Showing posts sorted by relevance for query taurine. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query taurine. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday 23 February 2008

Bengal Cat and Taurine

Bengal cats need taurine more than other domestic cats - is this true? That is what some say. This posting is not meant to be factual. It is more anecdotal and it is meant to raise a query, some questions if you like to which answers can be sought. In a recent article posted on the internet doctors treated an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) kept at a zoo. 

Glorious Bengal cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

The cat had a serious heart condition (disease) called DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). DCM is different from HCM (another, similar heart disease). In DCM the heart muscles become stretched/dilated and in HCM they thicken. In both cases the heart becomes less efficient causing a range of conditions and symptoms. 

The treatment was to give the ALC a taurine supplement in the diet and drugs to help the heart beat stonger and to dilate the blood vessels. Taurine is an essential nutrient for domestic cats and an amino acid. The ALC's broken heart was mended - success. The ALC is the wild ancestor to the Bengal cat. The Bengal cat can suffer from HCM as mentioned above. It is argued that the ALC needs three times the normal dose of Taurine supplement of a domestic cat (1500 mg/kg daily) to maintain health (the domestic cat requiring 500 mg/kg?). 

However, it seems that commercial cat food has, in fact, 1000mg/kg of taurine in it (in dry products). The pet food manufacturers argue that is is better to put in too much (supporting the view that too much is not bad for the cat). The argument goes that as the ALC requires more than the usual amount of taurine and taurine helps maintain a healthy heart it may be the case that the number of Bengal cats suffering from heart disease, albeit HCM and not DCM, can be reduced by giving more Taurine supplement than is currently being given. 

The counter argument is that studies have not established a link between diet and HCM. Breeders often feed their cats raw food, hand prepared, with supplements. So the idea of adding more Taurine sounds useful. It is possible though to make a cat ill if given too much Taurine. So, what is the exact correct dose? It gets more complicated as sometimes breeders will give their cats manufactured food as well. 

This contains taurine usually, confusing the amount given. I said this article would raise questions :). In conclusion the question is, "can an increase in taurine supplement, or the correct amount of taurine supplement (whatever that is), reduce the incidence of HCM in Bengal cats?" Comments gratefully received. 

Here is another post on the subject of Bengal cats and Taurine and heart disease generally. 

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Protein Requirements For Cats

What are the protein requirements for cats? Adult cats need twice the amount of protein as dogs. If their diet is low in protein, break down of muscle occurs (called muscle catabolism). Two amino acids are also needed by cats. These are arginine and taurine. Meat contains an adequate supply of arginine. It would seem therefore to be hard to deprive a cat of arginine unless the diet is specially formulated and defective in this essential amino acid.

On the contrary, it is quite easy for a cat's diet to be deficient in taurine. Cats have a limited ability to synthesise taurine whereas most animals can synthesise it meaning manufacture it. Cats therefore need to ingest it in their diet. Foods that contain taurine are meat, milk and fish (particularly shellfish). Feline milk (colostrum) contains high concentrations of taurine.

What is taurine needed for?

Answer: bile acid conjugation and felinine biosynthesis. Felinine is an amino acid in the cat's urine. It is formed in the kidney and excreted in the urine. Its function is unknown but may be used in marking territory.

High concentrations of taurine are found in the cat's heart, retinal and brain tissues. A deficiency of taurine can result in central retinal degeneration and blindness, heart disease - dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), reproductive failure and neonatal abnormalities.

Retinal damage due to taurine deficiency can be rectified on reintroducing taurine into the diet provided the changes are slight.

Also reversible by introducing taurine into a cat's diet is dilated cardiomyopathy.  Although the disease can be fatal.

Mothers who are a deficient in taurine often reabsorb their kittens or the kitten is stillborn or perhaps have a low birth weight. Kittens have low survival rates, poor growth rates and can have abnormalities.

Monday 25 February 2008

Cat Food-Rice-Taurine

It has been argued that cat food with rice affects taurine matabolism. Taurine is vital to cats and a lack of it in the diet can cause DCM (heart disease with dilated heart walls) and eye damage (retinal degeneration). 

Taurine deficiency. Chart in public domain.

Once you have studied cat food you realise that things are not what they seem. I continue to be surprised to see such ingredients as peas (you can see them in the cat food) in sachets of say, prawns in jelly. And rice is commonly added to cat food. 

I'd read the packet carefully. A study by The American Society for Nutritional Sciences (carried out in 2002, a long time ago and having little effect it would seem on the pet food manufacturers) states that "dietary rice" decreases the amount of taurine in "whole blood" and "plasma". I think that this is the article: Dietary Rice Bran Decreases Plasma and Whole-Blood Taurine in Cats. 

 The research article says that despite the fact that manufacturers supplement cat food with taurine, cats are still being diagnosed with a deficiency of taurine. They put this down in part to the presence of rice in the cat food. The presence of rice naturally affects the content of fat, pr0tein and fiber (proper cat food), which in turn could affect the metabolism of taurine. 

 There is also the issue of intestinal bacteria, which could be altered by the presence of rice. This can cause an increase in the degradation of fecal bile acids, which in turn leads to loss of taurine in the feces.

Conclusion: This is difficult, but the more I read about cat food the greater the need to read the packet and find the best. The best is raw, home made with the right supplements. In lieu of that high quality wet cat food without rice could be a good start. 

See Homemade Cat Food (as described by Bengal Cat Breeders). 

Sunday 24 February 2008

Bengal Cats Heart Disease

Heart disease in Bengal cats seems to be a growing concern (as at 2008 - when this was written). This is an additional post on the subject. There are others, click here to see all posts on cat health. The reason why there are several posts is because I gather information progressively. And information is disclosed by breeders piecemeal. I think that heart disease in Bengal cats is of major importance to the entire breed. Bengal cat breeders are rightly proud of their work. 

HCM affects around 20% of male Bengal cats and about 2% of females. No one has explained the difference. It affects about 15% of the general cat population apparently.

Mackerel tabby Bengal cat.

They try very hard to do the right thing for the betterment of the breed as a whole. But they are in a business and it would seem that in the past they may have kept quiet about a growing health problem when it would have been wiser in hindsight to open up on it to ensure the health of cats for the future. The two types of heart disease concerned are HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and DCM (Dilated cardiomyopathy). 

HCM is the thickening of the heart muscles. DCM is the thinning, dilating of the heart muscles/wall. Both make the heart less efficient. HCM can present with symptoms (see this post for symptoms). It is a little difficult to find hard facts on this tricky subject; there are some, however. Here they are: - -- DCM is treated by giving taurine supplements and it works (in addition to other drugs - I'll leave that to the vets obviously). This is because the disease is caused (at least in part) by a lack of taurine in the diet. -- It is unclear if taurine can help cats with HCM. 

This is because of a lack of research. And HCM is a genetically inherited disease so on the face of it a supplement may not help. Cats need taurine, without it there will be health issues such as heart disease (DCM) and retina deficiencies for example. -- Bengal cats are dying suddenly without warning of HCM. They can be OK when you go to bed and dead when you wake up. Testing can be done and should be done. -- Cats are carnivores. 

