Last updated April 2021

Grocery and pet store shelves abound with a dizzying array of dry cat food. For decades, kibble has been the preferred choice for most cat owners. After all, the bags say it’s “complete and balanced,” it’s easy to feed, and most cats seem to like it. Unfortunately, dry cat food, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, is the equivalent of junk food for cats. Feeding dry food to cats is no different than feeding sugared cereals to kids.

Cats are obligate carnivores

This means they need meat to survive. They cannot get enough nutritional support from plant-based proteins such as grains and vegetables, because, unlike humans and dogs, they lack the specific enzyme that processes plant-based proteins metabolically. They need little or no carbohydrates in their diet. Feeding foods high in carbohydrates leads to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Free choice feeding leads to obesity

Many pet owners feed dry food because it can be left out during the day without spoiling while the cat is left at home alone. This method of free choice feeding is one of the leading contributors to obesity in cats.  Cats, by nature, are hunters, and it does not make sense that they should need access to food 24 hours a day. Feeding two or more small meals a day mimics their natural hunting behavior much closer. By feeding controlled portion sizes rather than leaving food out all day long, calorie intake and weight can be controlled without the cat going hungry.

Dry food is the leading cause behind most urinary tract problems

Dry food is the leading cause behind most urinary tract problems in cats. While cats who eat only dry food will generally drink more water, they still don’t get enough moisture to support all their bodily functions. These cats essentially live in a constant state of low level dehydration, which can lead to bladder and kidney problems.

Dry food can lead to diabetes

Due to the high carbohydrate content, dry food dumps unnaturally high levels of sugar into the cat’s bloodstream, which can lead to an imbalance of its natural metabolic process. In extreme cases, this can, and often does, lead to diabetes.

Dry food does not clean teeth

The myth that dry food cleans teeth is one that just won’t die. Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in. What little they do chew shatters into small pieces. Some pet food manufacturers offer a “dental diet” that is made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole. Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

Eliminate all dry food from your cat’s diet

The one best thing you can do for your cat is to stop feeding dry food and feed a meat based, grain-free raw, homemade or canned diet which is consistent with the biological needs of a carnivore.

You may find that some cats are very difficult to wean off dry food, further supporting the junk food analogy. They’re literally addicted to the carbs and additives used in these diets. During the manufacturing process, substances called “digests” (fermented by-products of meat processing with no nutritional value) are sprayed on the outside of the kibble to make it more palatable to the cat.  Most cats wouldn’t touch dry food if it wasn’t for these flavor enhancers.  For these hard-core addicts, you will need to transition them to a healthier diet somewhat slowly.  Never let a cat go without food for more than 24 hours.

Image Pixabay stock photo

This post was first published in 2010 and has been updated.

164 Comments on The Truth About Dry Cat Food

  1. I have left dry cat food out for my cats all my life (I am 70). I have never had a fat cat. There has got to be something else causing other cats to get fat. One thing I can think of is that I have always had at least 3 cats at a time. So maybe they chase each other all the time and they run the calories off?

    • Ditto !
      Geri Parker
      I am 70 also, I’ve never had a fat cat, I take care of a friends cat, he’s fat, I reduced his intake of his crunchies, he’s now of better weight my vet is happy !
      Me too !

  2. Whenever we see an advert about all the human veggies in cat food we are amazed at the lack of education of people. But maybe not in how humans jump on every fad diet that pops up

  3. My cat has out of the blue refused to eat his dry food. I give him steamed mackerel in the morning and free feed dry food. He had to have some teeth removed a few years back (I found him very sick in a street next to me and got him fixed up so not sure how old he is). Although I’m heartened to have found this site but I’m concerned a diet solely of steamed fresh mackerel is good for him? He absolutely won’t eat canned food. Could it be his gums are painful? He is also ‘chubby’ but that’s to be expected with spayed males. Any advice greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  4. I have had my cats on Dry food all my life and they all have lived long happy lives… never have i had a cat with problems with teeth. my 11 year old “Fortune” who we found on the street when she was only days old in a storm and very sick and blind, our vet did not think she has a chance but 11 years later she is doing well, just in the last few weeks i noticed when she eats or drinks her stomach makes a lot of noise and she belches a lot, sometimes i even burp her… is there something i should be looking for in her food or looking to not have in her food? i know you do not like dry food but that is what she is use to and she will not touch moist food but i am looking to find a better dry food for her.

    • I started using Dr Elsey’s dry food last year, 2 of my cats are 16 years old and this food has helped them greatly, they are running around like when they were younger and seem much happier!!
      It has also made their coats soft and healthy. Read the ingredients in his cat food, its impressive!
      Good luck

      • I did not want to give my 17 yr old cat, rescued from a nephew who dumped him, dry food. My nephew and my sister gave him 90% dry food for years, with very little wet. I had given him only high quality wet, Wellness and Weruva for 5 months and no dry. He lost a pound. The new vet said, give him a little dry, so I bought NOW Fresh from Petcurean. It is .60 phosphorus because he is bordering on Stage 3 kidney disease, probably after a lifetime of dry kibble. I also introduced Stella and Chewy’s freeze dried morsels 9 months ago. I give him 6-7 a day, reconstituted. The Salmon/chicken flavor I believe is 45% phosphorus. My cat is back up to 14 lbs. Am SO afraid to ever give him dry food again. My vet offers NO advice on nutrition. He is also hyperthyroid on meds for several years.

  5. My 8 year-old cat does not like wet food. When I got her as a kitten, I tried wet food for weeks…she would eat just a tiny amount, another tiny amount hours later, then wouldn’t touch any more of that flavor, so had to constantly throw away almost-full cans of food. Switched to Friskies dry “Indoor Delights” plus dry “treats,” and she eats heartily, and is gorgeous & healthy. Our vet has never recommended wet over dry food.
    Since you are so adamant that dry food is totally “BAD,” I’ll try some wet food again & see what happens. My cat also will not TOUCH any kind of raw or cooked meat, chicken, whatever. Very finicky….but a sweetheart!

