Some time ago, I read an article that had to do with dry cat food causing painful urination blockage in cats. I found myself lost in the article, thinking about our three cats, and if we are making the best decisions with the food we buy for them. If you have pets, chances are, you are buying the typical cat food you find at your local supermarket.
When you try to make an effort reading the labels, it can be confusing. My husband and I weighed out the ingredients for a couple choices at our local Safeway, and to be honest, I didn’t know what the heck I was reading. I am sure you have felt the same way. So, I hope this article can make it easier for you when you make your own decisions on the food you buy going forward……..
Why Is Dry Food Recommended In Small Amounts?
Are there advantages to feeding your cat canned food instead of dry kibble? Veterinarians are now strongly recommending against feeding your cat a diet entirely based around dry cat food.
Cats were designed to digest animal flesh, and they do so best on a meat-based diet. A cat’s natural prey is 70% water. Compare that to canned food, which is about 78% water. Dry food, on the other hand is 0% water, and because cats naturally have low thirst, they often don’t make up the deficiency at the water bowl. They have been designed to get water with their food.
#1 Reason To Choose Wet Food Over Dry Has To Do With Water Content-
Veterinarians are now claiming that blocked urinary tracts are associated with dry cat food. Urethral obstructions can cause tremendous pain and can result in death if the bladder ruptures. Bladder inflammation, urethral obstructions and cystitis are extremely common problems seen in cats fed dry food. See a lengthy article about this at Cat Info
Cats who have bladder problems tend to associate the litter box with pain, so they urinate around the house. They feel as though they cannot empty their bladder, and find themselves in pain. You will notice this, if you use scoopable litter, as their output tends to be small, rather than large clumps. If you notice your cat crying out in pain in the litter box, take him or her to the vet, right away. In addition, cats who use the litter box, and come out with no output, shows he or she might need emergency care right away. These are just a few of the indications that your cat may have bladder problems.
Many studies have shown that when all water sources are considered (food and water bowl) cats on canned food consume double the amount of water when compared to a dry food-fed cat.
Dry Pet Food was designed in the 1970s for owner convenience and NOT tailored for proper pet nutrition or pet health.
“As a result, cats have a low thirst drive, and don’t drink water until they are about 3% dehydrated—a dehydration level so serious that most veterinarians would consider giving intravenous fluids” – Little Big Cat
According to Know Better Pet Food.com, Struvite Crystals Are Associated With Dry Food
Struvite crystals are also referred to as triple phosphate (magnesium ammonium phosphate), and when several crystals join together to form stones, they can become life-threatening to the cat. These stones can range in shape and size, and when they block the urinary tract, they can quickly lead to kidney failure.
The incidence of struvite crystals in cats coincides exactly with the advent and widespread use of dry commercial cat foods. These diets became popular in the 1970’s, and since that time, cats have been subjected to this very painful and unnecessary condition. (These ‘foods’ were not developed for the optimal health of cats, but rather for the convenience of the owner, and for the profits of the commercial pet food manufacturers.)
The cause of struvite crystals in cats is dry commercial pet foods. Due to the lack of moisture in the diet, the urine becomes too concentrated, and due to the use of plant-based ingredients in dry kibble, the urine becomes too alkaline. An alkaline environment in very concentrated urine predisposes struvite formation. Struvite crystals do not tend to appear in a more acidic environment and where the urine is more dilute. The cat is not a natural water drinker, as it has evolved over millions of years, in a very arid part of the planet, and derived most of its moisture from its prey.
Consequently, the domestic cat which is fed a diet of dry foods is chronically dehydrated.
Acidifying the diet with veterinary prescription diets does not work. There has been little or no progress in the treatment of struvite crystals in the traditional veterinary community, more interested in selling you cat food than in caring for the health of your animal.
Best way to avoid this is to feed the cat correctly. When the cat consumes a balanced, natural diet of raw meat, the urine can maintain a more natural pH. The water content of the food (typically 75 – 80% moisture) creates a more dilute urine, and struvite formation, does not occur.**
http://healthypets.mercola.com/ – Proactive veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker visits an upscale pet boutique to evaluate the quality of the different types of pet food.