Meat contains taurine. When cooked there is less taurine. Example: Uncooked beef: 362 mg/kg, cooked beef (baked) 133mg/kg, cooked beef (boiled) 60mg/kg. lamb has a slightly higher level of taurine. -- It is not clear as to exactly how much taurine supplement the Bengal cat needs - is it more than other domestic cats? The ALC (leopard) needs a lot more apparently. -- We don't know how big an issue heart disease in Bengal Cats is. We should know. 

It may be that this is a big problem. PETA and HSUS would probably like to use this against breeders. Breeders are it seems paying the price of not dealing with it more openly initially. More to come I expect. From Bengal Cats Heart Disease to Home Page

Sunday 21 December 2008

Homemade Cat Food.

home made cat food
Hey...what do you call that? - Photo by Nimir-Ra

Learn how to make homemade cat food here. There is, though, no single formula. People (including the experts) have slightly differing opinions. Personally, I have gradually been drifting towards making it for some time now (some people spell this "home made" by the way). This gradual change of opinion comes about because of researching, looking at, and thinking about regular cat food. Regular cat food, the kind we buy in the supermarket in the UK is not that good; some is downright bad, to be honest (and compared to the USA it is not that cheap either). And to be fair the top end products are quite good but expensive. There is not much grain free cat food about. And an exclusively dry cat food recipe is arguably not wise. What's ash in we cat food? It just doesn't instill confidence.

In the United States, where there is a far wider range of foods either for people or companion animals, it seems that one can find good quality cat food in a tin at a reasonable price. That said, homemade cat food, despite the effort required to make it, is probably cheaper and more in line with what a wildcat would consume when feeding on prey.

Warning: Unless we know what we are doing it can be risky making our own food as it is difficult to ensure the food is balanced. There are reports of malnutrition in cats caused by pet keepers making their own food. These are guidelines but please go cautiously.

Update: I have duplicated and significantly expanded on this article at: Raw Food Diet

The problem is making certain that we do it right. We need to make sure our cat gets the right supplements including taurine. This makes us nervous about trying. It does for me anyway. There are more reports of cats getting ill eating homemade cat food than cheap junk commercial cat food. Where to get decent information about it? Well, I think that the best place is cat breeders. Many cat breeders have a very good handle on at least two things: medical treatment of cats in their charge and homemade cat food. Not all feed their cats with homemade cat food, however. Some provide a variety of homemade and bought in food, for example. But many do have extensive "front line", at the sharp end, experience of feeding cats with food prepared from scratch and are able therefore to monitor the effects and refine and perfect. It's the best experience you can get.

These are Bengal Cat breeders. They are based in the United States. The same or similar rules apply to the UK or any country, of course. In the UK prices are higher but the supplements can be bought in the UK. However, I am not sure Kitty Bloom is available in the UK. Mixing one's own supplements would have to do, or get Kitty Bloom shipped from the USA.

So I obtained my information from purebred cat breeders and some recommended website as well. The underlying modus operandi is meat (protein) in the form of chicken (usually), to which is added a range of supplements.

It would seem that chicken is the usual meat content in cat food recipes. No doubt this is because of price and its suitability for a cat that must eat meat (flesh to use a non-human term). However, Mark Pennington of Mystre Bengals (located in Houston, Texas, tel 281-538-9590) uses a sophisticated blend of chicken, organ meats and beef. It is a recipe that has proved successful for many years.

The video above is not from me and covers some tips about the hazards and expense of homemade food for cats. Vets in America are generally against homemade cat food. The reasons are genuine and should be observed but are the vets in the pockets of the big pet food manufacturers? Are they promoting pet food because the manufacturers are frigthened that their lucrative market is in jeopardy. Cat owners are increasingly dissatisfied with commercially made cat food......Now back to Mark's recipe:-

Homemade cat food - raw recipe:

Mark uses the following ratio when making raw:

» 2/3 of the total mix should be chicken, bones and all (uncooked)

» Of the 2/3 chicken, 1/3 of that should be organ meats such as chicken livers and chicken gizzards.hearts

» 1/3 of the mix should be beef, Mark uses beef stew meat from Wal-Mart

» (actual amounts /weight of each is up to you depending on how much you want to make, Mark uses 10 whole chickens, and about 6lbs of the stew meat and that makes about 8-10 gallons of mix and feeds all our cats for about 3 months)

» 2 small containers of plain yogurt, non flavored

» 2-4 jars of squash baby food

» 1 can of 100% pure pumpkin

» Kitty Bloom – Mark adds about ¼ tsp per serving (Kitty Bloom is a complete supplement containing 16 Vitamins, 10 Minerals and taurine, a proven essential ingredient in the feline diet - see more about supplements below). Mark figures he can get about 6-8 servings out of each bag of raw we make so depending on how much you make add that much to total mix, or in each bag and mix up in there, or you can add to food daily. I've mentioned taurine above. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. Some breeders think Bengal cats need more than other cats. This spreadsheet sets recommended dosages but remember please the jury is out on amounts.

In the USA, Kitty Bloom can be ordered it from: I am not sure if they ship internationally.

» You can find a local retailer for Chicken Soup for the Kitten Lovers Soul here:

The grinder Mark uses is found here:


Here is another homemade cat food recipe from Jim:

Jim uses chicken necks (or thighs from Wal-Mart in the USA) or thighs if making up a smaller quantity as the central ingredient in his homemade cat food.

He grinds up a tub of meat...probably between 10 and 15 pounds (the cheap grinder mentioned above is recommended in the USA, currently costing less than $100). He dumps in 4 taurine capsules, 4 L-lysine capsules, some beneficial bacteria (either 4 capsules, or around a half ounce of the bulk powder). He grinds up 4 calcium tablets (usually he gets the powder in bulk) and he adds around a cup and a half of dry oatmeal and 4-6 ounces of tomato juice. He mixes this well.

He actually grinds and mix around 200 pounds at a time using plastic tubs (also from Wal-Mart) and cover the meat directly with Saran Wrap and put the top on the tub, and freeze it. For two cats you would probably freeze in one pound baggies...maybe a pound and a half; enough for a feeding, anyhow, he says.

Thanks Jim

Maryll uses homemade cat food recipes from the websites below, grinding her cats' food as they like it that way. The other way, I presume is what she calls the "prey model", replicating cat prey, which is in a whole or more or less a whole state:



Maryll also offers dry Chicken Soup for Cat Lovers to her cats This seems to be high quality dog or cat food manufactured in the USA. The USA is well known for the variety, quality and quantity of its food products. She recommends the grinder referred to above.

Maryll buys human grade supplements, like Salmon oil, dry Vitamin E, probiotics, B-Complex, powdered taurine and L-Lysine (much easier to deal with than capsules), from

» L-Lysine is a necessary building block for all protein in the body. L-Lysine plays a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body's production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies (src: Wikipedia verbatim under license, see below)

» Taurine is an essential amino acid. Read about Bengal cats and Taurine. "I use Taurine Powder from Now Foods, which is a human-grade supplement for my cat. It is completely tasteless." and " Kitty bloom has Taurine in it and they like that. I mix it into their wet food completely." (quoted breeders)

» Probiotics are dietary supplements and live microorganisms containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.(src: Wikipedia verbatim under license, see below). This is why Mark above adds plain yogurt to his recipe.

