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Dry Cat Food Consequences
Dry cat food can have adverse consequences on cat health. Dry cat food, by its very nature, should be considered junk food, unfit for feline consumption.
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If you are one of millions of people who have, in good faith, been feeding a dry cat food, based on the belief that it is a healthy, nutritious option for the domestic feline, then you are in good company. We have been lead to believe, through clever advertising, that a dry, cereal based ‘food’ is appropriate and complete nutrition. In actual fact, these kibbled products must necessarily be viewed as ‘junk food’. The cat’s natural wild prey diet is so far removed from the dry cat foods, that it is almost impossible for the feline to maintain health when fed these diets for a lifetime. While these foods make it easy – just scoop and dump – the cat ultimately pays the price in terms of chronic suffering, and shortened lifespan. The advent of dry cat foods has created a situation where well-meaning individuals have been putting the wrong fuel into the engine of their pets, with disastrous results. Almost all of the medical conditions of cats today, can be attributed to feeding a dry cat food.
One of the primary problems with dry, cereal based foods, is the level of processed carbohydrates, usually in the form of grains or potatoes. These starchy, carbohydrate-laden foods are a necessary ingredient in the manufacture of dry kibble. Not only do they supply a very inexpensive filler and additional calories, but without these ingredients the formation of the kibble would not be possible. The slurry from which the kibble is made would not extrude and ‘pop’ into tiny tidbits without the addition of carbohydrate fillers.
The cat’s natural diet does not include a high level of carbohydrate. Based on nutritional composition of the wild prey animal, the cat is programmed to digest cat food that is about 55 percent dry-matter protein, about 35 percent dry-matter fat, and less than 2 percent carbohydrate. This is not even remotely similar to the dry kibble nutrient profile.
Dry, carbohydrate dense foods pose a number of problems associated with the many modern diseases of the cat. These include such conditions as lower urinary tract diseases, eg: struvite crystal formation, oxalate stones, kidney disease; (most cats over age 15 have kidney disease) heart disease; gum disease. In the case of lower urinary tract disease and kidney insufficiency, the main culprit is de-hydration. The urine becomes far too concentrated because the body is called upon to provide water into the digestive tract, in order to re-hydrate the dry food. The cat is not a natural water drinker, as it originated as a desert predator. Also, due to the high level of carbohydrate in the digestive tract of an animal that is a carnivore, the urine becomes too alkaline, and struvite crystals are a very common result. A carnivore such as a cat must eat meat in order to maintain an acidic environment in the kidneys and bladder, and thus create a healthy environment for the processing and elimination of toxins and excess body fluids.
When feeding a diet which amounts to sugarcoated breakfast cereal, tartar on the teeth and gum disease are bound to be one of the many unfortunate results. The design of feline teeth dictate that it is, without question, an obligate carnivore, used for tearing flesh. When these teeth are exposed, on a daily basis, to crunching on dry kibble material, not only will tartar be the result due to the high carbohydrate/sugar content of the food, but the pH in the oral cavity will be upset, and tartar will result, just as it does in humans. When a build-up of tartar is left unchecked, gum disease can result, which then leaves the cat prone to such conditions as heart disease, kidney damage, and various additional problems associated with other organs of the body.
Digestive enzymes, essential to healthy digestion in all animals, are completely lacking in heavily processed, ‘dead’ foods such as the dry kibble. The high heat processing of the ingredients which make up the dry diet, destroys enzyme activity. At this point, the digestive activity must rely on various organ systems of the body to supply enough enzymes to break down the food to the point where the body can utilize it for energy, growth, etc. This process of ‘enzyme robbing’ leaves the various organs in a depleted state, and the end result is the appearance of allergies.
The dry kibble is also lacking in essential fatty acids. These fatty acids, also referred to as omegas, are indeed essential to the wellbeing of the carnivore, as they are necessary for hormonal function and many chemical reactions in the body. These essential omegas are destroyed through high heat processing, and exposure to oxygen.
Lack of essential fatty acids can result in poor skin and coat health, vision problems, kidney and liver degeneration, and poor wound healing. Cats have a need for at least two of these essential omegas – linoleic and arachidonic acids. Arachidonic acid is found only in animal tissue, so it becomes paramount that the cat consume fresh, raw meat, where this omega fatty acid can be found in abundance.
If we are to nourish our carnivorous companion cats to the degree that they deserve, it becomes obvious that we must forego the temptation to take the easy road of ‘scoop and dump’. We must make the choice for a diet that is as close as possible to the one intended by nature. The raw meat diet must necessarily be that choice.