Here are some lesser known facts about dry cat and dog food ingredients that you may not know:
1. What Does “Bone Meal” Mean ?
Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones and slaughter-house waste products.
-Bone Meal Is Not Used For Human Consumption– Bone meal once was often used as a human dietary calcium supplement. Research in the 1980s found that many bone meal preparations were contaminated with lead and other toxic metals, and is no longer recommended as a calcium source. – Wikipedia
– Large Amounts Of Bone Meal Can Turn Rock Hard In The Digestive System “Bone meal is made up of de-fatted, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones that are ground to a powder. Gardeners often use bone meal to dust spring bulbs (to prevent squirrels from ingesting the bulbs). This “bone” is also what makes it so palatable to your dog so make sure to keep your pet from digging in it and ingesting the soil. While this also makes a great organic fertilizer, it can become a problem when consumed in large amounts as the bone meal forms a large cement-like bowling ball foreign body in the stomach – which can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract – resulting in possible surgery to remove it.” Pet Poison Helpline
-Daily Bone Meal Can Cause Constipation- Rad Cat Food Chooses To Use Organic Eggshell Calcium Instead Of Ground Bone. Ground bone is challenging for a cat’s digestive system, they say. Cats finding their food in the wild eat bones that are whole and chewable. In a typical ‘kill’ for your backyard carnivore, your cat would most likely consume far less bone than is in a typical serving of food with bone ground in. Many cats suffer from constipation when consuming raw, ground bone on a regular basis. In order to maintain a proper calcium:phosphorus ratio, diets with ground bone can contain upwards of 10% bone, which is troublesome for many cats. – Buy Rad Cat products here
– Bone Meal Is Processed– Aunt Jeni tells us there is a difference between bone meal, and natural bones- “In my opinion, bone meal is not the best way to provide your pet with minerals, such as calcium. The reason is this: it is a cooked, processed product. In order to produce this product, the bones are heated to extremely high temperatures, thereby killing off many of the useful nutrients they contain when raw. High heat processing renders foods far less digestible, which means less bio-availability for your pet. There are also cautions about the questionable source and purity of some “bone meal” products, suggesting that they may contain high levels of lead, an undesirable mineral.” auntjeni.com
2. What Does “MBM Meal” Mean?
MBM, is a wide variety of raw ingredients. Here is shocking list from littlebigcat.com,
- Non-meat parts from cattle, sheep, swine, or poultry, such as intestines, lungs, spleens, heads, hooves, udders, unborn fetuses, diseased or parasitized livers, cut-away tumors, and other parts unsuitable for human consumption
- Restaurant waste and out-of-date supermarket meats (and no, there isn’t a guy standing there taking them out of the packages; the “rules” allow for a certain percentage of plastic in the end product)
- “Deads” –animals that died on the farm (whose carcasses may have been decomposing in the sun for days)
- “Downers” (animals too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse)
-MBM Meal Can Contain Dogs and Cats Who Were Put Down
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that dog foods containing MBM and/or “animal fat” (both rendered ingredients) were the most likely to contain pentobarbital, the primary drug used to euthanize animals. Why is that?
Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser writes, “Although leading American manufacturers promise never to put rendered pets into their pet food, it is still legal to do so. A Canadian company, Sanimal Inc., was putting 40,000 pounds of dead dogs and dead cats into its dog and cat food every week, until discontinuing the practice in June 2001. “This food is healthy and good,” said the company’s vice president of procurement, responding to critics, ”but some people don’t like to see meat meal that contains any pets.” naturalnews.com
Sickening! Now you know what happens to kill shelter animals. Horrifying!
- A Comment Made From Swinn “There are only four ingredients that are known to have euthanized animals (meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat and animal digest). None of the kibble, canned and raw foods in the store were I shop have any of these ingredients. Four D animals can be used more often — cancerous tissue, downed cows etc. I do honestly believe however that the better quality foods use better quality meats. Many put their reputation on the line by stating they use “human grade” foods. Honest Kitchen (dehydrated foods) actually produces their food in a USDA inspected facility and their food is USDA inspected and passes. They can legally use the words “human grade” on their packaging.”
