Updated: Jan 28
Important progress has been made regarding the best diet for cats and what keeps them significantly more healthy.
The absolute best thing you can do for your cat is to NOT feed dry food.
As more studies are done, and personal experiences come in by the truckload, the overwhelming evidence shows that dry food is creating far too many health issues in our cats.
What to Do?
To give your cat the moisture and protein content that are so necessary for good health, it’s important you feed canned, freeze dried raw or raw food.
Even though canned food is processed, it’s cooked only once (briefly at lower heat), rather than twice at high heat for dry food (once when the animal products are rendered, and again during extrusion). Canned food also tends to have a much higher animal protein content than dry food.
Raw meat based diets can be purchased frozen or freeze-dried. Even just adding a little raw meat to any commercial canned food diet will be an improvement.
Four Simple, but Important Steps:
No more dry food – but a gradual change to canned (or raw) may be best. If your cat resists change, never allow your cat to go without eating more than 24 hours - it can cause Fatty Liver Disease - and this can be deadly.
Choose a canned food that is 95% meat protein (or higher – it will say on the can!). Order online – free shipping – right to your door! Koha, Daves, Rawz, Hound and Gatos, etc...
NO FISH – read the ingredients! Too many pet food manufacturers hide fish in their foods because it is cheaper. Fish has a histamine – and causes allergies in many cats. Once a week, one of the small fish, such as salmon, is probably okay. EXCEPTION - Sardines in fresh water! VERY healthy and virtually no contaminants.
Add probiotics - to support digestion and a healthy immune system. The product should contain 10 or more strains of beneficial bacteria - not just one. Each serving should contain a minimum 20 million beneficial bacteria – the higher the number, the better. It should be GMP certified to assure the viability, potency and purity of the product. This is just one very good product we have used - and may be purchased on Amazon:
Why make these changes? Several important reasons:
Dry food is terribly over processed and cooked at such high temperatures to make it stable for months without refrigeration! This cooks out nearly all of the nutrition.
Meat protein becomes denatured at high temperatures: Not only are cooked proteins less digestible, but they become distorted, or “denatured,” by heating. These abnormal proteins may be a factor in the development of food allergies, as the immune system reacts to these unfamiliar and unnatural denatured protein shapes.
Dry food is much too high in carbohydrates. Heat processing increases the glycemic index of carbohydrates. For example, corn—a common ingredient of dry food—has a glycemic index similar to a chocolate bar. When dry food is available all the time, cats will nibble at it 15-20 times a day. This causes multiple sharp swings in blood sugar and requires the pancreas to secrete insulin each time. Over-secretion of insulin causes cells to down-regulate and become resistant to insulin. This is one reason why dry food is a major contributor to feline (Type II) diabetes. Carbohydrates are often the cause of allergies in cats, too. Cats do not require ANY carbohydrates in their diet – so the carbohydrates turn to fat. But, pet food manufacturers often include rice, potatoes, corn, peas, etc… because they are cheap and bind the dry food. They do nothing good for cats, and in fact are detrimental to their health.
Dry food is a highly concentrated source of unhealthy calories. Dry food is the leading cause of obesity in pets. Obesity by itself leads to many serious diseases, including: Diabetes Vomiting High Blood Pressure Skin Flaking Over-Shedding Over-Grooming Over-Licking Bald Spots Hepatic Lipidosis (Liver Failure) Pancreatitis Arthritis Heart Disease Asthma Allergies Inflammatory Bowel Disease Urinary Tract Infections Urninary Crystals and Blockages Kidney Disease
Obviously, dry food is dry. This is a very big problem for cats, whose ancestors are desert-dwelling wild cats. They have passed on their super-efficient kidneys, which are designed to extract every last drop of moisture from prey animals. As a result, cats have a low thirst drive, and don’t drink water until they are about 3% dehydrated—a dehydration level so serious that most veterinarians would consider giving intravenous fluids.
When an abnormal protein is picked up by an immune cell and antibodies are produced, every time that protein appears, antibodies flock to it and stimulate inflammation. More bad proteins = more inflammation. Both food allergies and dietary intolerance are much more common with dry food.
The best way to prevent all bladder problems is to keep lots of fluid flowing through the urinary system to flush these problem particles out. The dehydrating quality of dry food produces highly concentrated urine that is much more likely to form crystals and stones. Wet food is needed to keep the urinary tract healthy; and it’s essential in any cat with a history of bladder disease.
10 Tips To Get The Most Stubborn Cats To Eat Canned Food
Stop Free Feeding! Establish a feeding schedule. If your cat has been eating free-choice, begin feeding 2 meals a day. Most cats are hungry after not eating for 12 hours. They should dive into the first thing you put down after a 12-hour fast, which should be a small portion of healthy canned cat food. Real hunger is a stimulant!
Play with your cat before feeding times. Get the little bouncy ball or his favorite tassle-chasing toy. Exercise stimulates appetite. Get that cat a gym membership!
Play “Work for Food.” If you are losing patience and your cat is resistant to canned food, throw 8 to 10 pieces of dry food around the kitchen to stimulate activity and hunger, and then try a portion of canned food again.
Dry food, particularly the low-end stuff, is like a drug. Cats can smell their Friskies Crack in the cupboard. If you are transitioning your cat from dry to canned, keep the dry food in the fridge where they can’t smell it. Better yet, put it outside. If your cat can smell their dry food anywhere in the kitchen, they might hold out for it.
Cats are often social eaters and like to eat with you. “Feed me” equals “pet me.” I have been known to be over at the hospital at 3 a.m. offering some yummy morsels to an anorexic patient while petting him in the total quiet of the night with no distractions. My heart takes huge leaps when the cat first responds to the beauty of touching and rubbing — and then eats his food.
For hunger strikers, sprinkle a tiny amount of tuna or chicken on the food. If they love this, begin to press this highly desired food into the canned cat food. If they are still maniacal about eating dry food, dip some pieces of dry food into tuna juice and see if they begin to get the idea.
Raw meat, baby food or deli meats are appealing to certain cats. Follow safety protocols when it comes to raw meat. These foods also get the cat away from the “crunch” sensation of the dry food. We, as humans, should understand this. The sensation of a crunching potato chip or the smell of a Frito is addictive for some of us!
Parmesan cheese sprinkle works for many cats. Yes, the stuff in the green can. Sprinkle on top of the food you want them to eat.
FortiFlora (a probiotic) is intensely attractive to some cats. Sprinkle just 1/4 or less of a package on top of a meal.
Supermarket and lower-end canned cat foods are still much better than a dry diet.If your cat likes a 9Lives or Friskies canned food, for example, you have already won a big part of the battle. You can begin to mix in a better canned food or a prescription diet in with the popular brand if necessary. This often works.
There is also great information for transitioning dry food addicts at this link: