Ditch the Kibble

February 13, 2013

Many of us include dry food in our pets’ diets, but it isn’t a good idea.  Yes, it’s convenient, because we can leave a bowl of kibble out all day for Fluffy to nibble on when she feels so inclined.

I admit to doing it with my own felines, because they are such finicky eaters that I had difficulty convincing them to eat canned food.  This switch is still a work in progress, but I am gradually increasing the wet food and decreasing the dry.

My kitties like their canned food for dinner, but they expect to see that bowl of kibble sitting out for them during the day.  If not, it gets ugly around here!  The amount in that dish is becoming smaller every day.  It’s just being decreased in tiny increments in hopes that one day they won’t even miss it.  I tried this several years ago and lost the battle, but this time, I am determined to persuade these two fur-brats to learn to eat what’s good for them.

Dry food isn’t healthy for cats and can contribute to several serious medical conditions.  The one we are most familiar with is obesity.  Fat kitties are prone to many diseases, and the best way to keep Fluffy in shape is to feed her only canned – or wet – cat food.  You may want to try wag.com for any of your pet food or pet supplies needs.  We’ve been very pleased with prices and service.  Your purchases through any wag.com link on this page will help us help Seniors for Pets and their mission to assist seniors needing help to pay for their pets’ veterinary care.

Diabetes is becoming more and more common in felines, and that is directly related to diet.  While some breeds, such as Siamese, are genetically predisposed to diabetes, a diet higher in grains than good-quality meat can certainly encourage blood glucose irregularities.

Treating the disease can be accomplished with proper medical treatment and a balanced diet overseen by the veterinarian, but prevention is a lot easier – on both the animal and its owner.  In some cases, it’s not possible to properly balance the pet’s diet and insulin, and she doesn’t survive.

While in some cats diabetes may be the result of genetics, sometimes poor diet that is the culprit.  Not all kibble is nutritionally adequate.  If the first few ingredients on the food label contain corn that could eventually contribute to blood glucose problems.  Cats are carnivores and need good meat in their diets.

Pancreatitis has also been linked to a diet of dry kibble.  Inflammation of the pancreas can be acute or chronic but is often chronic in cats.  This condition may also include inflammatory bowel disease and anemia and in severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure.  I can’t think of a better reason to get those kitties on a diet of wet food!

Skin allergies may be caused by diet.  Dry commercial cat food may contain ingredients that Fluffy’s body can’t assimilate.  Corn and other grains may irritate her skin, causing rashes or hair loss and chewing.  Common food irritants to cats include, beef, poultry, fish, eggs, wheat and other grains, and milk.    Even foods that the animal has been eating without difficult for a long time, can suddenly cause problems.  This isn’t as likely with a diet of only canned food.

Some cats seem to have chronic constipation.  Watch your cat in the litter box and see if you notice any straining when she’s trying to “go.”  Dry food doesn’t provide the moisture cats need in their diet, and many cats don’t drink enough water by itself.  A lack of water in the diet leads to constipation.  It’s a vicious circle.

Those are just a few possible results of a diet high in grains and carbohydrates and lacking in good-quality proteins.  If your cat currently eats a dry food diet, try increasing her wet – or canned – food very slowly and cutting down on the kibble.  Fluffy’s health will be greatly enhanced, once she adjusts to the switch.


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