- Seen On Natural News “Another staple of the Tenderer’s diet, in addition to farm animals, is euthanized pets-the six or seven million dogs and cats that are killed in animal shelters every year. The city of Los Angeles alone, for example, sends some two hundred tons of euthanized cats and dogs to a rendering plant every month. Added to the blend are the euthanized catch of animal control agencies, and roadkill. (Roadkill is not collected daily, and in the summer, the better roadkill collection crews can generally smell it before they can see it) When this gruesome mix is ground and steam-cooked, the lighter, fatty material floating to the top gets refined for use in such products as cosmetics, lubricants, soaps, candles, and waxes. The heavier protein material is dried and pulverized into a brown powder—about a quarter of which consists of fecal material. The powder is used as an additive to almost all pet food as well as to livestock feed. Farmers call it “protein concentrates.” In 1995, five million tons of processed slaughterhouse leftovers were sold for animal feed in the United States. I used to feed tons of the stuff to my own livestock. It never concerned me that I was feeding cattle to cattle. Mad Cowboy By Howard F Lyman, page 12
- Seen On Natural News “After 45 weeks of producing fertile eggs plagued by hunger, debeaking, detoeing, decombing, toxic ammonia, and diseases, these breeder chickens are “liquidated” and turned into human animal “food” and nonhuman animal “feed” and pet food products. Prisoned Chickens Poisoned Eggs by Karen Davis PhD, page 93
3. What Does “Meat Byproducts” Mean?
Meat Byproducts are basically the parts of animals that wouldn’t be considered meat by a human consumer. Byproducts are the parts of the animal left over after the meat has been stripped away from the bone. “Chicken by-products include head, feet, entrails, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, stomach, bones, blood, intestines, and any other part of the carcass not fit for human consumption,” writes Henry Pasternak in Healing Animals with Nature’s Cures.
4. What Does ” Meat Meal ” Mean?
5. Why Brown Rice, Barley In Cat Food?
When we see “organic brown rice, organic barley and organic millet” we assume it is great for our pets. “Organic” labels are admirable, however organic grains are much better suited for a vegetarian animal like a rabbit, horse or cow, and us.
-Grains and Veggies Are Converted Into Fat- No Wonder Why Fluffy Is Overweight “Other ingredients of the dough include carbohydrates, or starch (either grains or starchy vegetables), a vitamin-mineral premix, and water. Adult dogs and cats do not need any carbohydrates in their diet; all these starches do is provide calories. Because they aren’t a natural part of our carnivorous pals’ diets, most of those calories are quickly converted to fat” Little Big Cat
Mercola.com shows us a typical list of ingredients:
In this bag of dog food (being held in the video), we have chicken as the first ingredient (are you detecting a trend yet?). The second ingredient is chicken meal, which is good because we want the first few ingredients to be meat. So far so good, but look what comes next:
- Brewers rice
- Corn meal
- Soybean meal
- Corn gluten meal
- Brown rice
- Dried beet pulp
Result? -Another case of too many carbohydrates in a bag of food meant to nourish a carnivore.
Pet Food Direct shows us what you don’t want to see:
- Poultry (chicken) by-product meal. Poultry by-product meal can contain bones, offal, and even undeveloped eggs. It costs less than chicken muscle meat – and is less digestible.
- Artificial color and chemical preservatives. You may see BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol. None of these provide nutritional value and have been associated with possible side effects.
- Corn. Wheat. Soy. These grains have been linked to allergic reactions in some dogs, so BLUE doesn’t include them in their recipes.
