Commercially prepared cat food found in grocery stores and pet supply stores are the most common types fed to cats and kittens. A high quality commercially prepared food contains the proper amounts of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that are needed to maintain good health.
Be aware, however, that not all commercially prepared foods are created equal. Supermarket or generic brands are inexpensive, but they may contain high amounts of sugar, preservatives, salt, artificial colorings and flavorings, and meat by products. Some are low quality and may not be 100 percent nutritionally complete or balanced for your cat.
National or name brands are medium priced foods produced by big name manufacturers and they are especially designed to provide a 100 percent nutritionally complete diet. These products contain all the ingredients that your cat needs to stay healthy, but many contain meat or animal by products and not quality meat.
Meat or animal by products are not muscle meat, they are leftover parts of an animal that are not fit to be fed to people. By products include internal organs, skin, feathers, beaks, bones, and other parts of the animal. Many cat owners refuse to feed their pets anything containing these by products because they are not sure exactly what they are feeding. Others see nothing wrong with feeding by products and argue that in the wild, cats consume many of the same ingredients (such as internal organs and skin).
Premium brands are usually more expensive than other brands, but they are made with superior ingredients. They generally contain little or no added preservatives, colorings, or flavorings and are made with meat, not meat by products. These foods can be purchased from most veterinarians or pet supply stores.
No matter what brand of food you buy, always read the list of ingredients on the box, bag or can. A cat food labeled with the words "meets the nutritional levels for a complete diet" or "provides complete and balanced nutrition as established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)" means that the food provides all the necessary proteins, fats, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Avoid buying cat (or kitten) food that does not state this on the label or packaging. Always buy food that is appropriate to the life stage of your pet. If you are buying food specifically for kittens, the label should state somewhere that the food is nutritionally balanced and appropriate for their changing needs.