Just like the big cats in Sub-Saharan Africa, house cats need a 95% protein diet. This means that both big cats and house cats are “obligate carnivores”. Lions don’t graze on the Serengeti. The only grains or vegetables they consume come from the bellies of the animals they kill. House cats are no different, yet we feed them primarily wheat, barley, rice and vegetables with terrible protein sources such as chicken by-products or chicken by-product meal.
As I started to do my research, I came across Dr. Martin Goldstein (Dr. Marty) and he broke cat food down into unhealthy ingredients and ingredients that are best for our feline friends. Here are the unhealthy ingredients:
- FILLERS: corn, wheat, soy, barley, oatmeal, white rice. These are all added to cut costs away from adding more protein into the food.
- PRESERVATIVES: “BHT” Butylated hydroxtoluene and “BHA” propelyn glycol essentially destroy the good bacteria in the gut of your cat.
- MEAT BY-PRODUCTS: You know what this is, right? The leftover parts from meat packing companies and slaughter houses. “The rendered meat used in these products came from condemned animals, ie – animals that were deemed unfit for human consumption. These products normally contain artificial colors, flavors and chemical preservatives” (source). These are not quality sources of protein at all. Sounds like a hot dog. Imagine how your health would be if your only protein source was hot dogs and you had to eat them everyday.
Something I noticed about these unhealthy ingredients is that they are actually close to the unhealthy ingredients in food WE consume. Plus, they kinda trick ya with the fillers because you think, “Rice! Oatmeal! Those are healthy for me. They must be great for my cat.” It’s also tricky because dogs can consume these fillers with no problems because, just like you and me, they are not “obligate carnivores”.
“But my cat loves to eat grass from the lawn and that special oat grass cat that I got at the pet store.” Most cats will eat grass from the lawn and then purge it later–especially a chemically treated lawn. DON’T LET YOUR CATS EAT THIS OUTSIDE GRASS. The cat grass grown specifically as a cat treat from the pet store, is non-toxic and aids digestion–it might even help with hairballs (although that is not scientifically proven). You can even plant your own cat grass–it is often called wheat or oat grass.
When I started doing research on how to improve my cat’s diet, the number one thing was protein, protein, protein. Before, I was feeding my cats total CRAP. For example, I bought the big bag of store brand kibble for $10. For their wet “treat” they got just-a-step-up-from-store-brand pate. I thought I was doing right by them with the wet food–the first ingredient was “chicken”, not chicken byproduct or water. What I was feeding them was essentially McDonald’s ever single day. It’s no wonder why they had serious dandruff, were overweight (at 3 years old), had mats in their fur, were throwing up, had smelly stools, and were lethargic. I also think my black cat, Bella, was downright depressed.
Something had to change. Then I watched a video by Dr. Marty and I knew where I had to start. Here is his list of what to feed your cat for optimum health from best to worst. Now, like any good businessman, Dr. Marty created and sells his own brand of cat food. It is in such high demand that it’s actually back-ordered. Dang. That wouldn’t do. I needed cat food that was accessible, convenient, and affordable and contained the following ingredients that are best for cats:
- Organ meats such as chicken liver and kidneys. Freeze dried, fresh or cooked.
- Prebiotics such as flax, pea flour, carrots, peas, and ginger. This promotes good gut bacteria to flourish in the belly.
- Omega-3’s for brain health.
- Taurine. Cats require quite a bit of this in their diet for heart health.
So, what do I do? Keep in mind, this is just what I do to feed two american short hair cats. I work full time and I have another small business-second job on the side. I rarely have time to cook for myself, let alone my cats. I also d not like handling raw meat–it literally makes me gag. I cook mostly vegetarian meals. That being said, I can still provide my cats with the diet that is more suitable for their species. Here’s my routine and what I feed my girls, Bella & Stella.
BLUE BUFFALO BLUE Wilderness® Indoor Chicken For Adult Cats
“Inspired by the diet of the lynx, a tireless hunter and wild relative of our domesticated feline friends, protein-rich BLUE Wilderness contains a higher concentration of the delicious chicken you know she’ll love, plus other natural quality ingredients and features:
- Delicious, protein-rich Deboned Chicken
- Sweet potatoes that provide healthy complex carbohydrates
- Cranberries, blueberries and carrots that support antioxidant enrichment
- NO grains or glutens
- NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
- NO artificial preservatives and NO corn, wheat or soy
Our natural BLUE Wilderness is holistically formulated to support the needs of indoor cats. It starts with the carefully balanced calories in our ingredients to help them maintain a healthy body weight.