– Pet Food Direct Tells Us The First 10 Ingredients Provide 80% or More of the Nutrition – If you review the first 10 ingredients on a pet food label, you will have a pretty good idea of the formula’s overall quality.You don’t want to see ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, or other lower-quality ingredients Pet Food Direct
Wellness Natural Food for Pets On Amazon
– If Ground Corn Is The First Ingredient, It Means It Contains Very Little Protein- “On this particular label (on the bag of food being held in the video), the first ingredient is whole ground corn. This of course means there’s no identifiable source of meat at the top of the list, so there’s strike one.” Mercola.com
A Comment – “The foods BEFORE the fat content in the food are going to be the predominant ingredients in the foods. Some foods may list a bunch of veggies but they are soooo low on the ingredient list that they don’t really count for much…”
Is Corn Spread Throughout The Ingredient List? “Some brands define their ingredients in several different ways – for example, listing corn meal, corn gluten, and corn bran – so “corn” is spread throughout the label. If you combined all the “corn” ingredients, it could easily become the number one ingredient. Wouldn’t you rather your best friend ate a meal that consisted mainly of chicken, fish or lamb?” Pet Food Direct
– Processing Ruins The Protein ” To make dry food, whatever rendered high-protein meal is being used is mixed into a sticky, starchy dough that can be pressed through an extruder, which forms the kibble. The dough is forced by giant screws through a barrel and ultimately into tiny tubes that end in a shape, much like a cake decorator. The heat and pressure in the extruder are tremendous. As the compressed dough exits into the air, it passes through a whirling mass of sharp knives that cuts the pieces individually as they “pop” when they reach normal air pressure, creating the familiar shapes associated with each pet food brand. While heat processing makes vegetables, fruits, and grains more digestible, it has the opposite effect on proteins. Not only are cooked proteins less digestible, but they can be distorted, or “denatured,” by heating” Little Big Cat
– Go With A Specified Meat “Meal” – “The two items following the ground corn are meat and bone meal. Now, here’s where even meat becomes scary. When there’s no meat specified – like chicken, beef, turkey, etc. – the unspecified meat might be chicken, or it might be road kill. Could be rendered horse meat. It could even be the remains of dogs and cats euthanized at an animal shelter. All this garbage can be added to pet food as ‘crude protein.’Unspecified meat or bone meal is also to be avoided. Meal is fine, as long as a type of meat is specified – chicken meal or beef meal, for example. ‘Meat meal’ gives you no idea of the content. It could be bird beaks or feathers, or pig snouts. Scary” Mercola.com
Other Observations made by Mercola.com
- Whole wheat – a carbohydrate filler and unnecessary.
- Corn gluten meal– is highly allergenic and causes gastrointestinal fermentation and other GI upsets.
- ‘Animal fat.’ – there’s no animal specified so it’s anyone’s guess where the fat came from.
- Preservatives such as BHA; BHA and BHG, along with ethoxyquin, that should never be fed to any pet.
- ‘Meat mill run’ – is a byproduct of the grain industry. It’s a non-absorbable fiber used in pet food as filler.
- “Chicken byproduct meal” are the pieces and parts left after the breast and white meat is removed from the chicken. After all the good stuff is harvested for the human food industry, the byproducts remain. Beaks, feet, feathers, wattles and combs are chicken byproducts.
- “Propylene glycol” is a second cousin to ethylene glycol, which is antifreeze
The cats digestive system is made to process meat, where as our intestines are designed to squeeze out the nutrients in grains, and vegetables. Cats have short intestines, compared to ours which is quite long. They can eat meat, and it comes out of their bodies quite quickly. Their digestive systems are not made to eat grains, rice, and vegetables, which need more time to extract the different vitamins. A cat swallows her food in chunks rather than chewing: cat teeth don’t have flat chewing surfaces like ours and cows. A cats jaws only move up and down, and open wide, while ours can move from side to side which were designed to chew vegetables and other such material. In addition, a cat’s stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve bones, and serious breakdown of MEAT, compared to our bodies.
