Digestive Upset on High Protein Dry Food?

gitabooks

TCS Member
Thread starter
Alpha Cat
Joined
Sep 26, 2015
Messages
591
Purraise
590
Location
USA
According to research, high protein cat food (40-60% with the water removed/dry matter basis) is beneficial for cats for a variety of reasons, including: helping prevent muscle wasting in seniors, encouraging healthy weight loss in overweight cats, and supporting diabetic cats (including helping them enter remission). Studies have also shown that cats tend to eat for protein, meaning they may be more satisfied with high protein meals.

All that being said, its actually pretty hard to find dry cat foods over 35% protein (on a dry matter basis most wet foods have far higher protein levels). Extruded kibbles are hard to produce without high levels of carbohydrates to bind them together (to allow for proper mixing, shaping, etc).

Some producers are trying to make higher protein dry foods (Dr. Elseys, Young Again, Wysong Epigen) but there have been reports of cats having diarrhea and digestive upset eating them.

Does anyone know why this may be? I've heard it could be the meat protein isolate or hydrolyzed pork or pork plasma?
I've heard others (including the producers) say its the high protein but that doesn't seem to make sense (high protein canned food and raw food don't show this issue). Not only that, but my kitty does great on her higher protein dry foods (N&D, Solid Gold, and Timberwolf are her favorites).
 

FeebysOwner

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
22,159
Purraise
32,655
Location
Central FL (Born in OH)
Aren't there canned cat foods that also contain meat protein isolate, hydrolyzed pork, or pork plasma? That being the case, it wouldn't seem logical to presume those ingredients could cause diarrhea/digestive upset in just dry foods.

As far as I understand, other food sources besides meat contain protein, and are used in cat foods too. So, perhaps a larger percentage of those types are used in higher protein foods as opposed to 'just meat', possibly for their binding/mixing/shaping properties (or because they are cheaper). Various types of protein produce different amino acids that trigger protein synthesis in different ways. Maybe certain proteins and how they are synthesized play a role in casing digestive upset/diarrhea?? Although I don't know if there is a difference in the amount of such proteins in dry vs.canned.

Just a hypothesis with little nutritional education backing it up on my part. :running:
 

xlynnbbyx

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Sep 15, 2023
Messages
255
Purraise
382
Location
Jefferson County, WV (In the US)
I think to me this is one of those depends on the cat. While it may be fine for one cat another cat it may upset them. Example when Scooter was on Hill’s prescription urinary food he got sick diarrhea & throwing up. Hill’s both dry & wet has something pork in it so I think that is what did it. It also made Casper sick too and he never had a digest problem with food. Switched them to Purina Pro Plan urinary wet & Purina One+ Urinary dry they haven’t thrown up since. Both are high protein too. So really I think it depends on the cat and what they could handle.
 

Alldara

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Apr 29, 2022
Messages
5,051
Purraise
8,494
Location
Canada
Some cats have difficulties with proteins over 70%. My friend's cat had very serious issues that resulted in an overnight hospitalization when Arcana hiked up the protein. In later life he now has early stage kidney disease, so I wonder if cats genetically predisposed to kidney disease have a harder time with higher protein in dry foods. (wet doesn't seem to be an issue)

Magnus also had difficulties digesting the higher protein dry food. Like xlynnbbyx xlynnbbyx says, different cats seem to do well on different diets.
 

lisahe

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
6,132
Purraise
4,950
Location
Maine
I'm also of the "every cat is different" school! That said, I wonder if water intake has something to do with cats' varying reactions to high-protein dry food. Water helps (literally) to dilute everything, which must ease things (comfort, digestion) after the cat eats. High-protein dry food is very concentrated nutrition. I have to think that a cat eating a portion of high-protein dry food with no water is kind of like a human eating a big steak with no salad (or even baked potato!)... but eating a portion of high-protein wet food (or a small portion of dry food followed by a good drink of water) might be more like a human eating a small steak with a salad and a serving of broccoli. A big steak dinner is a lot of work for the digestive system but lightening it with vegetables on the side reduces the heaviness and the possibility of heartburn.

