I recently posted an article titled “How to Choose Healthy Foods for Your Pets“.  In it, I acknowledged how difficult it is to find the “right” diet for your pet, given the varying and often confusing information available on this topic. 

As a follow up to my article, I’d like to post a comment Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM, left on The Pet Connection Blog.  Dr. Pion is the founder of the Veterinary Information Network, and he is responsible for saving millions of cats’ lives by being the first to discover the link between taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in cats in 1987.  He is also the co-author of “Cats for Dummies“.   This is what he has to say about cat food:

“The only definitive comment I’ll make about the cat food debates is that anyone who tells you they know THE ANSWER is not worth listening to.

Pet food companies want you to buy their food — and for the most part if you stick to a major brand you can’t go too wrong. Still — without doubt, RESULTS WILL VARY 🙂

Feeding from cans and bags is convenient. And since for most it seems to work, that isn’t a bad place to start.

I still believe in mixing up what you feed. But I can’t say that my wife (also a DVM) follows that. But our cats seem happy and healthy and that’s about all you can hope to achieve.

Plant based dry foods are not a natural foundation for a cat’s diet, but for convenience and cost, they are commonly fed and most cats seem to do just fine.

How much commercial foods are at the root of diseases like feline hyperthyroidism and diabetes are intriging questions.

The hard part is sifting through all the opinion, emotion, marketing hype, and researcher bias when trying to decipher the “science.” Suffice it to say I won’t be surprised if we figure out how commercial diets are leading to these conditions in some cats.

At the same time, it is hard to argue with the observation that cats seem to be living longer in the decades since commercial cat food feeding has become more popular. Cause and effect? Who knows.

I won’t get into the raw food debate, other than to say I wouldn’t be happy if my wife (can you tell she does all the pet care) decided to go down that path. Suffice it to say, my concerns are more for human health than feline health. But still, I won’t claim that I know the definitive answer on this topic.

Raw foods, dry foods, canned foods — my observation is that consumer choices are often made more to please the pet owner (influenced by advertising, peer pressure, and pseudoscience) than the pet.

I probably have said too much already. But I’ll end reminding everyone that everything and everyone dies. Somewhere in the midst of spending huges amounts of time, energy and money trying to cheat death, we have to remember to enjoy life and accept imperfection — it’s the best we got right now.

I personally would much rather live well (for me that means purposefully and doing what I believe is right for those I love and all whose lives my actions effect) than long (or even prosperously).

And to set the record straight, although I consume a lot of diet coke, I have not had a devil dog in over a decade 🙂 ”

(quoted with permission from Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM)

8 Comments on A Veterinarian’s Thoughts on Cat Food

  1. I know this may be slightly off the main topic but I found this stray cat at my doorstep and she is the sweetest cat and I immediately tell in love with her. I took her to the vet. for the reason I am about to explain and she took xrays and have her a shot for inflamation and told me if her potential lung problem cleared up to take her in for more xrays but I cannot afford it. Anyways she seems to have hair buildup in her lungs and I have never seen her cough up a hairball. Is there a way I can get her to cough it up or digest it? She iseemss long haired and hardly seems able to breath at times. You seem to be experts in cats and I would appreciate any advice you may have.

  2. I found your blog while looking for some info. I would like to read it, but I was discouraged because it is too hard to read. Please get rid of the “novelty” font you are using and use something readable. Any research on graphic design (web or print) will help you find a font that people can read. Serif fonts are best. Good luck with your blogging. I have no doubt that a minor change like this could bring you more readers.

  3. Quality vs. quantity. It’s a no brainer for me. I want them to be happy and healthy even if they don’t live for 20 years.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Barbara. I think your vet’s point is well taken. Whether the fact that cats are living long enough to get these degenerative diseases is due to diet or not is probably something that will take more research, but it definitely can’t be overlooked.

    My favorite part of Dr. Pion’s quote is that no matter what we do, we can’t cheat death, and that ultimately, it’s about enjoying life and living in the moment.

  5. My vet offered this advice, which I felt was wise: We cannot simply blame the food when we’re comparing 15- and 20- and 25-year-old cats with diabetes or kidney failure to cats that died at 9 or 10 years of age and did not get diabetes or kidney failure.

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