Manufacturers of Grainless Cat Foods Continue to add Carbohydrates for Obligate Carnivores

There’s no way in getting around it, no matter how hard we try! Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring meat as their dietary mainstay. Cats lack amylase in their saliva, (the digestive enzyme essential in digesting carbohydrates). As a result they cannot efficiently digest carbohydrates.

cat eating from a bowl

But apparently many of the higher-end cat food manufacturers are trying to ‘get around it’. While they advertise ‘grain-free’ in their products, the first ingredients listed on the label of one of the more popular brands targeted for adult cats indicates a whopping amount of carbohydrates.

According to nutritional expert, veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, even with the scientific evidence that proves cats are obligate carnivores, companies manufacturing dry pet food continue to add carbohydrates to their products.

A Canadian commercial pet food company recently produced the white paper (articles that are produced by businesses that are basically informational marketing pieces) The Biologically Appropriate Food Concept and Dietary Needs of Dogs and Cats. According to Becker the report does provide some good information for pet guardians to help them understand their pet’s nutritional needs.

The authors write,

“With short digestive tracts and gastrointestinal systems, dogs and cats are adapted to metabolize animal flesh and fat, not grains and carbohydrates. Today’s modern dogs (of any breed) are not only capable of eating the food of their wild ancestors, but actually require it for maximum health.” The same is true for cats.

Becker goes on to write:

“According to PetfoodIndustry.com, AAFCO’s 2010 Pet Food Nutrient Profiles and the National Research Council’s 2006 Committee on Animal Nutrition conclude that dogs and cats do not require carbohydrates in their diets. And it’s common knowledge that the natural diets of canines and felines contain almost no carbohydrates, with the primary source being predigested grains, fruits and veggies found in the stomachs of prey animals.”

For example: While the first ingredients listed are high in protein and low in carbs; read on: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols) and Potato Starch. A little further down the list are whole Carrots, whole Sweet Potatoes, (Taurine*), Cranberries, Blueberries, Apples and Blackberries.

While blueberries, blackberries and cranberries are relatively low in carbs (and could be found in the stomach of prey animals), carrots are root vegetables. People on low carb diets often avoid eating them. However, sweet potatoes, (while highly nutritious) peas and pea fiber, potatoes, potato starch and peas are considered foods that are high in carbohydrates.

Many of the higher-end moist cat food are grainless. However, once again we find potatoes, peas, root vegetables and several varieties of fruit. Some grainless cat foods are also bulked up with meat by-products since it is less expensive to manufacture.

Felines may enjoy the flavor of these high carb vegetables, but they cannot readily digest them. Obviously they are included in the mix to add substance, bulk and cheap energy. I suspect kitty guardians reading the labels may think that these items provide their cats with a substantive balanced diet. Realistically, however, if the pet food manufacturers added more meat protein and omitted the fruit and high carb vegetables in their products, that they would be offering cats a much more species appropriate and more easily digested food. But would this be economically feasible? I think that is the question we must ask of these pet food manufacturers.

Therefore, when it comes to top notch feline nutrition; are kitty guardians being lulled into a false sense of security when they purchase foods labeled ‘grain free’? Do they fully understand that while grainless products may contain fewer grain carbohydrates but still contain a high level of carbohydrates? What will it take for them to learn that cats cannot easily digest those carbohydrates that are not nutritionally sound? What do you think? Please share your opinions in a comment.

Jo

*An essential amino acid for cats is necessary for normal heart and eye function.

Photo credit: Flickr User : Smitten with Kittens

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Manufacturers of Grainless Cat Foods Continue to add Carbohydrates for Obligate Carnivores — 51 Comments

  1. It seems to me that pet food manufacturers marketed “grain free” to get more business in response to complaints about cat food being padded out with grain.

    Now they are conning us again by using ingredients that are a more subtle form of cheap padding while blatantly disregarding the essential basic dietary requirements of cats.

    No surprise. Human food has the same problem. Commercial food manufacture is about profit foremost, health second.

    The trouble is that, in general, cat owners accept the cat food that is presented to them. Cat caretakers need to make a stand and stop buying poor commercially available cat food. We really need to force the manufacturers to up their game and start prioritising the health of the cat. We need to make our own cat food but even good cat caretakers don’t. That includes me and I am ashamed of it.

