As I get older, I tend to be more aware of my diet and the nutritional value of my food. The wise adage ‘you are what you eat’ tends to hold true as one age.
My carefree eating in my younger days has left a couple of unwanted pounds that seem impossible to shed.
What about when it comes to our cats? How important is your cat’s diet in relation to its health?
There’s no denying that what your cat eats now plays an important role in its health over the years. More cat owners are feeding their cats dry food due to convenience and cost.
But not many cat owners know that they could be slowly killing their cats with a dry food diet.
In this article, we will be discussing why dry cat food or kibbles is very bad for your cat and what are the much better alternatives.
Your Cat Nutritional Needs
To first understand why dry cat food is bad for your cat, we will need to understand the nutritional needs of a cat.
Cats didn’t start eating dry food from the get-go.
They have been roaming the deserts of the earth more than thousands of years ago.
Given that water is so hard to find in the desert, cats got their fluids when they hunted and ate live prey.
Cats have always been known to be obligate carnivores which means that they get their sustenance only from a high-protein meat-only diet.
It has been that way ever since until they were being domesticated. Cats back then were given shelter in return for their hunting skills.
Back in the olden days, many rats and small critters were found in homes and it was the cat’s job to kill and eat them.
Fast forward to the modern era where sanitation and housing conditions are much better now. Our cats don’t have to do much at home besides sleeping and being cute.
Everything else is being taken care of by the cat parents.
However. their cousins in the wild still have to hunt for prey or starve to death.
Being domesticated doesn’t mean that your cat’s natural diet has changed.
How Dry Food Is Made?
The process of manufacturing dry cat food is somewhat similar to baking.
Most pet food manufacturers will use products like animal meat, fish and by-products which consist mostly of organ meat and bones.
All these ingredients are blended together, cooked and mixed with other ingredients to form a doughy paste.
This paste is then heated under pressure and cut into very small kibble size pieces.
Once this process is done, the kibble pieces are dried in an oven to remove all the moisture. This is a very important step as any moisture in dry cat food can cause bacteria to grow and spoil the whole day.
After the pieces are sufficiently dried, they are packed and shipped off worldwide.
Why Feeding Dry Food To Your Cat Is Bad
Based on many of my conversations with my reader, it seems that most cat owners feed dry food because it is convenient, affordable or it is the only diet that they are familiar with.
As valid as those reasons may be, you might change your mind after reading this.
You might see many dry cat food manufacturers advertise their kibbles being made for chicken, beef, fish, etc.
To most pet owners, the first thing that they would assume is that real animal or fish meat is being used to make the dry food.
But one needs to only read the cat food labels to know what goes into the manufacturing process.
Many of these dry foods use animal by-products as their main ingredient and it isn’t the most nutritious source of nourishment for cats.
Animal by-products by itself aren’t bad.
When a cat catches a mouse for food, it will probably eat most of the mouse including the head, organs, organs, etc.
But a large portion of the mouse consists of muscle meat which is important for the cat.
If all the cat is getting in the dry food is a large percentage of organs, bones, hooves, udders and who knows what other types of mysterious body parts, your cat’s nutritional demands can’t be met.
Some lower quality dry food contains fillers like corn gluten meal, chicken meal and other plant-based fillers to try and boost the nutritional value of the contents.
This is bad for cats as they don’t need carbs in their diet. Cats only need to eat meat in their daily meals. If your cat isn’t getting the nutrients that it needs, it can start to become malnourished and walk around slower than usual.
By feeding your cats dry food that has so much carbohydrates, it can lead to digestive issues as cats don’t have the ability to break down carbs as dogs can.
Lack Of Moisture
If you have ever touched dry cat food before, you’ll understand how dry and hard it feels. This is due to the drying process that removes all moisture from the food.
The good thing is, like most dried foods, it can last a long time.
On the flip side, your cat needs a lot more water in its diet and giving your cat dry food isn’t helping.
