Why is it that the top medical professionals in the world recommend a diet rich with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods while the veterinarian community is one of the last groups of health and wellness professionals suggesting just the opposite? Traditional vets are taught to only recommend highly processed foods for the animals entire life. To never promote fresh foods as a means of a healthy life. But cats and dogs have NEVER eaten this way. Until now.
The domestic cat, Felis catus, has been in existence for over 4,000 years and you’re trying to tell me that their biological requirements have changed so much within the past 100 years since kibble has been invented that they can ONLY eat the same flavor of starch balls for every meal for every day of their entire life?
Cats have evolved eating a diet primarily of small rodents, birds, and some insects. Therefore, their diet is mostly meat, bone, organ, and whatever was in their prey stomach, mostly consisting of small amounts of pre-digested starches. Most importantly for today’s house cats, this prey had a natural moisture content of 60-70%. It is logical to assume then, to maintain proper organ function, and optimum health, that the food we feed our pets should be around 60-70% moisture.
Dry food has a maximum moisture content of 12%.
Not only do dry cat foods have extremely low moisture content, but they are extremely high in carbohydrates. Compared to a raw diet, which is almost no carbohydrates, its no wonder why 1 in 2 cats in the U.S. suffer from obesity.
If there is one thing that could prevent a multitude of ailments for your cat in the long run, providing a moisture rich diet is one of them.
Here is just a short list of ailments that can be eased by pumping up the moisture:
Urinary Tract Infections
Cats are desert animals. Thriving on a meat-based diet, they naturally have a low-thirst drive. As there was little evolutionary pressure to develop such a drive, cats that do not receive this moisture in their food are therefore chronically dehydrated. Cats on a dry diet will consume half the amount of water as those on a wet or raw diet. The amount of water that needs to be ingested to make up for that loss in hydration is 7-9 ounces per day.
It takes a cat 2,200 licks to drink just 2 ounces of water.
Urinary tract problems are some of the most prevalent issues facing chronically dehydrated cats. They are painful, sometimes hard to diagnose early on, and can be life threatening if left undiagnosed. Cats fed a low moisture diet forces the kidneys to concentrate urine to retain as much moisture as possible for proper hydration of the body. This concentrated urine contains minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and ammonium, the components in struvite crystals. Crystals can build up in the urinary tract causing pain, discomfort, and eventually, blockages.
The urinary tract designed dry foods you see on the shelf are one of the most harmful marketing ploys conducted by a major institution facing cats today. These foods have added acidifiers to decrease the pH of the urine (DL-methionine or ammonium chloride). Also, the amount of magnesium is reduced in the hope that struvite crystals won’t be able to form without it. Besides the fact that this will increase the chances of calcium oxalate stones forming, magnesium is critical for forming bones, teeth, and other metabolic processes.
Having a male cat, I also feel obliged to point out that male cats are prone to urinary tract issues due to the small diameter of their urethras. Fortunately, balanced raw diets provide a natural pH of 6.5 without compromising on magnesium.
Not only are urinary tract problems something to splash about, but 70% of cats will develop periodontal disease by the age of 3. If kibble “cleans their teeth” then I am throwing away my toothbrush and my floss and binging this bag of cheetos. High levels of simple sugars provide easy dinner for biofilm-forming bacteria causing plaque and eventually, tartar. Dental cleaning under anesthesia or tooth pulling have become the norm. Am I to assume that cats went to the dentist once a year for a check up before kibible was invented?
Cats are obligate carnivores, and should be treated as such. A diet high in moisture is more than crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, a commercial raw diet is 150% cheaper than an all human-grade canned food diet (calculations made with specific natural brands for a 10 lb cat - message me for deets). The smallest amount counts. More info to come regarding the deets of an affordable raw diet!
Disclaimer: This post is meant to educate on the topic of cat nutritional requirements. This is not intended to offend or belittle pet owners that feed a dry or lower quality food. Whatever is within your means is good enough! There are many ways to make small improvements in your cats nutrition! If your limits are extreme but you would still like to make a difference, feel free to contact me or your local integrative veterinarian.