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Cat Food and Nutrition


cobafdek
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Just adopted a cat from the shelter about two weeks ago.  She's a fully grown 8 pounder about 18 months old.

 

I've done a fair amount of reading about what's best to feed her.  There seems to be two main camps:  the dry food cat owners and vets, versus the wet food camp. 

 

Regarding dry cat food, the advantages are cost and convenience.  The disadvantages, from the wet food camp's perspective, is that dry food is not the cat's natural diet, since they are carnivores who eat 95%+ protein in the wild.  Manufactured, "scientifically" designed dry cat food is high in carbohydrates.  Some of the more premium brands get up to only about 40% protein.  A primary disadvantage of canned wet cat food is that it is more expensive.

 

There are parallels in this controversy to human nutrition.  Inexpensive, widely commercially available food prepared according to standard nutritional guidelines has led to long-term health problems related to obesity and the associated diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, for both cats and humans.  The wet cat food advocates are analogous to the paleo diet camp for humans.  That said, the quality of animal nutrition research is about as good as human nutrition research.  In other words, very low quality with little long-term outcome evidence.

 

Decent dry cat food, such as from Trader Joe's (30% protein) would cost about 20 cents per day.  Wet cat food is $1 per day and up.

 

The value investor in me initially went for the 80% discount.  But now I am in the process of transitioning my cat to a grain-free protein wet food "more natural" cat diet.

 

I know there are other board members out there whose value investing decision-making principles bleed into all areas of their non-financial lives.  From those cat owners out there, I'd like to hear your thinking and experience, and how you made your choices.

 

 

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We feed our cat a combination of dry food and table scraps. She loves just about every kind of meat except for stuff heavily seasoned. Not entirely sure if it's an ideal combination, but I like the idea of giving her extra protein and we think it's cute when she begs for food while we're eating.

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fed our cat dry food their entire life, lived to be 16. sometimes when they are older, have to water it down to make it easier to chew but wouldn't worry about it. bonus is they'll kill birds, varmint, and snakes for you to enjoy....at least I think that's their thought process?

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fed our cat dry food their entire life, lived to be 16. sometimes when they are older, have to water it down to make it easier to chew but wouldn't worry about it. bonus is they'll kill birds, varmint, and snakes for you to enjoy....at least I think that's their thought process?

 

Yep. 2 cats...12+ years on both. Only dry food.

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I just returned from the local Walmart where I found some canned cat food, grain-free, going for about 30 cents per day for my cat's size and weight - much better than $1-2 per day, and closer to the 20 cents/day her food is now costing.

 

During this transition period, I'll consider other options, such as some combination of dry and wet cat foods.

 

So far it's not just you guys online, but friends and everyone I've spoken in person report essentially no problems with near-100% dry food for their cat's lifetime.  Perhaps I've been over-influenced by the first things that pop up when I typed "cat nutrition" in Google.  The first few articles I saw were quite passionate and logical about the superiority of the wet food option - a reasonable and plausible idea but unfortunately no actual hard data to support it definitively.  Sort of reminds me of Taleb's tyranny of the minority concept, in which just a few people fanatically devoted to an idea have outsize influence, like cyclists who are the only ones who show up at city council meetings are able to get their bike lanes all over town.

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Two cats, 17 years, only dry food. We just had to put one down recently but one is still with us and in great health. We always used Hill's Science Diet but about 2-3 years ago we heard from multiple people that the quality had really gone downhill.  After a bit of research we found that to be correct and changed their food to Performatrin Ultra.

 

Both indoor cats only.

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FWIW I feed them this stuff:

 

https://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/cat-formulas/rocky-mountain-feline-formula-with-roasted-venison-smoked-salmon/

 

42% protein, with 2 cats 1 bag lasts about a month, maybe more. At $30/bag you're looking at 50c/day per cat.

 

Two cats. We feed dry and wet cat food. Dry food as LC. Wet food Friskies one 5.5oz/156g can for 2 cats per day... so $.50 or so for 2 cats per day, so $.25 per cat per day. (I think there usually are additional discounts).

