9 COMMON FELINE NUTRITION MYTHS DEBUNKED
Our furry feline friends are the very best friends we could ever ask for. They are adorably cuddly, they purr when we’re sad and their tiny meow make our hearts sing. Naturally, we want to give them the very best life we can. Unfortunately, in this day and age, there are so many myths associated with proper kitty nutrition. Here are nine common feline myths that are just that: myths. How many are you guilty of?
1) CATS DRINK MILK: Though it is a common belief that cats should be fed milk, they absolutely should not. Like humans, kittens only need their mother’s milk until they stop feeding from her. Once the separation has occurred, milk can be quite unhealthy for cats. Like people, as kittens grow up, their lactase production slows down, making the digestion of milk considerably difficult. Feeding a cat any dairy can result in diarrhea, gas, bloating and other severe abdominal discomfort. Don’t be fooled! Just because your cat seems to like lapping up milk doesn’t mean he won’t pay for it later!
2) CANNED TUNA IS A HEALTHY TREAT: Tuna is not healthy for cats. Canned tuna alone is not a complete meal for cats. It lacks many of the necessary vitamins and minerals that cats need in order to have balanced bodily functions. Canned tuna has been linked to serious digestive issues as well as urinary tract stones. Tuna also contains iodine and mercury which, if fed for a prolonged period of time, can cause liver poisoning.
3) PRESCRIPTION DIETS ARE NECESSARY TO AID A CAT’S DIETARY HEALTH- Evidence has shown that there is not one single “prescription” ingredient in prescription labelled foods. Prescription labelled diets claim to assist with one particular aspect of an animal’s dietary health such as bladder issues, weight loss, dental issues etc. Whereas this is quite a clever marketing scheme, the truth is that the ingredients listed in these “prescription diet” foods are not food items at all. When a cat consumes these non food items (ie corn gluten, pork by-product etc), there are quite often adverse effects such as malnutrition. Symptoms of malnutrition include; dry coat, dry skin, patchy coat, excessive thirst, constipation, dry eyes, allergy symptoms, diarrhea, lethargy, eating items around the house that are not food such as garbage, eating stool and more. generally speaking, all of these malnutrition symptoms can be avoided or treated with a SPECIES APPROPRIATE DIET consisting of whole foods. This does not always mean “raw” foods, but canned food that is highly nutritious and GRAIN FREE; containing ingredients such as “deboned chicken”, vegetables and high omegas 3’s and 6.
4) WATER IS SUFFICIENT FLUID FOR A CAT: As human beings, when we are thirsty we drink water. The same holds true for cats, however research has shown that in order for a cat to be fully hydrated, he must eat wet food complete with an adequate dosage of omega fatty acids. Wet food most closely resembles what he would eat in the wild. Genetically, cats eat other animals. These other animals contain enough protein, moisture and fatty acids to fully nourish and hydrate a cat. By feeding your cat only kibble, you are robbing your cat of the moisture he needs to survive. By feeding your cat a kibble-based diet, your cats digestive organs work overtime in order to process the food through his body. When a cat digests kibble (dry food) his digestive organs utilize all of the moisture in his digestive organs as well as other boduly moisture to pass the dry food through his body. Even ensuring that your cat is drinking more water than usual will not provide adequate moisture for your cat to live on. Eating dry food is incredibly txing on the kidneys. By adding wet food and a healthy dose of omega fatty acids, you are helping your animal to stay hydrated in a way that water alone simply cannot do. Further, cats are unlikely to drink adequate water on their own as their desert-dwelling ancestors had scarce water and learned to survive by drinking the fluids of the animals they killed. Cats are not wired to drink water, it is a learned behaviour that they have adapted to as they became domesticated. This is why adding another source of hydration can mean the difference between kidney life and death.
5) CHANGING YOUR CAT’S FOOD IS BAD: It’s a myth that you need to keep your cat on one type of food for her whole life. She may get bored just as you would. This myth stems from the fact that many cats are finicky eaters. It’s hard to find the perfect food for your cat. This is due to the particularly sensitive digestive systems cats have. While it’s great to find a food that sticks with your cat, if she gets bored with her food, there is nothing wrong with seeking healthy alternatives. Symptoms of food intolerance include: vomiting shortly after eating each meal, reluctance to eat (sniffing food and walking away), gassiness, loss of appetite, diarrhea.
6) KIBBLE CLEANS YOUR CAT’S TEETH: While a very small amount of daily kibble may be a good idea to keep your cat’s tooth enamel intact, kibble is not a replacement for brushing his teeth. Kibble, even the ‘healthiest’ kinds, can form plaque on your cat’s teeth and will need to be removed. It is surprisingly easy to get your cat into a tooth-brushing routine. Your cat may be skittish at first, but he will adjust. Please do not use human toothpaste on your cat or dog.
7) “DIET” FOODS WILL HELP YOUR CAT LOSE WEIGHT: While lower calorie foods may help your cat shed a few pounds, the reality is that the “diet” food pet companies are overcharging you for a product that may not be necessary. Simple math dictates that if you lessen the portion sizes that you feed your cat and up his exercise, you probably won’t need to spend the extra dollars on “diet” brands. If your cat is consuming fewer calories and burning more calories, the weight will come off on its own.
8) LEAVING FOOD OUT ALL DAY FOR YOUR CAT IS A GOOD IDEA: “But what if I’m out all day and he gets hungry?” you ask. Your cat will not be hungry if you get him on a healthy two to three or even four small meals per day regimen. Your cat should be eating no more than half a can of wet food in the morning and the other half in the evening. Leaving a small bowl of kibble or dehydrated organ meat snacks is a good idea in case your kitty gets hungry while you’re at work. This most closely resembles what he would eat in the wild. It is also the appropriate portion size for a healthy indoor cat. If you leave food out all day your cat will eat it. If you were home all day with nothing to do except snack, you probably would too! As we all know very well, over eating causes many health concerns. Do yourself and your feline friend a favour and keep his eating habits in check!
9) CATS CAN DIGEST GRAINS- Poor quality cat food is high in grains. Dogs, humans, horses and most other mammals have a digestive enzyme called “amylase” that is responsible for the breakdown of grains. Cats lack this enzyme due to their desert-scape origin. They originated in the desert and subsisted only on raw meats of animals. In the African desert there were not grains to be eaten so the digestive systems of big desert cats adapted to a grain free life. Because of their genetic origin, they do not have the enzyme “amylase”. When felines eat grains for a prolonged period of time, the grains get metabolized as sugars and wreak havoc on their insulin levels. Studies have shown that too much grain in a cat’s diet can cause diabetes, obesity and other major organ ailments. In essence, over a prolonged period grains can lead to fatal illness.
These are just nine of many common feline feeding myths. Sadly, marketing companies play on the emotions of consumers and win. By maintaining awareness of proper nutrition for our beloved feline family members, we will be sure to keep them in our lives for years to come!
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