Dry food has been a recommended staple diet for cats by many experts for a number of years. It is an easy option to leave a bowl of dry food out constantly; something that cannot be done with tinned food. Unfortunately though, it’s not a natural food source and has been developed by humans using many additives and un-natural products. Cats, like humans, will eat until they fill themselves up. However, dry food has many more calories and carbohydrates than a natural food source, which leads to the cat taking in far more than necessary just to feel full-up. Many owners assume that their cat is just greedy, but in many cases it is not the quantity of food being eaten, it is the quality.
Naturally, cats are obligate carnivores; meaning they only feed on other animals. The cats prey however, are generally herbivorous and have various vegetable and plant matter in their guts. All of which, will be consumed by the cat. Domestic cats have been shown to have longer intestines than wild cats; proving they have evolved over hundreds of years to cope with more plant and vegetable matter (carbohydrates). Still, this is no excuse to turn a carnivore into an omnivore. Rather, supplementing the diet with small amounts of carbohydrates is acceptable.
Many consumers believe that dried food is actually better for cats. The manufacturers have implemented the belief that all these additives such as corn and grains are an important part of a cat’s diet, implying ‘the more the better’ approach. Although very small quantities of these may benefit the cat, too much will be detrimental to their health.
Kidney disease is one of, if not the biggest killer in cats. Kidney disease is usually a result of lack of water and unfortunately, cats have a very low thirst drive. Although they may drink when eating dry food, they will generally only take in half of the liquid necessary for their health. A cat’s prey item consists of around 75% water, canned and raw foods have a similar amount. Dry foods on the other hand usually have a maximum of 10% water content. It is obvious therefore, that canned or raw foods are an absolute must to maintain a healthy cat.
Cats need a high level of protein in their diet which must come from animals. Plant protein differs from meat protein, and should not be substituted. When protein is calculated in canned food, the moisture content must be subtracted from 100 and the protein percentage worked out from the result. For instance, a canned food with 8% protein and 75% water means that the true protein value should be worked out like so:
Non-Moisture Content = 25% so: 8 ÷ 25 x 100 = 32
Therefore: True Protein Value = 32% which is ideal.
The amino acid ‘taurine’ is also an essential part of a cat’s diet, and can only be found in meat products. It is recommended that a quantity of 2000mg/kg or 0.2% should be available in canned food. Other vitamins and minerals should also be included. Preservatives, colouring and added flavours are used more for the customers benefit rather than the cats. If it looks and smells nice to a human, there is a higher chance of them buying it.
There are very few foods on the market which actually have an ideal amount of everything included. Many diets have concentrated on having high a protein and moisture diet with low carbohydrates, but lack in having enough taurine or vitamin B. If this is the case, offering other canned foods on occasion that are better in these areas should be considered. This will also help stop the cat becoming addicted to any 1 food type. Inter-changing the various meats such as beef, chicken and fish will also benefit by offering varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and oils.
Buy quality, not quantity. Most cheap cat foods are cheap for a reason. Avoid buying canned foods that say ‘meat’, ‘by-products’, ‘bone meal’ or ‘animal digest’. Chemical preservatives such as ‘BHA’, ‘BHT’, ‘ethoxyquin’ and ‘propyl gallate’ have been seriously questioned as being detrimental to the health of cats, and should also be avoided. Canned foods are a must for adding much needed calcium into the diet, which is essential for building healthy bones and teeth.
High energy food has been designed for cats with high energy levels. This food will not benefit a cat which sits around all day, in fact in will make the situation worse. High energy foods will not make a less active cat become energetic.
There is a common misconception that canned food is bad for your cat’s teeth, and dry food is good. Unfortunately neither statement is completely true. Neither food types are actually good for the health of teeth. Dry food is hard and crunchy, completely the opposite of what a cat’s teeth are designed to do, which is tear away at meat. I recommend you brush and rinse your cat’s teeth on a regular occasion.
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