The Best Cat Diet (how to decide what to feed) - HELP!
There are so many different opinions when it comes to deciding what to feed a cat. Wet, dry, raw, commercial or home prepared…it can get very confusing to know what’s best!
So question number three is all about what should we feed a cat? This new cat owner had an older cat that died who was 18 years old and was fed mostly on dry food on the advice of their vet. 18 years old is a very respectable age. They fed her according to her weight twice a day and she was in really good health and an ideal weight for the vast majority of her life, but they've just got a new kitten and they’re wondering what should they feed and how much should they feed her?
The best cat diet?
Should it be wet food, dry food, raw, a mixture? What's the best thing?
Well, let's start with the fact that feeding and the best food for cats and dogs can be a really controversial subject, but here's my kind of brief summary opinion and I'd be really interested to hear what you think of this as well!
As far as what amount we need to feed, obesity is a huge epidemic, so many cats and so many dogs are obese and it’s just really very tragic and they're not living the life that they deserve. They are getting diseases that they shouldn't have.
So really the amount we feed is much as she needs and no more.
Feed to avoid obesity
Really, we need to base that on monitoring weight trends and body condition scoring. That's something that the veterinary team can go through. Vet tech’s and vet nurses are fantastic at monitoring weight and maintaining weight, and very often veterinary clinics are running weight checks as well.
Also, ask your vet what your cat's ideal weight is when they’re in for their next check up, as that is something that we really need to be discussing in any wellness consultation. We want to be evaluating weight and checking that our pets are at a healthy weight and not kind of creeping up. It's very easy for a little bit of creep to take place over a number of years and, before you know it, you've got a cat who's overweight or even morbidly obese.
You can also obviously monitor weight at home on bathroom or kitchen scales.
So we need to feed the amount that an individual cat needs and there's going be a huge variation. So I often find that if you're feeding a commercial food, then the pet food manufacturers will slightly overestimate the amount of feed unless your cat or your dog is very active. So we need to feed appropriate for the individual lifestyle and the individual genetics as well.
Is raw best?
Now if we're thinking about actually what to feed well, I don't recommend raw feeding and that's for a number of different reasons. It's a health risk to us as their owners, albeit a low but serious health risk, as well as there being health risks to any raw fed cat. I've actually got a separate comprehensive article about all of the risks and benefits of raw diets for cats and dogs that you need to read if you feed, or are thinking of feeding your pet a raw diet.
Now I feel dry food is fine to feed a healthy cat.
This is something that again, people get very passionate about and will claim that they're developing certain conditions such as kidney disease because they're being fed a dry food. Really there’s absolutely no evidence for this. If a cat does have kidney disease, then wet food is going to be generally preferred if at all possible, but that in itself doesn't mean that dry food causes these problems in otherwise healthy cats.
One thing to bear in mind if you are feeding dry food, is that a cat can become a kibble junkie! They'll only ever then eat dry food if that's all they're ever used to. So I definitely think it's a good idea that if you're choosing to feed a dry commercial kibble, to also feed some wet food with different textures, different consistencies and different flavors every now and then just to help avoid your cat becoming a dry food addict.
How important is water?
Feeding a wet food is never going to be the wrong thing to do. It encourages water intake, which is something cats aren't very good at. A normal healthy cat is able to compensate for low water intake because in the wild and the desert where they originate, then they don't generally get a lot of water, so they’re just used to drawing a lot of water out of their food. But if we're giving them a wet food, they’re definitely going to have enough water, we don't need to worry about that, and then if they do develop a condition later on that means that we need or want them to have a high water intake (be that kidney disease, diabetes or the like) then they’re already being fed and they're already happy to accept a wet food., which can be very important. There are also other ways to get cats to drink more water which you can use instead of or in addition to feeding a wet food.
So that's kind of my very broad summary on feeding. I don't recommend raw, I don't think inherently for every cat that a dry kibble is bad, and I actually do feed my cat’s a dry kibble. But equally we should be feeding wet food every now and then just to make sure that they’re used to that. And if you want to feed a wet food, then that’s never going to be the wrong thing to do. So potentially that's therefore the best thing to do!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this potentially controversial topic.
The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.
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