  2. To be honest, with the cost of everything, including cat foods, through the roof, I believe that if these foods were all meat, they would be unaffordable by most of us. I buy the best quality foods I can, which are for me, very expensive, and I see good results in my feline family. No one and nothing is perfect. We do the best we can. That’s how I feel about the subject.

    • I agree. There’s no way for me to get around not buying commercially available food. It’s a matter of selecting some of the best, or at least the middle ground, from what’s on the shelves. I try to add real meat to the wet that I buy when I can(boiling chicken parts), and that’s the best I can do for the time being. Time and money are the obstacles. I can’t cook 5 pounds of chicken every day for the amount of cats that I feed.
      It’s a shame that we can’t trust the people who claim to care most about our cats’ health, second to us.

      • Exactly Dee you do a wonderful Job, I wouldn’t be able to do it either. I give My cats some treats now and again too. I’m lucky in the fact that our Cats can go outside and run around in Green areas. I feel sorry for people where there cats can only be inside most of the time. I do try and get some more expensive Brand Cat food sometimes at the Vet when its on special if they have 10.00 off an amount but its hard with Multi-Cats.

    • I agree i would struggle myself to be able to make this food alone esp for 4 adult cats and one kitten. Have tried before to get raw meat, even gave them rabbit that my neighbor had caught and cooked it even but no that wasn’t accepted lol. So its just dry biscuits and wet food

    • I agree they would be unaffordable to most of us. What does that tell us about us? Does it mean that we have been lulled into believing that it is cheaper than we think to feed a cat properly? Does it mean that most cat owners don’t have the funds or time to feed their cat properly? Does it mean we don’t really care if we feed our cat properly or not?

      • I guess Its saying though we give a lot of food for us, we dont give quality of food for our cats. I guess that’s what your trying to say. We Prob have all been lured into that Lie from the Cat Food Producers that its cheaper to feed our animals cheap food. The same, could be said about Cheap Clothing and Shoes. I think that its not true of all Cat Owners, but i guess it depends on the amount of money that we have to spend. I spend a good amount about 30 a fort nite. So are you saying its cheaper to make your own Cat food over items bought from Supermarket? I myself always make sure they have good Quality wet food and Dry Biscuits and water. Never buy cheap as the Cats dont like it. Never get something that they dont like as its a waste of time and money. I myself have plenty of time for them, if there was a easier type way and if it not going to cost a lot of money I would be interested in it. I also i think its harder when you have abit more than 3 cats, but I’ve never really known any different way. Yes It is important, that we care properly for our Cats, as they are our family. I can see what you mean by the Questions like making me think. I Think when adopting or considering a lot of animals need to think how best can support them. I’m hoping that is what you were asking in the Questions.

      • Well, my personal take on it is that the rich and powerful have just about bled the rest of us dry, and most people in society are so brainwashed that they bend over and let them do it. It’s nothing to do with us not caring or being able in a normal, caring society…it’s all about greed, avarice, and what amounts to selective ignorance and mass extortion.

        • Exactly I’m totally with you there. As its the same down here in Little New Zealand. If you dont have a lot of money or means times are tough. If I wasn’t living with someone else i would find it Extremely hard esp with 5 Cats. We would probably have to split them. Which dont want to do as they are a family. Its very hard to find good Rental Properties as Houses are being sold all the time. There is little Rental Properties. Its hard also to find an understanding, caring and supportive Landlord. Yes its all about Greed most of all. It seems to be like that the world over.

          • Agree with (and feel for) you 100%. Most of my adult life has been spent at the mercy of landlords. Only recently have I been fortunate enough to be a property owner, which is something most people on this earth only dream about. Even so, there are “quotas” on the number of non-human family members one may have in one’s care here, regardless of the fact that people can pump out babies like there’s no tomorrow and no one can do a thing about it; and some people can’t care for themselves, while other people care very well for large numbers of cats or other living beings. *sigh* I’ve always thought it’s the CARING that counts most of all, and that no one else should be able to impinge on this, as long as the care is adequate!

