With so many cat foods available, how do you know which one is best for your cat? Chances are, there's more than one cat food out there that will give your cat what he needs to thrive and live a long, happy life. It's not about finding the perfect food, but rather about settling on one of the many suitable ones. Follow these guidelines in choosing a cat food, and you really can't go wrong.

Look for meat-based ingredients. Cats are naturally carnivores. While they can eat some grains and veggies without issue, the basis of their diet should still be meat. So, look at the ingredients lists on cat food bags carefully. Rule out any food for which the first ingredient is not some sort of meat product. For instance, a food that lists "chicken" as the first ingredient is a better choice than one that lists "cornmeal." As you look down the rest of the ingredients list, you want to see predominantly meat-based ingredients, perhaps with a few other ingredients.

Make sure it includes taurine.

Taurine is an amino acid that cats cannot produce on their own and that they absolutely need to thrive. It is only found in animal products, so true "vegan" cat foods don't contain it. Even meat-based foods are typically fortified with taurine to ensure cats get enough.  If the cat food you are thinking of buying does not specifically state that it contains taurine, move along to another product.

Buy one for the correct stage of life.

If your cat is one year old or younger, buy a food made for kittens. If they are 7 or older, you may wish to buy one for mature cats. Cat's nutritional needs change throughout their lifetime. For instance, youngsters need a lot more protein than older cats, and senior cats need more fatty omega-3 and omega-6 acids to keep their hearts and coats in good health. By buying for the correct stage of life, you're making sure your cat gets all that he or she needs.

Make sure your cat likes it.

When you find a food that you think is a good choice, always buy a small bag first. This way, you can make sure your cat likes it before you spend more money on a larger bag. Some cats are pickier than others, so you may have to experiment with two or three foods before you find one they like as much as you do!

For more advice on picking the best food for your cat, speak with a veterinarian clinic like Veterinary Emergency Services Of Lincoln.