Cats Need Wet Food

Cats Need Wet Food
By Beth Taylor and Steve Brown

The natural diet of cats is meat.
Cats are meat eaters, designed to thrive on a wide
variety of small prey animals, eaten fresh and
whole. Their natural diet is high in water and
protein, with a moderate amount of fat, and a very
low percentage of carbohydrate.
Dry cat food is high in grain.
A diet of dry food is high in carbohydrate, between
35 and 50 percent. “Diet” and “Lite” foods have even more.
Dry food contains almost no water. Dry cat food is convenient to feed, and relatively
inexpensive, but it’s the opposite of the natural diet of cats. Cats have no dietary need
for any carbohydrate.
Cats need to get water from their food.
Cats are descended from feline desert dwellers. They couldn’t stroll over to the watering
hole for a drink, and cat tongues are not very well designed for drinking water.
Cats are adapted to obtain most of their water from their prey, which contains more
than 75 percent water. Cats who eat dry food consume only half the water they need,
compared to those that eat wet food, and live in a state of chronic dehydration.
The common health problems of cats are related to diet.
There is increasing evidence, published in peer‐reviewed veterinary journals, that many
of the health problems seen in cats are the result of diets inappropriate for a feline. Dry,
grain‐based foods fed to a meat eater, over time, result in both chronic and life‐
threatening diseases, like these:
Obesity: Since cats are designed for a high‐protein, moderate‐fat, low‐carbohydrate
diet, it is not surprising that obesity is often seen in cats. Diet cat foods have even more
carbohydrate than regular ones, and less fat, so they depart even further from the
natural diet of cats, making it harder for them to lose weight.
Diabetes: The high level of carbohydrate in dry cat food contributes directly to the
development of diabetes in cats. Blood sugar levels rise when cats eat dry food. When
this is an ongoing event, insulin‐producing cells “downregulate,” which leads to
Kidney disease: Kidney disease is the most common cause of death for cats. The kidneys
require an abundant supply of water to do their job. Without water to process the
byproducts of the digestion process, the kidneys are overloaded, become damaged over
time and unable to do their job.
Bladder Problems: Cystitis, bladder irritation and bladder/kidney stone formation are
also strongly connected to dehydration. If the body is well hydrated, these problems are
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome and Disease: These problems are often characterized
by vomiting and diarrhea and are very common in cats. Cats who eat a species‐
appropriate diet rarely suffer from these issues.
Dental disease: Dry food has a high sugar (carbohydrate) content, which has been
shown to cause dental decay.
For cats to derive any supposed abrasive benefit from dry foods to be seen, they would
have to actually chew their dry food. Since dry food shatters in their mouths and they
then swallow the pieces, there’s no abrasive action from chewing something hard.
Cats who eat dry food often have very severe dental problems. Many factors contribute
to dental health, but it is clear that a high‐carbohydrate diet is not beneficial!
The Solution: An Appropriate Diet for the Species
It’s simple: Cats need to eat a diet that is high in protein and water, with a moderate
amount of fat, and almost no carbohydrate.
Most of the health problems we’ve discussed here are either radically improved or
eliminated by eating a diet that meets the needs of a carnivore ‐‐ one which closely
resembles the nutritional balance provided by a mouse. For example, many
veterinarians now treat diabetes in cats with a meat‐based canned diet.
We’d like to go a step further, and prevent these diseases.
Feed your cat a meat‐based diet!
We suggest you buy canned food that is designed to be complete, or complete frozen
diets that have very little vegetable content. No grain sources should be listed in the
ingredient panel. There are grain‐free canned cat foods that have some vegetables in
them, but vegetables should not be a major component (read our article on how to
compute these percentages).
“All meat” diets are just that, and they will not meet your cat’s nutritional needs alone.
Make the switch successful!
It sounds simple to just switch your cat’s food. After all, meat tastes better than dry
food, but your cat may disagree. Dry foods are designed to be tasty, and many cats are
addicted to them. Often, cats are not open to the idea of variety, especially if they have
only been fed one food (as we have been advised by pet food companies for decades).
Creativity and patience may be needed to switch your cat.
Cats will starve themselves, and they are not good candidates for the tough love
approach. Some very serious conditions can occur if cats do not eat for an extended
period, especially if they are overweight. A slow switch will prevent problems.
Here are some ideas to help you along:

