Sunday 5 June 2011

Best Cat Food

The best cat food is the most natural cat food. That guides us. The best cat food that is commercially produced is the most natural and the most expensive. That also guides us when selecting from the plethora of products on the miles of shelving at the big box stores in the USA.

Photo by AlishaV (modified as allowed)

I'll go into some more detail. We all know that cats are carnivores. The usual prey for a domestic cat or a small wildcat is a rodent. Rodents are made up of about 70% water. The human is about 60% water.

When a cat eats a mouse it also eats the contents of the gut. This contains the digested food of the mouse. Any carbohydrates that the mouse would have eaten are pre-digested before the cat eats it.

The cat is geared up to eat and digest protein (the flesh of prey) and not carbohydrates. Dr. Becker, is a very sensible US vet (I just hope she doesn't declaw cats because if she does I won't rate her as good anymore). She refers to an excellent research study entitled, "Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in the adult domestic cat, Felis catus" authored by Adrian K. Hewson-Hughes et al. This is a publicly available document for those inclined to read and study it. It is an independent study. I would not necessarily trust cat food studies financed by the large pet food manufacturers.

Best Cat Food from Michael Broad on Vimeo.

She has used this study to decide what is the best cat food - sensible as I said. Cats do not have the biological means to digest carbohydrates adequately. This is indicated by the fact that they don't have taste buds that recognise carbohydrates (indicating that there is no need for them because in a natural state the cat won't encounter them). The cat's saliva does not break down starches. And the digestive products produced by the intestine and pancreas are also similarly poor at breaking down carbs.

Below is a serious version of the above video!

This also guides us as to the best cat food. Dry cat food contains high levels of carbohydrates. This is because they are needed to make the manufacturing process work. It appears that they are not added for the benefit of the cat but for the benefit of the customer - the person buying the product - because let's face it dry cat food is damned convenient.

Also cats do not compensate by the lack of water in dry cat food by drinking sufficient quantities of water. The result is the cat becomes slightly dehydrated on a permanent basis. This has health implications, typically to do with the urinary tract and kidneys. The high carbohydrate levels can cause feline diabetes it has been successfully argued.

OK - conclusion, dry cat food is not the best cat food. But it is not as simple as that because we have to compromise in life. We have to work within our budget and means and time etc. Dry cat food is good in one way, it doesn't go off when put down. And it is cheap on a per weigh basis.

Let's compromise then. We don't feed our cat dry cat food all the time and we buy the best dry cat food we can afford. This page: Best Dry Cat Food discusses the best in the USA.

On to wet cat food. This is more natural. There are essentially two types (1) raw cat food prepared by ourselves or commercially available (but hard to find it appears) and (2) canned cat food bought on the shelves of stores.

Of these the well prepared raw food diet is the best cat food. Vets warn against making it because it can be complicated and it can go wrong. Let's be honest. If you feed the best and most natural cat food, the raw diet, and it is contaminated with bacteria or contains sharp bones injure your cat, you have totally lost all the benefits and worse; instead of improving cat health you will achieve the opposite. There are also issues of constituents and supplements. And there is the big issue of time. Do you have the time to make it? If you are retired and have a multi-cat household and are smart and careful etc...yes, go for the raw cat food diet because those in the know praise it. Poor cat food affects health negatively while a good raw food diet prepared and stored to excellent hygiene standards will invariable improve the cat's health provided it is introduced gently.

See how to make a raw cat food diet and some raw cat food recipes by clicking on this link: Raw Food Diet for a Cat.

Can't be bothered to make it? You can apparently buy it in the smaller "boutique" stores in the USA. You may be able to get in online. Natural Balance Pet Food do a raw diet for zoological facilities that must include wildcats but they say the food is not for sale "retail" (i.e. for domestic cats). Seems a bit strange because a small wildcat would have the same dietary requirements at a fundamental level as the domestic cat. The food is probably not ground down sufficiently. Bravo Packaging also do food for carnivores. Whatever you do, do it with care! If unsure rely on high quality canned food...

What is the best canned cat food? It is almost certainly the most expensive. Market forces always dictates quality.

This page: Best Canned Cat Food discusses the subject.

The best cat food will be a raw cat food diet, carefully prepared. In lieu of that it should be a careful combination of high quality wet food (canned or pouches), some treats such as boiled or microwaved fish and some dry cat food for grazing at night or when away for several hours.

Kittens and senior cats have slightly different dietary requirements:
One last point. I think we owe it to our cats and ourselves to avoid cat food made by businesses that use or approve of testing on animals. Iams through parent company Procter and Gamble are involved with this and this page discusses it further.

Associated page: See a list of useful articles on cat food.

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