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Posts Tagged ‘feline nutrition’

A friend recently adopted a kitten from a local rescue organization.  (Yay!  Adopt don’t buy!)  She’s been listening to my lectures on feline nutrition for years now, but checked in to make sure there wasn’t anything “else” she needed to know regarding feeding  a kitten.

In short, there isn’t.

All cats need high protein wet diets, including kittens. 

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Apparently they are giving out free samples of Hills’ “Nature’s Best” dry dog and cat food somewhere near work. Someone left a sample on the table at work yesterday and today there was a woman on the elevator holding three samples. I could NOT hold my tongue in the elevator – and simply told her “You know, that is NOT very good pet food.” She said “it’s not?” and I said “No, read the ingredients. Mostly grains, little meat. I used that exact pet food as an example of BAD pet foods in a recent talk I gave on the subject, and why reading labels is important.”

If you’ve read anything on my blog, you probably know I do NOT think feeding dry pet food is a good idea. I also DETEST Hills’ pet foods – they use horrible quality ingredients and were among the last to stop using carcinogens as preservatives… all under the guise of being “veterinarian recommended”. Recommended by vets because they give free food to vet students and fund vet courses on animal nutrition and market themselves HEAVILY to vets! NOT because they make good pet food!

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Is your tabby too tubby? Is your cat extra-fluffy and not in a good way?

Omaha in 2002 - over 20 pounds

Omaha in 2002 - over 20 pounds

Well, if you haven’t already, start by eliminating ALL DRY FOOD. ALL OF IT. Attempting to get a cat to lose weight on dry food is a losing battle. I know, I tried it for over a year with my cat Omaha. We tried cutting portions again and again until he got only 1/8 cup dry food daily and lay by the bowl crying – and still not losing weight. “Lite” (lower calorie) dry foods DO NOT WORK, they are too high in carbohydrates. Low-carb grain-free high-protein dry foods DO NOT WORK, they are too high in calories. Your cat needs to eat only WET food – not only to achieve an ideal weight, but to avoid a lot of other serious health issues (like diabetes, urinary tract disease, etc.)

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This post has actually been a work-in-progress for some time, but a phone call today pushed me to try and finish it. That phone call took place with the internal medicine specialist treating Studley. The specialist has diagnosed Studley with pancreatitis and IBD, based on an ultrasound performed Tuesday. Today he got back the results of Studley’s GI lab, and expressed some confusion that while he KNOWS Studley has IBD (based on the ultrasound results), his GI lab results (cobalamin and folate) were normal.

I do NOT generally openly disagree with most vets (to their face). I’ll express my opinions to my regular vet, who acts very open to my ideas and thoughts – but I’ve learned not to waste my time and breath on many vets who really don’t care what I think about anything. They just want me to do what I’m told. However, today for whatever reason I felt the need to tell this specialist my suspicions on why Studley’s results were normal. I told him I had worked with many cats with IBD, adopted and fostered, and I fed all my cats an “IBD friendly” diet. This diet had eliminated symptoms and normalized GI lab results for the other cats I’d worked with – and my thinking was, if Studley was fed this “IBD diet”, and it’s treated these other cats with IBD, it made sense to me that it’d also treated Studley, without my knowing he even had IBD.

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Another of the “frequently asked questions” I get is *which* canned food to feed. Well, in general the answer is simple – look for one with little-to-no grains, fruits, or vegetables. You want something as close to “mouse in a can” as possible. Poultry and/or rabbit is best – as these are closest to a cat’s natural prey. (Cats don’t naturally hunt, kill, and eat cows, sheep, fish, or swine – they do consume birds and rodents.)

Generally, there are compromises to be made.  Canned foods that contain higher-quality ingredients generally also contain higher amounts of vegetables and fruit, and are also generally higher in fat than the canned foods that use more byproducts and “meat” of undefined origin.  Personally, I don’t object too strongly to byproducts and lower-grade meat.  Cats would consume the entire carcass of their prey – they wouldn’t spit out the kidney, for example.  However, I do want SOME muscle meat in their food, and for some cats (particularly some with severe IBD), “meat” of undefined origin isn’t an option.  “Meat”, when the source isn’t identified, is most often beef or pork – and some cats don’t tolerate beef or pork.

Some people want a more specific list of brands and flavors. I’m always reluctant to do that, as brands and flavors change in ingredients and availability and I’d rather people learn to look at labels and exercise judgement. However, here’s a list of my current “favorites”. These are the canned foods I almost always have at my house, for my own adopted cats and fosters:

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People often ask me how I’ve managed to accumulate so much information on feline health and nutrition.  The answer is relatively simple – I READ, a LOT.  I read a lot of information on the internet, studies in journals, books, etc.  So, after sifting through countless websites and books and magazines, I’ve definitely got a few favorites.

My absolute favorite informational websites are listed among the “widgets” in the column to the right on the home page… particularly, FelineOutreach.org, CatInfo.org, CatNutrition.org, YourDiabeticCat.com, and FelineDiabetes.com.  (A majority of the resources/references in the Feline Outreach educational section has been collected by me, over time.)

But, if you are interested in real hard copy books made out of paper – I recommend:

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I feed my cats a homemade raw diet.  I think raw diets are the “gold standard” in feline diet.  However, I will state loudly and adamantly up front – I THINK CANNED FOODS ARE A PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE CHOICE!  However, there is NO DRY (KIBBLE) FOOD I deem acceptable.  I will occasionally use a freeze-dried food, freeze-dried treat, or dehydrated treat as a TREAT, but not a meal… and you have to be CERTAIN they are truly freeze-dried, air-dried, or dehydrated, not processed – as many food labels are deceptive.  Even if these items were ideal in every other way (low in carbohydrates, little-to-no veggies, fruit, grains, etc.) they are LACKING IN MOISTURE and that moisture is imperative to proper kidney and urinary tract health.

Doing it “right” does not mean it has to be difficult!  Personally, I buy a pre-ground meat/bone/organ product (Hare Today) and add a few supplements.  It is SIMPLE.   See the video below!
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