As mentioned earlier, cats are originally desert animals which means that they don’t really have the habit of drinking water and they get their water from prey animals.
Cats are not able to get any moisture from dry food as it’s completely dry.
Many cats suffer from kidney disease, urinary tract infections, constipation and kidney stones from the lack of water in their diet.
It is very important to give your cat as much water as possible to prevent any health issues over time.
Even though dry food is very dry, it can still go bad in the heat or humid conditions due to contamination.
Usage Of Preservatives
Even with the drying process, it isn’t enough to keep the dry food from going bad after a long time.
Pet food manufacturers need to ensure that their products can remain as fresh as possible without being contaminated.
The usage of preservatives helps to prolong the shelf life of dry food to anywhere between 12 and 18 months.
The effects of these preservatives on pets over the long term have not been studied. The build-up of these agents over time can prove to be toxic to our cats.
Did you know that more than half of the cats and dogs in the united states are overweight?
Even though many might find fat cats cute, feline obesity can lead to many health issues:
- Heart ailments
- Liver failure
- Lower immunity
Overweight cats are miserable as they don’t have a way out. They are trapped in a constantly unhealthy loop that can shorten their life span.
Dry cat foods contain a lot of empty calories and refined carbohydrates. Upon consumption, it causes your cat’s insulin levels to spike which promotes hunger and weight gain.
It is worse when cat owners leave out a large bowl of dry food for their cats to feed on the whole day which results in overeating.
Is Dry Food Bad For Cats With Kidney Disease?
If your cat has kidney disease, feeding it dry food will only make your cat’s condition worse.
Cats with chronic kidney disease need more water in their daily diet. This is due to the kidneys being less effective in removing toxins from the body and requiring more fluids to do the job properly.
Dry food has absolutely no moisture at all which is the direct opposite of what we want.
Stop feeding your cat dry food today and start the transition to good wet food or raw meat.
What Should I Be Feeding My Cat?
Now that you are aware of the dangers of feeding your cat dry foods, it is also important to know what constitutes healthy cat food.
The next healthier option for cats would be to feed them canned or wet food. Most of the time, the ingredients used in wet food are of better quality compared to dry food.
Read animal meat and fat are used instead of by-products.
That being said, not all canned food are made equal. There are still some brands that use animal by-products, grain fillers and artificial flavoring in their ingredients.
Some will even use gelling agents which might cause health issues in the long run.
You always need to analyze the ingredient labels to see what goes into the can. Make sure that the first few ingredients are at least real animal meat and nothing less.
Here is a good article on how to properly analyze the ingredients when buying cat food.
Feeding Your Cat A Raw Diet
In our opinion, feeding your cat a raw diet is the best natural diet you can give your cat. It mimics how a cat would eat in the wild without the need to hunt.
Raw food is high in protein, essential amino acids, grain-free and has the nutrients that your cat needs.
A raw meat diet isn’t just throwing a slab of beef in your cat’s food bowl. It requires a balance between muscle meat, organs and bones.
Many cat owners are put off by this diet as they think it requires too much effort. If your cat matters to you then you should at the very least learn more about it first.
It is a lot easier to get a hang of than you think.
You can check out our ultimate guide to feeding a raw meat diet to get yourself acquainted with such a diet.
Giving your cat a good and healthy diet is one of the best things that you can do for your precious cat.
Being a responsible pet owner entails not only providing shelter and affection but also the right diet for your cat.
Make it a point to stop feeding your cat dry food today. The longer your cat is on dry cat food, the higher the risk of being in poor health over time.
Iggy Thorne, also known as ‘Iggy the Explorer,’ is a seasoned writer with a flair for adventure and a deep love for animals.
Not only does he craft captivating stories often set in the great outdoors, but he’s also a dedicated pet owner who has owned and fostered both dogs and cats.
His expertise in animal care extends to volunteering at local shelters, making him a credible voice in pet ownership.
With a unique blend of humor and adventure, Iggy’s writing is as engaging as it is informative.