            • Exactly that’s what i was getting at. I could never have over what ive got now. The only reason i have so many is 3 are rescues. I used to have 6 which was way too much for me. It does get expensive sometimes esp when you count Vaccinations, getting them fixed and other problems. i DO try my best to feed them well Im my no means perfect but try to give them all the love and caring and very careful . I’d love to give the raw food but with 5 cats its very expensive, plus i think they are so domesticated now. I think they would struggle if i they had to go to a shelter and i would hate for that to ever happen. I’m very tenderhearted upsets me when people say cruel things. Thanks for understanding. Yea it be great to have your own house. Things here in New Zealand are very expensive now. Its very hard for people on a low Income to get their house they have to have 20 percent for a loan. Most people dont earn over 40,000 as im on a benefit I would never be able to afford that. Anyway thanks for your kind words.

              • Oh, that’s me, definitely. I just lucked out in some ways. One of my exes has been to your land twice and he pretty much bears what you say out, though he didn’t research everything and doesn’t know it like someone who lives there. It’s tough here, too, especially in Los Angeles Metro where I live — housing prices are through the roof. And food prices — including for cat food — ditto. Six in the family now, down from a high of 31 some years ago. I would and do go without so they can have the standard I try to keep to for them. I completely agree & understand!

    • for what it is worth, the higher the animal ingredients in a food and the lower the plant based ones, the less the cat needs to feel well nourished. Not only that, but there is less output, so there is less litter use, and less odor so you don’t need to buy deodorizers. and top that off with a animal that will most likely be healthier for longer, thus less vet bills, this really is a case of pay me now or pay me later.. and with the latter resulting in a less healthy and robust cat

      • Agree 100%! That’s exactly why I buy the very best quality foods I can for my beloved feline family members — because they ARE my loved ones, my family, and I have a responsibility to keep them as healthy, happy and well as possible!

  3. Howdy, Jo –

    I agree one hundred percent with every point you and Michael make.

    But how to end this exploitation?

    I’ve never been a fan of TNR. (Am equally dead set against euthanasia.) While there are people on PoC who feed hordes of stray and feral cats that would otherwise go without, I’ve never encountered such people in person. Martha Cain in Malta is another what R & B would call an ‘earth angel’. But where in Sam Hill are all the rest? And are 99 percent of them women?

    Yes, PoC has people with households bulging with cats. It also has people who either walk or drive somewhere once or twice daily to feed multitudes of homeless cats. But apart from where these people are, what do they FEED them? The elaborate raw meat diet advocated by Lisa Pierson, DVM, on her wonderful website?

    And what about the louts – am sorry, but that’s what they are – who comprise a fair percentage of people who ‘own’ animals? On the off-chance they bother to feed them at all, do you doubt for one moment that they buy the cheapest 50 lb. bag of pellets they can find at Walmart?

    How do you reach these sorts of people? The answer is: you don’t. They’re impenetrable as granite. Are they the incarnation of evil? No. They’re light-years worse. They’re flat-out incapable of grasping so much as one word of your and MB’s writings on the subject. They could read your explanations ten times, and it would leave them yawning, scratching themselves, and nodding off into a stupor. Your arguments, your research, et al. would make nary one dent in their flawlessly smooth-surfaced psyche.

    So there you have the two ends of the spectrum: people of limited means who care about cats, and all animals vs. people who couldn’t care less. Who care no more what they feed their ‘pets’ than they care about their own diets.

    Have you ever glanced at the groceries the average shopper standing in front of you dumps on the mechanized counter? The phosphorescent purple and chartreuse fizzy pops containing a list of chemicals that would stock the shelves of a pharmacy? Veggies sprayed with pesticides, fungicides & herbicides? (Thee investigative journalist, Bill Moyers, underwent a blood test some years ago, and the results showed the residue of sixty chemicals circulating through his veins, not to mention PCBs galore). Have you ever noticed the bags of white rice, white bread and heaps of pastries? Meats and milk infused with growth hormones, antibiotics, lactating stimulants and who knows what else? And is it remotely conceivable that people who ingest these substances with the peace of mind stemming from rock-solid ignorance are going to care about what’s in their animal’s ‘pet’ food? They’re unreachable.

