The veterinary profession is beginning to question the wisdom of “one food and only one food for life” theory.
And certainly we recognize that after 40 years of processed foods we have created a pet population with similar nutritional problems to our own. Obesity is epidemic. Diabetes, chronic gastrointestinal disease, dental problems, even kidney, liver and heart disease have all been linked to nutrition and feeding practices. The natural diet of the cat is small prey that does not in any way resemble the full bowl of cereal based, dry kibble that most of our indoor cats are forced to live on. There is nothing “natural” about feeding a cat blueberries and carrots.
For years veterinarians have warned of the dangers of table foods as poor quality diets. As a result over the past 30 years commercial pet food sales have grown to a $12 billion a year industry. With that kind of market, companies vie each year for a bigger and bigger segment. Just in the last year over 216 new pet foods were introduced, many with claims of health benefits and organic and natural ingredients.
Pet food trends over the years have tended to follow the trends of the human food industry. In the 1980’s it was all about “chemical preservatives, additives and premium, healthier foods”; in the 1990’s it was “scientifically formulated” and “low fat”; now it’s about “low carb” and the “Adkin’s Diet for pets”, hairball, urinary, sensitive skin, sensitive stomach, and dental diets. Purina Cat Chow even has an “indoor formula”.
Is it all marketing and hype, or does it really matter?
Well… it’s marketing and hype. If you read the ingredients of any pet food, they are for the most part the same. Almost all are simply an outlet for the by-products of human food processing. Your table scraps aren’t ok, but the scraps of the human food processors, cooked down, colored, and pressed into appealing shapes seem to be just fine, or at least that’s what the industry would like us to believe.
Lifestyle and nutrition are the recognized preventative health benchmarks of medicine today. Environmental enrichment for your indoor pet will increase activity, decrease stress and boredom, and improve the life of your pet in general. Getting back to a diet that more closely mimics the true natural diet of the cat is our goal for proper nutrition. The key to any good diet is balance, variety, and moderation over time. The doctors at Cats Only Veterinary Clinic can counsel you on the best diet program for your cat. As well, nutrient controlled veterinary medical diets, sold only by prescription, can play a significant role in controlling a disease process. As an example, low residue foods can benefit cats with intestinal problems, high calorie foods can benefit those patients with debilitating diseases, and novel ingredient diets can benefit those cats with food allergies or sensitivities. We can also help you with homemade diets. We know cats.