Dr. Becker did a post today about a food additive (SDAP – spray dried animal protein) being used to make foods more palatable to cats and to provide more nutrition. The first two commenters asked what to do with this information? What to feed? One had an overweight cat who lost weight (though was constipated and needed human stool softener) on a processed weight loss diet. When she fed a “human grade” processed diet the cat gained weight again. Another did not want to feed a frozen raw meat diet and wondered what to feed and what supplements to feed. I responded to their queries as follows.
My best suggestion is to get several books and really educated yourself. Dr. Becker’s book and ones by Hofve/Yarnall, Brown, Basko and more are at the nutrition page of the bookstore.
Stop for a moment and think – what is the best food for a person to eat? Not an easy answer, is it? Certainly we know that fresh is better than processed for people. But should you be a vegetarian, a vegan, a traditional diet (meat, fermented veges)? What of the many great supplements should you be taking? The more we ponder these questions, then more we realize that there is no balanced diet for people, so there is also no balanced diet for cats. There is no one person or university who can say – if you feed this – your cat will be healthy. In the 80s when I graduated from veterinary school, cat food was so unbalanced (though they advertised it as balanced and taught us students we should recommend it) that some cats were dying of heart disease and going blind because of a lack of taurine.
Answer one – fresh food is better than processed. Period. I know your cat started gaining weight on a non-weight loss brand, but that was not fresh food. I know you do not want to feed a frozen raw diet. Why not? I still do not even recommend feeding a frozen commercial as best. I think fresh, from local farms you can visit is the best. Or at least a farmer’s market where you can speak with the farmers.
Answer two – Learn about a cat’s anatomy and physiology. They eat an animal – raw, with bones, skin, hair, organs and pureed vegetables (in the intestine and stomach). They eat a bird one day, a mouse the next, and may nibble on a deer killed by a car or wolf. They do not grind their meat and their teeth do no chew the meat (merely rip and tear and bone crunch).
Answer three – feed raw meaty bones, a variety of different meats, maybe pureed vegetables. Feed the biggest pieces they will eat. One friend of mine fed 10 cats and they would each eat an entire chicken leg or thigh. My cat wants the backs and necks cut into 2 inch chunks. Feed organs. Now we come into the same problems there are with people – different cats may thrive on different ratios, or types of food. Each cat may need different supplements. Keeping a journal (see my site) can help you look at the early warning signs of internal imbalance to see what is working the best for your cat, just as you noticed that the human grade processed food was not as good for your cat. From a chinese medicine perspective (Dr. Basko’s book) meats may need to be lightly cooked (to warm the Chi) for some cats.
Suggestion – start now to work with a well trained holistic veterinarian who can help you through these decisions. Always trust yourself more, though. You are living daily with your cats. Take a deep breath and try fresh foods – it just makes sense. Oh – and never, never feed dry food to cats – it stresses the kidneys in many cats.