Grains Vs No Grains

Hey therr0789

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How do we know what is true anymore? The nutrition market is constantly changing. How do we know what to believe. While vets vets offices push for Royal Canin, Science Diet etc. Those diets may be good for pets that need a special diet.
I have taken nutrition classes and was told from more than one professor what to look for in the ingredients on the bag/canned food. But now grain free diets are frowned upon? I just don't understand. Is this all a media thing?
 

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Media and marketing, maybe yes.

I look for meat as the first ingredients, and try to avoid the ingredients I feel strongly about, and thirdly as well as firstly LOL, whether The Big Kitty will eat it :)
 

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Cats are obligate carnivores. There is no denying that. Find a carb free or ultra low carb food and there’s your answer. There are no low carb grain in foods for cats (or dogs for that matter which should have no more than 30% carb imo), so that in my mind is out for cats. Not all grain free foods are great though. Low carb is what should be looked for and talked about. Hopefully it’ll go to that soon and these companies using peas and potatoes to make up over half the food change their recipes to make them lower carb.
Hopefully the big 3 will eventually. But corn and wheat and slaughter house waste are far more lucrative than whole meats and other veggies likes legumes. There’s a reason why the big 3 have the three largest pet food companies in the world. It’s also why every vet recommends them. Find a vet nutritionalist if you want to speak diet. Most vets take one single class (it’s actually just an elective in my states vet program) in vet school on nutrition and it spans all basic small animal nutrition, not just cats. Most don’t know anything about nutrition so I’d take their word with a grain of salt. They are in the business of bandaid medicine (ie prescription and “science” based foods) which helps up their profits at their offices. They also know most ppl won’t reach out to a nutritionalist about homemade diets for their animals so they recommend these filler filled foods to ease pet parents minds but the core issue is just being covered up not addressed in a healthy manner. That’s my take on it. This fda thing is a mess. The fda actually says don’t switch foods as there is no definite issue at hand. It’s multi faceted and not solely diet related. So don’t freak out. Take a deep breath. Feed low carb meat based diet. Add fresh raw meats in, canned food, bone broths, etc and you’ll be fine.
 
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Hey therr0789

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There's actually a "nutritionist" coming to speak at my work next month. Shes a dvm nutrition consultant so I'm willing to be shes gonna be pushing vet diets. We will see tho.
 

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But now grain free diets are frowned upon? I just don't understand. Is this all a media thing?
Grain free food where grains are replaced with peas, potatoes, corn etc are the ones that are, and should be imo, frowned upon. As mentioned above, we should be looking for low carbs, high protein food.
 

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Grain free food where grains are replaced with peas, potatoes, corn etc are the ones that are, and should be imo, frowned upon.
Yes, it's the potato and legumes that the FDA seem to be focusing on. There are several other Cat Site threads that discuss preliminary findings and conclusions. Here's an FDA piece that was updated late last month that summarizes things pretty well and specifically mentions those ingredients right from the start, though it is mostly about dogs: FDA Investigates Potential Link Between Diet & Heart Disease in Dogs
 

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My cat is on a grain-free food because the others I have tried not worked for her (so far.) But my personal opinion is that I know many people whose cats reached senior years and they were on Royal Canin, Hill's, Pro Plan for most of their life.

I know a total of zero person whose cat was on a grain-free diet and lived up to like 13 years, 16, 20. I am NOT saying they don't exist but the feedback for grain-free diet OR for boutique brands isn't nearly as large as the cats who have been getting fed with one of these big, veterinary brands. S

Also personally I can't see any logic in the argument "grains aren't a part of cats' diet" but then you look at the ingredients of grain-free cat foods and the substitutes are like peas, lentils, cranberries... these are not a part of their diet either. Nor I see necessarily a good argument in how cats eat in the wild. If humans lived all natural and ate the same things as our ancestors, we would live as long as our ancestors and that would be shorter than now.
 
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Hey therr0789

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I think that has something to do also with grain free diets were not as big or had many brands 13 years ago. I could be wrong tho. My cats were on gd grain free for 4-5 years and the vet wants my boys on urinary food so they have been trying that out this month. Except in the wild cats eat wild prey who eat grains so
 

darg

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My cat is on a grain-free food because the others I have tried not worked for her (so far.) But my personal opinion is that I know many people whose cats reached senior years and they were on Royal Canin, Hill's, Pro Plan for most of their life.