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We have 2 cats that are both 10 years old. They have always eaten primarily dry food because wet food smells horrible, it's expensive, and the dry food actually helps their dental hygiene. The cats have been on a slow journey from whatever was cheapest at the grocery store, to taste of the wild (they both got sick from a bad bag), switched to natural balance until one of the two developed a very sensitive stomach. Now they've been on blue buffalo sensitive stomach for three years. The blue buffalo isn't the best for them by reading the label, but it is the only stuff that hasn't caused any vomiting or litter box issues since we switched to it.

 

They also get an occasional can of tuna, weekly Costco rotisserie chicken scraps, and leftover fish from dinner. Just know they are like little pavlov dogs if you give them leftovers. They now go crazy if they see a can opener, we sit at the dining room table (we usually sit at the bar, but the dining table apparently means we are having fish), or we carry in a box that may contain rotisserie chicken.

 

I always had dogs growing up and claimed I didn't like cats. My wife brought cats into the marriage, but I have to say, they are pretty cool little critters.

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FWIW I feed them this stuff:

 

https://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/cat-formulas/rocky-mountain-feline-formula-with-roasted-venison-smoked-salmon/

 

42% protein, with 2 cats 1 bag lasts about a month, maybe more. At $30/bag you're looking at 50c/day per cat.

 

This looks good (for the cat, that is).  I might get it for mine for a trial. 

 

Looks like you put some deliberate thinking into this choice, it being high-protein and grain-free.  Did the cost difference with cheaper mass market brands make you pause?

 

We always used Hill's Science Diet but about 2-3 years ago we heard from multiple people that the quality had really gone downhill.  After a bit of research we found that to be correct and changed their food to Performatrin Ultra.

 

What was the problem with Science Diet?  My sister and nephew use it for their cat, and I'll ask them about it also. 

 

 

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Thanks for all the replies. 

 

Any health problems with your cats on predominantly dry food?  Especially, any problems your cat's vet attributes to diet?  Any veterinarian visits and costs, beyond the basic preventive care, that might be attributed to diet?

 

For instance, one problem I hear about is urinary tract infections.  Wet food is high in water content, and cats in the wild, according to some experts, don't naturally drink a lot free water, and dehydration is a factor in UTIs.

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We always used Hill's Science Diet but about 2-3 years ago we heard from multiple people that the quality had really gone downhill.  After a bit of research we found that to be correct and changed their food to Performatrin Ultra.

 

What was the problem with Science Diet?  My sister and nephew use it for their cat, and I'll ask them about it also.

 

From what I remember it was the quality of the ingredients and the amount of filler.  We had been with the same vet for 12 years until we moved recently and in the last couple of years they went from having Hill's brand in stock at the vets office to Royal Canin. (I'm not sure if RC is a Canadian brand or not) Since moving we've been to 3 different vets here in Ottawa (one is our new regular vet and 2 have been emergency vets).  All 3 stock Royal Canin and not Hill's. Hill's used to be the defacto food that vets carried.  Hill's specialty in the office and Science Diet at pet stores.

 

Anecdotally, I spoke to someone at Petsmart and they said Hill's is moving a line into WalMart. He explained the quality difference within the market.  Top quality is the vet line, second is the line sold at pet stores and the lowest quality is the lines at grocery stores.  The difference is mainly the amount of filler but of course the lines sold at the vet are usually specialty food for medical problems. 

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Our last indoor cat lived to 20 1/2 before she departed for the great cat house in the sky about 18 months ago.  She ate Purina "Kit & Kaboodle" dry food, Friskies Pate (also by Purina), as well as the occasional purloined piece of shrimp or fish. I believe that experimenting until you find food that your kitty actually likes is as important as nutrition labels.

We continue to care for a cat herd consisting of one stray and 6 ferals who seem to be thriving well on mostly dry Kit & Kaboodle with wet Friskies 4 or 5 days a week.

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