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Healthy Diet

Cat Food 101: Tall Tails Debunked

By February 5, 2024 February 6th, 2024 No Comments

What’s on Your Cat’s Silver Platter?

With an increased amount of competition in the pet food business, knowing what to feed your cat can be VERY overwhelming. Colorful packaging, costs, commercials, friends, breeders and even sales associates add more dimension to this complex subject. Please continue reading as we explain some common misconceptions.

MYTH – Protein must come from a meat source. On a molecular level, a protein is a protein. It has the same composition whether it comes from a plant or animal source, and the body can’t distinguish between them.

MYTH – Ingredient lists are the quintessential elements. Pet food labels are not under the same guidelines as human food labels. In fact, there is little regulation in the pet food industry. The ingredient list for pet food is listed in order of the HEAVIEST ingredient, not the most abundant. For example, if chicken is listed as the first ingredient, this means that it was the heaviest ingredient prior to processing out the water, bones, fat, cartilage, beaks, and feathers. In the end, it is NOT necessarily the most abundant ingredient in the finished product.

MYTH – Cats should not be fed plant protein. Chicken, chicken meal, chicken by-products, corn gluten meal, and brewer’s rice are ALL sources of protein! YES- even corn and rice! Corn gluten meal is the concentrated protein portion of the corn kernel. Brewer’s rice is used as a protein source for animal feed in which modified proteins are necessary to help manage certain disease states such as renal/kidney disease. It is an easily digestible source of protein. Byproducts are the portion of the animal after rendering that is typically not desired in the human food market. This does not mean they aren’t human-grade or undesirable, it just means humans prefer NOT to eat these products. Examples include-hearts, tongues, intestines. Although not appetizing to humans, they are actually high-quality sources of protein for our felines!

MYTH – The higher the protein, the better. Depending on the protein source and manufacturing process, high percentages of protein may come with other less desirable additives. Minerals and ash are protein by-products derived from the manufacturing process. While needed in trace amounts, too much of these by-products can lead to health issues such as urinary crystals and even emergency situations like urethral obstructions.

TRUTH –Cats are carnivores. They should have meat with high protein. This is NOT a myth. Yes our cats are obligate carnivores (dogs are omnivores like humans), and they need protein. But a food with high protein does not necessarily mean it is better. The body can only use a certain amount of protein (unless in stages of anabolic growth like kittenhood) and the rest is wasted/excreted. In addition, a cat that is offered a high-quality protein may need lower amounts, as that high quality protein is more readily available for digestion and absorption.
The best diet is one your veterinarian recommends, when they take into account your unique cat’s age, home environment, and overall health condition….AND most importantly one that your cat likes! All of our veterinarians and staff enjoy individual nutritional counseling, so please call or email us if you’d like to discuss what may be best for your cat.