What is the best cat food? Dry cat food makers claim to keep teeth clean while wet food manufacturers assert that they are closer to the natural feline diet. Actually, there are four cat food mistakes you can make, no matter what you feed.
Too Much Dry Cat Food = Obesity
Cat World warns that approximately 40 percent of American cats are overweight. This elevates feline obesity as being the “most common nutritional disorder” that affects companion cats. Whether it dines on wet food or dry cat food, the animal is considered overweight if it tips the scale at 20 percent over its baseline weight.
Even the best cat food currently on the market can lead to obesity — if the pet’s owner overfeeds and under-exercises the animal. In addition to the foregoing, the main ingredient in dry cat food is carbohydrates, which supports weight gain. In contrast, wet food consists primarily of protein, which the cat metabolizes into energy.
Tip: WebMD suggests feeding 24 to 35 calories per day per pound of healthy cat.
Unnatural Cat Food = Heightened Risk of IBD?
The Cat Fanciers’ Association points to an unnatural feline diet as contributing to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While the organization readily admits that it is difficult to study the exact extent of the relationship between commercial cat food and IBD, it hypothesizes that a natural feline diet is less likely to result in gastrointestinal illnesses.
Unnatural cat food is defined as dry cat food (or wet food) that contains “wheat, milk, soybean, egg … additives and preservatives.” In contrast, a natural diet includes birds, some insects, reptiles and also small mammals.
Tip: Opt for a commercial cat food that is as close to organic and filler-free as possible.
B.A.R.F. = Taurine Deficiency?
Not surprisingly, plenty of cat lovers have begun feeding a “bones and raw foods” (BARF) wet food diet to their cats. Be careful! The association reports that a trial comparing wet food made from ground up rabbit to a control group fed commercial food resulted in healthier-looking felines but also led to at least one cat death. It became known that taurine deficiency adversely affected the heart muscles of the BARF animals and required supplementation.
Of course, part of the downfall in the study is the singular use of only rabbit meat. Mixing and matching meat sources — Barf World points especially toward organ meat, such as heart — is sure to increase the taurine content of the feline diet. The same holds true for targeted supplementation with the nutrient.
Tip: Do not concoct a wet food feline diet without first consulting a veterinarian or at least educating yourself on the animal’s nutritional needs. Supplementation may be required.
Garlic in the Feline Diet = Low Red Blood Cell Count
WebMD reports that some cat lovers attempt to thwart tapeworms (cats frequently develop these after eating fleas) by adding garlic to the animal’s feed. Unfortunately, a large enough amount of garlic – or repeated dosing – can result in the destruction of the pet’s red blood cells.
Tip: Tapeworms can only be eradicated with an oral worming agent.