When we adopted Grace 7 years ago, she was my first cat. I had grown up with dogs, and knew little to nothing about taking care of felines, from litter to feeding. But we all learn as we go, right? For the first few years, I bought her dry food that wasn’t the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive either. I didn’t want to feed her wet food because I had heard, “They get hooked on wet and will forever turn their nose up at kibbles. And that isn’t very cost effective.”
At the store I’d pick whatever bag that was on sale, or sounded somewhat healthy. Then, at about the same time I got more serious about what we were eating at home, and began to cook with whole foods rather than a pantry full of processed goods, I knew I needed to take a closer look at what I was feeding Grace as well.
And when I looked at the ingredient list, I saw this:
“Poultry by-product meal, corn meal, corn gluten meal, ground whole wheat, brewers rice, soy flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, fish meal, animal liver flavor, meat and bone meal, phosphoric acid, salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, potassium chloride, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.”
Yikes. Fillers, lots of corn, artificial flavoring, artificial colors, and other unmentionables. Very little protein compared to the rest of the ingredients, and far from what cats would naturally eat in the wild.
I did my own research, and also talked to several people in the cat community whom I trusted. And it was clear that I needed to make the switch to grain-free cat food. Here were some of the things I learned that made a big impact on my choice, that you might find helpful if you’re considering a change:
1. Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring up to twice as much protein as dogs of the same size. In the wild, you would find them hunting their prey, that is other animals for protein and little of anything else. Grains? Nope. They need protein for lean muscle, strength, and energy. optimized for lean muscle, strength and energy.
2. Commercial dry cat food, on average, is typically formulated as 46-76% carbohydrates, 18-32% protein (and, not all of this is meat protein), and 8-22% fat. Why? Because carbs are inexpensive, readily available and offer a longer shelf-life.
3. Cats also lack certain enzyme pathways that allow other species to convert certain essential nutrients like taurine, Vitamin A, niacin, arginine and arachidonic acid. Hence, these nutrients all need to be provided in higher levels in feline diets to prevent the development of serious health issues.
4. I’ve personally noticed that my cats stay full longer, and keep a lean stature, even though they are indoor cats only. It seems this would be attributed to eating quality sources and higher amount of protein. In thinking about myself, I typically keep a steadier metabolism if I’m eating more protein than carbohydrates.
When I started rescuing and fostering through Feline Rescue a year ago, they also advocated for all cats in their care to be fed grain-free food especially once the bottle feeding kittens are weaned. Every time we take in new little ones, we usually go through a few different kinds before finding which grain-free suits them best. We’ve dealt with food allergies, picky eaters, and different digestive systems. Just like humans, every cat is different. Earl and Graye have been doing well on the tuna & crab version of AvoDerm, and as you can see, they really love it. J
The food (both wet and dry) is produced in small batches and cooked at lower temperatures to help support better digestion and health. (Many brands use high temperatures are cooked at high temperatures to kill bacteria, but which also deactivates beneficial enzymes and denatures protein’s more bioavailable form. Similar to microwaving or “nuking” your food, this reduces the nutrients in your pet’s food.) With no corn/fillers, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, or by-product meal, this food can be a great choice for cats with food allergies and sensitivities.
These little brothers are growing fast, and it’s hard to keep up with their energy! But I love it none the less. And wish I had a little bit of it myself. :) Their coats are shiny and soft, and I’ve recommended grain-free food to their adopters, who keep us updated on their progress weekly.