Feline Nutrition

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bites make raw feeding easier than ever

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I rarely accept foods for review, unless it’s something I’ve already thoroughly researched and/or tried. I won’t use Allegra and Ruby as product testers for diets whose claims I can’t verify.

Nature’s Variety is a brand I’ve been feeding for several years, in both the raw and canned varieties. They made my – very small – list of recommended brands (the list is small because I’m extremely picky about what I feed my cats). When they asked me whether I’d like to try their new Raw Bites product, I readily agreed, much to Allegra and Ruby’s delight. They wish my food review policy wasn’t quite so stringent…

Nature’s Variety frozen Raw Bites, are, as the name implies, bite size frozen raw pieces that thaw quickly. They’re formulated just like their other frozen diets, available in nugget and patty form, with 95% meat, organs, and raw ground bone. The remaining 5% Continue Reading

Cat chicken jerky treats recalled for possible high levels of propylene glycol

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Arthur Dogswell LLC is recalling 1051 cartons packed as either 10 or 50 packages per case of Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins because it has the potential to contain propylene glycol. High levels of propylene glycol in the treats could result in serious injury to cats. The adverse health impacts could be reducing red blood cell survival time (anemia) and making the cells more susceptible to oxidative damage.

According to the FDA, no illnesses have been reported to date.

The VitaKitty treats were distributed nationwide via retail stores and mail order from April 13th through June 14th, 2012.

This product is packaged in a re-sealable 2 ounce orange plastic bag with a clear window.

The VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins lot codes affected are as follows:Continue Reading

Does your cat need supplements?

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How many times have you seen the words “complete and balanced” on a pet food label? Would this lead you to believe that the food baring this claim is all your cat will ever need to be in perfect health? If so, you may be wrong.

The claim of “complete and balanced” simply means that the pet food company making that claim for any particular food is stating that when a sample of that particular product was subjected to a chemical analysis, that sample was found to contain the currently “known to be essential” nutrients at the currently recommended levels according to the currently accepted provisions laid down by AAFCO. (Source: Dr. Billinghurst’s BARF Diet).

Sounds like a mouthful? What it means in plain English is that commercial pet food contains every nutrient that our pets require. It does not necessarily mean that it also contains all the nutrients our pets need to be in perfect, healthy balance.

I think the concept that a cat can thrive on the same food, day after day, no matter how high a quality, simply doesn’t make sense. Continue Reading

Carrageenan: Should It Be In Your Cat’s Food?

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Carrageenan is a common food addivitve both in pet food and human food. It is extracted from seaweed through the use of a chemical solvent. It is used as thickener and binder in canned pet food, as well as in many human foods such as ice cream, yogurt, and soy milk. You would think something that comes from seaweed is natural and healthy, right? Think again.

Two kinds of carrageenan

There are two kinds of carrageenan – degraded and undegraded. According to the Cornucopia Institute, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recognizes degraded carrageenan as a “possible human carcinogen,” based on research showing that it leads to higher rates of colon cancer in lab animals. Carrageenan processors claim that food-grade carrageenan falls entirely in the undegraded category; however, one study showed that not a single sample of food-grade carrageenan could confidently claim to be entirely free of the potential cancer-causing material.

Food-grade or “undegraded” carrageenan is on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) list of items that are “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)” and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines it as an acceptable emulsifier, stablizer, and thickener.

Degraded carrageenan, which occurs at high temperatures and acidity, has been associated with ulcerations in the gastro-intestinal tract and gastro-intestinal cancer in animals.

Should you err on the side of caution?

All of this has me increasingly concerned about feeding food that contains carrageenan. Even though foods without this ingredient may be a little harder to find, I think it’s well worth reading your labels and finding alternatives if your cat’s current food contains it.

Take the time to scan your cat’s food for this ingredient. Unless your cat absolutely refuses to eat the brands that do not contain carrageenan, I would make the switch.

Photo ©Robin Olson, used with permission. See more of Robin’s adorable foster kittens on her blog, Covered in Cat Hair.

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Can a New Prescription Food Really Cure Your Cat’s Hyperthyroidism?

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For the past few months, the veterinary community has been bombarded with ads for a new feline prescription food that is said to cure hyperthyroidism in 3 weeks.

When the diet first came out, I was skeptical. I’m not a fan of prescription diets. While I respect the research that goes into these diets, sadly, they usually contain ingredients such as meat by-products, corn, soy and grains, none of which are optimal for an obligate carnivore like the cat.

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

There are currently three treatment options:Continue Reading

More Reasons to Stop Feeding Dry Food to Your Cats

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If you could do one simple thing that would improve your cat’s health for the rest of her life, wouldn’t you want to do it? Well, there is. Stop feeding dry food.

Dry food is the equivalent of junk food for cats

Dry cat food, even the high-priced premium and veterinary brands, is the equivalent of junk food for cats. It’s really not all that different from feeding sugared cereals to kids. Cats are obligate carnivores: this means they need meat not just to survive, but to thrive. 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 few or no carbohydrates in their diet. Feeding foods high in carbohydrates can lead to any number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.Continue Reading

An inside look at how one small company makes safe pet food

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The recent Diamond Pet Food recall has left many pet parents wondering whether it’s safe to continue to feed commercial pet food. This particular recall was surprising topet owners who did not realize that Diamond manufacturers a large variety of different brands.  As of this writing, 11 brands are involved in the recall, due to possible salmonella contamination.

Sadly, recalls have become a fact of life, and they happen in all kinds of industries, not just for pet food. While recalls may not be completely unavoidable, this one is unsettling because it covers so many brands – and because it’s not always transparent who actually makes the brand you’re feeding your cats. In most cases, pet guardians also have no way of knowing where the ingredients in a particular brand come from. Multiple brands share the same supplier, as we saw in the horrific 2007 pet food recall, which caused the death of thousands of pets who had eaten food contaminated by melamine, which was traced back to a Chinese supplier.

As a result, pet parents are looking for alternatives. Continue Reading

Purina recalls single lot of therapeutic canned cat food

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Nestle Purina PetCare is recalling one specific lot of its Purina Veterinary Diets® OM Overweight Management canned cat food, available through veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada.  Analytical testing of the product sample by FDA indicated a low level of thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Only cans with the following “Best By” date and production code shown are included in this voluntary recall:

Product NameCan“Best By” Date &Can UPC
SizeProduction Code*Code
Purina Veterinary Diets® OM5.5 oz.JUN 2013    1172115938100 – 13810
(Overweight Management) Feline Formula

*”Best By” Date and Production Code are found on the bottom of the can.Continue Reading

Diamond Pet Food recall expanded to include Costco’s Kirkland Signature cat food

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Diamond Pet Food began recalling certain lots of various dog food brands due to possible salmonella contamination in April. The recall has now been expanded to include two products for cats sold at Costco:

  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)

To determine if their pet food is recalled, consumers should check the production codes on the back of bagsContinue Reading

Does your cat have a food fetish?

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Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat not just to thrive, but to survive. Most cats prefer a diet heavy on meat, poultry, or fish. As carnivores, they don’t need carbs, so they really shouldn’t even like things like vegetables or fruit. And yet, there are cats who love asparagus, cantaloupe, pumpkin and all sorts of other strange foods.

Additionally, according to a  report from Scientific American, cats lack the ability to taste sweetness, unlike every other mammal examined to date. And yet, there are cats who love things like ice cream and flavored yogurt.

Cats have a reputation for being finicky eaters. But maybe that’s just what they’d like us to think? Maybe they just have a hankering for something a little different on those days when they turn up their little noses at what’s in their bowls?Continue Reading