    But as for those I’ve yet to meet – the kindly people who feed homeless cats – how can they afford to feed a nutritious diet to hordes of feline waifs? And what about the (ostensibly) no-kill animal shelters? Do these sanctuaries have the funds to feed the endless rejects uncaring people dump on their doorstep, cats and dogs that can sit in the shelters for months and years because nobody wants them?

    Yes. Pellets are horrible.
    But apart from the dreary monotony of having to choke them down day in and day out – can you imagine crunching nothing but grape-nuts twice or thrice daily? – how can these pet food manufacturers be compelled to upgrade the quality of their product when (1) a huge percentage of ‘pet owners’ couldn’t care less what they feed their animals, so long as what they feed them is cheap and convenient for the ‘owners;’ and (2) so long as softhearted people feeding colonies of cats haven’t the funds to spend $65.00 a month and more for decent food for one pitiful cat?

    That is what I was shelling out for stray cats when I moved down here in 2005, and it added up to hundreds of dollars every month for just a few strays, compared to what some feral caretakers are trying to cope with. Are there truly caregivers who pay this, per cat, to feed dozens of cats several times daily? Because if there are, they’re impressively solvent.

    Even Friskies canned cat food is often unacceptable to Sidney Vicious, the plug-ugly, haggard wreck of a tom who comes over here twice a day from next door. Ooooo, yeh-h-h. . .ah L-U-U-U-V-V muh kih-deeee!’ his ‘owner’ drawls with oily self-satisfaction when I encounter the so-and-so on mercifully rare occasions. Peachy. He wouldn’t think of feeding his cat once a month the cheapest, rancid-est pellets he can buy on sale because it’s passed its expiration date. . .much less offer the cat a semblance of shelter when the rain comes roaring down for months, or the temperature drops to 18 degrees.

    How do you reach someone like this? You don’t. You do not. Enn-oh-tee.

    And as mentioned above, even poor Sid rejects certain varieties of Friskie’s cat food. Which speaks volumes for the drek that it is, riddled with phony synthetic vitamins, carb fillers, tocopherol, fake flavors, a dozen other polysyllabic chemicals, and food coloring to turn the grey a rinky-dink pink.

    I’m not a foul fiend. But I do not want any more cats. I’ve had it. It’s over. They just about kill you when they age and die. Towards the end of her days, I was spending nearly $100.00 a week to find some kind of food my little girl could eat. The last ten months of my boy’s life cost nearly $4,000. I weep every damnable day of my life since they’ve been gone. I’ve shot my bolt financially. I have exhausted my in ‘inner resilience.’ I’m dead in the water. Decomposed.

    And yet I keep feeding poor Sidney Vicious until I can find a halfway decent home for him. But where do I FIND one? Is there anyone out there who won’t feed him rancid pellets? How can I be sure? This cat is hopelessly unprepossessing. I think the 19th century illustrator, ‘Phiz,’ made sketches of Dickens’s ‘Uriah Heep,’ the villain in David Copperfield (title underlined). And Uriah, if he’d been a cat, would have been a dead ringer for Sidney Vicious. But can the poor cat help he isn’t someone who’d inspire Helmi?

    Back to the cat food. There isn’t a single lout on the planet who’s going to stand in the kitchen hand-cranking pricey raw meats through a grinder and sprinkling the pile with powered taurine, capsules of fish oil and other recherché nutrients. Sadder still, what feral caregiver could afford the time and expense?

    In a word, what is a snowball’s chance in hell commercial cat-food manufacturers are going to upgrade their product? Even the priciest wet and dry foods, as you point out, use dirt-cheap ingredients. The so-called ‘low-carb’ cat foods are nearly as vile as the stuff that costs a third of the price.

    The same ploy is at work as that which substitutes the term ‘intersified’ for ‘partially hydrogenated,’ a verbal ploy that made its grand entrance when a minuscule segment of the public finally heeded the warning that hydrogenated fats were the autobahn to arteriosclerosis and cancer. (Which Andrew Weil, M.D. drove home in his books two decades ago.) The term is nothing more than a smoke-screen for a substance that’s even more lethal than hydrogenated fats!

    The answer to this mess? Darned if I know. Psychopathy comes in many shades. The magnates of business and industry lack all feeling for the welfare of anyone but themselves, a mindset that means immense profits for them.

