Saturday, October 4, 2008

Feeding cans to cats: A case against dry

Franny Syufy, columnist for the portal, in one of her articles the other day was wondering about the advantages of feeding canned food to cats. While she recognizes and agrees with me that raw food is the best route cat owners can choose, sometimes time restraints and/or expenses may prevent them form embracing a raw diet to their cats. In that case canned food is by far the 2nd best choice. Although many people rely on dry cat food as a staple for their cats' diets, canned cat food is a must for developing strong bones and muscles, while mitigating many potential conditions caused or contributed to by an all-dry cat food diet. Clearly she made a very strong point against feeding dry only.
Her point of view is, and I totally agree:
“It's true that dry cat food is convenient; it doesn't spoil rapidly, and most cats like the "crunch" of eating dry kibbles. However, dry cat food has its definite "downside." Cats eating a diet of only dry food are losing out on the extra nutrition they can get with canned cat food. Many commercial dry foods are packed with carbohydrate fillers, usually corn, listed as "corn meal," "ground whole corn," "corn gluten," or even more thinly disguised as "maize," "ground yellow maize" or other misleading names. The ingredients listings are often split, which gives the consumer a false impression of the true proportion of carbohydrate to protein, e.g., "Poultry by-product meal, ground yellow corn, wheat flour, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, brewers rice..." Of the first six listed ingredients of this popular "grocery store premium" brand, four are carbohydrates, with the combined corn ingredients leading the list.”
I would do the same what she does while at the grocery store: When you see this food, keep walking. Not just because of the high grain content but also because the first listed ingredient is poultry by-product meal.
She continues to explain: “In the wild, a cat will eat only a very small quantity of any grain, namely the stomach contents of mice, rabbits, or birds he catches. Why then, should a pampered household cat eat a diet that is loaded with the one food nutrient he really doesn't need? Although french fries and Twinkies might be tasty treats on occasion, what human would consider living on them day in and day out, much less feed them to their children as a regular diet? Why then, would we do less for our cats?”
And finally, what I like the most about her article is that she addresses the issue of common diseases caused by feeding commercially, mass produced dry kibble to our pets. She says:
“Dry cat food can also contribute or be directly related to certain health conditions.” To underline her view, she even quotes some vets who are with us on the same wave length.
Feline Diabetes: Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, does not mince words about the connection between dry cat food and feline diabetes. On her web site states: "Without the constant feeding of highly processed, high carbohydrate dry foods, better suited to cattle than cats, adult-onset feline diabetes would be a rare disease, if it occurred at all." Dr. Hodgkins is the editor and moderator of the Your, a web forum dedicated to the management and prevention of feline diabetis.
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease): Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM, states, "Too often these cats are treated with a high level of steroids and a so-called 'prescription' DRY diet. I feel very strongly that this common therapeutic regimen needs to be re-evaluated. There are an impressive number of anecdotal reports of cats that were terribly ill with IBD exhibiting dramatic improvement when ALL dry food was removed from their diet." Dr. Pierson is a contributor to Jeff Feinman’s DVM “The Home Vet”, a website dedicated to the latest conventional pet care information as well as natural and holistic alternatives. Dr. Feinman: “I strongly believe that integrating both worlds is the best way to raise healthy, long-lived pets and to care for already sick ones.”
CRF (Chronic Renal Failure): Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM, states, "It is troubling to think about the role that chronic dehydration plays in feline kidney failure. And remember, cats are chronically dehydrated when they are on a diet of predominantly dry food."
Urinary crystals and cystitis: More from Dr. Pierson: “The chances of bladder crystals or bladder inflammation are greatly reduced with a canned or raw food diet, which both give the essential hydration needed for a healthy urinary tract.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea and other allergy-related conditions are often caused by corn or wheat fillers in dry cat food. After eliminating other potential medical causes, switching to canned or raw food can make the diarrhea go away almost overnight.
Dehydration: Cats on canned food diets or raw food get sufficient water in their food. Cats on dry food alone must be given plenty of water, especially during hot summer months.”
Anybody still out there believing that I always make that stuff up? I will continue to bring you more of this kind of proof making sure you get the wake up call.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Hodgkins goes even further about dry food. No cat should eat ANY form of dry food or treats.

You can return this poison to the store where you got it for a refund. The stores or vets just return it to the warehouse anywhere, where it belongs, collecting dust.


My kitties are on raw diet and look how healthy they are. No dry food in this house EVER.

The Pet Food Examiner said...

Thanks for the input. We need more pet owners like you on this blog to get the message across. I just started this a few weeks ago so traffic and responses are still slow. However, I am sure we'll get there, thanks to participants like you.
I am somewhat familiar with Dr. Hodgkins take on this subject matter. And I full hearted agree with her, mainly due to the fact that in my job I do get so many inquiries from pet owners with diabetic animals. And just like most of the diseases out there now, it always comes back to the same problem: Wrong diets being fed.
Feeding raw is definitely the way to go and will take care of quite a few of the health issues we are facing these days.
Unfortunately, another problem I see as being very common is that many pet owners tend to associate "raw" with "dogs only". I wonder where that idea originated? Is it because we easily associate a dog with his ancestor "wolf", the mercyless killer in the wild? And everybody tends to forget a cat's "big cat" ancestors, like lion, tiger, etc.? That could very well be because another fact is also that nobody likes to associate a small or toy dog with raw.