  1. Establish regular feeding times and put food away in between meals. For many
    reasons, it’s best for their bodies not to have food available all the time. If you
    have dogs, you know what to do with leftovers! Feed multiple cats separately.
  2. Consider dry food to be a snack only, not left out all the time. Leave out just a
    few pieces as a treat. Consider this the equivalent of “kitty junk food.”
  3. Offer bits of other kinds of fresh food that you are eating. They may be refused,
    but one day, they won’t. Your goal is to get your cat to consider things as food
    other than dry, crunchy items.
  4. Cat whiskers are very sensitive. If food is served in a bowl that interferes with
    whiskers, it could be enough to keep the cat from considering the food. A flat
    dish works well.
  5. Cats generally prefer their food between room temperature and body
    temperature. The dry food cats are used to eating is designed to be very smelly.
    Warming the food releases the flavors and fragrances. Cats choose food by
    smell, and wet food is a lot less fragrant than a commercial food they have been
    eating. This is often the reason that the second half of a can of food is refused:
    The first time it was room temperature!
  6. Trickery has been known to work with cats. Put the food on your plate, or hide it
    in a location cats know to be forbidden. When in doubt, creativity helps!
    Additions and Considerations
    Add sardines for good fats, or use fish oil. A meal of sardines once a week or one small
    sardine a day adds omega‐3 fatty acids in their best form ‐‐ whole food. Because cats
    can’t use plant sources of omega‐3s at all, animal sources are necessary. If sardines
    aren’t appealing to you, use a fresh, high‐quality omega‐3 fish oil supplemented with
    vitamin E.
    Digestive enzymes and a glandular supplement are good additions to replace the parts
    of prey animals we normally don’t feed cats: The stomach contents and smaller glands.
    We think that the optimum diet for cats is a raw meat‐based diet. However, if you feed
    your cat a canned diet that approximates the balance of his or her natural diet, their
    diet will be fully hydrated, and you will be much closer to providing your cat with
    optimum nutrition.
    If you choose to feed a meat‐based canned diet, find a way to simulate components lost
    in cooking or processing.
    One way to add live food is with “cat grass,” very popular with cats. It’s often available in
    the produce section at the grocery store, or you can grow your own from a kit. This
    addition often takes the burden off the house plants! Dry “green stuff” is another choice
    (“Barley Cat” is one product). It takes a very small quantity of a dry product to do the
    job. Too much can make urine PH too alkaline, and cause some of the problems you’re
    trying to avoid! Tiny pinches of dry green stuff go a long way.
    For cats, good diet can make the difference between “Old Age” at 12 and 23. Cats who
    eat dry food are often old and feel quite ill at 9 or 10.

My Own Recipe for Cats

I enjoy making my cat raw food and boy does she love it! She still eats a little bit of high protein kibble, but her coat is beautiful and she has lots of energy. Here’s her favorite raw food recipe:

1 lb of raw (organic) ground turkey

1/2 lb of raw (organic) ground beef

1 organic chicken liver

1 C water

2 raw egg yolks

2 Tbsp of bone meal

4000 mg salmon oil

2000 mg (1/4 tsp) Taurine

400 IU Vit. E

Just put these ingredients in a blender or food processor until well blended. I then use small containers to freeze the portions. Fill the containers up as much as you can to keep air out. Only defrost one at a time. I add a little bit of hot water when serving so it’s more room temperature, which is important. Using a Ninja 3 tier blender makes it a piece of cake!

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