    • Sylvia, I don’t know whether to feel insulted or commended by your comment. I am one whose house is bulging and one who travels to feed homeless cats. They all get the best of me. It may not be to the standards of someone who only caretakes one cat; but, it meets my standards; and, they are thriving. And, yes, my feeding costs alone just about break me. But, I don’t care.
      I’m saddened that you don’t want another cat.
      Take care.

    • How do you reach these sorts of people? The answer is: you don’t.

      Agreed. These people are the cornerstone of the pet food industry. The manufacturers know they can turn out poor food and sell it. It is similar to declawing. The vets use the ignorance of poor cat caretaking within their client base to sell unnecessary and cruel services.

      You could go wider to all consumers constantly at risk of being scammed by big business.

      • well since Sylvia got into the human side of this, remember there have been instances where the populous has stood up and said no.. for instance trans fats.. and now HFCS.. how many products say HFCS free?

        There will always be people who assume that because it is on a store shelf it is safe, but there are a growing number of the population who are realizing the dangers of GMO and Monsanto and the havoc they have created by patenting seeds but getting them GRAS status.. and for the most part when you know more you do more.

        I don’t really care if we ever get rid of kibble. I think it has it’s place in the world just like McDonald’s does.. but man it would be nice if just one manufacture of pet foods made a readily available species appropriate line of food.. with out plants, that had several different varieties of flavors.

        Personally I feed raw. Yes, just so you know it is far cheaper to make raw food yourself then just about any commercial pet food you can buy (except maybe those HUGE bags of megamart kibble when they are on sale) but it is work. so I buy premade. It is frozen. There are times when we can’t get to the store or we just haven’t gotten around to thawing out enough food for our seven cats (and possibly a handful of foster kittens in the house) and we are forced to rely on commercial foods. I abhor feeding my cats potatoes and peas and carrots, but to get the good quality meat in the food I have to put up with that. Or I can feed a lesser quality meat and not have plants (but those are a dying breed.. I used to be able to find many cheap cans of food with no plants, now I think there are just a few)

        we vote with our dollars. the more people we help to understand the problem, the more votes we will have, and the more likely it is to happen.

  4. I liked and appreciated your rant. 😉 And I love ALL cats, no matter what they look like or what they have to eat. Hey, none of us is 100% healthy in this corrupted world!

    • You are so right. And, I feel a little like just hiding under you right now. I’m feeling a little intimidated.

      • Not sure who or what you feel intimidated by, Dee — think we’re all friends here in common community, sharing the same interest — CATS!!! — but hope you feel better soon, whatever the reason may be for that. 🙂

  5. I honestly believe that if the dry foods were all meat and no filler we would not be able to afford it. As it is the feed I buy is on the high end side. The up side to that is that the cats eat less of the food and are doing well on it besides. If I could I would put the cats on an all meat diet and talk to the vet about vitamins and supliments. Problem there….meat is sky high too. Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    • I agree it is about cost. What it peculiar is that we are all used to believing that it is cheaper to feed a cat than a person – but it shouldn’t be. A lot of people can’t really afford to keep a cat to a high standard.

      • Yes i agree Its hard thing. I would love to be able to give our cats the best money could buy. I’m not offended by what Sylvia is saying she is just saying from her point of view. For us its a no brainier, buy good quality cat food what you can afford , dry food and what the cats like that’s what is important for us. As HAPPY CAT HAPPY LIFE. I try every now and again to get them special meat treats. Sometimes can get some more expensive stuff from Vet.

      • I always tell people I spend more on them than I do on me, because I think it’s probably true. Of course, there ARE six of them to only one of me…;)

        • Yea we do our Best to give them the best as they are our family, our children. We even go without some luxury items just so they are happy and wouldn’t want it any other way.

          • My cats aren’t my “children” as I’ve never had any interest in or wanted children. My cats are my beloved family members. And yeah, when you love someone you try to make them as happy as possible! Absolutely. 😉

            • Exactly i never wanted children either i agree with you there. Exactly make them as happy as possible give them as much love and Care. Great that theres other people feel the same 🙂

              • Yeah, that’s what it’s all about for us! As for kids, well, with over 7 BILLION people on the planet, overpopulation is driving all of the problems all of us care about. Too bad more people don’t just deal with that and decide their gene pool just isn’t that precious that the world can’t live without their offspring!!!

