Dry kibble. Canned food. Pouched food. Raw food. Freeze-dried food. Air-dried food. Dehydrated food. So many food options are now available for your kitty, but which are best?

Before considering the form of food you should feed your feline, it’s important to consider the content of food you should be feeding. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a meat-based diet in order to obtain all the nutrients their bodies need for optimal health. In the wild, a cat’s natural diet would consist of rodents, birds, insects, and lizards – a raw diet that’s high in moisture, high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbohydrates.

Modern housecats are descended from small African wildcats that originated in the Middle Eastern desert, and as such they don’t have a strong thirst mechanism. There’s rarely water available to drink in the desert, so what’s the point of getting thirsty? Just like their desert-dwelling ancestors, our companion kitties are anatomically and physiologically designed to get their hydration needs met from the foods they consume, whether it’s a juicy, fresh-caught mouse, or the store-bought food we put in their bowl. If a cat doesn’t get sufficient water intake from the food she consumes, she may not make up the difference at the water bowl, and she runs the risk of kidney and bladder problems from chronic subclinical dehydration.

When trying to decide what to feed your cat, it’s obviously best to follow Mother Nature’s model of a meat-based diet that’s high in moisture, low in carbs, and minimally processed. Commercially available frozen raw foods meet these criteria while taking the guesswork and hassle out of preparing nutritionally adequate raw meals yourself. Consisting primarily of raw muscle meat, raw organ meat, and bone, these complete and balanced diets reasonably approximate the wild diet of a carnivorous predator.