Input = Output I
The other day I stumbled on an article about why cats go absolutely bonkers after they’ve just gone to the litter box. Some say it’s the scent, others say it’s a spur of energy which naturally comes with elimination. I most definitely think that in a lot of cases it’s the smell, because I’ve encountered some foul smelling litter boxes in my days I wanted to run away from….
As my last post was about the output of a cat, I would now like to tell you a little bit about the input of cats, both in liquid and solid forms. First up: food.
Let’s start with a post of a Facebook friend:
No, it’s not healthy! For years, people have been obsessed with getting healthy food in their system, so why is it that we continue to give our furry friends food that hardly resembles anything they would eat in the wild? Okay, they are not as wild as their ancestors anymore, but that doesn’t mean they should be eating food which has the nutritional aspects of a food like crisps, instead of a wholesome juicy bird or baby bunny.
As a vet nurse working in a clinic, I used to be nudged towards selling bags of food of the big two brands of prescription diets. You can get food for kittens, adolescent animals, recently neutered animals, until seven years old, older than seven, long fur, short fur, there’s breed specific food, for indoor cats, outdoor cats, and probably also somewhere a food appropriate for cats with extra toe beans, or polydactyl cats.
And when all this very specific food had finally gotten to the cat, e.g. failing kidneys or a bladder which isn’t getting its hydration, we also sell a special food to fix that problem! Talk about path dependency…
About eight years ago, when I acquired the job of Executive Food Provider of Master Lewis, I started thinking about what food would be the best for him. He was a scrawny little bugger with a snotty nose and needed the best of the best to get him all healthy again.
First I listened to H. and RC., or better yet, their little helpers, the sales reps*. I fed Lewis the special food made him get very clean teeth. Because, who wants smelly kisses? Of course, health wise, clean teeth are very important. However, cats can have FORLS (feline odontoclastic resorption lesions) which means the tooth is just decaying (an extreme version of what we humans call a cavity) without you noticing anything, because the cats continue eating. So we also don’t notice that the cat gets the accumulated bacteria in his system until he finally gets sick and stops eating. That’s when we have to extract what’s left of the tooth and try to fix the cat up with antibiotics and whatnot. And unfortunately, dentures for cats are still – to my knowledge- non-existent. So, we do want our cats to have good dental hygiene. That does not mean we have to give them large kibbles, thinking they have to chew them, when in fact they just swallow the kibble whole like a snake eats a rabbit. What we actually need for them is to gnaw and rip meat of a bone.
Then I started looking into the ingredients of these kibbles:
What, what, what?! What is chicken by-product meal? What does that mean? It turned out it could be anything, from feathers to claws, boiled and grounded into a slush puppy content and dried to become meal. And Brewers rice, corn gluten meal and corn? Aren’t cats obligate carnivores who cannot digest grains and plant proteins? Yes, they are, and the only animal protein in this food was chicken by-product and pork fat. The rest of the ingredients are just there to complement the almost non-existent vitamins and minerals in the food. This is because there are almost no animal proteins in there and the kibbles are getting overheated in the processing. In my eyes they are the equivalent of crisps; it used to be a nutritious food, but isn’t any more after processing. So, I changed Lewis’ diet. I looked around and found some kibble brands which used minimal plant proteins (or fillings) and a maximum of animal proteins. Furthermore, they did not use any artificial flavouring, or as H. calls them: “Natural flavours”… So Lewis had to get used to a purer, perhaps blander taste of food. All other, less natural kibbles were labelled as ‘Kitty Crack’, as he went crazy whenever I opened a package of cat treats or a test package of well branded foods. He was like a junky in need of a fix.
Lewis fared well on the (more) feline appropriate fry food. His output decreased and was less smelly and the animal proteins made his muscles go all Schwarzenegger. I was on the right track...
*You might think: Why don’t you listen to the vet, and why don’t you know this stuff yourself? You’re a vet nurse! Well the truth is, vets and vet nurses don’t get much training on diets during their 4-6 years of studying. They only learn how to treat symptoms, not how to prevent.