Keeping Kitty Healthy

There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t have someone visit our stores and ask how to help their dog through diet & supplementation. We instantly know when dogs aren’t feeling well, since they are very expressive…they bark, they whine, they throw up, they scratch and lick…all in an effort to let us know they need help. Cats…not so much. They are masters at disguising illness. Most cats are quiet, hide and sleep 80% of the time making it almost impossible to recognize when things aren’t “right”.   Cats are considered easy by most people since all you have to do is leave some dry food out and clean the litter box occasionally. This is all fine and good until suddenly your cat is diagnosed with kidney failure…the most common major disease of cats and also the most common cause of death in well cared for cats. Fortunately, this deadly disease can be potentially avoided by something as simple as a diet change.

Dry kibble seems to be the preferred food choice by many due to its convenience and low cost, but it is definitely not the ideal choice for optimal health. You see, cats ideally need an intake of 70% moisture in their diet to thrive. Dry kibble is…dry…containing little to no moisture. Even if we provide fresh water for our kitties, they would need to consume 70% water relative to their food intake and you and I both know that doesn’t happen. Cats just aren’t wired to think that way. They rely on obtaining that moisture from their food. A perfect example of this would be a mouse…the ideal prey diet for a cat, which consists of 70% moisture. When the proper moisture levels aren’t reached through diet, then the organs are taxed (particularly the kidneys) and disease develops. Most commonly we’ll see urinary tract infections and kidney failure.

To combat this, we always recommend high protein, high moisture food for kitties.   A good quality canned diet or a raw diet are great options since both consist of 70% moisture, are low carbohydrate and most varieties are grain free (at least at Wet Nose). It’s funny because whenever we suggest eliminating dry food from the diet, the first concern we hear is “what about keeping their teeth clean?” This is a huge myth…when I eat a crunchy cookie, I don’t have cleaner teeth. In fact, I need to brush my teeth from the gunk that settles at the gum line. It’s no different for cats…dry food does not clean teeth.  

I’d love to say that it’s easy to switch over to wet food, but some cats are stubborn. Some will gobble it up like they won the lottery and some will look at you like you’ve clearly lost your mind. Be patient. You might need to take a pea-sized amount of wet food and disguise it for months before the entire bowl has been transitioned to the new food. You can also start adding small amounts of water to your current food in an effort to get your kitty to enjoy the consistency of wet food. Once that’s successful, it will become easier to mix the canned or raw food into the bowl. Another tip – take your cats paw and press it into a bowl of wet food. Your cat will instinctually lick it off…a great way to show them how yummy it is! And lastly, don’t give up. Keep trying new flavors and brands. You’ll eventually find a winner. Your kitty’s health and happiness depends on it.

Sheila Spitza