10 Cat Food Myths
Myth #1: Dry food is the best food for cats.
Once considered the panacea for feline nutrition, new evidence shows dry foods may be a source of chronic health issues. Urinary, arthritis, kidney, diabetes, and even dental problems are just a few of the diseases now associated with dry food diets. Water matters and is most bioavailable and beneficial in food. Moisture rich foods offer critical support to electrolyte and micronutrient balance, maintaining cellular integrity throughout the body. Quality canned, raw, and well-balanced home-made foods offer higher meat proteins, fewer carbohydrates, proper moisture levels, and fewer highly-processed ingredients, mimicking a more natural diet.
Myth #2: Dry food is important for cleaning teeth.
Your cat is an obligate carnivore. A carnivore’s teeth are designed for tearing and shredding, not grinding. In fact, because of the size and texture, most dry foods are swallowed whole with minimal chewing. Plus, chewing high carbohydrate foods produces a starchy film that can adhere to teeth creating a rich environment for dental-damaging bacteria.
Myth #3: Premium foods are just higher priced foods.
The adage – you get what you pay for, is never truer than with pet foods. Nutrition is not only about whether your cat likes the food, but how bio-available it is and how your cat metabolizes it. Quality manufacturers go to great lengths to source better ingredients, cook at low temperatures to preserve valuable nutrients, and use specially designed packaging to preserve freshness. Inexpensive foods should raise alarms. To make foods cheaply, corners were cut somewhere, whether in the ingredients, manufacturing or labor.
Myth #4: Do not mix or change cat foods.
In the wild, your feline predator will hunt for a range of entrees from mice to bugs. So, why presume that switching foods is detrimental? In reality, variety may prevent over-supplementation, nutritional imbalances, and the development of food sensitivities. Slow introductions of a variety of foods will encourage better digestion and a healthier immune system.
Myth #5: Organic foods make superior diets.
While organic and free-range meats make superior protein sources, they are often not the primary ingredients in organic pet foods. Because of costs, many dry and some canned foods use higher levels of plant proteins to meet nutritional requirements, increasing the carbohydrate load in your cat’s diet. Cat’s cannot properly metabolize high volumes of carbohydrates and in turn store them as fat. Understanding your cat’s nutritional needs AND how to read labels will help you select the best foods for your obligate carnivore.
Myth #6: Diet foods offer better weight management.
Additional fiber and ingredients with empty calories are the main components added to make lite foods for pets. Adding to the already heavy burden of excessive carbohydrates, it is no wonder these diets are suspected of contributing to more weight gain, skin and coat disorders, and food intolerances. A water-rich, meat-based, low carbohydrate diet – canned or raw or home-cooked – that is balanced for your cat’s caloric needs, is the key to a sleek and agile cat, NOT dry food.
Myth #7: People food and homemade foods are harmful to cats.
Well-balanced home-prepared diets using free range meats and fresh organic ingredients you source yourself are the best available—offering you control over recipes, supplementation, and processing.
Myth #8: Raw foods have the highest risk of bacterial contamination.
As a predator, your cat evolved with a digestive tract designed to process and eliminate food quickly—short, acidic, and hostile to bacteria. While caution should to be taken with cats with weakened immune systems or in homes with humans with health challenges, precautions in place by leading manufacturers of raw diet pet foods offer safety and peace of mind.
Myth #9: Food must be left out so your cat won’t go hungry.
Leaving dry food out is for our convenience, not the health of your cat. Dry foods are sprayed with flavorings to addict your cat. The more your cat eats, the more it wants, discouraging your cat from any other foods. Unless there is a specific health issue, cats benefit from a schedule of 3-4 small meals a day for more complete and proper digestion. A couple of snacks aren’t out of question, but remember that’s a few pieces . . . not a bowlful.
Myth #10: Hyperactive, aggressive, and stressed cats need prescriptive calming foods.
Behavior issues arise more from the type of protein—meat vs. plant—along with the level of processing and the balance of micronutrients in the diet. Cats are especially susceptible to the balance of amino acids found only in meat-based diets. Food sensitivities can also trigger behavior and health issues. Therefore, when working with aggression or other behavior issues, it’s imperative the diet is evaluated.
© Terri Symonds Grow, 2017
Urinary, arthritis, kidney, diabetes, and even dental problems are just a few of the diseases now being associated with dry food diets.