Nutrition - The Dry Food Debate
Dry food is currently the most popular food for companion cats. However, it is the least appropriate for a number of reasons: The protein that is present in dry food is often low quality "meat by-products", material deemed unsuitable for human consumption. The base of dry food is cereal, such as corn and/or rice, a cheap source of calories but not useful nutrients. The cereal (sometimes called "grain") is primarily carbohydrates, a nutrient nearly absent in a cat's natural diet of muscle and organ meat. The excessive carbohydrate level can lead to an unnatural alkaline body environment, which can cause mineral deposits in soft tissues (i.e., kidney stones and urinary crystals). The starchy coating left on the teeth by kibble consumption encourages growth of plaque and tartar. Cats fed dry food only also are more prone to obesity because it is more calorie-dense than canned food. Recent research has implicated high carbohydrates in most cases of feline diabetes. Low moisture content is another significant problem with dry food. A cat's natural prey diet contains 65-75% water, but dry foods are only about 10% moisture. A cat would have to drink about 8 oz. of water per day to reach an appropriate level of hydration, and cats did not evolve as significant water drinkers. Rehydrating dry food by soaking it in water before feeding to the same moisture content found in natural prey dilutes protein and fat concentrations to well below nutritionally adequate levels. For expanded discussions of these considerations, please refer to www.felinefuture.com and www.littlebigcat.com. The bottom line is that dry food should comprise no more than 50% of a cats diet, according to Jean Hofve, DVM. Cats who are prone to urinary tract problems should not eat dry food at all. To select a quality dry food, look for the first ingredient to be a named meat source (i.e., chicken, turkey), omega fatty acids, and preservatives in the form of mixed tocopherols, calcium ascorbate, citric acid or rosemary extract. Avoid foods with by-products. Additional nutritional information, including recipes for homemade cat food, may be found at:
Behavior - While this section is under development, we invite you to check out a link to www.catsinternational.org, a wonderful site with a multitude of articles on cat behavior issues; every article we've read has been right on the money.
If you don't have any cats right now and you're considering getting a single kitten, please go to the Cat Care section of www.kittykind.org and read articles under "Multiple Pets" and "Myths" to get the real scoop on the social nature and needs of cats.