Meowzer! What you’re feeding your kitty and why you may reconsider

While this site’s mostly about human nutrition, I figured it’d be downright discriminatory to other mammals to not give them a bit o’ inclusion from time to time; and who better than to include than those Adonises of the domestic animal realm (and my favorite from said realm), cats? Now, I know there are those of you out there who loathe cats for whatever reason; maybe you find the loyalty and subservience of dogs to be great virtues that the meowballs don’t have. Either way, and whatever animals you might be coddling as you relax, I hope this article will make you venture out on your own to study what effects certain manufactured foods have on your precious pets. To that end: since both dogs and cats are carnivores, the underlying advice is probably nearly the same as many things found in commercial cat food are also found in the poor pooches’ processed provisions. Getting into it…

 

Not feline so great

 
What piqued my interest in this subject was a quick, guilt-inducing look at the side of my cat’s food bag. As I’ve oft-times said, reading ingredients labels is a key way to know what to eat and what to avoid. As I’ve also said, if there are a pile o’ ingredients, a good number of unpronounceables included, you should probably head the other way rather than purchasing it. This in mind, the look at the side of the bag netted me this (and yes, I’ve kept the bag since I’ve switched my cat’s foods. I have to remind myself of my erroneous ways; maybe I was Catholic in a past life?):

As you can see, the first ingredient (which, as you probably know, takes up the highest percentage of total content) is “Ground yellow corn.” Big deal, right? Well, yes actually! You see, cats can’t sufficiently digest grains like corn, wheat, or rice (Not even we humans do very well with corn). Corn gluten meal is the second-most prevalent ingredient in the food I’ve pictured here (though it’s in virtually all commercial brands, and up nearly as high). As stated earlier, cats are carnivores; and, in fact, such rampant carbohydrates put to their systems has the potential to form struvite stones in a cat’s bladder. These stones can cause urinary tract blockages, not unlike the ones seen in humans with kidney stones. Not to mention the fact that carbohydrates, primarily insoluble fiber, cause significantly reduced calcium/other nutrient absorption rates. Corn gluten meal as a protein source is also just downright inferior to meat and meat meal in terms of digestibility, nitrogen absorption and utilization, and calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium retention. Cats just can’t digest corn! Even in a study that found corn gluten meal was nutritionally comparable to fish meal, the ability for the gluten to stimulate the appearance of struvite crystals where fish cannot make it and catfood containing it obviously not the best cat food for urinary tract health.
 

What to feed a kitty in need

(of food [read: all cats])
 

This isn’t too hard, so don’t worry. Like with humans, the best foods are those with the fewest ingredients and the least human tampering. You’re not much going to find this, even amongst supposedly “organic” brands, in commercial catfood. Really, the best choice would be to feed your cats meat. As I know that is not really a cost-effective option, there are a few alternatives. Staying along the vein of meats, you could buy up some (hopefully from a sustainable source) tuna in cans. I know this is still asking a lot, and I myself don’t do it. As for me, here is the food of choice I’ve found for my meowball:

"Harmony Farms; Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe"

This stuff’s not exactly the cheapest around, either; but there are some things to note in its regard. For one, these bags seem to last a long time. I’m wagering a guess it’s because my cat eats less because she’s actually getting quality complete protein and nutrients she needs from the small amounts she consumes daily. I neglected to mention earlier that one of the reasons I started investigating this was because of a tuft of lost hair near my cat’s tail. She had had a flea problem that was resolved with a visit to the vet, and she had an anti-allergy shot to stop her from scratching that area. Without going into further boring detail (I know you’re here for the goods), I figured she’d obviously grow hair back faster (as it seemed to be taking forever) with better nutrition. Well, folks, not only did her hair come back quickly, but the lethargy she once exhibited (which I attributed to her “midlife” age of 9) disappeared! She became as vivacious as she had been as a kitten, seeking out opportunities to be playful and just generally seeming to be more attentive. Let’s take a look at the ingredients label of this stuff:

Hey, check out this unreadable picture!

Nice; first two ingredients are a meat and a meat meal (and none of the byproducts like the old brand). Plus, this new brand has a higher protein content paired with a lower fiber content (remember, fiber doesn’t seem to do too well with cats). I suppose there are a few “unpronounceables” on there, but many of those are things like vitamin supplements and probiotics; none of the fake flavorings and colorings of the former brand.

One thing I found interesting is that the new brand has a recommendation for a “Transition Period;” have a look:

I perceived this to be equivalent to humans and “human food” in that the old brand was full of colors and [no doubt signature] flavorings that somewhat addicts the cat, not unlike certain human fast foods. Indeed, it did take a transitional period to get my cat used to this new, nutritious food; but now she pines for it, and it’s as I said: she’s really become a newly-vibrant kitty! As for the price point of this particular food, I got bags of it on sale for about $8; but again, it really lasts a good while and with that and your love of meow-meow in mind isn’t it worth it?

 

Cat-clusions

 
Not really much else to meow, or say; if you’re not going to outright buy meat for your cat, make sure to take a good look at the ingredients labels of the food you buy him or her. Remember, something being “organic” or “natural” or the like in the realm of catfood doesn’t exactly make it the right choice (they can still use byproducts and corn/soy, et cetera). Be certain that the main ingredients are meat or meat meals, preferably the former and preferably chicken or beef over fish. You can curl up with a good book and a better kitty knowing that your kitty really is “better,” with his or her newfound healthy vittles and that you and that cat will be peows (portmanteau of “meow” and “pals”) for a good, long crime!