I know a total of zero person whose cat was on a grain-free diet and lived up to like 13 years, 16, 20. I am NOT saying they don't exist but the feedback for grain-free diet OR for boutique brands isn't nearly as large as the cats who have been getting fed with one of these big, veterinary brands. S

Also personally I can't see any logic in the argument "grains aren't a part of cats' diet" but then you look at the ingredients of grain-free cat foods and the substitutes are like peas, lentils, cranberries... these are not a part of their diet either. Nor I see necessarily a good argument in how cats eat in the wild. If humans lived all natural and ate the same things as our ancestors, we would live as long as our ancestors and that would be shorter than now.
No offense but these are statistically merit less assumptions. The vast majority of cats are fed a diet that consists of grains or vegetable fillers. It's a very, very small minority that have been fed totally grain and filler free commercial or homemade diets. The sample size is too small to draw any conclusion that commercial foods mean longer lifespans. And there is a lack of scientific research as well. On top of that, most "boutique" cat foods still contain some fillers whether it's legumes or some type of vegetable. There is still only a relatively small number of companies that put out all meat no filler canned foods and, again, relatively few cat parents are feeding homemade, all meat diets. The studies allowing conclusions to be drawn just do not exists. What does exist however is that fact that cats are obligate carnivores. This is simply a known fact.

As far as humans today only eating ancestoral diets and only living as long as our ancestors. That may be true. We aren't carnivores, we are omnivores. I don't know how far you are looking back and/or how much evolution of our systems has taken place, but ... Those ancestors from the stone age ate what they could hunt, they didn't have modern farming allowing them to grow a variety of vegatables or have an availability of variety of meats. They hunted and ate what was available. But they also didn't have modern medicine. So again, saying that modern humans would only live as long as their ancestors if they ate the same things is a flawed argument because it misses taking into account way too many variables.

Again, no disrespect intended and I'm not looking for a debate. I just felt the need to add my 2 cents because there simply isn't scientific evidence to support those cause=effect assumptions and the variables aren't taken into account.
 

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No offense taken, no worries! Complicated topic anyway I think discussions are helpful for all of us :-)

t's a very, very small minority that have been fed totally grain and filler free commercial or homemade diets. The sample size is too small to draw any conclusion that commercial foods mean longer lifespans. And there is a lack of scientific research as well. On top of that, most "boutique" cat foods still contain some fillers whether it's legumes or some type of vegetable.
That's exactly one of the main reasons why I'm more skeptical against grain-free diet than grainy diet and than the food of big veterinary brands like Royal Canin, Pro Plan, Hill's, etc Like you said, we do not have enough data to see the effect of grain-free diets and how they compare to grainy diets (or the substitutes.) So any of us whose cat is on a grain-free diet, or eating food from a new brand/boutique brand is actually naturally being a part of a study. I don't find this as the safest option.

So again, saying that modern humans would only live as long as their ancestors if they ate the same things is a flawed argument because it misses taking into account way too many variables.
I wrote "If humans lived all natural..." I was also including other "unnatural" things like vaccination, cleaning/hygiene products, modern medicine, etc My argument is basically just because something is natural does not mean it is the best for health. And as such just because cats eat like, say, 90% meat and the rest is no-meat alone isn't proof that kind of diet is the best for their health and would provide a long, healthy life.
 

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Simply put, if cats are obligate carnivores (which they absolutely are), how is a diet with grains and/or vegetables more conducive to a longer, healthier life? It doesn't make any sense that it would be. In terms of lack of safety with commercial all meat, no filler diets, I think the only real safety concern is quality of ingredients and proper supplementation. But the big pet food companies haven't had the best record with these criteria either with loads of contamination and ingredient based recalls. I trust them less than I do the smaller brands.
 

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Simply put, if cats are obligate carnivores (which they absolutely are), how is a diet with grains and/or vegetables more conducive to a longer, healthier life? It doesn't make any sense that it would be. In terms of lack of safety with commercial all meat, no filler diets, I think the only real safety concern is quality of ingredients and proper supplementation. But the big pet food companies haven't had the best record with these criteria either with loads of contamination and ingredient based recalls. I trust them less than I do the smaller brands.
Humans are omnivores but the studies suggest when meat is a large part of our diet, it shortens our life. Not the other way around. Not to mention some vegans, with the right supplementation like B12, seem to have a longer lifespan than humans with an omnivore diet. This is also open to debate and studies if it's because high quality meat is hard to find, if it's because humans don't exercise as much as we used to. But, adopting to cats a little bit, house cats for example also aren't physically as active as their ancestors. Maybe in the older times a full animal-protein diet wasn't hard on their body but now? With no/little hunting and no running around, etc? I can't claim that these make the difference, just to say the rules are not the same that we can be so confident IMO.

