Q: Are grains bad for cats?

April 14, 2008 | By Quani C. | 3 answers | Expired: 2842 days ago

Quani C.

One of the employees at a locally owned pet store told me the other day that grains aren't part of a cats' natural diet, so I should buy food with very little to no grains in them. Is this true or is it a ploy for me to buy more expensive products from him? They're currently eating Iams Indoor formula, so not the worst, but not the best (but they like it!).

Readers' Answers (3)

Apr 15, 2008

Yes, in this instance, listen to the employee! Grains are not normally consumed by cats eating a fresh diet - as in, killing and eating live prey such as mice, moles, birds and similar animals. These animals are primarily herbivores, so the trace amounts of grains and roughage in the stomach contents is ocassionally consumed by a cat eating a natural diet.

Unethical manufacturers (and I say that because they are concerned with profit and consumer recognition, not nutrition) use grains to excess because they are far cheaper and easier to come by than quality meats. In clinical tests, they will tell you that a grain's protein is metabolized in the same manner as meat - but this is false, as these tests are not usually performed on real animals to see how they actually fare.
I am a firm believer in raw food - not just for pets, but for everyone! Food in a raw state is in a natural state, and thus at its prime for eating.
Now, I will say that not all bagged foods are bad. I am going to recommend a few brands that are trustworthy, not to mention minimally processed.
I think probably the best thing to do if you don't have the time or money to go completely raw is to go half and half with a terrific dry food. These are the ones I recommend:
Eagle Brand - The Holistic Chicken Meal & Rice in particular has a delicious smell and was the flavor preferred the most; the Duck is equally healthy but has a different scent that some of the Society cats found off-putting. It is a bit pricey, I believe, but based on the difference I saw, I have no problem paying for it.

Castor & Pollux - I've only seen it at Petco, but this is another gem of a food. Price-wise probably less than Eagle, but Eagle is still my preferred choice. The vegetable mix in C & P is neat - it's dehydrated bits that looks like parrot food, but my Society cats always gobbled it up. www.castorpolluxpet.com/

Blue Buffalo - This may be the priciest of the bunch, but just check out their ingredient list! I haven't personally used it, but I've never heard a word against them. www.bluebuff.com/products/cats/ss-adult-chick.shtml

Cats are far more carnivorous than dogs, so I would say a safe bet is 90% proteins/fats, 10% carbohydrates/fiber. You can use both muscle meat (like we eat) and organ meats to round out th diet.

The major meats to use:
1. Chicken
2. Beef
3. Turkey
4. Duck/Goose, which are higher in natural fats
5. Fish high in fatty acids, like salmon, mackeral, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna
6. Pork - some people will tell you not to use it because of health scares, but that really only applies to people - we have a very weak digestive tract compared to cats and dogs; they digest things much more quickly and have harsher enzymes in their systems, specially designed to handle raw/decaying foods. Saying that, pigs aren't the most discriminating creature in the world, and will ingest just about anything - non-food items, fecal matter, you name it - which isn't good, remember: you are what you eat.

You can also give your kitties raw bones for nutrition and to help clean their teeth. Bones are fine to feed unless they are cooked; then they weaken and splinter and should be thrown out. If you have a farmer's market or equivalent nearby, meat and bones should be easy to come by, and assuredly healthier than mass-shipped food you'll find in a Wal-Mart or comparable market.

Perhaps most important to remember is this - YOU MUST PROVIDE YOUR CAT WITH TAURINE. Taurine is an amino acid and an essential ingredient for a healthy cat, as essential as food and water. Without it, your cat would eventually go blind with tooth and hair loss. Taurine, which can be obtained through raw, whole prey such as rodents, MUST be added to a cat's diet. You should be able to buy it at a GNC supplement store or any other vitamin/supplement store.

I hope this information is useful to you!

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Apr 14, 2008

Actually, they know what they are talking about. Grains are nothing more than fillers and a way to cheapen foods. Grains are not digested and provide no nutritional benefit. A higher quality, grain free diet, is the best food you can buy. You will feed less so take that into consideration when looking at costs. Evo, Fromm and Wellness Core are some good foods to take a look at and do some research. You're heading in the right direction.

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Apr 15, 2008

I ran out of room! Here's a bit more:

Here are some vegetables that you can combine - remember, however, that onions, for whatever reasons, can have toxic effects on pets, so leave those out:

asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, baby carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard, corn, dandelion leaves, fresh green beans, kale, kohlrabi, okra, parsley, parsnips, peas (& pods), pumpkin, rutabagas, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, turnips, zucchini

I would also definitely add:

EGGS - cooked or raw (don't worry about salmonella, their digestive system is quite able to handle it), they are a terrific source of protein and Vitamin B.

GARLIC and CHEESE (shredded/grated) - You can add these for yummy flavor. I know that dogs generally love garlic and cheese, but you shall have to see if your kitties like it as well. You can sprinkle it into the food.

CHOPPED NUTS - Walnut, almond, and sunflower seeds can be added if they like the crunchy sensation, not to mention they are also full of protein and good fats. You can sprinkle these in as well.

FRUITS and PLAIN VANILLA YOGURT - If your kitties have a bit of a sweet tooth, you can add chopped/pureed apples, bananas, papaya, or any other fruit that they're partial to. You can simply add it in as part of their daily vegetables if you like. The yogurt is especially beneficial to aid digestion, and they'll probably really like the taste. Add some to their food, or make them a fruit/yogurt smoothie as a snack.

GRAINS - These will add extra fiber if you want to add it; you can use oats; barley; a wonderful grain known as Quinoa (keen-wa); brown rice (white rice is nutritionally dead); flaxseed, these are all very good. You can turn a dish into kitty Hamburger Helper :) Although cheaper, I'd stay away from the pasta - Creamette, Barilla's and things like that, just because it's more processed.

VITAMINS/MINERALS - As thorough as you are with making your cat's diet, you will probably still want to add some vitamins and minerals to enhance the quality and flavor of their meal. Take the same approach - use sea salt, not iodinzed salt. If it's possible to use organic ingredients, by all means do so - the less contaminants the better.

These are all great ways to add flavor, variety, and extra nutrition to their meals. If you want to be sure they're getting everything they need, there are also websites like www.drsfostersmith.com and www.jbpet.com for nutritional supplements, usually in powder form that you mix into the food.

Here's a good, comprehensive website concerning making your own pet food - www.catinfo.org/makingcatfood.htm

Here is a family making food for their cats, and how they do it - www.lowcarbluxury.com/atkins-cats.html

Here is a good website of facts concerning raw food, its overwhelming health benefits, and why its best concerning your pet's natural physiology:

Also check out holisticat.com; it seemed pretty interesting.

Best of luck to you and your kitties!

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