  6. Hi. I am a true believer in wet/raw over dry. But what do you do when your vet is still “old school”? I live in the middle of nowhere so switching wouldn’t be easy. I took my 3.5 yr old (we have had for about 6 months) in for mouth odor. He does have mild gingivitis and tarter so we have scheduled a cleaning to hopefully nip it in the bud. But they gave me the “dry food cleans teeth and wet food causes more tarter” speech. Any advice other than smile and nod while ignoring? Thanks!

    • I know how you feel!! I WORK with vets like that…so hard for me to keep my mouth shut!! As for your own cat(s), I’d recommend ordering on Chewy – they have a great choice of cat foods and you can read through the ingredients etc.

    • Cats in the wild (feral) who eat “natural” food still get these dental issues, including resorptive lesions, which often lead to extraction(s). Other than brushing your cats teeth, there is not much to do about it. I like your “smile and nod while ignoring”! That’s about all you can do with vets who don’t stay/get up to date with these issues.

      Dental cleaning must sometimes be done, but don’t overdo – they need to be “put under” and the less often you do this the better. But if there clearly are dental issues that cannot be taken care of by brushing and/or a little scaling in the office (my vet just did this for one cat and said we can defer the cleaning for her!)

      If your vet still thinks dry foods will help, print this article or provide the link. Dr. Pierson also discusses the same issues on her site (catinfo.org) and says the same about the fact that cats get no real dental benefit from dry foods, but CAN suffer from all the bad effects of dry food!

      • Also in the wild, they may get tooth-cleaning action by chewing through bones, fur, tendons etc of prey. I have heard that feeding raw chicken wings helps with this. They do crunch up the bones etc with great relish, if brought up eating them. NB they must be RAW bones, cooked would be dangerous. Does anybody know mre about this? Or have a link to the scientific research?

  7. Ok since we bought a house/farm that had a massive outdoor cat problem 30 plus not including kittens. We had four cats when we moved. We now have 15 indoor cats age 8 months to 9 years old now. We rehomed and adopted out most the cats. Brought in one mamma one one year old and a total of nine kittens. ( by the time they were tame we fell in love with them) All are now inside fixed and well cared for. How in the world could I feed all wet food? I do use a very good dry food and feed wet every other day. We do have a large feeder that they can eat from at will. They go crazy over the wet food. Total chaos. The new kittens act like maniacs when I put the wet food down.l What wet foods are good but affordable for this many? All but two cats are a very good weight two got puddgy after being fixed but not to “fat”. None have health issues at this time. Vet visit evety year for shots and well checkup. Side note I have eight litter boxes cleaned twice a day. We also have seven Jack Russell Terriors 13 to 5 years old. I would love to make sure they’re on a good diet too. The Jacks play with the cats the cats think they’re Jack’s its funny! For all the haters we never intended to have that many cats but once they were family that’s all it took as long as I can take care of them there’s no reason not to have them.

    • Bless you for all you do for cats, Michelle! I totally understand that budget can be a concern when you feed so many. The Fancy Feast Classic line is a pretty decent lower cost choice, and you can often find it on sale. I can’t help you with suggestions for your dogs – not my area of expertise.

      • I have a 3 1/2 mos old kitten who really likes canned Fancy Feast kitten, in turkey formula. She licks her plate clean. She still likes the crunchy but i am leaving only a very small amount of it at night when i’m asleep. I also use Fancy Feast Gourmets..new..and Purina Pro Plan Focus for sensitive stomach/skin and my older ones like it.
        Note..i do NOT work for Purina , in fact I used to only buy the high end $$ brands but,,if they take a bite and walk away,,it gets expensive. Good luck.

    • Bless you Michelle. I took in a stray female and she had 5 kittens. The mama and 3 of the kittens (found a home for 2) now live inside and I feed them Fancy Feast Classic once a day and kibble at night. I am transitioning off of the kibble but not sure yet what to give them as the can food is so expensive for 4. Still searching for a totally grain free/carb free dry that I could possible add organic chicken broth to for the second meal. Its a process…….. Would love to hear what you end up doing with your crew.

    • Wellness comes in a very large 12oz can. It is 2.99 per can but it is grain free so it is a filling food and 12oz so that is like 4 cans of fancy feast. A lady I know with lots of cats tipped me on this. She buys whole chickens , pops them in her freezer, boils one up, debones it, Keeps it refrigerated, then mixes some with each can. Feeds a lot of cats this way. Hope that helps some.

    • If you live in a rural area, can’t you just let them outside to supplement their diets? We live next to a large field and my cat eats a fair number of mice.

    • Your cats are telling you what you need to know:
      “They go crazy over the wet food. Total chaos. The new kittens act like maniacs when I put the wet food down.”

      Dr. Pierson at catinfo.org says she would rather see you feed them the cheapest store brand of food over dry!! If you do not want to use the cheapest food, you can probably get something like the Wellness suggested. Shop online rather than buying by the can – currently Chewy.com has the chicken pate (and petco too) for 33.99/case, which is about 2.83/can. 12 oz will feed quite a few!

      Although the kibble seems “cheaper” and certainly is easier, especially when you have so many, in the long run you will likely pay MUCH more in vet bills (and they will pay as well, but in a much worse way).

      For what it is worth, I currently have 12. No dogs, but almost as many cats. Kibble was eliminated 2-3 years ago (we did a combination of canned and dry back then, but weaning them off really does not work well – had to cold turkey the buggers!) Initially it was done to try to treat one who developed hypercalcemia and it worked! No shoving nasty pills down his throat!! The decision was then made to cut everyone off (10 total at that time, so 8 more to be cut off). We’ve been on raw and canned since. I keep trying to get them to eat the home-made per Dr. Pierson’s recipe, but only a few will eat it and not consistently. If you have the time and can manage it, you could try the home made. I buy the chicken thighs when they are on sale and freeze them. If you do not want to get into meat grinders, other places sell the “fixings” that include bone meal, so all you have to do, I think, is add the meat (do NOT buy already ground meat!!!)