» B-Complex is: Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin, includes nicotinic acid and nicotinamide), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), also known as vitamin H, Vitamin B9 (folic acid), also, vitamin M, Vitamin B12 (various cobalamins; commonly cyanocobalamin in vitamin supplements) .(src: Wikipedia verbatim under license, see below)

» Salmon Oil is added to strengthen immune systems. I also is claimed to increase fertility and reduces the risk of heart disease. (src: Active Pet Feeds)

A Yahoo Group that seems to be active is called CatNutrition.

Other recommended sources of supplements for homemade cat food are:

Taurine and Calcium from Kirkman Labs (thanks to Jean Danforth). A good all in one vitamin supplement recommended is

Thanks Canie


Update 2-Jan-08: Homemade Cat Food - Here is another recipe and links:

Add powder (Instincts) to the raw meat mixture:

Also, daily add salmon oil (keep refrigerated and add fresh daily to one
feeding of meat):


4 cups Instincts powder
10 cups water

Mix the above


10 pounds turkey thighs (skinless and boneless)
6 pounds beef bottom round
2 pounds beef liver
4 tins sardines (water packed and add the liquid)

Mix in the Instincts powder.

Put it into freezer bags or Ziploc freezer containers and take them
out when needed.

It's important to buy a professional quality meat grinder that way you will
save on grinding time. We purchased ours from a Fish & Tackle supply store (USA).

Twice weekly add egg yolks to a morning feeding (no whites).

This recipe gives cats perfect poops, no diarrhea, and on the raw there is
much less stool because so much of the food is utilized. Notice at
least twice as much urine though which is a good thing.

This is from Mara of Dazzledots Bengals -- thanks Mara. I hope you don't mind me publishing your great recipe here. I have provided a link in return. If you want anything else just ask.

Here's another USA recipe for homemade cat food - original source unknown:

To make one batch:

4 cups Instincts powder; mix in 10 cups water. (Let it stand to thicken while grinding the meat.)

Using the middle plate (not ultra-fine, not coarse) grind:

10 pounds turkey thighs, skinless and boneless
6 pounds beef bottom round, no fat
2 pounds raw beef liver
4 tins water-packed sardines

Add the powder/water mixture and mix well.

Place into individual Ziploc containers or bags and freeze for 2 weeks.

We take out the raw food to thaw, as needed. Before feeding, we heat the thawed meat in the microwave until it's slightly warm. We leave the food down for a maximum of 15 minutes. What is left can be refrigerated and used for the next feeding, but discard if there are leftovers from the second feeding of the same meat."

Makes about 50 cups.

Click on this link to see the Wikipedia® License src: Wikipedia® published under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version, November 2002 Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA - - no other conditions to the license are added.

Comments adding to this would be great......

Monday 21 May 2012

Food Selection in Domestic Cats

There is no question that cats have food preferences. Some cats are finickity eaters. For me, one of the most important factors in feeding cats is variety. Cats do become bored with their food if they are fed the same food day in and day out. They will eat it if hungry enough but you will see signs of boredom with a certain food if it is provided monotonously.

It may be a food that he liked but now seems to dislike. A change to something else for a while will rejuvenate his interest in the food that he became bored with. The different food may even be a food that in the past he did not show a great interest in, yet all of sudden he likes it. There is a counter argument though that says that we should not try too hard, too often, to please our cat as it can lead to cat obesity, a modern cat health problem. It is about good cat caretaking ultimately.

There is the perennial question of whether cats will eat dog food or food that is missing vital nutrients. Apparently cats cannot tell through taste if a food presented to them is deficient in nutrients or if it is not a balanced food. However, if a deficient food is provided for a long time a cat will eat less of it or refuse it because he will learn that the taste of the food is connected to the illness that he suffers as a consequence of eating it. This is not an accurate assessment by a cat, obviously, as feeling unwell may be due to a reason unconnected with the food eaten.

We are told that the palatability of food is decided on taste primarily. However, in my experience, the domestic cat will smell food as a initial check on palatability and perhaps to see if it is a type that he has liked before. Cats don't seem to be able to check visually at close range. It is down to smell then taste.

It seems that today, in the modern world (2012), cats can fail to self regulate intake resulting in obesity. This may be due to overfeeding treats. If treats of human cooked food are more palatable than commercially available cat food what does that tell us about the palatability of cat food or the drift to human preferences by the domestic cat? My cat prefers human cooked food, most times not always.

A cat's taste buds are located on the tongue - upper surface and back of tongue - and on the palate. A cat's taste buds can detect the freshness of food. This is based on taste bud receptors that can detect certain chemicals in the tissues of dead animals. It seems that the quantity and therefore strength of taste of these chemicals informs the cat as to how fresh the food is e.g. how long the prey has been dead. Cats don't like carrion (carcasses of dead animals).

Cat's can detect amino acids that contain sulphur. Taurine is in this category and an essential ingredient for a cat. Accordingly, cats are able to gauge palatability based on the taurine content of food (taurine deficiency in cats and taurine for Bengal cats).

Cats don't like sweet foods. Although there is a lot of sugar in dry cat food. It is a hidden ingredient.

As to feral cats, they prefer voles, young rabbits and hares over mice and rats. Mice and are caught not always eaten. Shrews are rarely eaten after being caught. This is put down to the diet of the shew: insects.

Small wild cats make several kills in a 24 hour day. Some travel miles at night in search of food. It is very challenging. The mode of feeding of wild cats and feral cats - small prey, frequent feeding - dictates how we feed our domestic cat. You'll notice that cats eat less and more frequently than humans. This is hard wired from the wild cat ancestor, the African wildcat.

Geriatric cats lose their sense of taste and smell so need a high palatability cat food if they have a weight loss problem. Old cats do lose weight.

Associated: Feeding feral cats.

Thursday 27 March 2008

Raw Diet Cat Food

Raw Diet Cat Food with the proper supplements is arguably best for a cat. Why can't we buy this? Cats have a greater need than dogs and other omnivores for protein in their diet. Cats are obligate carnivores. Cats are adapted through evolution to a low carbohydrate (CHO) intake. Their saliva doesn't start the digestion process as it lacks the required enzyme. Their intestine and pancreas is the same.

There are limitations to substituting plant origin food for animal origin food which are being ignored by the big manufacturers. Cats in the wild eat high protein, moderate fat and minimal CHO. Commercial cat food can lead to protein malnutrition. Cats can't adapt to lower amounts of protein in food. For cats, protein in food is required for energy as well as structural purposes.

Making your own cat food. Photo in public domain.

Cats have a need for increased amounts of amino acids such as taurine, arginine, methionine, cysteine. A cat's natural diet contains these. Taurine is essential to a cat. Some is lost into their bile. Long term (several months) deficiency of taurine can lead to blindness. You can test levels of taurine in blood.

High amounts of CHO may have a negative impact on cats. Cats cannot use starch. Abnormally high levels of CHO are used in dry cat food to make the manufacturing process work.

High levels of CHO reduce protein digestion and increases fecal pH (more alkaline). A cat's liver doesn't contain an enzyme that metabolizes (breaks them down to be digested into the body) sugars. Cats prefer foods flavored with animal products and not sweet flavors unlike people and dogs. Carnivores rely mainly on fats to provide energy.