  6. If everyone could afford to feed their cats what they eat in the wild, there wouldn’t be an issue. Carnivore type food is expensive and most cat owners have more than one to feed. I know a lot of people with cats/dogs live under the poverty line or just over. Therefore, making it impossible to feed raw diet. People do the best they can with the resources they have. Interesting article

  7. Hi, Dee!

    ‘Bulging’ is not a pejorative adjective, far as I know.

    My yard was bulging with cats for the first six years I lived down here. So was my toolshed with cat beds & blankets & snuggy-loos. Was it the Waldorf Astoria? No. But better than having to hunch under a car in the muck during months of pounding rain.

    As to what became of all the cats, many were infected with FeLV of epidemic proportions, and FIP (whatever it’s called); the ones I could catch I transported to the vets, who gave them blood tests to diagnose the presence or absence of these diseases. If the tests were positive, I paid $75.00 to have the poor cats put to sleep. Does this mean I’m hardhearted? Then so be it. I especially loved one stray enough to pay $840.00 for his dental work, only to find out he had renal failure — and so I also had him put to sleep. As to what happened to the others, they refused to bed down in the shed, and were picked off by cougars roaming the neighborhood at night. Several others I paid no-kill sanctuaries a hundred dollars per cat to hopefully find good homes for.

    I’m sorry you’re saddened by my unwillingness to parent more cats, but hope you will grant I’ve toiled fairly hard, in a manner of speaking, in the ‘Lord’s Vineyard’ up to this point – i.e., for years. I’m very tired, perhaps a moral failing, but not everyone has the unlimited capabilities of many cat lovers and rescuers…and I admit to my shortcomings.

    As for Sidney Vicious, no need to feel sorry for him, Dee! I was merely describing his looks, which I’ve never held against, even a little, nor would hold against any other cat (homed or homeless). He’s being fed canned cat food daily. I never ignore him in the morning and evening, but jump into action the instant I see him sitting out there, waiting for his breakfast & supper. And when the rains return in October – if he’s still here – I’ll rig up big doghouse on my screened back porch and fill it with blankets, so he has a bed and plenty of food.

    Does this mean I want the cat? No. Does it means I pet and talk to him kindly? Yes. Does it mean I’m looking for someone who desperately wants him? Yes. Does it mean I’ll thoroughly grill them before I’d consider parting with him? Yes. Does it mean I have high hopes of finding any such person(s)? No. Does it mean that when the temperature drops, I’ll take him in the house for most of the day and night? Crikey. Don’t ask. There’s no escape.

    Anyway, nothing was further from my intent than insulting you or anyone else on this website. I know very little about you, but am thinking you likely feed more cats than Carter has pills. Which means you’re extraordinarily kind.

    My sole source of agitation is the multitudes of characters who wouldn’t think of giving themselves the trouble to care for their animals – that, and my failure to understand why there have to be more of these kind than there are Dees and other PoC troops.

    Is it because of the cost? Largely, of course. There are countless parents who do the best the can by their kids, and cats don’t invariably drop like flies from eating kibbles.

    But PoC has featured posts, in the past, about what a cat can do to ‘enrich’ the life of an elderly person. Yet some of the photos that went with these posts showed these elderly women who – though they may ahve been sharp as a tack – looked rather touchingly age-befuddled in their babushkas and clogs and smocks hanging down to their ankles. And I couldn’t help wondering how they managed to feed themselves – what did they eat? Gruel and bread-crusts? – much less a cat or several cats. Whenever these PoC posts appeared, what kept popping into my mind was a headline I read in a newspaper, several years back, about an octogenarian widow in London who was eating boiled cardboard.

    If my screed came across as cantankerous, it wasn’t directed at anyone on this website. It was aimed at people who don’t care at all about their fur-kids, and about the increasing difficulty of affording a cat or dog at present-day prices for veterinary care, plus the cost of providing their kids with a healthful diet.

    I can only go by what little I’ve read: that kibble-fed kids in their gathering years who can end up looking like blimps after a lifetime of having to chew four ounces of starch, at each meal, to extract a teaspoon of mummified protein laced with preservatives.