      Bonuses: much softer fur, cleared up the hypercalcemia, cleared up several BM problems that existed from shelter days. No one has been sick, no one is overweight. Hopefully as time goes by we won’t have to worry about diabetes, urinary issues and a host of other maladies that chow likely contributes to.

      So, if at all possible, please do give your kids what they are craving! It may be a lot of money now, but when the kittens get a little older, their needs will be a little less too (can we find a way to bottle that kitten energy?) Remember, in the long run, especially with so many, it might cost you a LOT more at the vet’s office…

    • Hi Michelle, You may not like what I did to give my cat a healthy diet. I raised mice. A mouse just happens to be a perfect food for a cat. Perfect ratio of meat, bone and organ meat. I fed the mice non GMO cheerios, sunflower seeds, frozen corn and peas from Trader Joe’s. They also got romaine lettuce. My cat ate every part of the mice, head to tail. Mice should not eat cabbage or other foods that cause gas as they cannot burp or fart. If your cat does not kill the mice INSTANTLY then you should do it so they don’t suffer. I will tell you the hard part is the mice are easy to get attached to. Never feed them mouse blocks. That stuff is rot gut. Also I used hay for bedding. They will need a little meat as they would also eat bugs if in the wild. I would give them a little dry cat food once in a while. These were domesticated mice that I bought from the pet store. I used aquariums so that I wouldn’t have a mess like from cages with bars. It was after a huge vet bill and very little money that inspired me to do this.

    • I would highly recommend that folks in that situation consider making their own raw food. It’s a lot cheaper, oz per oz, and you can make it in large batches and freeze it individually in small portion sizes (like a miniature meatball that’s smooshed down into a pattie. Chopping organs and grinding bones may not be for everyone, but it’s less expensive than hiring a helper to assist with feeding

      • Be sure to have a good “recipe” for making your own. Dr. Pierson does have one on her site. There are vitamins and minerals that need to be added to ground meat. Do NOT use grocery ground meats, and some minimal baking for cut up parts needs to be done as well, before grinding, to kill any surface bacteria. I still haven’t been able to get all my cats to embrace the home made food, but use it for several in addition to canned and commercial raw food. No dry food for many years now. Commercial food I now get from a doggy day care who has a food club (Instinct and Small Batch.)

        My issue with many commercial foods are all the things added to appeal to people – veggies, fruits, various other “food” items like potato, rice and starches. Labeling it “grain-free” doesn’t work if you have to add in all this other stuff. If the choice comes down to dry or canned with all these additives, go with canned. I always read the ingredients listed, and it is tough finding those that don’t have other “stuff” in them and too many are fish based. Fish is okay, to a point.
        Currently I use Fancy Feast classic, mainly for one girl, but 2 others will sometimes eat it. This is no longer available at Petco, but Chewy carries it. It isn’t the greatest, but it’s eaten. The Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals have eliminated a lot of the stuff I don’t want in their food, so that is used also. Recently I found Tiki Cat After Dark – not much interest in the other “flavors”, but rabbit was okay for several. Beware that NVI frozen raw bites reduced the meat to 85%, but I see it’s back to 93% (vs 95%), and it has DL-Methionine, a synthetic. Methionine is naturally occurring in meat, so why the synthetic? Reduced meat content. This is suspect in ideopathic hypercalcemia, so watch for it – some canned food we used in the past now add this too. Eliminating the dry took care of the hypercalcemia.

        For those who would like to try home made, but don’t have a grinder, there are places that sell ground frozen – you’d still have to add in the vitamins and minerals, but thaw, mix it in, then freeze in meal size – I use ice cube trays – perfect size! I was able to get the chicken thighs and legs, plus sometimes rabbit (whole) at a local grocer, but the rabbit can be hard to get. Since my supply was running out, I tried https://hare-today.com/ The cost was actually less than the grocer AND it’s already ground, saving me time cutting it up and initially grinding it. It is coarse ground for the rabbit. I added some ground chicken , reground it to make it less coarse and added the eggs, vitamins and minerals per Dr. Pierson’s recipe.) I’m about to try the duck today, will regrind it to add in the other things, then freeze in the ice cube trays. It would likely be okay without grinding, just needs the vitamins and minerals added OR only use these to supplement their other foods. Even with shipping, it was less than the grocery cost. So far they’ve eaten the rabbit, even the “visitor” we have here now (2-3yo stray male, was unneutered, skin and bones when he showed up. Got him tested, vaxxed and neutered, dewormed, removed two big ticks – he was 7.5# after 2 days of feeding, up to 12.5# on neuter day, 3 weeks after arrival, so he was in tough shape! He likely weighs more now, but the “nice” kitty who showed up now hates me! He’s in a cat playpen, waiting for a room with a view at the shelter (no-kill sanctuary.) Near death, he was nice enough. As he rejuvenated, he became more and more aggressive and is most likely a feral. Even after being saved. weeks of being here and cared for, he is not nice! Doesn’t like my cats either!)

        Also, beware the marketing ploy of labeling dry food as raw. Sure, it may be less processed, but dry is dry! If someone knows a way to rehydrate this stuff, post it!

        Michelle, hoping you found a solution for feeding the large crew you have! Bless you for helping them all!

  8. Hi, thanks for the article! I’ve subsequently switched my cat to canned food since reading this article. However I was curious to see if there are any sources you could cite that I could read and show my friends, or if perhaps this was an article written on your personal logic and beliefs. If there are sources (maybe I’m just not seeing them x( ) perhaps you could point me in the right direction to find them? Thanks!

