Beware of Misleading Guidance on Feeding Cats

Learning just about everything about our kitties is really important. But don’t worry for a moment. There’s a plethora of information about felines from which to choose for your edification available at bookstores, magazine stands and floating around on the Internet. There you can find a wide assortment of books, articles and scientific papers related to feline health and wellness, behavioral concerns that are puzzling, and loads of advice on nutrition.

Pet food in a store in the UK
Pet food in a store in the UK. Photo: LK9 Premium Pet Food.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

But the expression caveat emptor, buyer beware, is one that is fitting. While there is an astounding amount of accurate and well written material to peruse; be careful. Unfortunately some information is extremely confusing, limited, misleading and often just dead wrong.

As an example, the other day I ran across an article in a highly prestigious feline magazine on how to feed cats based on their life stages. It got me so hopping mad! This one-sided article was written in part based on the opinions of a veterinarian whose expertise is in feline veterinary nutrition and obesity prevention. This article advised that in order to prevent obesity, kittens should be fed only twice a day, with the highest affordable dry or moist kitten food. Twice a day?

Since kittens are extremely active, they burn calories like crazy. Many feline-savvy nutritional experts recommend feeding kittens four times a day until they are at least 6-8 months old. What I found fascinating was when I compared the labels of a can of high quality kitten food and a can of adult cat food; the kitten food is a 11% minimum crude protein while the adult food is a minimum 10%. Some veterinarians believe that even these amounts are not sufficient.

Felines are obligate carnivores meaning that they need animal tissue (meat) to meet their dietary requirements. Since cats lack amylase in their saliva they are not able to digest carbohydrates. Plant protein is not at all appropriate. Guess what? Dry food is loaded with carbohydrates and doesn’t offer sufficient water.

The magazine article stresses the importance of not permitting cats to graze. To prevent grazing it’s suggested that once the cat has finished eating (even if there is food remaining in the dish) that the bowl should be removed.

But isn’t this hard and fast feeding rule ignoring the fact that there are cats who do extremely well when grazing? As far as I am concerned, as long as the amount of intake of grazed food equals the equivalent of a can of cat food divided into two portions a day; why not offer them food more often?

Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, there is some excellent scientifically based information about feline nutrition available too. Articles stressing the importance of feeding high quality protein to cats as they age written by Dr. Karen Becker who is in the video:

http://youtu.be/V-MzXLdtAro

Dr. Lisa Pierson’s article “Feeding Your Cat: Knowing The Basics of Feline Nutrition” on her site: catfinfo.org is a goldmine of fascinating, accurate information.

As I see it, the problem we have in feeding cats appropriately is that many commercial cat foods on the market are selling products geared for age-specific and even breed specific foods with flashy advertising appealing to the public. But are we doing justice to our kitties? I often feel that it’s not so much.

What do you think? Tell us your opinion in a comment.

Jo

9 thoughts on “Beware of Misleading Guidance on Feeding Cats”

  1. Thanks for a great article. After years of be owned by many animals I have learned to read labels and bags and decide what is best for the cats, goats and sheep.
    I take a rather slow burn at some people that work in the local pet food super store in our area. At the check out counter one day the sales clerk tried to tell me that the food I was buying was substandard. My reply was that most foods are not to my liking but I had done enough research to know that the food I was buying was best for my cats. The clerk gave me a nasty look and told me that with the food I was buying my cats would not have a long healthy life. My only reply was, ” Thanks for that observation. I will tell all my senior cats what you said.” At that point she asked ages of the cats. Currently their ages run from 9 years to 18 years of age. Our 26 year old just passed away recently. The clerk shuttith her mouth.
    Learn about nutrition, read labels, be informed. I sometime listen to our vet. She no longer pushes her recommended foods. We understand that my cats’ nutrition is more important than her making money.

    Reply

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