Cats and Diet

Some years ago we had a particularly distressing weekend with a much loved cat who had developed diabetes/kidney failure and was dying.

It was an Easter weekend and everyone was away. We nearly went out of our minds trying to find a vet who would put him down (we did find one eventually). To see the poor creature struggling to get off his bed was heartbreaking, especially when we realised it was because he didn't want to wet his bed.

He died horribly!

Anyway, since then it has long puzzled me why this epidemic of cats dying of diabetes and kidney disease started and what caused it, but at that time there wasn’t the internet. However, the flag went up some months ago in line with my interest in low carb, so I went out to see what was in cat food. It was no surprise to see that on the market leader that the first ingredient was 23% cereal. I went out to a another local shop and took ingredient package photos of two of the market leaders manufacturing cat food.

If I have it right, then the situation is worse than I feared - it looks like the meat content in both cases is no more that 8% - the rest, apart from mandatory additives, is all vegetable in origin! I might have the total meat content wrong as the labels were very difficult to interpret, but overwhelmingly the main ingredients were not animal derived.

Now, as there are bound to be people reading this blog who keep cats as pets, there are are probably some whose pets are overweight, obese or even diabetic. And I would bet a pound to a pinch of snuff that they are being fed dry cat food. Now, there is a lot of controversy over the human omnivore diet issue, but I don’t think that anyone would disagree that a cat is a pure carnivore. Remember, you are asking that carnivore to process huge amounts of sugar with a commensurate insulin response - something it is not designed to do. When was the last time you threw bread out for the birds and watched a cat pounce on it rather that the bird? You aren't feeding your cats proper food - you're feeding them biscuits! Is it any wonder cats are developing diabetes? I'm prepared to bet that the feline diabetes epidemic started shortly after dried cat food hit the market!

If your pet falls into the metabolically challenged category then I’d suggest you drop all dry cat food immediately and feed it canned wet food - either that or make sure you’ve got the best insurance you can afford and be prepared for a lot of heartache!

If you do decide to get your cat onto wet food, you might get some resistance (tip - hunger is the best sauce!) Eventually though they will take to it, get to their natural weight and stay there. Don’t worry how much to put out, as the cat will eat its fill and then leave the rest. I will guarantee the animal will lose weight and its metabolism will improve.

Apart from the nutritional issues involved, cats get most of their moisture from the food they eat, as much as 75% and have a poor drinking reflex, and that’s another thing - it’s safest just to give it water only - most cats are lactose intolerant.

At this juncture it’s hard not to draw parallels with the human diabetes epidemic - take an organism and monkey with its natural nutrition and you get trouble.

Here's another cat tale .

When I was working on a farm in Shetland there was a lady who kept a Tom Siamese. It was never fed, but went and caught it's own food - not small birds and rodents, but  rabbits.  It was absolutely lethal, and watching it was like observing something like a scene from a Northern Serengeti documentary, with this miniature lion as the star. When it caught a rabbit it would consume it over the course of about 24 hours, every bit, bones and all. Then it would lie up with a rabbit sized lump in its belly. It was the meanest SOB I ever saw with an expression to match and no pussy cat. This cat was not a pleasure to pet, as it was like stroking a fur covered python! It remained lean an mean all its life, because it was in its natural habitat behaving as any animal will given the chance.

In conclusion, why would the manufacturers of pet foods make this rubbish? Well, follow the dollar!

Animal protein is expensive, difficult to manufacture and package. On the other hand there is an abundance of cereal, which is easy to process and package. The finished product has huge appeal because it is tasty, convenient and cheap.

Notice the parallel?

Junk food for cats!

You might like to look at the following site.

catinfo.org/#My_cats_are_no...

Mike Pollard

PS the above applies to dogs as well!

6 Replies

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  • Hi Mike,

    Your post brought back memories of our beloved family dog who had to be put down because of a kidney tumour. Getting him up to the Vetinary Hospital that night was just dreadful.