    • These are not just my personal beliefs, Rick. You’ll find most holistic veterinarians, and more and more conventional vets, who also understand that cats should never eat dry food. You may want to visit Dr. Lisa Pierson’s site, catinfo.org for additional information.

    • my vet told me that dry food is fattening because cats can’t digest carbs, veggies,etc. it ‘s bad for the kidneys too. he also said that it leaves hard particles on the teeth and gums there by causing inflammation and gum disease. cats are carnivores so they eat MEAT not grains, veggies, berries. he said can food, while not perfect, is better for cats than dry and that goes for “treats” unless home made from meat or fish.
      cats need protein not carbs.

        • I have 2 sister cats, almost 2 years old. One is borderline overweight & one borderline underweight. They get the same amount of wet canned food & the chunkier one does Not hog any of her sister’s food; so I am guessing they just have different metabolisms. They also both run around & get plenty of exercise. Any idea how to get one to trim down & the other to beef up?
          Also, any thoughts about ‘Greenies’.? My thinner cat craves them & I was hoping they would help put weight on her but then don’t. Thanks!

    • There’s a lot of info on Dr Pierson’s website, but well worth reading. She covers a lot of different topics, but covers THIS topic thoroughly! I highly recommend that you check it out AND send your friends there too!

  9. Hi, my 9 year old male cat was seriously injured above his tail, twenty eight stitches, antibiotics etc in 2011. I took him in had him treated and ultimately own him. He has mega colon. He is on Cisapride, 1ml twice daily, Miralax 1/8 teas twice daily and Lactulous before bed 2mls. He has a digestive product Synacore,every day. Makes me so weary always putting something in his mouth. He has seen six vets since his injury. Every vet tells me he needs Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Dry Food. His current vet is an Internal Medicine Vet and she insists on the Royal Canin, however, my cat has developed a “slight” kidney problem and vomits periodically. Vet is thinking IBS. I would very much like to get him off Dry Food and for him to have pure, natural wet food regardless of price. Sounds like his diet has contributed to his kidney problems. Guess his injury caused the mega colon. A wonderful loving kitty and I don’t want him to suffer for a day.

    • Hi Sharon – Melatonin apparently is safe for cats and aids in moving the stool along the colon. I like the bulksupplements brand powder. (You can buy tiny amounts from them.) You need a very tiny, tiny bit. Like the amount that would fit on the end of a toothpick. (Amazon has some great user comments about it.)

      It tastes bitter, so you might have to mix it into something. I use Stella and Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose dehydrated raw food for this. Get some of it really wet and mushy and drop the powder in the middle of it and fold it up. Cat should eat it right up.

      Ref: http://drhoffman.com/article/addressing-inflammatory-bowel-disease-2/

      L-Glutamine (an amino acid) is also very soothing and works to heal the bowel. Bulksupplements has this also. This could also go in the raw food “pellet” described above.


      Also, short term Psyllium husk (I like Bob’s Red Mill Brand) and Rice Bran powder (NOW brand is good) are both perfectly safe. Bowel also needs to be re-inoculated with probiotics (I like American Health Probiotic Acidophilus Liquid plain for this — it does have to be refrigerated). It will take up to six weeks for the probiotics to repopulate the bowel.

      I mix 2 cans of limited ingredient cat food with 2 jars of baby food (usually chicken or turkey meat), add 2 TBSP of the probiotics, 1 teasp of the psyllium powder, 1 TBSP rice bran (I use a hand blender to get it all really smooth). If it’s too dry add some distilled water (no tap water for your kitty until this clears up (or ever)).

      You may have to work up to the 1 teasp of psyllium powder / 1 TBSP rice bran powder. Start with a 1/8 teaspoon of each and see if your cat will eat it. Gradually increase the amount.

      If your kitty will tolerate it, sprinkle a tiny bit of “pure” Chlorella powder on it for the chlorophyll.

      Good luck!

      I would love to hear back if this helped you!

      • I would like to caution you that the reference cited for melatonin is written for human patients, not cats. I would consult with a holistic veterinarian before giving melatonin to cats.

    • I am not a vet and have not encountered this condition myself. I would more likely suspect a dietary cause of this condition, no the injury, but I am not a vet as I said. I have heard of it, so I did some lookup today and the few takeaways I got from that are:

      High fiber diets should not be used in cats with chronic constipation or megacolon; instead all-meat diets are recommended.
      It is very important that cats drink more water when they are on these diets.

      As a side note, Dl-Methionine is in the list (virtually ALL dry foods have this, and now some canned products have it as well). That along with another (cannot remember what the name was) are suspect in hypercalcemia. Cat chows were causing too many urinary issues, so they changed the formulas and added these “acidifiers”. Dr. Mark Peterson notes in his blog that ideopathic (unknown cause) hypercalcemia is on the rise and the primary solution (avoiding nasty drugs) is eliminating dry food. By getting one cat OFF the dry food, his hypercalcemia resolved itself!! As a result of that, there has been NO dry food served here in several years.

      Your vets, apparently ALL of them, insist on you feeding him a dry food. I really have an issue with ANY vet who thinks this is a good diet for ANY cat.

      ANY cat eating dry food will NOT be getting enough water as it is, and your poor guy has the additional complication. Cats may drink more when eating kibble, but NOT enough.

      Check the ingredients of that food:
      Nutritional Info
      Chicken By-Product Meal, Chicken Fat, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Natural Flavors, Egg Product, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Grain Distillers Dried Yeast, Calcium Sulfate, Sodium Bisulfate, Dl-Methionine, Psyllium Seed Husk, Salt, Fructooligosaccharides, Monosodium Phosphate, Vegetable Oil, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Taurine, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine, Magnesium Oxide, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Acetate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], Rosemary Extract, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid.

      Look at those first few – not even REAL meat, followed by rice, rice, corn, wheat and cellulose!!! There are even more further down on the list, but generally the first 5 or so are the biggest! I can’t even imagine what could be MORE high fiber and the reputable pet websites say NOT to feed high fiber!!! Good god… you REALLY need to find a better vet (too many are programmed in vet school to rely on this GARBAGE food!!) OR enlighten them – point them to valid web info.

