How Bad Is Grocery Store Dry Food?

Rini

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And by this I mean Friskies, Fancy Feast, Meow Mix, 9 Lives and Purina Cat Chow etc...

I ask because my co-worker has just adopted 3 cats and says she plans on feeding the grocery store dry because "it's totally fine." Their foster parent was feeding them Royal Canin dry (which I know is actually not much better) and some wet.

Now, I don't wish to step on any toes here as I know everyone has a different budget, but this is a woman who gets 3 manicures a month. And I know what she makes. She could do better.

And actually, I have several family members who seem to feed the cheapest cat food imaginable while spending hundreds on fancy dinners out and trips.

It doesn't sit right with me and I'm trying to find a diplomatic way to say something. Is there one, or am I doomed to come across as pretentious?

I'm trying not to be nosy, but I read the ingredients and it just looks...awful. I know some cats do okay on it, but she has three male cats, and I am now worried about urine crystals if all they get is 9 Lives food coloring...

Once again, I was recently unemployed myself and survived on Amazon Gift Cards, and so I'm not trying to be judgey of people's limitations. I fed FF, even the kind with wheat gluten if it was on sale, and sometimes Friskies or the Meow Mix Cups. Now that I am working again, I choose to feed Weruva, Tiki Cat, Nutro, Wellness etc...but that's a choice I make. I make certain sacrifices to ensure I feed Aslan as best I can.

So this is not a condemnation of people who are on a tight budget.

But for people who can do better and don't, is it worth speaking up? I am assuming that they don't hate their cats, so is there a polite way to educate them that food coloring should not be the first ingredient?
 

EmersonandEvie

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There are grocery store brands that are better-ish than others. Tell her to feed something that has meat as its first ingredient. Purina, Crave, and Nutro all make kibbles that fit that criteria. Avoid anything that has corn as its first ingredient like the plague. Cats are obligate carnivores, after all.

You could tell her horror stories of blocked males and maybe that will make her reconsider not feeding wet. Cats come from desert animals which means that they have historically gotten (and continue to get) most moisture from their food. Like you said, especially important in male cats. Harp that the worst wet food is better than the best dry due to the moisture as a preventative measure. Friskies and Fancy Feast are not bad brands if she wants to go that route.

I too know people that make more money than I ever will and feed their cats crap dry food ("he just likes it and he's never been sick before!"). It really bugs me.
 

amethyst

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The issue with the cheaper dry food brands is they are basically like fast food or tv dinners, sure it's got some meat and stuff in it, but the amount of inappropriate ingredients, chemicals, and fillers in them is not good. Fast food will serve to keep you alive, but will also cause a lot of health issues in the long run.

As mentioned you may want to try to at least convince her to go with wet instead of dry if she really wants to just stick with what you can get at a grocery store. Even though it's a bit more money for the wet it's better food and much cheaper then an emergency vet trip because your cat has a blockage.

You can even try to point out that with a bag of dry the cats are only eating one thing everyday, humans and cats in the wild don't do that, so why give your cat the same food day after day. With wet you can give the cat a variety of food flavors, which can also help prevent picky eating and food allergies from developing. It's actually much easier to switch foods and have your cat still eat in case of a recall or the store simply being out of the certain food.
 

LTS3

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I ask because my co-worker has just adopted 3 cats and says she plans on feeding the grocery store dry because "it's totally fine."

Well, you can feed a child fast food (Burger King, Taco Bell, etc) and say the same thing but in reality, a poor quality diet like that will most likely cause health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Cats are no different, really. A poor quality diet can also lead to health issues, maybe not right away but at some point later in life. You don't need to feed a gourmet, organic, home made diet (raw or cooked). Something better quality than junk food is ideal and doable for most people.

You can try to educate your co-worker on what an ideal healthy diet is for cats but ultimately you can't control what she feeds :dunno: I have co-workers who feed junk dry food (and these are well educated people with science backgrounds) and it's hard for me to not go all :angrywoman::soapbox: :argue: at them. I feed raw but I don't expect anyone to jump on the raw bandwagon.

