PetMD lists important elements to consider when choosing cat food, including the amount of animal protein and grains in the food, added by-products, the cat's stage of life, nutrients incorporated into the food and guidelines from a veterinarian. It is also critical to research cat food brands and determine whether canned or dry food is preferable.
As obligate carnivores, felines require animal proteins to survive, states PetMD. Animal sources are the only way for cats to obtain the critical nutrients taurine and arachidonic acid. As a result, it is imperative to consider how much of a cat's diet consists of animal meat or by-products. Ingredients containing a lot of moisture are apt to be at the top of the list of ingredients, as products are listed by weight.
Controversy exists over whether cats should consume grains and gluten, notes PetMD. Cats can metabolize the carbohydrates from grains rapidly, therefore increasing energy levels. However, some experts argue that feline diets should be low in carbohydrates. It is important to consider both perspectives when choosing cat food, and remember that ingredients such as potatoes are high in carbohydrates, as well.
Canned foods have the advantage of adding moisture to a cat's diet, which is especially helpful in animals that are reluctant to drink water. If a pet is consuming enough water elsewhere, many experts conclude that a balance between dry and canned foods is appropriate, notes PetMD.