A cat has specific and unique vitamin needs. She requires higher levels of B vitamin (thiamin, niacin). Anorexic cats can suffer from thiamin deficiency. A cat eating high levels of sea food (high in thiaminase) can suffer from thiamin deficiency. The symptoms are sever muscle weakness. B vitamins are found in animal tissue. They are added to commercial cat food demonstrating how artifical it is.

Commercial cat food has added vitamin A but caution is required in supplementing this vitamin as it can be toxic at incorrectly high levels.

Cats drink relatively small amounts of water getting it from the prey eaten. This reflects their origins in desert regions. Cats eating a dry cat food (kibble) will drink half the amount of water than if eating wet cat food. They do not compensate adequately by drinking water. Wet cat food can increase dental tartar however. My thought: balance between the two but raw diet cat food plus correct supplement is best. Mimic as near as possible prey. Why isn't this available commercially?

An estimated 25%-33% of cats are obese. Obesity can bring health problems such as diabetes. There are several reasons for this. One reason being scrutinized is the quality of cat food. High CHO cat food plus inactivity (indoor cats) means the cat is consuming too much energy producing food and not burning it off. CHO that is not used by the cat is stored as fat. The weight loss diets are not necessarily healthy either as the high fiber content can impair protein digestion.

The more I read the more I am convinced a Raw Diet Cat Food is best but how to prepare it and do we have time?

Source: Debra Zoran DM "Timely Topics in Nutrition - The carnivore connection to nutrition in cats". This source has been greatly reduced in size and content in this post. But the tenor of the source and essential information has been preserved as accurately as possible. I have only referred to limited parts of the original text.

Sunday 31 March 2024

Vegan pet foods are as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets

Vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets according to a study. Here are some details.

Plant-based diet for dogs and cats would be transformative for the world. 

In the study titled “Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare,” researchers investigated the palatability of vegan pet foods compared to conventional meat-based or raw meat diets for dogs and cats. Here are the key findings:

  1. Importance of Palatability:

    • Palatability was considered an important factor by pet guardians when choosing diets for their animals.
    • Among respondents who fed conventional or raw meat diets, palatability ranked as one of the desired attributes.
  2. Behavioural Indicators:

    • For dogs on a raw meat diet, there were increased reports of appetitive behavior during meal times compared to dogs on a conventional diet.
    • However, there was no consistent evidence of a difference in palatability between vegan diets and either conventional or raw meat diets.
  3. Cat Behavior:

    • Diet made little difference to food-oriented behavior in cats.
  4. Overall Conclusion:

    • Based on owner-reported behaviors, vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets.
    • Importantly, this palatability did not compromise their welfare, provided other welfare determinants (such as nutritional requirements) were adequately met.

In summary, vegan pet foods can be a viable option for pet owners, as long as they meet the necessary nutritional needs of their furry companions. You can find the full study here.

In another study the same lead scientist states that there would be great benefits for the planet if dogs and cats were fed on a balanced vegan diet. This is possible when carefully formulated even for cats. It is question of ensuring that all the nutrients are include. Plant protein is generally as good as animal protein as pet food and much better in terms of protecting the planet and curbing global warming.

Click on the link below to read an important study which affects us all.

Eureka! Vegan pet food saves planet Earth

What are the nutritional considerations for vegan pet foods?

When it comes to vegan pet foods, there are several important nutritional considerations to keep in mind to ensure the health and well-being of our furry friends:
  1. Protein Sources:

    • Dogs: High-quality plant-based protein sources such as soy, lentils, peas, and quinoa can be used. However, it’s essential to ensure that the protein content meets their requirements.
    • Cats: Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require specific amino acids found primarily in animal-based proteins. Vegan diets for cats must be carefully formulated to provide essential nutrients like taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin B12.
  2. Amino Acids:

    • Taurine: Cats cannot synthesize taurine from plant-based sources. Taurine supplementation is crucial for their heart health.
    • Lysine: Essential for both dogs and cats, lysine is important for growth, immune function, and tissue repair.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals:

    • Vitamin B12: Vital for energy production and overall health. Vegan pet foods should be fortified with B12.
    • Calcium and Phosphorus: Proper balance is essential for bone health.
    • Iron: Plant-based iron sources (non-heme iron) are less readily absorbed. Ensuring adequate iron intake is crucial.
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential for skin, coat, and overall health. Algal oil (derived from algae) is a vegan source of DHA and EPA.
  4. Fiber Content:

    • Vegan diets tend to be higher in fiber. While this can benefit some dogs (e.g., those with weight management issues), it may not suit all cats.
  5. Digestibility:

    • Plant-based proteins may have lower digestibility compared to animal-based proteins. Ensuring proper nutrient absorption is essential.
  6. Consult a Veterinarian:

    • Before transitioning to a vegan diet, consult a veterinarian. They can guide you on formulating a balanced diet and monitor your pet’s health.

Remember that each pet is unique, and their nutritional needs can vary. If you choose a vegan diet for your pet, work closely with a veterinarian to create a well-balanced and nutritionally complete meal plan. 🐾🌱


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 28 January 2008

Cat Eating Dog Food

Why is a cat eating dog food a bad thing for a cat? At a fundamental level they are different animals when it comes to diet.

Although both are carnivores and classified under the Order "Carnivora", there is an argument that dogs could be classified as omnivores (an animal that eats plants and animals as its main source of food). Whereas a dog is not dependent on a meat diet a cat is an "obligate" carnivore (must eat animals to thrive).

A dog can eat a large amount vegetables and grain and can it seems live on a carefully controlled vegetarian diet. That said a lot of cat food is even advertised as containing vegetables. I've got some in the kitchen and it says things like "Chicken and carrots"! In my opinion, this is because cats in the wild eat the contents of the prey's gut and that might contain digested vegetation. Cat food should mirror the diet of the wildcat because they have the same physiology.

I have discussed cat food quite a lot on this website - see for example: Best Cat Food. The more I study it the more inadequate cheap cat food (and dry cat food) looks to meet the requirements of a healthy cat. If cats eat dog food they will not eat enough protein. They also need the amino acid taurine in their diet whereas dogs apparently make their own. Cat food should have taurine supplements and if you prepare your own cat food you'll need to add taurine supplements amongst other supplements.

Other areas where dog food is unsuitable is in providing sufficient Vitamin A. Another element missing in the dog food diet is the fatty acid, arachidonic acid, an essential part of a cat's diet. This is not essential to a dog.

Allowing your cat to eat dog food for long periods will be detrimental to his her health.

Photograph copyright and by Brit.

  • Wikipedia on Dogs
From Cat Eating Dog Food to Cat Facts

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Cat foods that can cause health problems

We know that cats are true carnivores. They have a "unique metabolism" which means that there are some foods that should not be eaten at a quantity that is greater than 10% of a cat's overall diet in order to avoid potential health problems.

Meat and Diary Products

Despite being carnivores (meat eaters) cats cannot "survive on just lean meat"1. It has excessive amounts of phosphorus in relation to calcium and it is deficient in:
  • sodium
  • copper
  • iron
  • iodine
  • vitamins
A cat living on solely a lean meat diet may develop:
  • skeletal abnormalities
  • malformed joints
  • essential fatty acid deficiencies
  • secondary hyperparathyroidism
Liver contains levels of vitamin A that are too high and it can result in unresolvable bone deformities that are painful.