EDITED: fixed typo:doh:
 
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cheesycats

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Tell her better food will equal less shed hair on her belongings, less poop, less smelly poop, shell feed less, and typically a longer life.
I’ve met many people who think 2-3 massively smelly orange poops a day are normal for cats, Ive also met people who will shell out the most expensive high meat bag of dog food and specifically tell me “oh my cats to fine on meow mix”.
So sometimes people have no clue and need to be educated. Others just give no f*cks and don’t want to be educated. I guess all you can tell her is atleast try something a little better at the grocery store. Some good ones have been mentioned that don’t break the bank.
 

lisahe

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Tell her better food will equal less shed hair on her belongings, less poop, less smelly poop, shell feed less, and typically a longer life.
That's pretty much what it all boils down to! And that "typically live a longer life" can be broken down to lessening the chances of the cat developing conditions like kidney disease and/or diabetes. If the co-worker is interested in that aspect, you could give her this link from catinfo.org: Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition – Common Sense. Healthy Cats.

I think most of us go through times when we need to cut the cat food expenses some but pretty much any wet food at the supermarket, even the cheapest, would be better than the supermarket dry foods you mentioned. Like LTS3 and cheesycats say, though, sometimes it's impossible to convince people. At least until their cats start to have health issues. Our last cat's health problems were what taught me about how to feed cats -- I wish I'd known back when we adopted her in 2001 what I know now.

Good luck, Rini Rini
 

Genesis123

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You could suggest this forum as a means of getting ideas on cat care. (Of course, you might want to wait until your post, about her, is on page 37, or so. :p)

In a conversation with her, you could mention there are a lot of books on "natural cat care". I have some that have been very helpful in diagnosing problems and finding natural remedies. It might inspire her to buy natural cat foods, or, even, to make her own.

As to your question on a polite way to "rip her a new one" :biggrin:, perhaps the only thing you can do is tell her what you believe about feeding and caring for cats. There are "all natural", more-affordable cat foods that are fairly close to the cost of Meow Mix and, certainly, FF. They are not the "better" brands, like those you mentioned, but they are, definitely, better than Meow Mix, Friskies, etc. Feeding them better might save her an enormous amount of money in vet bills -- you could suggest that.

I, too, know what it's like to be on an extremely tight budget, having to give your cats crap, while you pray conditions change. Even now, I don't have much, but my cats get the very best, even if I have to eat crackers and peanut butter for a few meals. My cats have become like children to me, I'd only want the healthiest best for them. I'd certainly go without a manicure to do that. ;)
Wait for an opportunity, when a discussion about cats arises, and suggest what you can.
 

5starcathotel

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I just want to add, it pays to shop around. I was recently shocked to discover a *very* premium brand of canned wet food (and by premium, I don't mean their name, but their ingredients), was available for ~40% less cost at my local organic store, than my local pet food store.
 
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Rini

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Thanks all! I’m glad you get where I’m coming from.

I am usually in the MYOB camp but cats cannot speak for themselves, so I feel semi obligated.

I suggested she take him to my vet, who doesn’t mince words about her thoughts on cheap dry food. Better her than me :insertevillaugh:
 

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Just make some random comments now and then kind of pushing her in the right direction---"oh, I was talking to my mom, and they said that ever since they switched their cat to Purina ONE, his fur is so soft and shiny!" or "so-and-so's cat had urinary problems so they have to feed him canned food now. The vet said that the large vet bill might have been avoided if they fed him more canned food when he was younger", "my cat used to throw up a lot and the vet said it was because of the food coloring in his food. He doesn't throw up as much now that we switched to a food without coloring!" Etc. People don't like to be pushed so it's probably better just to keep to the random comments.

And it's probably not realistic to try to convince anyone to go for a really premium food, just try to go for "better, but still available at the grocery store". Purina ONE is not bad. Iams is OK too but I've had better success with Purina ONE for some reason. And canned Friskies is fine too. Just about anything is better than dry Meow Mix.
 

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Unfortunately IME, it's hard to fight against the status quo and convince people what "proper care" actually is, or get them interested enough to look into it. Especially when people assume that all pet products must be ok because why would they sell it if it wasn't?

