Still, high fiber cat food can be a good thing.
First thing is first; please refer to the cats and fiber post for more information regarding the fiber itself and the types of fiber.
When you see ‘Crude Fiber’ on the guarantee analysis section of the cat food label, it refers to the measurement of the indigestible carbohydrates in the food.
Essentially, at the core, that’s what fiber is: indigestible carbohydrates.
What you need to focus on is the ‘dietary fiber.’ This is the fiber that cats get the most out of.
The key with finding a good quality high fiber cat food is to find one that focuses on giving the cat the right balance of fiber in the right amount.
If you find a high fiber diet, and a lot of the fiber is coming from wood chips (aka powdered cellulose) or wheat or corn then you have a problem. This is because these ingredients are filler and poorly fermented (the Royal Canin food posted below is a good example).
A lot of high fiber cat food is marketed for diets, weight loss, and weight control. This is because moderately fermentable fiber can give the cat a ‘full’ feeling for quite some time. This makes the cat eat less.
Many of the cat foods out there that specialize in weight loss, high fiber diets cut corners and load it with cheap fiber sources, not moderately fermentable fiber. This is actually more harmful than helpful to an overweight cat.
So what is good high fiber cat food?
It’s tough to give a straight out answer to this question, as every cat species is different with different activity levels, reaction times, etc.
In dry cat food, the normal crude fiber maximum is around 3%. Dry food tends to be in poorer quality over wet food anyways, but if you like to feed dry food, 3% is a highly thought of number. Anything higher and you should really examine the sources.
Wet food is a little easier to manage because it’s naturally healthier for your cat. Just make sure that the fiber sources come from the ‘good’ sources, and not the ‘bad’ sources like cellulose or grain fillers. This is easy to write: wet food is better for fiber than dry food.
Overall though, foods marketed as ‘high fiber cat food’ are just a gimmick. Choose foods that have good quality ingredients with protein dominating the formula, and the cat should be good.
TIP: If you need additional fiber all you can do is keep feeding your regular canned food, and add pure canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) to the food (about 1 teaspoon). It can be as simple as that.
Having said all that, if your cat is experiencing issues and you think it has to do with fiber, consulting a vet before looking for more information on the internet is the best thing you can do.