      Please check out Dr. Pierson’s website, catinfo.org – in the search bar put in megacolon. This is mainly to educate yourself – I am not the vet nor am I expert, just better-informed than some. Dr. Pierson has been doing this for years and has NO use for those “vet” foods. If you cannot find a vet who will work with you on getting him OFF that garbage food, you can request a consult with Dr. Pierson (you would have to pay for this and provide his information from the vet you have.)

      Just as an additional note, getting off the kibble also cleared up nasty BMs two sisters had even when at the shelter (adopted at 4yo). Bowel issue is, if you read the backstory, what brought Dr Pierson to developing her own recipe and creating the catinfo website! There is a wealth of information on her site about a multitude of issues, not just BMs 🙂

    • Marina – not sure if you still check this site, but for you (and others), you did not specify what kind of Instinct. That is a brand name, and they produce raw (frozen), canned AND kibble. If you are using canned and the frozen raw, you should be okay. I use those. Avoid the kibble/dry foods.

      BEWARE ALL: the marketing demons are now promoting RAW kibble. Do not fall for this trick. First they got into the “grain free”, now they are pushing “raw”. Kibble is kibble and none of it is good for your cats.

  10. New cat owner…. what is your thoughts about Orijen dry cat food?… i mix this with Natures Logic for our kittens. Thank you for this website.

    • There’s a big issue even with the highest quality dry food: lack of moisture!!! Plus, in order for the kibble to be held together, even high-quality, grain-free dry food contains a lot more carbs than is ideal for feline nutrition – it should only by about 3%, I remember correctly….I would definitely not feed kibble only!!!

        • That’s really interesting, Stefan. It’s possible that she reacted to the high carbohydrate content in the dry food, similar to a little kid on a “sugar high.”

          • Or the various chemicals… read the ingredients!! As Dr Pierson says, it reads like a science experiment!! For yourself and your cats (or any living critter), you should be able to pronounce and identify ALL the ingredients in your foods…

        • Same with my kitten. I do feed a very small amount of Wellness Core dry because she’s a bit food insecure. She gets really panicky if there aren’t a few kibbles in her bowl before I go to sleep at night, but she’s content with just a few…like, a tablespoon. She usually doesn’t even eat it all. She just likes knowing that it’s there. Some night, I pick up the bowl and shake it a little to pretend that I put new kibbles in there and it does the trick! I never give her Purina anymore, however, and she is SO much better. Whenever I did, she would run over and scarf it down without even chewing it, and then get an extreme case of the zoomie. She’d also start biting me and couldn’t stop herself even though I was telling her “No biting” (and she knows what that means). She doesn’t respond that way to Wellness, not even the dry. 98% of her diet is Wellness canned.

    • I don’t like Orijen’s dry food. just looking at the cat and kitten formula, the second ingredient is chicken meal, and the formula contains an awful lot of veggies and fillers.

  11. I am just absolutely at my limit with vet and human doctors because between my mothers poor care and my health care neglected by doctors, I am also just as frustrated with my cats vet and I am just appalled after reading about cat dry food and I have had the same opinion myself. My cat is on prescription dry which sucks, let’s face it, it can’t be so darn good when my cat who is diabetic is always begging for food and never stops. She is allowed to have 1/4 can 2X a day of again the very palatable RX diabetic wet food. Not much choice out there but of the two variety’s she seems less unhappy with the royal canine morsels in gravy. I also feed her DM which has many of the ingredients I have just read over and over again. Now I am concerned because she is diabetic to watch her diet and follow the vets strict portioned and limited diet she is entitled to. Now I have told these dudes and lady that my cat is hungry because she behaves as if she is starving, unlike a cat to behave this way in my opinion. I would think if anything she may give up on life and say the heck with this and just mosey on through the day. This seems more appropriate for a dog to behave so aggressively and actually down right rude in her attempt to get some frickin food to eat. She has some dental issues creating another issue with relying on the dry as she has some difficulty chewing, not a big problem but worth noting. Now in my many attempts to initiate some reasonable solution for my cats behavior and to satisfy my intelligence which I tend to readily exercise as I question much of their judgement. Considering the state of the art practice we take our cats to and their very state of the art billing practices, I really don’t find it unreasonable to partake in my cats care and actively willing to regard their skill as one I have trusted over the years but I have to say as I look back and reflect over the past years and their involvement in treating and caring regularly for all of my cats since the beginning I have seen in large part a lot of money being spent and not a lot of real ingenious care to justify it. In fact had I had access to the same resources and equipment we may have had to have very little contact and I could be rich today. Nothing extraordinary and outside of what you would expect a vet with any skill and hopefully a good education would provide, I haven’t seen them do a whole heck of a lot. My husband is the real sucker who refuses to except these doctors as just human the same as he and I and literally trust them without any questions and does everything they say. He is very wealthy and although strange enough brains and dough don’t always go together as I have witnessed many many very bright poor people. Makes you wonder how this could be but let me tell you, they LOVE him!!!!!! I on the other hand am not as popular and on accession it has been suggested that maybe I am a little to quick to question what the heck they are providing for my cats. Now, having said that, I would prefer another vet, my colleagues husband in fact, whom they are well aware of and admire. I like his approach and feel he is a better and more experienced vet. My husband wouldn’t think of leaving his buddies, but after today and again having been enlightened by yet another women I can say with some certainty that some changes will be taking place real soon. My husband has his own practice and I do as well, but reputation and appearance is not enough by itself for anyone to continue having any influence over the well being of my cats. I don’t know how to go about taking care of my cat and her condition while maintaining some semblance of satisfaction, while satisfying her unusual sensatiable appetite. 2 years ago she was 11 yrs. old and very active and happy. Upon a diagnosis of diabetes which we were told could probably be diet controlled, is now at 3 units of insuline twice daily effective on 4/17/15. No regard for the poor hungry kitty or mentioning other alternatives for her diet and just raise the insulin and continue as you have been. Well if you ever knew how much we have spent, excuse me, my husband has spent, you would probably think we as parents are just as ineffective as they are at being vets. Worse, we are paying for this education and I thought I was done learning lessons of this kind. I wish someone would please help me try to find a solution for my baby’s problem because I just can’t fathom the idea I had a part in her inevetible early demise should she be so unfortunate. Please reply soon.