As to diary products, cats like them but cow's milk contains "large quantities of fermentable sugars". To break these down an enzyme called "lactase" is required. In adult cats the lactase levels have declined from kittenhood. If there is insufficient lactase in the cat's gut the fermentable sugars reach the colon where they cause "osmotic diarrhea". Cats drinking milk sold for people and eating human diary products can get diarrhea. There are specialist cat milk products. Assume cats are lactose intolerant.


Raw fish: contains thiaminase (an enzyme). This destroys thiamine (vitamin B1). This causes thiamin deficiency in cats  - see signs. Some more on thiamin deficiency.
Fish packed in oil: Feeding too much fish can cause pansteatitis due to vitamin E deficiency.
Cheap tinned fish (e.g tuna): this apparently can contain "preformed histamine" which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Vegetarian Diet

Some people like to feed their cats a vegetarian diet. There are few people who do, thankfully. However some people advocate it as more healthy.  Clearly these diets are ususally supplemented with vitamins etc. (taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic acid).

The cat requires meat in his/her diet. A supplemented vegetarian diet has been found to be less healthy that a conventional well balanced meat diet2.

Baby Foods

These can be deficient in arginine. Arginine is very important to cats. It may contain onion powder. This can cause "oxidative anemia". 

Dog Food

Cats might eat dog food if it is presented to them. However it may contain insufficient quantities of:
for a cat. See: Taurine Deficiency in Cats. Stick to high quality wet cat food.

Associated: Raw Food Diet for a Cat and home made raw food diet.


1. The Welfare of Cats page 237 ISBN
2. As I but page 238.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

What cats can't eat

Cats can't eat (a) dog food regularly and (b) some plants that are poisonous or (c) plant matter all the time - cats are not vegetarians - or (d) too much grass or (e) anti-freeze or (f) moth balls (g) food that is deficient in required nutrients such as taurine and arginine. Cats might want to eat all of these but they can't. We have to make sure that they don't.

Cat will eat dog food and dogs will eat cat food. Both are carnivores but cats are obligate (strict) carnivores while dogs are less strict carnivores and some people say that they are omnivores. Cat food is too rich for dogs and dog food not high enough in protein for cats. Dog food will not contain the correct nutrients and supplements such as taurine that is required by cats for their health and survival.

Cats like the taste of anti-freeze but it kills them by causing kidney failure. Cats like the taste of moth balls that they kill cats too. Laying down these poisons to kill cats is a serious criminal offense in developed countries. Don't do it please.

Cats can't eat too much plant material. Cats like to eat vegetation to a certain extent but some plants are poisonous (and here) Cats eat vegetation as a supplement it is thought. It contains folic acid.

The ideal cat food tells us indirectly what a cat can't eat. The ideal cat food is a mouse. All of it. The material in the stomach and gut will be plant material and useful as well as the mouse is a herbivore and eats plant-based foods. See best cat food for more.

Michael Avatar

Monday 9 June 2008

Bengal Cat Health Problems

Well, on my travels over the Internet I have bumped into a lot of information about Bengal Cat Health Problems. And I have laid it all down on this website.

These is a list of the posts made on Bengal Cat Health Problems. This list does not imply that Bengal cats are unhealthy, far from it. They are great cats it is just that these health issues have come to light in research:

Bengal cats and heart disease

There is a general realization, amongst the Bengal cat breeding community, that the Bengal cat may have a problem with a genetically inherited disease called HCM for short or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. I have made a number of posts on this disorder because my research developed and evolved and indeed the information developed and involved over a period of time. These are the posts:
  1. Information about HCM generally - This disease affects humans too. And other cats.
  2. HCM and Pedigree cats - As mentioned this disease affects other purebred cats.
  3. Bengal cat origins - This takes a critical look at Jean Mill the founding breeder and asks if her efforts may have contributed to the health problem.
  4. Bengal cats and HCM - does what it says on the box.
  5. Bengal cat and HCM update - updating on the earlier post.
  6. The TIBS Lightning Fund - The International Bengal Cat Society are funding research into HCM.
  7. How does Taurine figure in the fight against HCM in Bengal cats
  8. Update on HCM and Bengal cats
  9. Some more on HCM and Bengal cats - heavens I forgot how this evolved!
  10. Does rice in cat food affect the metabolism of Taurine - read this in conjunction with the post at number 7 above.

This is a disease that is also found in other cat breeds. Here is a post about it:

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Bengal cats
The above are the two outstanding Bengal Cat Health Problems that my research threw up. I have read that Bengal cats can suffer from cataracts and other unspecified eye problems as well but I don't know how widespread that is at the moment. The incidence may be no more than in other cats.

It is thought that one Bengal cat health problem is entropion. This condition causes the eyelids to roll resulting in the eyelashes rubbing against the eyeball. It can be corrected and if not, it can cause corneal ulcers. Symptoms: possible squinting, tears, cloudy eyes. This seems to be inherited from the wildcat parent the leopard cat.

Other than these there are the usual cat health problems that you can read about by clicking on this link:
  1. Cat health Problems
The information for this page and the linked pages comes from breeders and Tufts. Tufts is a conference of veterinarians and scientists (researchers) so the sources are good.

Note: the leopard cat has a resistance to the feline leukemia virus. That is why medical research was being carried out on leopard cats. The Bengal cat may have received the benefit of this.

Bengal Cat Health Problems to Bengal cats for sale

Sunday 9 January 2022

Microwave 4 king prawns for 5 seconds for a delicious cat treat

Each cat has their own individual preferences but I would be surprised if this treat fails to please your cat. It is my cat's favourite. He requests it when I come in from buying the newspaper. It is one of those routines we all set up when living with a domestic cat. Don't overdo treats. If you do, they are no longer treats and your cat will be less interested.

Microwave for 4 king prawns four 5 seconds for a cat treat
Microwave for 4 king prawns four 5 seconds for a cat treat. Pic in the public domain.

I use cooked king prawns bought from a local supermarket. You might think that the price is high but with the cost of high-quality cat food equalling on a pound-for-pound basis that of human food I don't think the cost of king prawns is particularly high particularly when it is used as a treat.

I take 3-4 out of the packet and spread them out on a plate. I put the plate into my microwave and microwave them for a maximum of five seconds. This warms them up nicely. It is not essential to warm up the prawns because cats love the taste of prawns normally. But if you do warm them up it's a bonus for your cat because they absolutely love the smell and taste.

Warming up any cat food is a good idea when feeding your cat particularly when they have lost their appetite. But in the case of prawns, it must be done very gently to an absolute minimum otherwise you destroy the product. 

I then break each prawn into two pieces leaving eight small pieces of prawn on the plate. I deliver these to my cat. The reason why I break them apart is because it lets out more of that aroma which he loves and which in turn encourages him to eat. It also makes them slightly easier to get into his mouth. I have watched him push around whole prawns trying to get a grip of them.

Shrimp is a healthy product that it is high in several vitamins and minerals and is a rich source of protein. It has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Antioxidants are good for health as they mop up free radicals which can damage the cells of the body. 

Free radicals can contribute to health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataracts and cancer. One website calls free radicals "unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and ageing."

That's my personal tip for a treat for your beloved cat companion. What about the downside? You can't feed your cat prawns all the time. They must only be a treat because they are not a balanced diet. Your cat will miss essential nutrients such as taurine and arginine.