    Do all cats and dogs who live on this diet suffer poor health and eventually die of diabetic blindness, obesity and urinary tract disease? That would be rather hard to imagine. But that diet, based on what little I’ve read, can apparently raise the risk.

    Actually, my fear at this point is that I’ve insulted a years-long pen-friend by a letter I dashed off to her yesterday. She loves cats, rescued five kittens that lay in a field she was hiking across some years ago, and has parented them ever since. This woman has had a successful career and is, to add to her riches, an heiress, so she has ample funds to lavish on her fur-kids. In fact, she built this beautiful covered ‘catio:’ a 20 x 20-foot extension to her house filled with tree ferns and vines, orchids, dwarf palms and bamboo, etc., a bubbling fountain, and a ‘jungle-gym’ of ladders, trapezes and catwalks to keep her kids happy.

    And now – OMG – she writes that one of her cats is constipated, dehydrated & obese. And she was wondering why. But then she fed the cat some canned food and home-cooked chicken for the first time in its life, and was thunderstruck by its sudden revival. Over the years she’s been feeding her cats nothing except ‘designer’ kibbles on the specific recommendation of her vet, who sells her sacks of it displayed on the shelves in the vet’s reception area. Well, as good-natured as she is, she’s easily wounded, and I knew I was walking on paper-thin ice to mail her a couple of printouts from the Lisa Pierson website. Will she believe them? Who knows? Am sure I’m a dead duck…

    As to the health of your feral cats, it goes without saying they’re a thousand times better off to have you and your generous efforts on their behalf than they’d be to have nothing but an occasional bird or mouse – which is all they have down here where I live. And yes – there are cats and dogs who reach a ripe old age eating nothing but kibbles. So few things in life are a hundred, nailed-down provable.

    Take care of yourself, Dee, and don’t work too hard.

    p.s. to Iniki, jmuhj & Tina: Yes – your insights are spot-on!

    • TYSM for your heartfelt comments. And I agree with you (I think!?!) that in cases where a living being is incurably ill/in pain, it is kinder to opt for euthanasia, which is the true definition of this term, btw. I know it’s what relatives have said in the past that they would choose if they could for themselves, and it’s what I would want myself if god forbid I was ever in that state. Also, yes, most people on this earth have a very hard time even being able to survive themselves, let alone care for others, especially in the top-quality, very expensive manner people in this society seem to think anyone responsible and caring MUST do. It would be very desirable if people from this society all were made to travel and live anywhere in the world where the rest of us — and by that, I mean those of us from other cultures — live and struggle, the way none of them ever see when they go as rich tourists. It would be a humbling and an eye-opening experience indeed!

  8. Sylvia Ann,

    I too really felt your passionate “rant” and I can totally understand where you are coming from – I think. I try not to make assumptions! Since we have to elderly kitties- one turning 15 in January and the other 14 in October, it really scares me as they age. Sir Hubble has had two bouts of pancreatitis and that was very worrisome. The thought of losing them just is unbearable.

    If the cat food industry would just cut down a small bit on their persistant and uninformative advertising and spend more on their products I BET that they could bring in a high quality grainles LOW carb moist food- and cats would truly be happier and healthier. That’s just my thought. It also is a damned shame that the FDA doesn’t put the manufacturers to task to use DECENT HIGH QUALITY meat in their ingredients- not the pap and by products (which don’t have to be individually listed- on labels- it would scare customers away)- perhaps things might be a bit better for our kitties.

    Dry food basically is for human convenience. I feed our guys 4 times a day with small portions totally 5-6 oz a day (right what they need) so they get the “grazing” experience. If I feed less often they often gorge themselves and lose their dinner. My vet is thrilled with our feeding plan.

      • Michael, now THAT would be amazing. We need to tell them that they must do this. I wonder if they would listen if enough people demanded more transparency, and protection.

    • Jo I don’t believe they care whether the cats are healthy or not. Actually I think they only care that they look healthy enough to convince us it’s ok.

      I do think that to work in a company like that you have to be a bad person. But I’m sure someone there would berate me for criticizing them for ‘feeding their familly’ or whatever, since jobs aren’t so easy to come by.

      But I’d still take them on because I would rather get benefits than poison cats. But that’s just me.