There are studies that suggest animal protein is hard on the cats' kidneys in the longterm. Perhaps related, cats with kidney problems are put on a lower-protein diet. My pet has kidney disease – what kind of diet should I feed?

P.S. Btw this is all about generally. Both for humans and cats or any other animal I don't believe one size fits all. I know humans who are healthier on a vegan diet, I know humans who are less healthy on a vegan diet due to different metabolisms. For some cats I bet a grain-free diet, or even a raw food diet work better. I would not judge anyone because their cat is on a different diet than mine or anything. (Unless they are like vegan and forcing a vegan diet on the cat or something like that.)
 

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The cats digestive system hasn't changed. For starters, they produce no salivary amylase. The feline digestive tract is well understood and easily researched. But it's not worth a debate. I agree, I don't judge people for what they feed their cats either. If they want to feed their cat a vegan diet, that's on them. I won't say a word unless they insist that cats are vegetarians and that I'm deplorable for not feeding mine a vegan diet too.
 

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The feline digestive tract is well understood and easily researched
I'm not that sure. You absolutely have a point but it also makes sense cats' diet in the wild isn't necessarily meant to keep them alive as long as our housecats stay alive. But without enough data which we don't have unfortunately, it's all just opinions, discussions... That's why I think it's good and worth to debate (and I appreciate your opinion!) Personally I'm not fully confident in my opinion because I also don't have data. I wish they did more research.
 

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Cats are obligate carnivores. There is no denying that. Find a carb free or ultra low carb food and there’s your answer. There are no low carb grain in foods for cats (or dogs for that matter which should have no more than 30% carb imo), so that in my mind is out for cats. Not all grain free foods are great though. Low carb is what should be looked for and talked about. Hopefully it’ll go to that soon and these companies using peas and potatoes to make up over half the food change their recipes to make them lower carb.
Hopefully the big 3 will eventually. But corn and wheat and slaughter house waste are far more lucrative than whole meats and other veggies likes legumes. There’s a reason why the big 3 have the three largest pet food companies in the world. It’s also why every vet recommends them. Find a vet nutritionalist if you want to speak diet. Most vets take one single class (it’s actually just an elective in my states vet program) in vet school on nutrition and it spans all basic small animal nutrition, not just cats. Most don’t know anything about nutrition so I’d take their word with a grain of salt. They are in the business of bandaid medicine (ie prescription and “science” based foods) which helps up their profits at their offices. They also know most ppl won’t reach out to a nutritionalist about homemade diets for their animals so they recommend these filler filled foods to ease pet parents minds but the core issue is just being covered up not addressed in a healthy manner. That’s my take on it. This fda thing is a mess. The fda actually says don’t switch foods as there is no definite issue at hand. It’s multi faceted and not solely diet related. So don’t freak out. Take a deep breath. Feed low carb meat based diet. Add fresh raw meats in, canned food, bone broths, etc and you’ll be fine.
I would also like to add that sometimes food, medicines, and literature are sometimes given to vets for free as a way to advertise to vulnerable pet parents.
 

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Unlike dogs, we have only been feeding cats for a little more than a century. Before that, they fed themselves. Going all the way back to ancient Egypt, cats were employed in granaries because they would eat the rodents and spare the grains. So I think it's grossly misguided and completely backwards (!!) that when we started to feed cats, we spare the meat and feed them grains. 100 or so years is not nearly enough time for cat's digestion to catch up, to evolve to this diet change. Wild cat diet comparisons still very much apply here.
 

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My argument is basically just because something is natural does not mean it is the best for health. And as such just because cats eat like, say, 90% meat and the rest is no-meat alone isn't proof that kind of diet is the best for their health and would provide a long, healthy life.
I don't think the debate about grain vs. grain-free is about natural vs. unnatural. No one is saying that grains are healthy as long as they are natural. I'm not sure what food being "natural" has to do with anything? It's also questionable what "natural" even means?

Humans are omnivores but the studies suggest when meat is a large part of our diet, it shortens our life. Not the other way around. Not to mention some vegans, with the right supplementation like B12, seem to have a longer lifespan than humans with an omnivore diet. This is also open to debate and studies if it's because high quality meat is hard to find, if it's because humans don't exercise as much as we used to. But, adopting to cats a little bit, house cats for example also aren't physically as active as their ancestors. Maybe in the older times a full animal-protein diet wasn't hard on their body but now? With no/little hunting and no running around, etc? I can't claim that these make the difference, just to say the rules are not the same that we can be so confident IMO.

