What Should Be in Your Cat’s Diet?

cat-eating-bowl

This post is sponsored by Balanced Blends

Cats should be thriving, not just surviving. Yet the vast majority of pet food options is filled with species inappropriate ingredients chosen to meet the minimum nutritional requirements, at the lowest possible cost, while sounding increasingly “human appropriate” to appeal to buyers. We’ve domesticated our cats, but we’ve failed to bring the nutritional benefits of the wild in with them.

Cats are obligate carnivores and should be fed a diet that minimizes stress on their bodies. This includes, for example, avoiding plant ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, spinach, chickpeas, and other legumes that require the use of non-primary, inefficient digestive processes, thus introducing digestive stress.

Making a conscious choice to feed appropriately is the first step, but how do you identify what is nutritionally balanced and species appropriate?

Who regulates pet food?

In the United States, nutritional standards for “complete and balanced” pet food are established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials. ) The organization is charged with establishing and enforcing animal feed requirements across all fifty state governments. Its primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of feed for human food producing livestock.  AAFCO states that “…it is the pet food company’s responsibility to formulate their products according to the appropriate AAFCO standard.” It’s this formulation of products performed by the industry that needs closer attention if we’re going to address the significant increase in cases of diet related illnesses.

Why you should be concerned

How concerned should you be?

In 2007, the contamination of species inappropriate grains used in pet food led to the largest pet food recall in history causing hundreds, possibly thousands of deaths. The true numbers will most likely never be known.

Currently, the FDA is investigating the species inappropriate “grain-free” alternative ingredients (starches, chickpeas, and other legumes) to determine whether there is a link to heart disease (DCM – dilated cardiomyopathy).

High levels of species inappropriate carbohydrates may be contributing to the feline obesity crisis, which in turn, leads to diseases ranging from diabetes to arthritis to heart disease.

You should be very concerned.

Surviving vs. thriving

We see these very same problems in the human food industry. Sure, we could survive on fast food, until heart disease, cancer or any other illness implicated with poor nutrition gets the better of us. But we would thrive on a balance of quality nutritional ingredients. The difference for us is that we can make the choice of what food we buy for us. Since our cats can’t choose, it’s up to us to make the right choice for them.

Like with humans and fast food, there’s a reason our cats often love inappropriate recipes and ingredients. There’s a $1 billion industry creating food attractants that can make cardboard seem as amazing as ice cream, or steak, or whatever you need it to taste like. The same is true for pet food.

You are the advocate for your cat’s health.

You are the advocate for your cat’s health. That means acknowledging that cats are obligate carnivores who require a diet based on wholesome species appropriate foods, without chemical attractants. A complete and balanced diet consisting of meat, organs, and the minimal amount of supplements needed to complete the diet, checks all the boxes.

balanced-blends-cat

About Balanced Blends

Balanced Blends creates species appropriate pet food for cats. Their high-protein Species Balanced™ recipes are 97.5% USDA inspected and approved animal ingredients, combined with a minimum amount of supplementation. No species inappropriate ingredients included: no grains, ‘grain-free’ alternatives, starches, carbs, chickpeas, or other legumes.

Pets are family. Carnivores hunt. Choose to feed appropriately™.

For more information, visit BalancedBlends.com

*FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that I believe are of interest to our readers.

