand to brand. The ingredients will be listed in descending order of weight. Finally, don’t forget to look to the experts for help - manufacturers often have free carelines that will provide guidance to owners on choosing the right food for their pet and budget.
Top Tips for saving money on pet food
Once you find the right food for your cat, have a look to see if the brand has a website, newsletter or Facebook page that you can sign up to as these often have exclusive offers
Do some comparison shopping and make notes of the prices offered in the different stores. Some companies will offer loyalty discounts and even coupons for products.
Buying bigger bags and multi packs is a more economical way to shop if storage space permits as it’ll be a reduced cost per feed. The petfood label will give guidance on how to store properly.
The amount you need to feed can vary significantly depending on which food you buy. Don’t just look at the cost per kg of the food you are buying – look at the feeding guidelines and work out how long the pack will last – then you can calculate how much the true cost per day is which is a better comparison of than cost per kg.
Many owners also overfeed their pets because they think the manufacturer’s recommended portion looks too small or they simply fill up their pet’s bowl. The costs of overfeeding your cat will add up and it is likely to lead to excessive weight gain. PFMA recommends you follow the feeding guidelines on the pack whilst regularly checking your pet’s body condition using PFMA’s Pet Size-O-Meter and regulating their food accordingly.
Considering a change of diet?
Any sudden change in diet might cause a stomach upset in your cat. If you’re switching diets, this should be done gradually over a period of a week. Start by introducing a little of the new diet to your cat’s regular food gradually increasing this over a few days whilst decreasing the old food. Follow the feeding guidelines as these can vary between the different pet food brands.