This is a sensible alternative to raw diets. Raw diets are less convenient to prepare than BLUE Wilderness cat food. What’s more, with raw diets you typically need to provide additional supplements to ensure what you’re feeding your cat is nutritionally complete.” (source)
INSTINCT FREEZE DRIED RAW BOOST MIXERS Grain Free Recipe All Natural Cat Food Toppers
- “FREEZE DRIED RAW CAT FOOD TOPPER WITH CAGE FREE CHICKEN: Add raw to your cat bowl with Instinct Raw Boost Mixers all natural, grain free cat food toppers. Made with responsibly sourced cage free chicken, organs and non-GMO vegetables and fruits.
- GRAIN FREE CAT FOOD MIXER: Raw, whole food ingredients are freeze dried to gently remove moisture, locking in nutrients and intensifying flavor. Made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by product meal, artificial colors or preservatives.
- DRY CAT FOOD TOPPER OR CAT TREAT: Add variety & excitement to dry cat food. Raw Boost Mixers are made with all natural ingredients to support healthy digestion and skin & coat.The perfect natural cat food topper or cat treats for picky cats and kittens.
- POWER OF RAW INGREDIENTS: Our cat food is made with the pure, real nutrition of raw. Raw is natural, made from real meat & whole food ingredients, protein packed & minimally processed. Made in the USA with the finest ingredients from around the world.” (source)
INSTINCT ORIGINAL GRAIN FREE Natural Wet Canned Cat Food
- GRAIN FREE CAT FOOD WITH CAGE FREE CHICKEN: Instinct Original is made with 95% chicken, turkey & chicken liver, 5% vegetables, fruits & wholesome ingredients. This is high protein cat food with responsibly sourced cage free chicken as the #1 ingredient
- CANNED CAT FOOD WITH NO FILLERS: Instinct Original wet cat food is high protein cat food. Made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial colors or preservatives – ingredients known to trigger food sensitivities.
- NATURAL CAT FOOD: Made from real meat & whole food ingredients, our grain free wet cat food is packed with animal protein for strong, lean muscles. Served as a meal or topper, this delicious pate texture is a taste that even picky kitties will love.
- RAW INSPIRED WET CAT FOOD: Our canned cat food offers complete & balanced nutrition from real ingredients to support your cat’s health from kitten to senior. Made in the USA with the finest ingredients from around the world.
I feed the girls at 8pm every night. Animals thrive on consistency. A break in routine can cause anxiety and to act out. Plus, it’s not fair to make them wait when they depend on us for sustenance.
Here’s what I do: 2 bowls for dry kibble, 2 bowls for fresh water, 2 bowls for “treats”/ wet food–we call wet food “treats” in our household. First, I fill their water bowls. I have a large jug I keep in the refrigerator that is primarily used as cat water. Then I count out 10 of the “Instinct Freeze Dried Mixers” into the dry kibble bowl. Next, I measure out the “Blue Buffalo” dry kibble. Then I take the large can of “Instinct Grain Free Wet Food” and divide the can into four sections. (1) can = two (1/4) servings. That’s it.
I have noticed so many good things happening that I am attributing to this new, grain free, high protein diet.
- Sleek, shiny fur. No more matting or dandruff.
- More energy. Stella is running around the house like a crack-head now and she never did this before. Bella still does this, but with more vigor.
- Less Depressed. Bella was literally depressed in the mornings before I left for work. I would ask her, “Bella are you depwessed?” and she wouldn’t even look up at me from her tuffet. Now, she is roaming around the house in the morning and talking and acting like her old self.
- Both cats play with their toys more. They even get them out of their toy box during the day to play with when I’m not there.
- Less smelly litter boxes.
Now, with all that I’ve said and the research I’ve done, I still must tell you what my vet said about this diet. She said it all comes down to three things: 1. Do your pets like it? 2. Does this diet fit into your budget? 3. Is it something you can handle doing everyday?
Again, these are just things that work for me. Once I found out about the whole obligate carnivore thing and I started doing more research, I found some good, quality products that I could afford and I went from there.
If your thinking, “Nikole is a total cat lady and I can’t do all this and be with the kids, cook dinner, ect.” That’s is fine too! It’s really just as simple as a quick label check, like we do with our own food. The most important thing you can do is to make sure that the first ingredient on your cat food is a quality protein, whether it be chicken, fish, turkey, duck, or whatever. Not “meat bi-product”. It must be the one word ingredients above. Also check for taurine, as that is a heart healthy vitamin cats must have for healthy heart function. Stay away from fillers: potato, oatmeal, white rice, etc. Feed your cats on time. Love them all the time and you will have healthy, happy cats for years to come.
Questions? Write me a comment below!