7 Comments on What Should Be in Your Cat’s Diet?

  1. Robin glasgow
    August 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I agree with everything M (August16 comment) shared about commercial cat foods. Removing one bad food for other bad foods just doesnt make sense. No wonder hundreds plus cats are daily developing allergies, diabetes, kidney disease, heart conditions & obesity. Theyre eating a cat version of human fast food for survival. Its all designed to appeal to the humans feeding ur preciou furbabies. It looks like it has good ingrediants & states that its nutritious for them so it must be ok for our kitties right? NOT! The majority of us who love our furbabies just dont know any better & do the best we can. One would not necessarily look for a better food if we already beleive were feeding our kitties a good diet. If it aint broken…
    The information about cat diets needing a ‘fix’ is only just becoming wide spread & still so many kitty homes dont have time to stress about something that doest appear to be broken. OR, and most especially, can the average cat(s) home afford the high cost of prepared fresh, cat appropriate diets. Forget trying to get multiple cats to transition over to new, unusual foods, with already fussy &/or disease specific needs.
    I dont disagree with these awesome new raw diets, just stating some of the obvious.
    Im feeding my kitties(seven furbabies) a prominent canned food that recently started a brand of ‘naturals’ blend, the cost for this doubled from their previous diet and im still not certain the ingrediants are good for them; & supplement them with a (?high quality?) dry food, a couple of my kitties just lick the juice from the wet food, thus the kibble supplement.
    Last year I decided to try a line of frozen raw food. It took a lot of space in my freezer(remember, seven little mouths), frustration worring about how much to thaw & not waste unused package, remembering to thaw in advance of next days feedings(space in my fridge), finally mixing with tuna(which ruins the raw diet concept)to get them to eat it & finally ended up throwing out most of it. It did have addatives, veges ect, that according to my research was not optimal for cat diets but i had hoped it would be some better than even the proposed ‘better’ OTC foods.
    Now there are many private companies promoting raw or kibble alternatives. I want to start feeding a good, high quality raw diet, which i believe is better for them, for at least part of their intake. Im not set up to make my own, so now, which one?

    Ive just started reading the Consciouc Cat so i apologize if ive missed the answers to these questions.
    What is the difference between Darwins raw frozen diet & Species Balanced diet? Would it be safe to consider offering both to my cat family as i have a few fussy eaters. Do you have recommendations for getting started, again. Im anxious find a better, cat specific foods theyll eat. Ive read so many comments that refer to the cats having healthier coats, less dry skin, more active & alert, better digestion. I would just like to avoid some of the set backs i mentioned above.
    I hope ive kept my comments in accordance with your guidelines so
    Thanks, in advance for answering my queries, and
    For sharing the awesome information in the conscious cat
    Robin

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 18, 2019 at 4:12 pm (4 weeks ago)

      I feed both Darwin’s and Balanced Blends Species Balanced, and they’re both on my list of recommended brands. The big difference is that Balanced Blends does not use ground-in bone, while Darwin’s does. Some cats have a more difficult time handling ground in bone, so that would really be the only reason I’d choose one over the other. You can find all of the raw (and canned) foods I recommend here: https://consciouscat.net/2012/03/22/the-best-food-for-your-cat/

      Reply
  2. M
    August 16, 2019 at 11:47 am (1 month ago)

    Previously I had decided to forgo posting any comments due to a run in with another person commenting, however this is an issue that really IRKS me. The canned food being used here for years has been discontinued and the replacement offered is not much different, but only comes in a little 3 oz plastic cup, is difficult to open and is not enough for 11 mouths to feed (usually buy 5.5 oz cans), plus it is way more expensive. In addition, my source for the frozen raw has decided to get out of the business. Both foods were made by the same company and were promoted as 95% meat/bone/organ with limited 5% fruits/veggies. Their raw bites are still available in big pet stores (The frozen raw medallions are hard to come by! You have to find a local small pet store that might carry/order it.), BUT they have reduced the meat in the bites to 85% and added dl-Methionine*. I suspect the medallions will follow suit soon enough. I bought as much of both that I could afford to allow time to transition. It has renewed my effort to get them to eat homemade (see Dr Pierson’s recipe at https://catinfo.org/making-cat-food/) while I try to find possible replacement canned foods that meets MY requirements and that most, if not all, will eat. At this point I would prefer they all eat the food I make. For those who wish to try her recipe, but don’t want to buy a grinder yet, you can try at first by either buying the meat frozen pre-ground from a good pet food source and adding the other ingredients, or buying boneless along with bone meal and use a good blender to chop up the meat (bake per catinfo recipe and probably cut up first, less stress on blender.) IF the cats accept it, then consider investing in a GOOD grinder (most will say not for bone, but mine works on chicken, duck and rabbit bone.) Cost wise, depending on your meat source, is comparable or less to buying it already made (minus the initial grinder investment.) If you can get the chicken thighs on sale, it is even less expensive. Whole rabbit is actually sold at a local grocery here (although lately they are having trouble getting it shipped.)