    Kelly S. McVeigh-Jones

    • It is not clear to me from what you wrote what you’re actually asking, Kelly. Do I understand correctly that both you and your husband own your own veterinary practices (“My husband has his own practice and I do as well…”?

      • Sad part is…diabetes is a man-made disease that no dog or cat should have. You must read the ingredients on the cat food labels. Avoid gluten (which is basically glue that holds the food together), artificial coloring (your cat doesn’t care if their food is green, red or blue) and especially sugar. Why on earth would any company put sugar in pet food? So that they could become addicted and fat? You will not find a wild cat munching on sugar cane or wheat stalks, nor corn. Also, corn is not digestible for humans or animals so don’t buy any food with that in it. Corn is not a vegetable, it’s a grain and it’s a cheap filler. All of these grains are eventually converted into a sugar which can wreak havoc on humans and animals alike. I buy my cat Natural Balance Platefulls in pouches. She seems to love it. It has a high moisture content as the food is little chunks in gravy.

        • I’ve had an adopted cat who we adored and we inherited her with v bad forles disease. After ongoing treatment and loads of love we chose to let her go from her suffering. Over a year later we adopted two cats; mum and baby. I’m paranoid now about their teeth, food etc and got v stressed. Had to introduce them to dried food to make it easier for the neighbour to feed them when I go on holiday. I’m struggling to get them to eat wet or raw now and searched the internet for answered. There aren’t any. There aren’t all the answers to human health problems so why should animals be any different. I’ve decided to give my cats a happy life for as long as I have them. To give them their favourite food, let them play outside chasing mice, butterflies, insects, climb trees etc. If their lives are shorter than I would like for any reason, I shall be heartbroken but will be able to say that they were happy. Cats live a lot longer than they used to. We should be grateful. No human or animal lives for ever so happiness is priority. I adore my girlies and have decided to keep them as healthy s I can without letting too many worries spoil their and my enjoyment of our lives together. I’m not going to let my paranoia spoil that and decision made I feel calmer. Food may cause disease in cats or just living longer. We have a choice……do our best for them or let them back into the wild where they can catch natural prey or starve, or get into fights with feral cat and get diseases. Mine have all the vets checks, injections, meds for worms etc and the best food I can get them to eat but I’ve decided that being over protective will spoil their enjoyment of life and my relationship with them. Life makes us feel guilty of everything also. Just enjoy your pets.

  12. My girl i think has been eating dry foods before she came to me but won’t eat any kind of meat…have noticed she has been getting constipated…gave her some cooking oil she’s been trying to pass stools but not sure looks like a bit of blood i have found but no stools yet..hope you can help me.

      • Hi Ingrid,
        Top tip that will cure this problem and that is …. “Pumpkin seed oil capsules”,
        1 a day and I promise even with small dogs that suffer with constipation etc just try this and you will be amazed as I was!!!
        Im truly relived that my cats no longer suffer, and better more no trips to the vets and nooooo nasty vet bill of £125. Every damn time this happened, Go to any herbal shop or try online for the capsules, I was advised to even try a spoon full of boiled pumpkin its self every day in the food but I’ve kept with the oil and mix it in their food which at first I did 1 capsule once daily but now it’s twice weekly is suffercient for my cats needs to be constipated free, I have one cat who refuses wet food and two that will only eat dry so im glad I can pass on this advice given to me, so hope this helps you, … some how I think it will

        • I’m not familiar with pumpkin seed oil, but plain canned pumpkin can help with constipation and diarrhea – generally, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mixed in with canned food is a good dose. Some cats even like it “straight up.” However, any time a cat has bloody stool, a visit to the vet is indicated to identify the cause.

  13. Hi Ingrid,
    I was wondering about Forta Flora?, is this a good thing to add to their diet?, I once had a red male that I lost to a bowel issue yrs ago, couldn’t pass his stool, had horrible constipation issues, the vet suggest pumpkin also for fiber, …which would you recommend?..I did notice that sometimes just puts out little round balls, and sometimes regular since off the dry food..seems that they are both going to the bathroom less since they are off the the dry, do you see any corollation between the two? I have noticed also that they don’t seem to constantly be hungry and as thirsty anymore …I guess a good thing , thanks !

    • I prefer the Dr. Goodpet Feline Digestive Enzymes (a combination of enzymes and probiotics) to Fortiflora. Fortiflora contains animal digest. You can get Dr. Goodpet on Amazon: http://amzn.to/YRaNcE

      The lack of moisture in a dry diet can contribute to constipation. Cats who are fed a premium grain-free canned or raw diet tend to have smaller, drier and less stinky stools. This becomes especially dramatic with a raw diet. The reason for this is that more nutrients are absorbed by the body, which reduces the waste that needs to be eliminated.

      The higher protein content in grain-free canned and raw diets, as opposed to dry, accounts for them not being as hungry.

