Cats vs. Kibble

Mitchell M. asks, "Why does everyone keep saying dry food is bad for cats to eat?  My cats like it a lot and they're plenty healthy.  I don't get what's wrong with dry food." 

It's a good question, Mitchell, given the prevalence of dry cat foods on the market.  Many cats are eating a diet that's mostly composed of kibble and many of those seem to be healthy.  But are they?

The problem with dry food is the total lack of moisture.  It is believed that most modern cats are ancestors of a north African species of desert-dwelling cat, Felis libyca.  Since most cats have the genetics of a desert-dweller, they have a very low thirst drive. 

Read more about the ancestors of the modern housecat here

We can hear you saying it now.  "But my cat drinks plenty of water!"  While you may think so, it's extremely rare for a cat that eats dry kibble to consume adequate amounts of moisture.  Yes, they will drink some water when they become absolutely parched, but by that time the damage has been done.  You see, the lower moisture intake puts a significant strain on a cat's bladder and kidneys.  So much so that kidney disease is one of the leading causes of death in domestic house cats.  Not wild cats who obtain their moisture from the prey they kill and eat.  Only house cats have chronic kidney issues.  That's largely due to dry food.

Every cat should eat a diet that consists mostly of unprocessed meat.  A raw diet is the best.  Second best is canned cat food.  There's a great variety of canned foods on the market, most of which contain ingredients that you really wouldn't want your cats to eat.  Nonetheless, there is no wet food on the market that is as bad as the best dry food.  That's right, the cheapest Friskies canned food is better than the best dry food simply because it's wet!

If you'd like some help picking out a quality canned cat food, there's an excellent resource available at the Natural Cat Care Blog.  While their list is far from complete, it does give you some key information about which foods are acceptable and what key qualities and ingredients you should look for.

Mitchell, your cat will enjoy a much longer, healthier life, if you transition him or her to wet food as soon as possible.  Of course, this is sometimes a difficult change for cats.  Feeding them dry kibble is a little like feeding a child nothing but potato chips.  They like it because it's engineered to appeal to them, but the calories are mostly empty ones.  Plan to take several weeks to make the complete change, feeding a little more wet food each day.  Once you've switched over to a completely wet diet, we believe you'll see positive changes in your cat's skin, coat, attitude, and energy level. 

Do any of you have any food transition advice for Mitchell?  If so, please leave a comment below.