As for environmental issues, it is said that shrimp farms tend to occupy coastal land which used to be covered by mangroves. The mangroves are drained to make way for aquaculture. This is harmful to the atmosphere because the farmers destroy the trees and vegetation of the mangrove swamp. It is akin to clearing forest for cattle to provide meat for humans. This is an environmental downside of giving shrimp treat to your cat.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Cat Food Ingredients

cat food

I never looked at cat food ingredients until recently. I never knew that some large pet food manufacturers were involved in animal testing until I began building the Picture of Cats website.

However, when we have a good look the ingredients look a bit strange. There is in fact a bit of skill required in reading cat food ingredients. Wet cat food contains a lot of "moisture" so the percentage of a particular ingredient should be calculated on a dry food basis. This means removing the moisture. In doing this we can compare dry with wet food and the percentage levels of ingredients between different manufacturers.

In the example taken here, Kitekat Tuna and Salmon, the moisture content is 82% leaving 18% real ingredients. We divide the ingredient by .18 to get a true figure.

Here are the cat food ingredients of KiteKat tinned (wet) cat food manufactured by Masterfoods.

The can contains meat and animal derivates, fish and fish derivates, minimum 4% tuna and minimum 4% Salmon, plus vegetable protein extracts and minerals.

The breakdown is:

- Protein 7%. Divided by .18 makes 39% (rounded figure)
- Oil 5% (I presume that this is fat) Divided by .18 makes 28% (rounded figure)
- Ash 2.5% (this is minerals) Divided by .18 makes 14% (rounded figure)
- Fiber 0.3% Divided by .18 makes 1.67%
- Moisture 82% (this is essentially water but it seems cannot be just plain water as the ingredients above do not add up to 100%. This water therefore contains unspecified material or the difference is due to the vegetable protein extracts and minerals referred to - am I wrong?)
Vitamin E 8mg/kg. This means 8 parts in one million or .0008%

The total dry basis ingredients amount to 82.67%. There is no mention of Taurine an amino acid essential to the health of cats which would it seems be an added supplement. There is also no mention of carbohydrates.

These figures do not it seems compare well with USA cat food ingredients. The USA is obviously the biggest cat food market by far. US cat food contains higher levels of protein at 40-66%, lower levels of fats at 4.5-28%. In the US they typically have 75% moisture levels. Looks like rip of Britain again.

I will be discussing other cat foods in other posts to make comparisons.

Photo copyright by frida27ponce

From Cat Food Ingredients to Home page

Saturday 30 August 2008

Russian Blue Kittens

Russian blue kittens
Russian Blue Kitten photograph by Sensual Shadows Photography

Before you go in search of Russian Blue Kittens have a look at these and have a look at some Russian Blue adult cats too and read about this cat breed. I've also built a page in which I discuss the breed standard in a general kind of way, nothing too technical, which may interest potential buyers of Russian Blue kittens as it also contains a large format slide show of a lot of cats of this breed to get a feel as to how they appear and what they should look like under the breed standard. Click on this link to see a large slide show.

All pedigree cats have a breed standard, a target that governs what breeders should aim for. There is, obviously, quite a wide range of looks that all comply with the standard as the wording is quite widely drafted and there are never any diagrams or pictures to guide (which has always surprised me). Your kitten should of course be within the parameters set by the breed standard to be true Russian Blue but more importantly the cat breeder must give you documentary evidence that the kitten is a cat of this breed. If you don't get that you might as well adopt a rescue cat.

Russian blue kittens
Russian Blue Kitten photograph by t0msk. The CFA breed standard says the eyes should be a vivid green. This is a fine photo of a lovely kitten but I am not sure the eyes are exactly the correct color or is it the reflection of the carpet?

The Russian Blue Breeders Association, based in the UK (but the advice is good for any country) state that the breeders must provide a pedigree certificate of three generations for the cat in question and the document must be signed by the breeder. In addition the breeder must produce a transfer document that is evidence of transfer of the cat from the breeder to the new owner, which is signed by both parties and sent to the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) the premier cat registry in the UK. Similar rules will apply in different countries I am sure. If the new owner is thinking of showing their new cat and chasing rosettes and prizes the transfer of ownership (don't like ownership) needs to be registered with the GCCF at least 21 days before the show. Some kittens are bought with breeding in mind and some not; the registration of the kitten will note this difference.

So we've got the transfer and pedigree docs, what is next.....vaccination documents. All breeders will vaccinate their kittens. I have built a substantial page on the issue of cat vaccination recommendations as they have changed over the years as veterinarians have come to realize that vaccinations can be dangerous to cats - it's all about risk whether they are given or not.

The next thing and the most important thing is the health and character of Russian Blue Kittens from which you select. It is hard it seems to me to be sure that your selected kitten will be healthy. Some cat breeds are healthier than others. I have not found any hidden genetically linked health problems associated with this cat breed (that doesn't mean there isn't though but I think it unlikely - some breeds do have predispositions to certain diseases - see cat health problems). That leaves the question whether the particular Russian Blue Kitten selected is healthy. All that can be done to assess the situation. That means an assessment of the breeder's facility and attitude plus observation of the kitten (signs of upper respiratory infection - URI - for example or cat ear mites as another example). Is everything clean and organized?

Russian blue kittens
Two week old Russian Blue Kitten photograph by Sensual Shadows Photography

Next - character. I guess observation over a number of visits will solve this one. The breeder will or should ensure that the kitten is "socialized" meaning used to people and other pets so when he/she is re-homed he settles in and is not too nervous or aggressive. Character, bottom line, is more important than appearance, and health is more important than both. For example, a breeder in Scotland, Dushenka Russian Blues, says that all their kittens are born in the breeder's bedroom, which naturally gets the kittens accustomed to humans. A lot of cat breeders are "cottage industries," small, at home, businesses (c.f. kitten or puppy farms - don't buy from a pet shop). This is good and bad, I think. It means the bad ones can start up easily but it also lends itself to well breed and socialized cat, at least potentially. Socialization is very important and breed standards refer to it indirectly by insisting upon cats that are nonaggressive. Show cats are very placid and happy to be handled, they must be to win shows. So the best show cats not only look great but are great.

Kittens and cats take time to settle in (in my experience at least 6 months) so a very pleasant calm environment is pretty much essential for our new Russian Blue Kitten. Food is also a factor. Cats get used to a certain type of food and a sudden change could prompt things such a diarrhea and litter problems (i.e. problems for the new owners). So, the breeder should tell you what type of food she feed her Russian Blue Kittens. This should be continued with any change being gradual.

Russian blue kittens
Russian Blue Kittens - photograph by hlehto

My preference is quality wet food and some human food such as fish (if she/he likes fish) or chicken. Dry cat food can contain too high a carbohydrate content. It is convenient for the human but essentially unnatural for the cat but in modest doses it is probably OK (i.e. used as part of the overall diet). There are lots of links on this site about cat food (this takes you to all 15). The ideal cat food should mimic the kind of food a wild cat eats but this is complicated as raw meat is not enough, cats will need supplements such as Taurine, a vital ingredient.

Neutering or spaying is pretty well essential if you do not intend to breed from your Russian Blue Kittens or Kitten. Some breeders I believe do this and some insist on the kitten being fixed as part of the purchase contract.

