Studies Are Urgently Needed to Look More Closely at the Role of Diet in Feline Disease

The title comes from the conclusion section on a chapter on nutrition and welfare in the excellent book “The Welfare of Cats” edited by Irene Rochlitz. The book was published in 2007. Has the consumer had the benefit any studies over the past 8 years? On the contrary, there has been an epidemic of feline diabetes and obesity over the past 10 years and some people put the blame on the burgeoning market in dry cat food and its convenience (to consumers not cats).

The section on nutrition and welfare contains references to over a hundred excellent studies and research projects on the subject. It is therefore a comprehensive book and the conclusions should be digested (excuse the pun) by people in the pet food manufacturing business.

The conclusion goes on to state:

“As with humans, it is likely that the way we feed our cats as kittens and young adults may well have an impact on the risk of developing degenerative and other diseases in old age.”

It is hard to know what to say about that conclusion except to agree with it. However, eight years has elapsed and although I don’t want to be too cynical, I don’t see an awful lot of improvement in cat food or studies on cat food and how it affects health. Am I missing something?

Dry cat food

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The conclusion also states that there are “currently available veterinary prescription diets to treat disease”. They say that these are largely aimed at managing the consequences of established disease and are “very broadly applicable”. That is an implied criticism. It is saying that they don’t really work and in fact many people would argue that prescription diet are no better than other versions of dry cat food. Prescription diets almost invariably are supplied as kibble and kibble is inherently defective in the eyes of many.

A further conclusion with respect to the feline diet from this section of this excellent book states that “The focus at present is on optimising the health benefits are different life stages, and preventing or managing a range of diseases.”

As mentioned, this conclusion was written in 2007. There are indeed a range of cat foods aimed at different phases of a cat’s life but I’m doubtful as to their efficacy and I am even more doubtful as to whether they help to manage or prevent a range of diseases during those stages of a cat’s development from kitten hood to adulthood. I don’t see great strides in progress but perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Finally, a further conclusion about cat food states that “formulations of cat foods are continually evolving as the knowledge base increases.”

From my perspective formulations of new cat foods is motivated by financial profit primarily. The objective is to increase the range of cat food and therefore increase sales. Once again, if somebody wishes to disagree with me I’m very open to being challenged but on my assessment I don’t see great strides being made over the past 8 years in formulating food for domestic cats which is totally based on cats’ welfare as opposed to the convenience of its use for the consumer (the human caretaker) and other factors such as profit margins.

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By the way, any cat owner would benefit from purchasing the book I refer to on this page and the ISBN Number is: 978-1-4020-6143-1.

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