Diet is as important for cat health as it is for human health. “We are what we eat” applies to us, as well as our pets. Cats have a much better chance for optimal health if they are getting the food that’s best for them. Educating yourself about which food is best for cats and putting a little thought into your cat’s nutritional requirements will benefit your cat immensely over their lifetime and very possibly prevent serious, life-threatening (and costly!) illnesses.
Canned Cat Food vs. Dry Cat Food
An increasing number of veterinarians are now strongly recommending canned cat food instead of dry. It’s unfortunate that all veterinarians aren’t recommending this, because dry food is clearly a species-inappropriate food for felines and clearly promotes disease in our cats.
Sadly, veterinarians, just like physicians for humans, receive very little training in school regarding nutrition. My own physician is completely unfamiliar with the benefits of supplements, and my husband’s physician recently recommended he cut out cheese and eggs to lower his cholesterol. It’s been proven, time and time again, for YEARS now, that things like cheese and eggs have absolutely nothing to do with cholesterol. It’s quite frightening to me how little our doctors know about nutrition, and worse, how doctors don’t seem to have a clue as to how many diseases could be easily treated and prevented with proper nutrition – and veterinarians are equally clueless. Many promote “prescription” dog foods at their offices, many of which are beyond questionable in quality and are potentially dangerous for our pets. Add to that the strong influence of the commercial pet food industry, and we’re left with millions of pet owners across the nation who have no idea they’re likely feeding their pets food that is not only inappropriate, but possibly dangerous.
Why Do We Feed Dry Food to Cats?
Grains, the key ingredient in dry cat food, are cheap. Therefore, dry cat food is cheap. Also, dry food is convenient . Affordability and convenience are top sellers, that’s for sure. Do many cats survive on water-depleted, high-carbohydrate, plant-based, over-cooked, bacteria-laden dry cat food? Yes, many do. However, wouldn’t you rather feed your cat a diet that will promote optimal health, and not just survival? There is a significant difference between “surviving,” and “thriving.”
For people as well as pets, diet is the foundation for optimal health!
What’s Wrong with Feeding Dry Cat Food?
First, the water content in dry cat food is way too low. This is setting your cat up for serious and life-threatening urinary tract diseases, kidney disease, and painful and often fatal (and very costly to treat) urethral obstructions. I had a cat who I fed dry cat food for most of her life. She died of kidney disease. I wish I would’ve known all those years ago the dangers of feeding cats dry food.
Second, the carbohydrate content in dry cat food is too high. This can lead to diabetes, obesity, and intestinal disease. The solution is not to purchase low-carbohydrate dry foods. They are not healthy diets since they are still water-depleted and have very little nutritional value.
Third, dry cat food doesn’t have the right type of protein for cats. Dry cat food consists of mostly plant-based proteins, rather than meat-based proteins. Think about this in terms of what a cat would naturally choose to eat. Picture a cat out in a field, hunting. Does he lunge for a plant and start munching, or does he go for the mouse?! He needs animal-based protein, not plant-based protein.
Other negative issues include the possibility of ingredients that are extremely toxic, ingredients that can cause allergic reactions, and the fact that dry cat food is over-cooked, which destroys its nutritional value.
But My Cat Seems to be Doing Just Fine on Dry Cat Food!
And your friend seems to be doing just fine smoking that cigarette. Seriously – just because the cat doesn’t promptly keel over and die after taking a bite of dry cat food doesn’t mean it’s ok for him to eat. The negative effects of a dry food diet damage your cat’s body and health over time. A meal at at time, a day at a time, a week, month, a year at a time. Just like with smoking, the negative effects aren’t necessarily immediate – but cause accumulating health issues over time.
Consider the Following:
Every living creature appears to be “fine” until the signs of a disease start to show themselves. A cat who is consuming too many carbohydrates, for example, seems fine until he begins to gain weight, or begins to exhibit signs of diabetes. A cat who has a blocked urinary tract seems fine until she starts to urinate in places other than the litter box. A cat who isn’t getting enough moisture in her diet may seem fine, until she’s passing blood in her urine. And, referring to the human comparison we made earlier, a smoker seems fine until they start coughing, having difficulty breathing, turn yellow…and eventually are diagnosed with lung cancer.
The point is, the things we do that aren’t good for us catch up with us eventually. The same is true for our pets. Diseases grow, sometimes to fatal levels, long before their symptoms are noticed.
Prevention of Disease in Cats
So many feline diseases can be prevented with a species-appropriate diet (low-carb canned or balanced homemade food – not dry food).
Consider these facts:
Urinary tract systems require the appropriate amount of water flowing through them. Painful, life-threatening and very costly-to-treat urinary tract problems commonly occur when cats are fed dry food. These serious medical issues are extremely uncommon among cats who are feed canned food, especially if extra water is added to the canned food.
Cats don’t get thirsty. A vet once told me you can present a cat with a bucket full of water and she’ll drink a thimble full. They just don’t go to the water dish and slurp, slurp, slurp like dogs do. So it’s imperative that they get their water in their food. Several studies prove that cats on canned food consume double the amount of water compared to cats on dry food – even when there’s a water dish available.
Carbohydrates can wreak havoc on blood sugar/insulin balance, putting the cat at risk for diabetes. Dry foods, as well as some canned foods, are high in carbohydrates. Note that “grain-free” does not always mean “low-carb” since peas and potatoes are often used instead of grains. Cats are carnivores – they’re supposed to be eating meat-based protein, not grains, peas and potatoes found in dry food.
The Concept that Dry Food Helps with Dental Health is a Myth
Dry cat food has no beneficial effect on dental health. It is usually swallowed whole, and even if it’s chewed, it’s brittle and simply crumbles. It’s not providing any scraping of the teeth/removing of tartar and plaque. Feeding your cat chunks of meat will do a good job of cleaning their teeth (as will brushing, if you’re brave enough, or if your cat is calm enough, to attempt it!)
Is Canned Cat Food More Expensive?
Canned food is generally more expensive than dry food. However, when you consider the hundreds/thousands of dollars you’ll spend on treatment for your cat’s inevitable health issues caused by a life-long diet of dry food, you’ll see it’s clear feeding canned food from the start is the most cost-effective decision. Keep in mind that the cheapest canned food is better than any dry food on the market.
If you would like to know more about keeping your cat healthy with proper nutrition, I recommended the book, What Cats Should Eat, by Dr. Jean Hofve. The book contains a list of Dr. Jean’s approved brands!
If you’d like to consider making your cat’s food yourself, I strongly recommend Dr. Becker’s REAL FOOD For Healthy Dogs & Cats. I bought this book several months ago and have begun making meals for my miniature doxy, Taz. I’m still studying the book – there’s a lot to learn – but I’ve started, and she loves it!
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