The Best Choices For Wet Cat Food
-Higher Protein/Lower Fat Is The Goal- “stay below 10% carbohydrate calories (the third column). There are many suitable low carbohydrate choices available depending on your cat’s preference and your budget. Many cats do well on Friskies Classic Pates and Fancy Feast. Stay away from food with gravy – they are high in carbohydrates. The same is true for most food with sauces. Higher protein/lower fat is also the goal. However, you will note that most commercial foods are low in protein and high in fat. Why? Because protein is expensive and fat is cheap” Cat Info.org
– Read The Ingredients On Semi Moist Treats “Semi-moist foods are some of the most toxic pet foods on the market. Not only do they contain propylene glycol, ethoxyquin, BHA and BHG, they also contain high fructose corn syrup and a ridiculous amount of carbs. All in an effort to create palatability. They have no place in your healthy pet’s diet.” Mercola.com
– Stay Away From Grains And Vegetable Cat Foods “Cats are obligate carnivores and are designed to eat other animals (meat, organs, etc.) – not grains and vegetables which only serve to enhance the profit margin of pet food companies and load the food up with carbohydrates.” Cat Info.org
-Protein Is What You Want To Look For- “Given the fact that fat is cheap and protein is expensive, you can see that profit margin drives pet food manufacturers to produce high fat/low protein foods when they make low carb products. Fat contains 9 calories per gram whereas proteins and carbohydrates are only 4 calories per gram. Therefore, fatty foods are very calorically dense making portion control important to consider” Cat Info.org
– The highest protein kibbled foods are Orijen (Adult food is 38% protein) and Innova Evo (Weight Management is 52.46% protein). Nature’s Variety, Taste of the Wild and others are right up there too.
– It Can Be Difficult To Move Over To A Healthy Diet, But Press Forward With Making A Change “Don’t get your pet in the habit of eating treats loaded with lousy ingredients, because it can be quite difficult to switch over to a healthy, high quality treat.” Mercola.com
– Adding Cod Liver Oil Is Great! “Fats are necessary for good health and disease prevention. Here again, fats should be raw or unrefined—not processed. Meat, fish, eggs, or milk in their natural states are the best sources of fat. The pet food industry prepares some pet foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are claimed to be effective for treating various inflammatory diseases. However, omega-3 fatty acids are quite sensitive to heat and are destroyed and easily become rancid during processing. Cod liver oil can be added to pet foods. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin A. Proteins Healing Pets With Nature’s Miracle Cures By Henry Pasternak DVM CVA, page 77 Seen on Naturalnews.com
-Expensive Doesn’t Mean Better– ” A survey of dry cat food for sale at a popular internet pet site found a huge variation in the price and quality. As expected, generic and grocery-store type dry cat foods were less than $2.00 per pound, while “organic” and many “grain-free” foods were more in the $3.00/lb. range. But the most expensive foods were not grain free, organic, or natural; but rather were those most massively (and expensively) advertised. Science Diet’s Feline Indoor Maintenance rang up at an astonishing $3.96 per pound, despite containing not one single shred of real meat (mainly poultry by-product meal, rice, and corn). Don’t even ask about Hill’s Prescription Diets—but if you just gotta know, their “hypoallergenic” z/d formula is over $6.00/lb.” Little Big Cat
-A Diet With Only Tuna Can Lead To Mercury Poisoning – Cats can be addicted to tuna, whether it’s packed for cats or for humans. Some tuna now and then probably won’t hurt. But a steady diet of tuna prepared for humans can lead to malnutrition because it won’t have all the nutrients a cat needs. And, too much tuna can cause mercury poisoning- Web MD
– Little Big Cat Suggests Adding Raw Meat To Their Diet, Simply Freeze It A Day In Advance – “Raw meat based diets can be made at home, or purchased frozen or freeze-dried. Even just adding a little raw meat to any commercial diet will be an improvement. However, raw meat is always contaminated with bacteria, and may even harbor worms and other parasites. Dogs and cats are quite resistant to Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other common meat contaminants; and parasite eggs and cysts can be rendered harmless by freezing at -4oF for three days before using.”- Little Big Cat
– Buy On Ebay, Online For Deals – One Lady Responds “ This was great information but I could not find a single brand in my grocery store that fits all these criteria. Do we have to shop in a pet store or buy from a vet? (I’m a cat owner)”
Here are some of the responses……
“You need avoid grocery stores, find a pet boutique, or become an online shopper :)”
“I always buy them online. These brands are basically NOT sold in stores. Look them up on the internet, find the most reasonable price and order from that vendor. That’s what I do, and I pay less than as if buying the Royal Canin/Science Diet type of “premium food” crap.”
