I am discussing two potential hazards for domestic cats when eating dry cat food. First, though, I believe that some manufacturers make dry food pellets too small in the interests of cat health. I believe that the optimum size of dry cat food pellets should be the oral care type of pellet which is considerably larger than the standard size. In fact, you will find pellets which are smaller than the standard size.
Inhaling particles dry cat food pellets through the nose
Yesterday, either a fragment of a dry cat food pellet or possibly (highly unlikely) the whole of a small pellet was inhaled through the nose by my cat. It is far more likely to be a fragment which he tried to sneeze out with an enormous amount of energy. He sneezed incessantly and very violently for quite a long time. It concerned me and it still does to certain extent even though he is now quiet and restful.
It seems entirely possible to me that fragments of dry cat food can be inhaled through the nose like this. Particles of dry food rest at the bottom of a cat bowl. They can present a hazard because cats breathe while they are eating like any other animal. If their nose is close to the bottom of the bowl and it seems entirely possible that my cat inhaled a food particle in this way. I don’t know whether he has sneezed it out.
For all I know the ‘foreign body’ might still be in his nasal cavities waiting to be ejected. It’s a bit concerning because he may adapt to its presence which may lead to some lasting damage. I am watching and waiting to see what happens next. I am prepared to take him to a veterinarian to make sure that it is not there.
Swallowing and not eating
Is my belief that if the dry food pellets are too small domestic cats simply gulp them down rather than properly masticate them. Cats don’t grind food like us because their carnassial teeth are like scissors which sheer flesh and the theory is that the large oral care pellets help to clean the teeth and the gum line through abrasion.
I can’t see any reason why dry cat food pellets should be any smaller than the oral care size unless there is some manufacturing reason which would not be a good because this is about cat welfare. But they need to chew on the food rather than swallow it whole.
If a cat swallows rather than breaks down pellets in their mouth they are liable to irritate the stomach which can cause vomiting. My conclusion is that petfood manufacturers should make all dry cat food of a certain minimum size and in general larger than is currently available as the normal size.
P.S. A lot has been written about the lack of water in dry cat food which can lead to urinary tract bacterial infections as there is less water in the cat to help flush the urinary tract. It is believed by some vets that cats on dry cat food are slightly dehydrated all the time because they don’t compensate adequately by drinking more water. But that is another topic.
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