    Anyway, it made me remember something that was said at the Conference about animals not having high cholesterol. Actually petmd.com/conditions says that dogs can have hyperlipidaemia but it is usually down either to inbreeding or a mal functioning thyroid or adrenal glands.

    What dogs don't do is die of heart attacks. The vet on yourpetsbestfriend.com thinks this is because dogs don't live as long as humans so plaque hasn't had time to build up.

    From a food point of view, I reckon dogs have always been scavengers and will eat anything...it was only when we had Rossie that I fully grasped the meaning of "a dog's dinner."

  • Hi Aliwally,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I posted this for two reasons:

    1. To genuinely alert cat owners to the real dangers of feeding dry cat food. I believe the same criteria applies to dogs, although their circumstances are a little different, in that they hang around for treats - which in most circumstances will be carbohydrate in nature. Dogs were once wolves, and I guess their physiology is not much different. Carbs are a small part of a wolf's diet, and I guess a wolf would not be hanging around for a piece of chocolate.

    Why take the chance?

    vetrica.com/care/dog/chocol...

    2. Whilst drawing cat owners to the dangers of carbs, my main point was the danger of excess carbs in the human diet - especially when concerning type 2 diabetics.

    Until 1970, two years after Ancel Keys' egregious hypothesis was accepted by Senator George McGovern's committee (he was on a low fat diet at the time) the dietary guidelines changed. Up until then, a high fat diet was the advice, as keeping blood sugar under control was, as indeed it is now, the main weapon in controlling the disease. Only today we are taught saturated fat is the real assassin in the cupboard and now diabetics are taught the lunacy of making sugar the base of their diet. But if blood sugar rockets as a consequence, then just get it down with a dose of Avandia.

    It's madness!

    PS For those who don't know, Avandia has been withdrawn from the market and GSK has only this week set aside 3,000,000,000 dollars to settle court actions.

    Apart from the risk of heart failure (the irony!) people taking this drug faced increased risk of bone fracture, eye damage and hepatotoxicity.

    When the fear of saturated fat is finally put to bed, we may then see real progress in the elimination of this dreadful disease.

    Regards,

    Mike

  • Yes, I did digress from your point I know! I am interested in why it is that animals don't seem to get atherosclerosis in the same way as humans. Weren't the first experiments done by a Russian scientist (I will look up his name) on rabbits. I suppose it ties in because he fed them on unnatural things that rabbits don't normally eat.

    I vaguely remember reading that rabbits don't get heart attacks either because they produce their own vitamin C and this is another whole school of thought.

  • His name was Dr Nikolai Anitschkov. The experiments he did caused atherosclerosis all over rabbits bodies, including eyes and internal organs.

    The really odd thing was that although the plaques were similar to the human form, the plaques never ruptured and no rabbits got heart attacks. So I guess they weren't exactly the best model to base a hypothesis on. Incidentally, atherosclerosis can be found in just about any animal you care to name (even down to a fruit fly!) eating a natural diet and of course you can induce it as well.

  • Yes, you have got me interested and I will do some more research! At the moment I have read that rodents don't get atherosclerosis, pigs only minimally and only a few primates develop human like plaques.

    The most crucial question is of course why plaques rupture and some sites are saying it's down to the in house production of vitamin C. What an interesting site this is!

  • Rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs are routinely used and do develop plaques.

    Just a point of interest. The Masai (Kenya) have (had) a diet huge in saturated fat and had one of the lowest rates of cholesterol and heart disease (virtually unknown) on the planet. They also had extensive atherosclerosis, but it didn't result in heart attack (see my previous post re animals with a wild diet).

    Ancel Keys airily dismissed this spanner in his work as:

    'The peculiarities of those primitive nomads have no relevance to the diet-cholesterol-CHD relationships in other populations.'

    This is the guy on who's work the whole cholesterol theory hangs!

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