Russian blue kittens
Russian Blue Kittens - photograph by hlehto

Since writing this page I have built a spreadsheet that I call Russian Blue Breeder Worldwide List. There is a page that has the same spreadsheet in larger format. It is here: Russian Blue Breeders. Here is the smaller format version (it is long):

That's about it (in outline). Oh, except for one thing. The GCCF publish a code of ethics. I think it helps of we remind ourselves of some of the more outstanding points (this is a shortened summarized version).

1. Cat owners should think carefully before getting a kitten......
2. Cats must be provided with warmth, comfort, exercise, adequate food and water (at all times). Cat should be kept in at night for safety.
3. Cats should be groomed regularly and checked for parasites
4. We should see a vet when our cat looks ill.
5. Cats as pets (not breeding cats) should be neutered and spayed.
6. Breeders should sell to selected people who it is believed will care for their cat and if not due to unforeseen circumstances the breeder should offer to rehome the cat(s) sold.
7. Owners shouldn't sell to pet shops or large scale sellers or give away a cat as a prize.
8. Breeders should act with integrity and honesty and not misrepresent the health and pedigree of the cat.
9. If a breeder sells to a cat breeder advice should be available and breeding should not have a negative impact on the cats' health.
10. Owners should identify their cat. There are 2 ways, cat collars are potentially dangerous and microchipping for pets can carry health problems (these are my comments and not part of the code).
11. The seller breeder must provide the documentation referred to above (the docs referred to above may not be complete - please refer to the GCCF)

Russian Blue Kittens to Home page

Russian Blue Kittens - Photos: These are published under a creative commons license of 2 types. The Sensual Shadows Photography ones are licensed under this license = Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. The others have been cropped as allowed under this license = Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Thanks for the permission. I have provided links as well which are not required under the license.

Friday 22 February 2008

Bengal Cat Smelly Poo

F2 Bengal cat in a garden in the UK. Photo: PoC.

I couldn't resist doing a post about Bengal Cat Smelly Poo. And, no, it's not a spoof. Some Bengal owners may have a "problem", with what one breeder calls, "Bengal Butt". I think you can guess what that means in the context of this post.

But is it true that Bengal cats' faeces (No.2s) are more potent than the faeces from other cats. I would doubt that, but I don't know. It seems that it could be true and if so, what causes it?

The obvious cause is the quality of the food (the stuff that goes in the other end). Cat breeders know all about their cat food.

RELATED:  a fairly comprehensive page on the sensitive stomach of the Bengal cat. The information on the linked page supplements this page.

What comes across from breeders is that raw cat food made up to a recipe is best for Bengal cats, only this takes a lot of time and effort particularly for cat breeders with several cats. I can remember one breeder saying it cured the problem so it's worth a try, but you have to be careful with a homemade raw food diet for cats. A raw diet can also help treat IBD in cats apparently

But raw diets are not necessarily the cure all for these digestion diseases. Click on the next link to read what a Maine Coon breeder thinks of raw cat food.


But according to a Maine Coon breeder, the tiny protozoan parasite Giardia is often the cause of smelly poo and diarrhoea. My research informs me that it affects around 1 in 10 domestic cats to a max. of about 1 in 5 cats in one US state Tennessee. It is quite common. It can be fixed with a pill: Panacur. And there is a test you can buy on Amazon. I would do this before making big changes to diet.


There is the cost too. Mind you one Bengal cat breeder fed a chicken thigh bone sprinkled with taurine (an essential organic acid and a dietary essential additive if feeding raw cat food that is made up). The cat loved it.

Of the USA manufactured cat foods that seem to be good (and this is from breeders but essentially anecdotal) in respect of reducing the problem of Bengal cat smelly poo the following are recommended it seems (2010):
  • Prairie naturals
  • Holistic select kibble
  • Fromm salmon/duck
  • Normal Innova
  • Chicken Lover's Chicken Soup - this is the best by all accounts *******. This is I believe, "Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul" a product manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. It doesn't contain corn and Franny Styufy (the cat specialist and author) recommends it. Note Nov 2019: Franny has retired from writing about cats.
Another breeder states that the following food are good for Bengals:
We feed our Bengal kittens and adult cats with: Royal Bengal Adult Dry Cat Food, Purina One True Instinct Natural Grain-Free Formula Adult Dry Cat Food, Royal Canin Kitten Dry Cat Food, and Purina One Grain-Free classic Pate Recipe Wet Cat Food.
It may be the grains in the manufactured cat food (grain is essentially unnatural for a cat) that produces the problem. Other conditions that might cause Bengal butt or Bengal Cat Smelly Poo condition are:-
One breeder says that Bengals have short intestines as a contributory cause. 

See a vet of course. Parasites can be dealt with fairly routinely.

From Bengal Cat Smelly Poo to Bengal Cats for Sale

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Curing Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Healthy ginger tabby catIt has been argued by a well-known veterinarian, Dr Hodgkins,  that there is a cure for feline inflammatory bowel disease and it is to provide the cat with a high-quality raw food diet.  This means a raw food diet with an added all-in-one supplement which ensures that it is balanced.  The reason why this could be an excellent cure for a disease, which is normally simply managed (with immune suppressing drugs), is because the cause of feline IBD is said to be commercial cat food which contains ingredients and substances which are perceived as foreign invaders to the cat's immune system.

If you remove these foreign invaders - the unhealthy ingredients in typically dry cat food - then you take away the allergen which stimulates the unnecessary allergic reaction within the cat's gut. That is the, perhaps oversimplified, theory but it does work in practice as well.

There has to be a warning that goes with this suggested medical treatment for, what is as yet, a not completely understood cat health problem.  Raw food diets need to be prepared carefully in order to avoid contamination and cross contamination and to ensure that it is balanced because as we know the domestic cat needs certain essential ingredients such as taurine and arginine.

However, common sense dictates that if a cat has been suffering from chronic IBD for some time (diarrhea and vomiting) and various treatments have been tried without real success, resorting to a raw food diet is a simple choice. It is highly likely to prove successful.  Cat owners should not balk from trying it out despite the fact that many veterinarians believe that cat owners are unable to prepare a raw food diet is to a satisfactory standard.  There is an argument that many more cat owners should in fact routinely provide a raw food diet for their cat as a means to improve overall health and prevent diseases such as IBD in a cat who is sensitive to the ingredients of commercial cat food.

You may ask why not simply give your cat hypoallergenic cat food.  The truth is that this is product is not that successful, certainly in the dry cat food form because you are still feeding an unnatural food.  For mild feline IBD, wet hypoallergenic cat food may prove successful and second-generation versions of this cat food are better than earlier versions but it must be wet i.e. canned cat food.  A raw food diet goes to the next stage.  It is, of course, a wholly natural diet.

Photo: Gangster Car Driver

Thursday 14 August 2008

Feline Kidney Stones

three healthy cats
Healthy cats - photo by Ferran.

Feline kidney stones are rare, perhaps very rare in cats. In fact according to Drs Carlson and Giffin the authors of "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook", it is almost unheard of.

Another book designed for "cat people", "The Veterinarian's Guide to Your Cat's Symptoms" by Drs Garvey, Hohenhaus, Houpt, Pinckney, Wallace and Elizabeth Randolph, doesn't make reference to them in the index and I couldn't find anything in the book (although I may have missed it).