“Do what I do – feed raw. I shop for meat that I can positively identify, cut it up and freeze in little bags for my cat. If I can get it for less than $2/lb, it’s cheaper than the best quality canned food. I won’t feed kibble (“kitty crack”) under any circumstances. Even with food prices rising, I find I can average it out; spend $2.50 for beef, and make up for it by spending $1.69 for heart. Pork liver is only .69 around here. My vet is “amazed” at how healthy my cat is. He has teeth as white as a kitten, and you can see your face in his coat. A good resource is www.rawfed.com.”
Cats Are Smart- On a positive note, check out this very cute cat who is also very smart, here
DIY Kitty Condo’s And Towers
Buying cat furniture can be costly. Who wants to spend upwards of $150 dollars on a cat tree, when you can make your own from materials you already own.
All that is needed is spare lumber, floor carpet left overs, pvc pipe, a drill, screws and twine for this diy project.
Many people use 2X2’s for the uprights and encase them in PVC pipe. The pvc pipe can be wrapped in jute twine (about 1000 feet), and carpet can be used for the platforms and resting areas. You can find 5X8 rugs on sale and cut them up. This project may be easier than you think.
Great Ideas To Borrow For Your Own Cat Tree
– Tall “New York City” Cat Tower Condo -Colin from Vancouver built a custom cat climbing tower for their two cats Yama and Kumo. Constructed out of pine and finished with an eco-friendly non-toxic stain, the sleek tower has been nicknamed “The Catsle.” Final cost for this elegant structure was $200 Canadian. See more photos and videos of Colin’s Custom Kitty Catsle in his Flickr set.
-Tall DIY Cat Tower -Perched on the highest point around, my cat, Mica, longingly looks higher… so I decided to make a 6 foot tall cat tower. A goal was to make the interior hollow, allowing her to climb both inside and outside. Materials: four 6 ft x 10 in. x 1 in. boards, one 4 ft. x 10 in. x 1 in. board, 12 ft x 4 ft. of “high traffic” carpet, 1 18 in. (pre-made) wooden circle. Read more here
-DIY Cat Condo / Cat Tree for Rini– From day one having Rini, everytime Deb and I go to PetSmart, we look at the Cat Condo/Cat Tree and wish Rini can have one. However we never bought one because they are very too expensive, so I decided to build it my own. Read more here
– An Elaborate Cat Run– “I always felt bad about keeping my cats inside but I also know that there are so many dangers awaiting them outside. We happen to live in an area where there are numerous busy streets and also an outdoor shooting range. Unfortunately a lot of people hate cats and do unspeakable things to them. So as they reached the senior citizen stage, I couldn’t take it any longer because I felt so bad about them never lying in the sun, breathing the fresh air, watching birds, squirrels and butterflies… so I started to think. After searching the net I saw that there are several professionally made outdoor cat cages and some home made ones. And I started to wonder if I would be able to do the same in our small neighborhood without it sticking out like a sore thumb.It’s not the prettiest design decision to have a chicken wired enclosure in your back yard and I’m sure a lot of my neighbors thought that I had finally lost it. I certainly got enough questions about what the heck I was doing now in our backyard” Read more here
All you need is a cardboard concrete form and a carpet runner. Buy adhesive that says non-toxic when dry. Visit the Lowe’s Creative Ideas website for all the instructions or check out this video to see how it’s done.
6 Free Plans For Cat Tree –www.meow-cat.com
Photo credit: Instructables
Not for the novice DIYer, this architectural masterpiece is new and different. This step-by-step guide tells you everything you need to know to get started.
DIY wall mounted cat scratchers Found on sassycontessa.com
A couple of boxes, a utility blade and some glue is all it takes to make a two-story cat climber condo like this idea from Haute Nature.
Turn an old cabinet into a kitty play center. Take off the door panels, and replace them with chicken wire. Or cut circles into the unit, and equip the inside with multiple levels your cats can play on. Easy!! Found on animal-care.com
Not intended as cat furniture, this Thomas Wold piece can used for a kitty play area by using a mix of dressers, shelves and boxes that are scattered, secured and painted.
Stunning Mid Century Modern Styles
Remarkable Design – See the process on lechatcanaille.over-blog.com
Homemade Cat Tower From A Bookcase – Found on craftster.org
The Hicat Climbing System – Found on petslady.com