The best dry cat food brands feature recipes that rely heavily on real meat and use fewer grains, such as corn and rice, than brands of a lower quality. Since cats are obligate carnivores, their food must have a solid base of animal protein and fats for them to remain healthy.
Ingredients are listed on the label according to their weight, so ingredients that make up a larger portion of the overall weight appear first. The best brands feature a real animal protein or fat product, such as salmon, chicken or turkey, within the first few ingredients. Other animal proteins, such as meal, are also typically very high on the list of ingredients. The first four or five ingredients generally include very few instances of things other than animal protein or fat.
The optimal amount of grains and gluten in a healthy dry cat food is a subject of debate, according to PetMD. While some brands avoid grains whenever possible, others include them to provide the cat with an easy source of energy. Most cat food brands also include a breakdown of nutrients, which provides essential information if the cat has any specific dietary needs, such as more fat or a high moisture content.