    The disturbing part that irks me is that most of the canned foods offered today LOUDLY pronounce “grain free”, yet add potatoes, rice, peas, blueberries, starches and other foods CATS DON’T NEED and cannot process properly. The grains were added to cut their costs and keep protein counts up, but caused so many problems. Now they are most/all on board with the grain issue, BUT, they are still cutting costs by adding these vegetables to keep their protein count up. I read all the ingredients listed on commercial cat foods and am certainly am NOT going to pay premium prices for these so called “premium” foods that are anything but. If anyone knows of a brand of canned food that does NOT include fruits, veggies, starches, dl-Methionine, etc, PLEASE let us know!

    I have not finished checking out the BalancedBlends, but the shipping cost is a killer. I did follow the links to check the homemade recipe, but am perplexed as to why they use pumpkin, along with Zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, kale… Dr. Pierson’s recipe has no veggies in it. Meat, bone, organs, eggs, water and vitamin/minerals/fish oil. The other recipe also seems rather complicated. Not so for Dr Pierson’s recipe (BTW she has been feeding her cats only this since 2003.)

    So now, in addition to ensuring our cat foods have no grains and proper balances of protein, vitamins, minerals, hydration we have to check the ingredients used! Reading those ingredients on Rx foods showed most of them have this garbage or worse and I will not use them (many cats won’t eat them, esp the CKD foods.) While each cat has to be evaluated/treated individually, and what works for my kitty may not work for others, I can say that my 20.5 yo kitty was identified as starting down the CKD path in July 2015, identified hyperthyroid issue March 2016, Radio Iodine treated April 2017 (medication kept the numbers in check, but she lost 5#) and we found lower lung spots in April 2018. She gets WHATEVER she wants to eat! Still chugging along, but add some cognitive issue (dementia) with some coordination issues sometimes, she may not have long left – meanwhile, I give her whatever she wants to keep her fed and happy!

    *dl-Methionine is a synthetic form of Methionine, something that occurs naturally in MEAT. The only reason I can think of to require adding this synthetic is that they are skimping on the meat. I will NOT buy anything with that in it as it is one of the suspects in the cause of idiopathic hypercalcemia. Something in dry food caused this in at least one cat here and eliminating dry food cured the problem (we had tested for all the usual causes, none applied.) After that, I eliminated dry food for everyone and cleared up BM issues for 3 other cats, two who came from the shelter with their issues and which continued until the dry food was taken away (could not wean them off it – they were all eating both canned and dry, so it was just taken away one day and so far no one has complained!)

    Reply
  3. J Thom
    August 13, 2019 at 8:10 pm (1 month ago)

    Such an important article! Thank you for sharing. I have thought about these vegetables now being added and questioned them. Peas and carrots are not something cats would eat in the wild. For that matter, feral cats are not catching fish either. Thanks for this reminder. I had been making a raw chicken food for my cats some years ago, but at the time was taking care of 13 cats and it was too much work. I have gotten a little lazy about choosing a better food lately and need to check them out again. I know there are more and more healthier options each year.

    Reply
    • M
      August 17, 2019 at 12:00 am (4 weeks ago)

      “Peas and carrots are not something cats would eat in the wild.” I don’t think they dig up potatoes or pick blueberries either!
      “feral cats are not catching fish either.” Last I checked they are not into cow-tipping either… Fish (esp tuna I think) is or can be highly addictive too. Too many cat foods mix tuna into their GRRRRRreat foods!

      Do you have a source for the “recipe” you used for the chicken? I would prefer to make more chicken and less duck/rabbit as it is definitely less expensive (I would continue to try to get everyone eating the duck and rabbit too – variety.)

      “I know there are more and more healthier options each year.” – commercial? don’t hold your breath. I have checked soooo many canned cat foods and most are adding this garbage into the food, but screaming “GRAIN FREE”!!! I have been trying the few that have little or no fruits/veggies, but only a couple will eat those – the rest? Snobs.

      Reply
  4. Darlene
    August 13, 2019 at 5:50 am (1 month ago)

    How do you get a cat too eat chicken or fish? I have one cat that eats the chicken I cook and fish then the other one doesn’t like any table food. When I make them chicken or fish I don’t put any seasoning or anything on them and I make sure what ever I bake is boneless.

    Reply

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