There are studies that suggest animal protein is hard on the cats' kidneys in the longterm. Perhaps related, cats with kidney problems are put on a lower-protein diet. My pet has kidney disease – what kind of diet should I feed?

P.S. Btw this is all about generally. Both for humans and cats or any other animal I don't believe one size fits all. I know humans who are healthier on a vegan diet, I know humans who are less healthy on a vegan diet due to different metabolisms. For some cats I bet a grain-free diet, or even a raw food diet work better. I would not judge anyone because their cat is on a different diet than mine or anything. (Unless they are like vegan and forcing a vegan diet on the cat or something like that.)
I think you are misunderstanding what is meant by "obligate carnivore." It has nothing to do with the amount of physical exercise a cat gets. Cats are obligate carnivores because they cannot break down and process essential amino acids and nutrients without eating raw meat. In cooked cat food, commercial pet food companies add in the supplements that cats need back to the food after cooking. Cats can't really do this in the wild, so they absolutely have to eat raw meat. For example, they must obtain taurine by eating raw hearts.

The reason why some vets recommend low protein diets for kidney cats is because of the relationship with high protein diets and phosphorus. It has been shown that reducing phosphorus intake for kidney cats can be beneficial, but this is difficult to do with high protein diets. Many feline nutritionists now recommend feeding high animal protein diets to kidney cats with low phosphorus and actually believe that low protein diets for these cats can be detrimental.

I'm not that sure. You absolutely have a point but it also makes sense cats' diet in the wild isn't necessarily meant to keep them alive as long as our housecats stay alive. But without enough data which we don't have unfortunately, it's all just opinions, discussions... That's why I think it's good and worth to debate (and I appreciate your opinion!) Personally I'm not fully confident in my opinion because I also don't have data. I wish they did more research.
I really don't think that Purina and Mars are creating pet food for the purpose of keeping cats alive longer than if they lived in the wild. Really, all they are doing is trying to create the most cost effective food possible that mimics their diet in the wild, hence all the added supplements to overly processed grains, veggies, and starches in cat food. The only reason pet food companies do not use lots of fresh animal protein in their foods is because it's expensive and it's very difficult to sustain a business model this way.. especially with the FDA breathing down your neck (*cough* Rad Cat *cough). The reason is not because they believe that cats will live longer on it. In fact, most "prescription" diets for cats created by these companies are just diets that are meant to offset the unhealthy side effects of the inappropriate foods that people are feeding their cats in the first place (e.g., changing the ph level of a cat's urine - which wouldn't need to be modified in the first place if they were eating a biologically appropriate diet).

We know for a fact that cats, like other animals in the feline family, are obligate carnivores that do not process grains, legumes, and veggies properly. Their entire physiological make-up and lifestyle (i.e., hunt, eat, sleep, and repeat) screams "raw meat!" It is a marketing scheme to remove grains from a cat's diet and then replace it with things like peas and potatoes. Both sides of the "grain vs.grain-free" debate are confused in my opinion.
 

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I don't think the debate about grain vs. grain-free is about natural vs. unnatural. No one is saying that grains are healthy as long as they are natural. I'm not sure what food being "natural" has to do with anything? It's also questionable what "natural" even means?



I think you are misunderstanding what is meant by "obligate carnivore." It has nothing to do with the amount of physical exercise a cat gets. Cats are obligate carnivores because they cannot break down and process essential amino acids and nutrients without eating raw meat. In cooked cat food, commercial pet food companies add in the supplements that cats need back to the food after cooking. Cats can't really do this in the wild, so they absolutely have to eat raw meat. For example, they must obtain taurine by eating raw hearts.

The reason why some vets recommend low protein diets for kidney cats is because of the relationship with high protein diets and phosphorus. It has been shown that reducing phosphorus intake for kidney cats can be beneficial, but this is difficult to do with high protein diets. Many feline nutritionists now recommend feeding high animal protein diets to kidney cats with low phosphorus and actually believe that low protein diets for these cats can be detrimental.



I really don't think that Purina and Mars are creating pet food for the purpose of keeping cats alive longer than if they lived in the wild. Really, all they are doing is trying to create the most cost effective food possible that mimics their diet in the wild, hence all the added supplements to overly processed grains, veggies, and starches in cat food. The only reason pet food companies do not use lots of fresh animal protein in their foods is because it's expensive and it's very difficult to sustain a business model this way.. especially with the FDA breathing down your neck (*cough* Rad Cat *cough). The reason is not because they believe that cats will live longer on it. In fact, most "prescription" diets for cats created by these companies are just diets that are meant to offset the unhealthy side effects of the inappropriate foods that people are feeding their cats in the first place (e.g., changing the ph level of a cat's urine - which wouldn't need to be modified in the first place if they were eating a biologically appropriate diet).