  14. Hi Ingrid, I have 2 13yr old cats, one male, one female..I had IBS problems with my male mostly for years , a lot of money spent on expensive vet bills, etc…, not so much my female..raised them on Fancy Feast and Iams dry kibble, probably the worst diet ever, lol….finally I had enough with the Vet’s and their expensive tests on Timmy, so I decided to do some research online of my own…I came across Dr Lisa Pierson’s website through another website and finally realized he was allergic to the food…switched him and Rachel both over to Natures’ Variety Canned and some kibble at the time, have been feeding them NV for about 4yrs now, still doing well. I recently had some issues again with my male with urinary tract ,…I have since eliminated ALL dry food for good this time!!!, reading Dr Pierson’s website I should have known better!! Anyway, my question for you is I stumbled upon your website recently and looked at your “suggested” wet grain free diets,…I tried EVO once, what is your take on that??…but was interested in the Weruva can.., do you think it would be okay to mix the NV and the Weruva ?? and which product do you believe is a better one ?…I would appreciate you expertise…thank you, Mrs Carlson

    • Good for you (and your cats) for eliminating all dry food, Annemarie! EVO is not one of my preferred brands. I was uneasy with the integrity of the formula when Natura sold to Procter & Gamble a few years ago. I think it’s fine to mix NV and Weruva. I probably wouldn’t mix them in the same meal, but you could feed one in the morning and the other in the evening. Variety is definitely a good thing, and I like both brands.

      • Depends on the weruva – I like their business plan, however way too many of their foods are FISH based. Yes, there are others, but too much fish of various kinds. Many of the others seem to be gravy based too – I’m in the process of trying to switch our canned to the regular Instinct to get away from the gravy. If these are too dry, add a little water!
        Already using the frozen raw as well.

        I’m loving that I see soooo many references these days to Dr Pierson and her website! She is a good source of information!

  15. Sorry … The Lotus brand flavor is Pork, I meant to type that. He refused anything else and let’s not forget that I have to be very calorie conscious with Casey also. That’s why Weruva, PLC was excellent!

  16. Hi Ingrid …

    Casey has has a couple of bouts of loose stools for which the vet gave Flagyl. The flagyl helps but then it re-occurs. 3 times so far. He has had blood work, urine, kidney, all sorts of tests over the past 2 – 3 months, but we’re not finding anything.

    Someone mentioned he may suddenly be allergic to chicken. He eats Weruva, paw lickin chicken.
    I stopped it and gave him Lotus Brand Brand (after trying about 8 or so other brands & flavors) The problem stopped. I eased back into the Weruva PLC and boom — it came back.
    But I had also been trying other brands containing chicken and his stools were regular. Seems like when he had the Weruva PLC that’s when the problem would re-occur.

    While I was at yet another pet store trying to find something for Casey, I ran into a gentleman who seemed as perplexed as I did with the various brands, flavors, ingredients …. I recommended Weruva. He said his cat has been eating it for about a year and was doing well, but suddenly loose stools. I asked him which and lo & behold … PLC.

    My neighbor who always takes my advice and switched her cat to Weruva was finding that she had a problem with her cat having loose stool too. I asked her to hold off on the PLC and try the steak Frite, etc. Problem solved ….

    What is your opinion? Coincidence? Am I missing something? Have you heard this story in the last few months ….

    Can you offer me any info? Still trying to pin down a brand & flavor for him as he is suddenly ridiculously picky. He was in love with PLC!!

    • I have not heard of any problems specifically with Weruva. There are a lot of reasons why a cat may be allergic to one brand of a particular protein, but not another. The allergy can be caused by something the chicken (or rabbit, or pig) that’s used in the food has eaten. One of my client’s cats was eating a particular brand of rabbit based food happily for years. Then the company changes its rabbit sourcing from New Zealand to the US, and the cat became allergic. That’s one of many reasons why food allergies can be so frustrating to diagnosed and treat.

      • Thanks so much. I’ll reach out to them to see if that’s a possibility. I really would love to get him back on it again. Hopefully if they did make a change it’s a temporary one. I appreciate your info and for getting back to me so soon.

  17. Ingrid, unfortunately I’m late to the party.
    We have 4 beautiful cats. 3 Norwegian Forest Cats, ages 6 and 2, and one gorgeous rescue age 1.
    They all eat: Free fed — evo dry for cats & kittens and a small can of Fancy Feast, 1/2 2x per day.

    Norwegians genetically can have cystic kidneys. The rescue, we don’t know.

    They are all used to this diet. The rescue and one 2 yr old, will probably eat whatever they are fed as neither ever presented as finicky. The other 2 are definitely finicky, hate change and will not eat seafood at all, btw. The 6 & one 2 year old absolutely love to lick those skimmed milk cheese sticks and go crazy for grated cheese when he smells it in the kitchen. No one has any loose stools or bleeding, or hard stools. Everyone seems very regular. They get filtered aerated cool water whenever they want it and they drink plenty. I will switch to the freeze dried treats but also,
    I know they should stop the grazing (all are very energetic & do get lots of exercise)

    My question …. Would you dumb this down for me? Can you please recommend a dry transition food, and then the best option for canned food? I want to not just sustain them, I want them to thrive and have long happy, healthy lives. Feel free to use my email if this is too old to post.

  18. We learned of the (little known) benefits of feeding your cat “wet food” a few years ago, after testing our older cat’s blood and realizing that her sugar level was quite high. We immediately changed her diet after researching this and learning about wet food’s benefits. Worked wonders – she lost weight, has a heathier coat, and became active again. We have two other – younger – cats, however, and they were far less willing to give up the dry food so we have been feeding them both.

    More recently, we looked back into the feeding controversy because the older cat has such a hard time passing her bowels. She just passes dry, round, little chunks. We learned that she may not be getting enough fiber (who woulda thunk that a cat would need fiber?!) Since we still have a couple of varieties of dry food around, we put some down for the older cat – she gobbled up nearly a quarter cup’s worth that first night and voila! No more passing of rocks!

    If we are not supposed to EVER give a cat this dry food, what do you suggest we do to help this bodily function along?

    Also – since cats are carnivores, is it ok to give them pieces of various meat (chicken, tuna, salmon, bacon, and especially steak – this cat LOVES grilled steak), cooked for human consumption, on occasion? I assume that since we shouldn’t be feeding them dry food, we shouldn’t give them dry food treats, right? Are other treats ok (such as I just listed)?