I wonder all this because this past spring, one of our cats decided she only wanted to eat Dr. Elsey's dry food with chicken. Since it's so low-carb and since Ireland's not at all food motivated, we let her do it. She also has a good drink of water after she eats the food. Her only stomach issue has occasional acid vomiting during the night. All that said, she has (fortunately!) gone back to eating quite a bit of wet food, probably about half her diet.

I agree with Furballsmom Furballsmom regarding the various pork products, including pork plasma, which is now in Dr. E's dry food. Our cats used to eat canned Nutro foods (now discontinued) that had pork plasma; they never had any issues with that either. From what I gather, pork plasma is apparently beneficial for cats with inflammation (our cats are big on inflammation) so I'd much rather be feeding that, given that it's an animal product rather than a plant product and we've had serious problems with some of the plant-based thickeners that are now in cat food. At this point, pork plasma is the least of my worries compared to an ingredient like agar-agar, which we know makes both our cats vomit.

That said, I'll finish where I started... every cat is different.
 

GenCat

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Nov 21, 2023
Messages
237
Purraise
540
According to research, high protein cat food (40-60% with the water removed/dry matter basis) is beneficial for cats for a variety of reasons, including: helping prevent muscle wasting in seniors, encouraging healthy weight loss in overweight cats, and supporting diabetic cats (including helping them enter remission). Studies have also shown that cats tend to eat for protein, meaning they may be more satisfied with high protein meals.

All that being said, its actually pretty hard to find dry cat foods over 35% protein (on a dry matter basis most wet foods have far higher protein levels). Extruded kibbles are hard to produce without high levels of carbohydrates to bind them together (to allow for proper mixing, shaping, etc).

Some producers are trying to make higher protein dry foods (Dr. Elseys, Young Again, Wysong Epigen) but there have been reports of cats having diarrhea and digestive upset eating them.

Does anyone know why this may be? I've heard it could be the meat protein isolate or hydrolyzed pork or pork plasma?
I've heard others (including the producers) say its the high protein but that doesn't seem to make sense (high protein canned food and raw food don't show this issue). Not only that, but my kitty does great on her higher protein dry foods (N&D, Solid Gold, and Timberwolf are her favorites).
I always take reports of nausea with a huge grain of salt, due to there being way too many variables especially with foods that are drastically different than what the cat normally eats (is their cat sensitive to something that is magnified by including higher protein, did they switch over slowly enough, since it's dry food is the cat eating more than it would wet and all the new things they need to digest cause a shock to their stomach, etc). Usually if I notice a food has a lot of nausea reports I'll introduce it even slower than I would other foods.

I looked into pork plasma last week and like others it seems to be a potentially positive (but under studied) additive that theoretically shouldn't be harmful, but the thing that I do wonder is how quickly does it spoil/could the source be contaminated which since it is dry food the problems tend to multiply more rapidly than when it's canned.

But these are all personal thoughts on things from a concerned cat mom who has no nutritional background, just a lot of digging through medical research online 🤣
 

lisahe

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
6,132
Purraise
4,950
Location
Maine
I always take reports of nausea with a huge grain of salt, due to there being way too many variables especially with foods that are drastically different than what the cat normally eats (is their cat sensitive to something that is magnified by including higher protein, did they switch over slowly enough, since it's dry food is the cat eating more than it would wet and all the new things they need to digest cause a shock to their stomach, etc).
This is such a good point about nausea and other gut issues. All these variables are why I, too, tend not to pay much attention to those reports. Beyond that, our cats' numerous digestive quirks have, thus far, pretty much all been related to carbs in food and/or thickeners rather than protein (other than an unproven suspicion that one cat is sensitive to fish), which is a cat's natural source of calories and nutrition. Feeding all wet food, including a lot of protein-rich homemade food, is what works best for our cat with lots of food issues.

Like you, I'm just a cat mom with an interest in nutrition (which I was raised with since my mother is a dietitian) plus the experience of feeding and caring for cats with GI issues. The latter, along with lots of reading and, recently, listening to holistic vets' online presentations, has kind of trained me in an odd sort of creative thinking that helps me find patterns in eating habits, symptoms, and even behavior (particularly stress) so I can introduce seemingly small changes that make big differences. It also helps a lot to have a new vet with this same sort of approach!
 
Top