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Nutrition

The best food for your feline

Overall, the best diet for your cat is one that replicates what it would eat in the wild - that is, a moisture-rich meat-filled diet with all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to maintain its health.

Foods lacking necessary nutrients, void of water, or filled with unnecessary fillers such as grains, can cause serious health problems.

Feeding Your Cat for Health

Feeding your cat properly is imperative for his or her good health. A proper diet can go a long ways in preventing medical problems such as diabetes, obesity, gastro-intestinal disorders (including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation), kidney disease, urinary tract crystals or inflammation, and other issues.

The right cat food can pay off in reduced veterinary bills for years to come - and the love and companionship of your feline friend for a much longer time. Did you know cats are capable of living 30 years or more? Keep your kitty healthy and happy by feeding him or her the best.

Moisture

Cats evolved from a desert species. They don't have a strong thirst drive. Although cats fed dry food will drink more than cats fed wet food, they don't drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture in their diet.

Cats fed dry food may suffer from chronic mild dehydration. This dehydration may lead to urinary tract inflammation, urinary crystals, and even kidney disease.

Dry food is also more highly heat processed, and therefore glycemic, increasing blood sugar - which may lead to diabetes. It is also higher in calories, contributing to obesity.

Fillers

Pet food companies often include fillers in their cat food, such as grains and other vegetable matter. These ingredients hold little nutritional benefit for your cat. The cat is an obligatory (strict) carnivore, and can only derive nutrients from meat and dairy products.

Fillers, even protein fillers such as grain glutens, can lead toward health problems such as gastro-intestinal disease. They are also higher in carbohydrates, which may lead to obesity and diabetes.

Meat Proteins

Not all meat products are created equal. Beef and fish are the most allergenic of proteins - cats, in the wild, eat primarily rodents and birds, not cows and fish.

Byproducts are meats not used for human consumption. While some byproducts are perfectly acceptable in a cat's diet (such as organ meat), it's wise to include some muscle meat as well.

Remember - meat alone is not sufficient to maintain feline health. Cats also need calcium and other nutrients not provided by meat alone.

Finally

The best diet for your cat is an entirely wet meat-based diet. Many commercial canned or frozen raw foods, as well as homemade diet recipes are designed for your cats' nutritional needs.

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Case Studies

Lynette firmly believes one of her cats, Ralph, is only alive today because she did some research and changed their food. He was being considered for euthanasia as he had no "quality of life". He's now healthy and happy. Omaha was so obese and arthritic he was having trouble standing up. He's now lost more than 8 pounds and *runs*. We often tell people to look at what can be accomplished with food by looking at their pictures.

Cost Saving Ideas

Lynette reads all the can labels at the supermarket and here are her list of personal favorites for the person on a budget - and what she often uses for her foster cats. Please note that many of these foods contain beef, fish, “meat” (of unknown origin), or even a small amount of grains. Therefore, they may be inappropriate for cats with food allergies or gastro-intestinal disorders. Fish should be fed sparingly, but can serve as an excellent tool for transitioning cats on to canned food. Likewise, liver can be addictive, and should not be fed in large amounts.

  • 9-Lives - Chicken Dinner, Supper Supper, Chicken & Beef Dinner, Chicken & Tuna Dinner, Turkey Dinner, Chicken & Seafood Dinner, Liver & Bacon Dinner, Prime Grill with Beef
  • Happy Tails – Chicken Dinner, Chicken & Tuna Dinner, Mixed Grill, Super Combo, Turkey & Giblets Dinner, Salmon Dinner (any of the flavors not in gravy) – This is Jewel's store brand - Jewel is a large grocery store chain in the Midwest
  • Friskies – Supreme Supper; Mixed Grill; Country Style Dinner; Poultry Platter; Turkey & Giblets Dinner
  • Trader Joe’s – Chicken, Turkey & Rice; Turkey & Giblets; Oceanfish, Salmon & Rice; Tongol Tuna & Shrimp; Tongol Tuna & Crab; Seafood Medley; Tuna Dinner - All excellent for transitioning cats to canned food. The chicken and turkey flavors are usually appropriate for regular feeding. Although the first three flavors contain grains, it is a small amount and seems tolerated by many of the diabetics and cats with gastro-intestinal disorders I have worked with. The first three flavors have a smooth texture similar to a/d, so they will work for syringe-feeding inappetant cats.
  • Pro Plan – Adult chicken & liver entrée; adult turkey & giblets entree
  • Fancy Feast Gourmet Feast – Almost all flavors in the gourmet feast line are low in carbohydrates (grain and vegetable free): Gourmet Chicken Feast; Gourmet Turkey & Giblets Feast; Tender Beef Feast; Tender Beef & Liver Feast; Savory Salmon Feast; Tender Chicken & Liver Feast; Beef & Chicken Feast; Chopped Grill Feast
  • Fancy Feast Flaked – Fish & Shrimp Feast (this is good for transition)

She dislikes the Fancy Feast "elegant medleys" on principle - this is their answer to the popularity of foods like Merrick and Wellness - they responded by adding unnecessary vegetables to their food. Added vegetables should not be why people are buying Merrick or Wellness, they should be tolerating vegetables and fruit in order to get higher quality meat, no "meat" of unknown origin, and no "byproducts".

For futher information, visit:

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition by Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM

Feeding Cats for Health by Anne of catnutrition.org

Feline Nutrition at Max's House

Feline Nutrition Education Society (FNES)

Diabetes and Obesity: The preventable epidemics by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq.

Obesity in Cats: how to get a cat to lose weight

The "Catkins" diet: The feline diet: a historical look - Notes from presentation by Dr. Deborah Greco, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

The Carnivore Connection to Nutrition in Cats by Dr. Debra Zoran, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA 12/1/02)

Feline Diabetes Mellitus - Antech News, Dec 2003

Dietary Recommendations for Cats with DM by Dr. Deborah Greco, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Why Cats Need Canned Food by Jean Hofve, DVM

Canned Cat Food Nutritional Information by Janet & Binky

Canned Cat Food Chart frequently asked questions

Pottenger's Cats - A Study in Nutrition

Food Allergies

Deconstructing the Regulatory Façade Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes. A criticism of the pet food industry/regulation by a Harvard law student

A collection of articles and shared experiences on dry food at Wikia

Vet journals/dry food causes disease in cats A list of research compiled by Fiona MacMillan. Includes published articles on the dangers inherent in many commercial diets, especially dry food.

The Relation Between Dental Disease and Canned Food by Shawn Messonnier DVM

Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains? by Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

Eight strikes against fishy feeding from CatNutrition.org blog

Date last updated: 6/29/2009

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