We know for a fact that cats, like other animals in the feline family, are obligate carnivores that do not process grains, legumes, and veggies properly. Their entire physiological make-up and lifestyle (i.e., hunt, eat, sleep, and repeat) screams "raw meat!" It is a marketing scheme to remove grains from a cat's diet and then replace it with things like peas and potatoes. Both sides of the "grain vs.grain-free" debate are confused in my opinion.
I will give a better response later (in a car on mobile right now, sorry) but I will have two questions. The fact I don’t have a good answer to them are also some of the reasons why I’m not considering a raw/meat-only diet...

1) If these diets are better than commercial, why do all vets including nutritionists I know and most vets online say they feed their own pets with commercial food? They see cats with all kinds of diets and they see their own animals.

2) How much data you have to say these diets are better? Like say “If I know 20 cats 10 of them are on a raw diet and they are healthier than the cats with high premium commercial diets or lived longer” ?
 

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Pet food was made up during WWII to use up human waste products, and so that human-edible meat wasn't fed to pets. Before that, people went to the butcher to get scraps and offal for their pets, and also fed them the leftovers from human meals. So, pet food is cheap and convenient, but not exactly made for the animal's benefit.

BUT, when animals are kept contained, we're more responsible for their diet. An indoor cat can't go catch a mouse for his dietary needs. So pet food companies have had to at least make their foods able to sustain a pet's life when fed as the sole diet, and an unbalanced homemade diet can cause trouble. So in most cases it's safer for pet owners to feed commercial food. Plus the time constraints most people have.

Cats are made to eat small rodents, almost exclusively. They do like a little variety, with the odd bird or baby rabbit thrown in, but they are rodent specialists. A whole mouse or rat is the perfect cat food.
 

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I will give a better response later (in a car on mobile right now, sorry) but I will have two questions. The fact I don’t have a good answer to them are also some of the reasons why I’m not considering a raw/meat-only diet...

1) If these diets are better than commercial, why do all vets including nutritionists I know and most vets online say they feed their own pets with commercial food? They see cats with all kinds of diets and they see their own animals.

2) How much data you have to say these diets are better? Like say “If I know 20 cats 10 of them are on a raw diet and they are healthier than the cats with high premium commercial diets or lived longer” ?
In response to your questions:

1) All veterinarians are not nutritionists, and not all veterinarians and nutritionists advocate or feed their own pets commercial foods that are low in animal protein. My own vet, for example, feeds raw meat to her cats and dogs. One of the concerns that some vets have with feeding non-commercial diets is that cats may not be eating a nutritionally balanced diet. This is a legitimate concern and anyone who wants to make their own cat food has to do research before doing so. I would say, however, that it's becoming more and more common for vets to recommend high moisture and high animal protein diets for cats. This is actually possible on a commercial diet if one does their research and finds canned foods that meet this criteria. Additionally, there is a very intricate and complicated relationship with the pet food industry and veterinarians. Whether or not the "conspiracy theories" of vets being funded by Mars and Purina are true, one cannot deny that these companies are tied to many of the research institutes that conduct empirical work on pet food and that representatives of these companies also have ties to the FDA and teach courses at veterinary schools. I believe that many vets are mis-educated.

2) It's a scientific fact that cats are obligate carnivores. You don't need to do a double-blind control study to prove this. We know from observation and a cat's physiological make-up and lifestyle that this is the case. There has only been a small sliver of empirical work conducted looking at the health of raw-fed vs non raw fed cats, but the raw feeding community knows based on experience that their cats have thrived on raw diets. And yes, contrary to popular public opinion, case studies can be a valid and useful way to gather information and knowledge. We also know that high animal protein and high moisture in a cat's diet is beneficial because they are obligate carnivores with low thirst drives. And, there is a plethora of information out there about the questionable ingredients used by pet food companies, their links to illnesses in pets, and the high prevalence of things like kidney disease and diabetes in household cats.

And finally... no human doctor would ever tell you that you should eat processed food over fresh food. Veterinarians are the only health professionals who recommend this.

Bottom line...

This animal is made for eating leafy greens and veggies:
upload_2019-7-31_9-45-2.jpeg


This animal likes raw meat and would happily eat the animal above:


Take a look at the physiological and lifestyle differences... it's not rocket science :)
 
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