And they are referred to in passing under the heading, "Obstructive Urinary Tract Disease" in the book, "Veterinary Notes for Cat Lovers" by Dr. Trevor Turner and Jean Turner VN. The authors refer to "in rare cases, true stony Uroliths......". Uroliths are crystalline material commonly called stones, by the way.

A more technical term for stones is "struvite stones" or "struvite crystals". Struvite is an ammonium magnesium phosphate mineral. Struvite is caused by a bacterial infection that hydrolyzes urea to ammonium. When something is hydrolyzed is undergoes the process of hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction (I'm going to stop there.......!). The stones are magnesium/ammonium/phosphate based material and look like salt in terms of size.

I am going to presume that people searching for feline kidney stones are in fact searching for information about urinary tract stones generally and which are a part of the symptoms of Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS). The presence of stones causes the cat to strain when urinating, urinate in the wrong place, urinate small amounts, go frequently, urinate bloody urine and lick themselves a lot. This is because they plug the passage of the urine. Other substances can also plug the urinary tract such as mucus and white blood cells.

Bladder stones in cats are, it seems less rare, and are related to FUS. There is a greater chance of stones forming in the bladder that is permanently infected (bacterial infection) and a bladder that is partially blocked. The symptoms are similar to FUS.

Obviously initial treatment for feline kidney stones (more accurately urinary tract stones as kidney stones are very rare) must be supervised by a veterinarian. Diet, it is suggested, can help to dissolve the crystalline stones post veterinarian treatment (diet is also central to prevention). Drs Carlson and Giffin say that Hills Prescription Diet s/d dissolves stones or parts of stones not dealt with a the vets surgery. This is a low magnesium cat food (also more acidic) and could be called urinary tract cat food as it helps to keep the urinary tract healthy. A cat should remain on the diet for 1-2 months and an improvement in health will be seen within 7 days.

Clearly the best course of action for feline kidney stones (or more commonly urinary tract stones) is to take preventative steps, which begs the question, "what causes feline kidney stones?" The causes are cat diet related and a person I have mentioned before on this website, Dr. Hodgkins (author of Your Cat) believes that the increase in incidence of FUS is due to the shift to dry cat food over the past 10-15 years (i.e. convenience foods for cats). Quality wet cat food is better. Better still, but rarely contemplated unless you're a cat breeder, perhaps, is natural raw cat food prepared specially but this takes skill as supplements are needed such as Taurine.

Drs Carlson and Giffin go down the more conventional route than Dr. Hodgkins in respect of preventative steps. They say that some underlying causes are a diet that is high in magnesium content, dirty litter trays (forcing some cats to retain their urine), lack of exercise (overweight cat) and reduced water intake. Reduced water intake means that the urine becomes static with an increased likelihood of bacterial infection. A reduced water intake may be due, in part, to the need to take in more water if the diet is exclusively dry food and some cats will not compensate sufficiently and drink more water. Wet cat food contains high levels of water in contrast.

Drs Carlson and Giffin agree with Dr Hodgkins that another cause appears to be dry cat food. My vet recommended supplementing my cat's diet with fish (I microwave it from frozen) and add water to it. Cats like to lick up the fishy water increasing water intake and flushing the urinary tract, keeping it more healthy. Interestingly an early vet that I saw (before my cat suffered from FUS) recommended Hills l/d dry food permanently. This I believe contributed to her getting FUS. She has been free of it since eating more wet food and fish and added water.

In conclusion, the risk of contracting FUS and feline kidney stones can be substantially reduced if our cat eats the right food, meaning (for most of us) quality wet food low in magnesium and acidic. I tend to compromise and feed low magnesium cat food (say Hills Science Diet Feline) and boiled or microwaved fish with water added plus the occasional tuna and water and other standard wet foods. I have tried to source prepared raw cat food without success. I also change her water bowl very regularly - 3 times daily (in fact she prefers to drink from a glass which is some distance from the food).

There may be other underlying causes and complications, which only a good veterinarian can resolve.

Feline Kidney Stones to cat health problems

Feline Kidney Stones - Sources: as mentioned in the text.
Feline Kidney Stones - Photo - published under creative commons license = Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Friday 8 April 2011

Diabetic Cat Food

Moonchild, diabetic cat at shelter
Photo by Taekwonweirdo

Diabetic cat food refers to cat food that is suitable for diabetic cats and which might avoid the use of insulin injections.

The food profile for diabetic cat food is:
  1. high-protein
  2. low-carbohydrate
This is because cats mainly metabolise protein for glucose rather than carbohydates thus the cat food profile mentioned is "more efficiently metabolised" and a help in controlling cat diabetes.

Cat foods matching this profile at the date of this post and in the USA are:
  • Purina DM Feline (Purina pet food is owned by Nestlé Purina®/Friskies who I am told conduct animal testing. This may colour your assessment in respect of buying this cat food.
  • Royal Canin Diabetic DS 44.
  • Science Diet m/d Feline.
  • {for the UK and Europe I would ask your vet but please direct your vet. The diabetic cat food should be as stated in the above profile}

Veterinarians don't generally recommend homemade cat food because of the risk of preparing it poorly and raw food contamination. But if it is prepared properly under tightly controlled hygienic conditions complying with all the rules of raw food handling it is the best cat diet in my opinion. See Homemade Cat Food.

Apparently some vets advise adding meat to purchased, commercial cat food. A1 Savannahs add raw chicken to commercially prepared cat food for their cats - Best Kitten Food.

Best Kitten Food! Photo by Michael @ PoC

But the picture above is not a recommendation that a kitten be solely feed raw chicken. That would be very wrong, please note as the diet would lack sufficient essential nutrients such as taurine and arginine.

Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM is one of those veterinarians who recommend that dry cat food should be off the menu even if your cat is not diabetic.

This is because the dry cat food manufacturing process demands the addition of a "carbohydrate source" to make what they call, "kibble". It is said to be unnatural for a cat to eat such large amounts of carbohydrates bearing in mind that they are carnivores (meat eaters) - Cat Food Recipe.

Obese cats are predisposed to diabetes. Obesity "reduces tissue responsiveness to insulin". Diabetes becomes difficult to control. Overweight cats should be dieted.

One of the classic diet cat foods is Hills c/d but this is dry cat food and not recommended by some vets.

I am sure a vet would help a cat caretaker create a diet for their cat. It depends on the cat and the vet!

Examples of blood glucose curves
The basic principle is to divide the cat's calorific use by the calories in the food. The figure should be more than 1. Diabetic cat food should be provided in more than one meal to avoid high blood sugar levels after eating.

Cats on insulin injections given once daily should be fed half the cat food when the injection is administered and half at "peak insulin activity" which is 8-12 hours later (based on the cat's "glucose curve" - see image).

A glucose curve is a graph that shows blood glucose concentration over a period of time (say 24 hours) after the insulin injection. Blood samples are taken from the cat and a test conducted on the blood. Bob Tucker discusses this in his article on treating a diabetic cat.

Cats on two injections per day should be fed half the daily cat food diet at the time of the injection.

Cats on oral medication should be fed small meals throughout the day.

All short quotes and all information for this article are from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated. The rationale for claiming fair use of the quotes is that they enhance the sale of this book (twice advertised here) and they are short.

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