    Thanks for this article and any insight you can give us!

    • You can try adding a small amount of pumpking to your older cat’s canned food (plain pumpkin, not the pie filling) – 1/4 teaspoon with each meal should do the trick. She may also benefit from a good probiotic. I’d also encourage her to drink more water. Sometimes, a fountain can help with that.

      As for the treats – meat, poultry or fish cooked for human consumption is absolutely okay to feed as treats. I also like the freeze dried meat treats – they come in chicken, salmon and many other varieties. Just don’t make these the main part of your cats’ diet.

      • So, it’s more than a year later and we are just now finally taking responsibility to change our cats’ diets to raw food. We are still in transition period (though the above mentioned, now 16-year-old cat took RIGHT to it!). We recently took our ten-year-olds to the vet and learned that one of them has pretty bad oral health. She will be going back soon to get a cleaning and whatever else needs to be done.

        So, I’m wondering if you know anything about how this will affect her. She is interested in the raw food, but seems to have some trouble chewing it. Will the raw food help to improve her dental health at all? Will any extractions mean that she will not be able to chew chunks of raw meat very well?

        If only we knew, when we got these three, what we do now. If only, if only …

        Thank you!

        • Good for you for changing your cats’ diet, Melissa! Chances are that your cat will be able to enjoy chewing her food more after she’s had her dental issues addressed. Depending on how bad her teeth and gums are, eating may be uncomfortable or even painful for her right now. Since cats are so good at masking pain, this is something that most cat guardians won’t notice. I had a cat who had a severely abscessed tooth that would have sent a human screaming to the emergency room, and she never showed any signs of pain and ate normally.

          • I can’t say what all raw food is like, but Nature’s Variety frozen raw, once thawed, isn’t any tougher to eat that canned pate.

            One cat here lost NINE teeth at her cleaning, and then broke a canine before her recheck, so she had to have that out as well. She eats the raw just fine!

  19. How about grain free dry food, such as Wellness CORE or Felidae grain free? It is mostly meat. Is that still unhealthy for a cat? How do you feel about feeding both wet and a little bit of dry too, so that they are still used to dry in case you need to take a short weekend trip and want them to have access to food?

    • I don’t recommend feeding any dry food, Amanda. Even the grain-free varieties are too high in carbohydrates. If you need to go away for a weekend, have a pet sitter or trusted friend or neighbor come in twice a day to feed and spend time with your cat. A weekend is a long time for a cat to be left by herself, especially if she is an only cat.

    • Why don’t we pet lovers just launch our own commercial showing how well Doritos, hard candies or Snickers packed with peanuts clean our human teeth? Same thing right? Small, hard bite sized pieces, they should clean our teeth just fine. Who needs toothpaste!

  20. Wet food is fine and it adds moisture to their diet which is good for their kidneys long term since most cats dont drink much water. I don’t think they necessarily get addicted to the carbs or additives. The reason many experts say cats like it so much is due to the oral sensation it gives them. Since they are hunters, the pointy edges and firmness of the dry food mimics the feeling of crunching down on bones like they would do in the wild. Also, a raw meat diet is a bad idea unless Taurine supplements are added. Cat food is formulated to include the proper amount of taurine. This is very important for cats and an unsupplemented all raw meat diet would lead to a deficiency which can cause serious problems like heart disease and blindness.

    • I agree, Dr. S, proper taurine supplementation is critical. Most commercially prepared raw diets have appropriate taurine levels, but it’s important to do the research.

      • I feed my 16 lb tomcat boneless skinless chicken breasts. A $9 package
        will last around 12 days. It is frozen into small containers, and cut up
        using scissors at mealtime. Much cheaper than buying canned food.
        This is supplemented by not one, but two brands of vitamin and simply
        them every day. I figure buying the Hartz vitamin as well as the one
        that my vet sells assures me that kitty gets what he needs.

        • As long as your chicken is organic and hormone-free, it can be a good choice. I also recommend rotating this with another protein (perhaps rabbit or turkey) to ensure variety. I’d also take a close look at the vitamin supplements you’re adding, especially since you’re doubling up on two different brands. Some vitamins are not water soluble, and excessive amounts can cause health problems. A great resource for making your own balanced raw food, which is essentially what you’re doing, is Dr. Lisa Pierson’s catinfo.org.

        • A cat should not only be fed muscle meat!! They need other parts, too – organs, cartilage etc. Also, if you just supplement vitams randomly, you can cause more harm than good…

    • My Himalayan drinks alot of water and has been on a dry food diet. Are there some wet foods that others recommend/ or maybe raw chicken , beef, fruits etc..

  21. I feed my cat both, but she still eats mostly dry food. I definitely can’t afford to feed her all canned food. She’s 13 (in August) and she’s never had a single health problem. She hates grain-free cat food and I’m trying to find a brand that she will actually eat enough of. She’s always been slender- but I don’t want her to lose weight just because she hates her cat food. The professional consensus on the matter seems to be that you should feed your cat both, and that only people who know how to provide adequate nutrition should try to create their own cat food.

    I’m going to try to feed her wet food twice a week- perhaps even a grad student can afford this! She hates her grain-free Avoderm, and I’m afraid that wellness core will cost even more money!

    • I think the Wellness CORE line is probably comparable in price to the Avoderm line.

      As for a professional consensus on what cats should eat – unfortunately, there isn’t one, which is why there’s so much misinformation out there.

      • I too have a 13 year old that hates the grain-free foods. She eats Fancy Feast dry food and Friskies canned food. I tried Blue Buffalo, Wellness, and some other “SUPER HEALTHY” type food and she wouldn’t touch it. She’s very particular about what she will or won’t eat, and although she is thinner than I’d like her to be she checks out fine at the vet’s office. She’s a Tiffany and her average weight is right around 6 lbs., usually a few ounces less.

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