      I’m not particularly hopeful about capitalism – I think it’s poisoning everyone with apathy so they don’t bother trying to be good anymore. But they are still poisoning cats and ignoring the fact. Just because their life might be hard why should they ruin the lives of cats they don’t even know….

  9. Jo – Thank you for your thoughtful comments! Tried to respond a while ago, but computer succumbed to a bolt-from-the-blue gas attack.
    Will give this another try tomorrow.

  10. Howdy, Jo –

    Thank you for your intelligent comments, and I quite agree it’s a shame those corporations have to concentrate on profit to the exclusion of a high quality product. As you rightly suggest, they could offer better nutrition if they lavished less of their ill-gotten gains on public relations and sales promotions. As for the flabby FDA, you can’t help but wonder if they’re not in cahoots with the entities they’re supposed to regulate.

    Believe me, I feel your foreboding over your boys’ gathering age. But aren’t Siamese cats noted for their longevity? Given the care they receive from you, aren’t they good for another five-six years? Though even at that, their lives are tragically brief, of course. When we humans are enjoying our apple-blossom springtime, our kids are frail and faded.

    I’ve heard multiple times on my sat. radio that the scientific community expects to extend the human life expectancy to 120 years in another two decades or less. Good or bad? It means most of us will have to keep slaving away well into our eighth and ninth decades. Which we might be more than able to do, when the nanotechnologists and stem-cell experts are figuring out ways to wipe out dementia, arthritis and other ills of aging. And think what a cash cow this will be for the cosmetic surgeons! Have you seen recent photos of Raquel Welch? La Loren? Jane Fonda? At the opposite end of the spectrum, have you seen recent photos of Prince C.? His father looks younger, heaven have mercy. Aristocrats don’t stoop to the scalpel.

    But if scientists pile more years on our lives, they’ll do the same for our fur kids. Is this science fiction? Not in the least. It’s happening already – i.e., to the human race. People seldom lived beyond 30 in the days of ancient Greece & Rome. And people were bent and old as dirt in their 50s during the early decades of the last century. Nowadays, hordes of octogenarians are working 30 and 40 hours a week, and seemingly thriving on the routine. Our Chamber of Commerce has a public relations fireball in her mid-eighties who promotes the perks of joining the organization, and barrels around these frontier towns signing up new members. (This after years of raising seven offspring.)

    As for our animals? I gimp like a centenarian when I first get out of bed – am hauling manure and still digging and transplanting even this late in the season – though my soreness doesn’t ‘sadden’ me. But one day, a few months before his death, my beloved old man, when he tried to jump out of his litter box, lost his balance and fell on his side. You could see how mortified and bewildered he was to lie there in a leap. The sight of him wrung my heart like a wet-mop – which it does at this moment – and I rushed over to where he lay, lifted him up and held him in my arms all morning, trying to comfort him in his old age. So hooray for the day when science can add years of good heath to their short lives.

    Your diet regimen for your boys sounds perfect, and it’s great they’re eating well. What’s more, you have a world-class vet; hold on to her with a steely grip, for heaven’s sake – they’re not always that easy to find.

    You mention meat byproducts, by the way, as something to be avoided in ‘pet’ food. Yet Lisa Pierson, the vet with the website, says parents needn’t be that alarmed by the presence of this stuff in canned dog and cat food. She says dogs and cats wolf down feathers, fur, combs & wattles (wait. . .do birds, except buzzards, have these appendages?), chewable bones, teeth and small fangs, feet, innards – just about the whole package, and all of it is fairly nutritious, so she says. Which of course doesn’t mean you’d want overmuch of these substances in their canned foods.

    Anyhow, thanks for another informative article.

    And pet the boys.

    p.s. Would you get mad if I said this? Your husband sounds like a consummate Sweet Pea! He wrote only one sentence in a comment a few days ago, but sounded so very nice. His presence will help you cope with the sadness of losing your kids, when it happens. Down here where I live in this Sasquatch haven, people have minimal interest in cats. They’re duck hunters who idolize their retrievers.

    • As for the flabby FDA, you can’t help but wonder if they’re not in cahoots with the entities they’re supposed to regulate.

      I have often felt this to be the case. There must be a lot of lobbying and pressure from business of FDA employees. The same happened with the oil business which caused the Mexico oil spill or at least contributed to it.

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