Elwood the Cat Eating His Food
Credit: Patrick McGough

Cats tend to get a bad rap when compared to dogs. You either love them or love them not as much. We've always had both in our household, and our current cat resident is Elwood (named for Dan Akroyd's character in The Blues Brothers). My youngest son, Patrick, was determined to spend his birthday money on a cat (we didn't have one at the time), and the only shelter open on New Year's Day was in the neighboring county. Our family piled into the car and drove 30 miles to adopt a cat. I really tried to lure Patrick into choosing an adult cat, but he was smitten with this tiny tuxedo kitten. It kept climbing up the front of the screened cage and meowing at the top of its lungs to get his attention. Elwood was not going to let us leave without him in tow. That was 14 years ago; he still doesn't look a day over four.

Natural Cat: Purina Cat Chow Natural
Credit: Purina

Caring for a cat is something we learned to do together as a family. Elwood's diet was important for us to learn about so we took time to educate ourselves and talk to our veterinarian. Our little feline needed a healthy, well-balanced diet that was high in animal-based proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. There are so many options out there but we learned that the most important thing to do when shopping for his food is to read the labels carefully. Protein is important, but make sure it states the specific meat, like real chicken as the main ingredient. You'll also want to be sure that there are no added artificial flavors or preservatives. Pet foods that carry an AAFCO-approved nutritional guarantee are considered to be nutritionally complete and balanced. (That's important to look for, too.)

Elwood is a picky cat. He loves Purina Cat Chow Naturals (plus the occasional outside critter). In fact, just today he was completely annoyed and very vocal that we were running low on his food. I truly believe his longevity and good health is due in part to the food he's been fed all these years. Elwood is an outside/inside cat and all the neighbors know him. In his younger years, he'd climb the dogwood tree in our front yard, jump over to the roof, climb over our two-story roof, and jump down onto our back deck. (I think his nine lives have been extend by 10 or more over the years.) He's not a lap cat and not your typical stealthy cat. In fact, he sounds like a herd of elephants coming down the stairs. But Elwood is the GOAT and we're all so thankful that he chose us that cold New Year's Day 14 years ago!