I came across this very topic with fish, and honestly had to stop trying because it only leads to me feeling frustrated. I can't convince people why proper water changes are important (no, the filter does not do all the work) or why fish need adequate space (think goldfish in a bowl, ugh). Every time I see a betta in one of those stupid vases or a common goldfish in a tiny tank, I cringe. I can even tell you how proper care, a bigger tank, and the right equipment will actually make your life easier and save money in the long run, or that the lifespans of fish are actually longer than you think (like 20-30 yrs for a goldie), but if people just don't care, there's nothing you can do.

Fish get this treatment because IMO they're considered "set and forget" pets, and unfortunately I would argue that cats are in the same boat. People assume that cats are independent and don't need anything other than the bare minimum of attention. Just lay out some cheap food, scoop the poop, and pet every now and then. And just like with fish, as long as the cat remains alive that's proof enough that their way is the right away, and everyone else is just nuts. Of course, when problems so arise, the animal gets blamed and more often than not, discarded.

The above suggestions to drop subtle hints that "better" grocery brands resulted in a better coat, less smelly poop, etc. is your best bet. Maybe suggest Chewy to make it even easier, but they will probably still go with whatever is the cheapest option. You can attempt to gently encourage, but don't lecture as you will only push that person away and set yourself up for disappointment. If you find that someone is open to receiving more information, then you can have a more active role.

Opening minds on an individual basis can be daunting and not always a rewarding experience. As long as poor practices and poor quality products continue to be available, people will utilize them. Those of us who do care can try to put our energies into demanding that companies do more for us as the consumers, and push for legislation when it comes to things like declawing, animal abuse, etc.
 

divyanka2111

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No, it's not really fine. These brands are considered junk food/fast food. Try premium brands like Simply Nourish or Authority from PetSmart. There are many other good brands like Weruva or Wellness as well. But the brands you listed, they are just super cheap and super unhealthy. They contain artificial flavours and junk and other questionable ingredients. Always read the ingredient list. Search for better options.
 

She's a witch

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No, it's not really fine. These brands are considered junk food/fast food. Try premium brands like Simply Nourish or Authority from PetSmart. There are many other good brands like Weruva or Wellness as well. But the brands you listed, they are just super cheap and super unhealthy. They contain artificial flavours and junk and other questionable ingredients. Always read the ingredient list. Search for better options.
I’ve just checked the random Simply Nourish can, and it has potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cranberries, guar gum and carrageenan. Personally I wouldn’t consider it premium food. I wouldn’t say this is better choice than fancy feast classic pate.
 

lisahe

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I’ve just checked the random Simply Nourish can, and it has potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cranberries, guar gum and carrageenan. Personally I wouldn’t consider it premium food. I wouldn’t say this is better choice than fancy feast classic pate.
I have to agree... and not just because we feed our cats a can of Fancy Feast Classic a week! Or that we couldn't feed that Simply Nourish because our cat can't eat potato -- it makes her vomit.

One of our big goals in choosing foods is to keep carbs as low as possible. Meaning no potatoes, sweet potatoes, or carrots. I don't feed carrageenan, either. But I will feed Fancy Feast because it's low-carb and veg-free. Do I like all the ingredients? No. But I think feeding one can a week -- in a diet that also includes commercial raw, homemade, and other canned foods -- should be more than okay. I read ingredient lists on everything we feed. There are no perfect commercial foods. But there are plenty that work for our cats, particularly if they're fed in rotations that help limit risk from ingredients we might prefer not to feed.

We all have specific issues that we keep in mind when we buy cat food: our cats' health needs, our own budgets, actual facts (science, though definitive studies are all too scarce) about cat food ingredients and feline nutrition, and our own perceptions of what's good and what's bad for our cats. I also realize that certain foods work for my cats but may not work for someone else's cats. And vice versa.
 

divyanka2111

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I’ve just checked the random Simply Nourish can, and it has potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cranberries, guar gum and carrageenan. Personally I wouldn’t consider it premium food. I wouldn’t say this is better choice than fancy feast classic pate.
Really? :S But the can I got doesn't contain any of those. I guess some cans do and some don't. One should obviously look at the ingredients of each type of can and choose accordingly.
 
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