With so many commercial specialty foods on the market, choosing the right one for your furry friend can be a challenge. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, a specialist in feline nutrition, can help you take some of the guesswork and time-consuming research out of feeding your feline. Read on to discover the ideal food for your cat.

If your cat is like Freddy, a middle-aged American shorthair with an eye for the ladies and a big appetite…
Freddy is 3 pounds overweight. When not eating or flirting, Freddy is usually found draped over the family room sofa, enjoying a snooze.

…then you need to feed indoor weight and hairball care.
Cats like Freddy should first undergo a medical exam to ensure there are no underlying health issues. The best thing to do for the chunky kitty is offer portion control and increased exercise as well as feed a weight loss formula with hairball control. The extra fiber in this type of food catches the hair and moves it through the digestive tract. In Freddy’s case, the fiber will help him to feel fuller. The weight control formulas have L-carnitine, which will help Freddy to burn fat.

If your cat is like Sasha, a 4-month-old tabby and a ball of energy with two speeds, fast forward and fast asleep…
She barely has time to finish a meal before she’s either a) in motion or b) in dreamland.

…then you need to feed kitten formula.
Kittens are constantly growing and need a high-quality, calorie-dense food so that every bite has a lot of nutrition. At the same time, you want to be careful not to overfeed. Fat kittens will have weight issues into adulthood. You want to be able to feel your kitten’s ribs with slight pressure on the body and see a little waistline. Metabolism slows down once a kitten is spayed or neutered, so stop feeding kitten formula at that time.

If your cat is like Bernard, a 6-year-old calico who often spends time guarding his home, including his feline housemate Stella…
Stella, who is younger than Bernard, is usually too busy doing her own thing to bother paying much mind to Bernard’s preoccupation with the front door.

…then you need to feed multi-cat food.
This is great for any household with more than one cat. It has enough nutrients for adult cats of all weights and L-carnitine to burn fat in case any of the cats have a weight problem. Multi-cat food will also manage hairball issues, which arise from grooming — something cats in multi-cat households may end up doing more of. The crunch of the kibble will also keep tartar and bad breath at bay.

If your cat is like Pouncer, a 9-year-old mixed breed whose stomach has become increasingly sensitive with age as evidenced by a whole host of litter box problems…
She eats slowly and sleeps soundly.

…then you need to feed a digestive care formula or a veterinary formula.
First, try a digestive care formula from your local pet store. If that does not solve the problem, a veterinary formula may be in order. Veterinary formulas treat a host of issues, from inflammatory bowel disease to allergies. These formulas have to be purchased at the doctor’s office. It may take some trial and error to find the right food, but your cat’s veterinarian will work with you to do this.

If your cat is like 2-year-old Rose, a pregnant mixed breed still relatively active, stalking the halls of the home each night…
She won’t say who the father is.

…then you need to feed kitten formula.
Kitten food is good for pregnant cats because they need the extra calories, fat and protein to maintain a healthy body condition throughout pregnancy and while nursing. As her kittens grow and are weaned, mom should go back to her regular food, as we don’t want her to become rotund.

“I’ve been a veterinarian for over 20 years, and I’m always amazed at the effect that feeding the right nutrition can have on your pet,” says Dr. Cruz. If you keep her advice in mind, the next time you shop for cat food, selecting the right one for your pet can be as easy as lamb and rice pie.