Hello furr-riends and welcome back to Cat Chat! Today we are going to discuss something important to all of us: food and water.
One of the most important ways you can take care of your kitten is with a proper diet. For too many years now, we’ve been told that the kibbles and canned food on the shelves is well-balanced and sufficient enough for our furry pals. However, in 2007, a massive pet food recall began to open many pet parents’ eyes and create a desire to learn more about what’s best for them in terms of food and treats. Since then, we have discovered more about proper nutrition for our precious pups and kittens than ever before.
The following are some of the most important things to know for your cat:
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must consume meat in their diet. They have a high protein and moisture requirement, as well as a moderate fat requirement. Taurine, an amino acid found in animal-based sources of protein, is incredibly important to their health. While most cat foods contain high amounts of it, this is something you must ensure you include in their diet if you give them homemade meals. This is also why you should NEVER put your cat on a vegan or vegetarian diet (and this is coming from a vegan writing this!)
Now sure, the cat foods most commonly found on the shelves of your local pet shop may contain high amounts of taurine and sufficient sources of protein. Yet, we have still seen an increase in diabetes, obesity, autoimmune illnesses, arthritis, allergies, and so on and so forth. This may sound familiar, as we’ve had the same issues as humans ourselves. The thing is, what we put in our body determines our levels of health, comfort and happiness. This goes for our feline friends as well. See, those ever-popular canned foods and kibbles contain fillers and go through so much processing that by the time they hit the shelves, they’re not so great after all. What we have found to be the best diet for cats (and dogs) is a raw diet.
Now I get it, the thought of raw food probably freaks you out a bit. With trigger words like “salmonella” and “bacteria” thrown around, it’s no wonder people are hesitant to transition their pet to a raw food diet. But here are some things to consider: while we’ve bred cats in a way that may change their appearance, their biological needs remain the same as back in the days of hunting for themselves. Animals are built to eat raw food. You certainly don’t see a tiger grillin’ up their dinner in the wild, now do you? (Although honestly, I’d pay to see that!) Their digestive tracts are much shorter than ours, processing food so quickly that bacteria and anything else harmful doesn’t have a chance to affect them as it does us humans. They also have very high acidity levels in their stomachs, put in place to neutralize pathogens and bacteria.
While the raw food movement is still fairly young, it is something that more and more pet owners are finding to be the best diet for their pet pals. Two of us have six cats and swear by the raw food diet, and have for years. As a first-time cat owner, and a first-time raw food user, I can tell you firsthand that I’ve seen a HUGE difference in my girl transitioning from canned to raw food. Her coat is shinier and healthier, her energy levels have risen, and even her poops are smaller and less smelly. This is because there are no fillers to process, so she’s eating only what her body requires and nothing more.
If you’re still not convinced, do some research and see for yourself. We recommend watching Pet Fooled, a documentary released in 2016 that covers the 2007 pet food recalls and what the pet food industry likely doesn’t want you to know. It is a self-regulated industry, and you’d be shocked to see what they can put on a package because of their regulations in place. Do not be fooled by the bright packaging and clever marketing terms like “all-natural” or even “contains chicken”. Another great resource is truthaboutpetfood.com, run by Susan Thixton, who dedicates her time to keeping the public informed of everything there is to know about pet food and the pet food industry. The more you read, the more you’ll be glad you did!
Not sure where to start when shopping for raw food? Here are some of our recommendations for great brands and great companies that have our pet’s best interests at heart:
Primal, Small Batch, and Stella & Chewy’s are three wonderful raw pet food companies. Primal and Small Batch are both based in California, while Stella & Chewy’s is based in Milwaukee, WI. All three companies are small but growing, all dedicated to providing only the best ingredients that create biologically appropriate meals for both dogs and cats. They are highly recommended raw food brands, and used by both yours truly (Primal) and the aforementioned cat family of six (Small Batch). You can choose from frozen raw foods, which contain everything your cat needs, including a high moisture count in the food. If you need something with a higher shelf-life or easier for travel, both Primal and Stella & Chewy’s offer freeze-dried options, just be sure to hydrate the food before serving!
If you’re still nervous about making the switch to raw food, another good alternative to ease you in is dehydrated or air-dried foods. Ziwi Peak and Honest Kitchen are both trusted companies, also dedicated to ensuring your pets are getting the proper nutrition.
Honest Kitchen is based in San Diego, CA. They offer a variety of options, from grain-free to limited ingredient recipes. They are the only brand that can call themselves human grade and remain very transparent (as all of these companies do) with their ingredients and processing. Their food is dehydrated, so like with freeze-dried, you will need to add water.
Ziwi Peak is based in New Zealand and air-dries their food. You do not need to add moisture beforehand, though it’s never a bad idea to offer more water to your pet! Their food is popular for its high protein content, with 96% fresh meat, organs, bones and seafood. Their food is also all grain-free.
These are just a few of the great brands out there, pushing the movement to take better care of our pets and what we feed them. They also offer treats, all of which uphold the same standards as their meals. If you’re local to Los Angeles, check out Healthy Spot or The Urban Pet for these high-quality foods and wonderful staff to answer any questions you may have! Most importantly, always check the labels and don’t be afraid to shop around. Our pets deserve the best, and it all starts with what we put in their bowls.