Why Is Dry Food So Bad?

Meekie

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I'm not disputing that it is. It's obviously heavily processed, but why else is it bad?

I ask because despite my attempts to get my 8 month old girl on premium food, she has settled with Fancy Feast and will not budge. I've been reading a lot here about the debates over what food is the best, so I guess I should be happy that I've found something she is enthusiastic about (for now...she's already turned her nose up at FF flavors she's previously liked, and I suspect she might do the same with the ONE Fancy Feast flavor she likes, but that's a problem I'll deal with if it arises).

When she came to me she was already eating a very expensive imported brand called N & D. Luckily for my wallet, she stopped eating it. She still eats the N & D dry food. In fact, she loves it, and I will continue to offer it to her in limited quantities. By all appearances, this seems to be a very healthy, quality brand. More so than, say, Meow Mix. But I understand dry food is not optimal and I'm curious about the specific reasons why because I feel as long as she's eating the N & D kibble, she's at least getting some "premium" quality food in her diet. Am I fooling myself?

Another reason I like this brand of dry food is that it's imported from Italy, as opposed to American brands. I read somewhere that many American-made dry pet food is sold in bags lined with preservatives that are suspected of causing renal disease. Both my previous cats died of renal disease, and they had been eating Max Cat dry (and Fancy Feast wet) all their lives. I see no indication anywhere on the bag that the N & D has preservatives in it's packaging, so I'm comfortable with it. I assume that European countries don't favor the pet food companies over the health of the animals that eat it as much as America does. Here, many products for humans contain linings with potentially unhealthy chemicals, such as chips, canned food and microwave popcorn. A lot of these chemicals have been banned in European countries so I feel safer feeding little Maple the Italian food.

Maybe if I better understood the reasons dry food, even high quality dry food is not optimal, it would be easier to fight the urge to allow her to eat more of it.
 
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Meekie

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Is this the primary reason? Because she eats 2 3oz cans of wet food a day, and she does drink a fair amount of water.
 

gabicards

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Is this the primary reason? Because she eats 2 3oz cans of wet food a day, and she does drink a fair amount of water.
What I've read this week is that dry food also tends to have more additives that don't add much in terms of nutrition in comparison to wet food - so for cats with food sensitivities, there's more in there that could potentially cause issues, without bringing any benefits.

If it was for the water alone I wouldn't be concerned either, my kitten has the habit of drinking plenty of water, too.
 
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Meekie

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Would there be an acceptable amount of dry food to give her? If so, how much?

She's been eating up to 1/2 cup a day.
 

sidneykitty

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I think Box of Rain Box of Rain hit exactly what I think are the 2 biggest problems- lack of moisture (could contribute or worsen urinary or kidney issues), high carb content (could contribute to obesity and diabetes). If you can afford it and your cat will eat it, I would highly encourage people to feed more wet food than dry.

I very very slowly shifted my 2 previous cats from kibble to increasing wet food until they got 1/4 cup kibble per day and the rest was wet food. They both loved Fancy Feast classic pates and mostly ate those, which are really pretty good foods (and more affordable than a lot of other wet food) especially if feeding in place of kibble. Eventually, I got my cat down to 2 TBSP kibble per day. The kibble and cans should both have caloric content information so you can calculate how much of each to feed your cat per day, based on her weight, age, and keeping in mind her activity levels. There is a cat caloric calculator somewhere out there, I don't have it on hand at the moment, but try a google or maybe someone else knows of one they can provide!

Edit: also your vet may be able to help with caloric content calculations!! It's worth asking about.

Good luck!
 

daftcat75

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Meanwhile, a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme - sailvary amylase kicks into action and breaks down starchy carbohydrates. Cats don't produce salivary amylase... This is yet another reason not to feed carbohydrates or plant matter to cats. The un-broken-down carbohydrates, it is posited by some, can form a sticky paste that creates plaque and tartar in the mouth.
Source: "Won't my cat's teeth suffer if s/he's not eating dry food? Doesn't dry food help clean a cat's teeth?" Cat Nutrition FAQ

In general, if it's not feeding the cat, it's feeding bacteria within the cat. Not all of these bacteria strains are friendly. In addition to contributing to dental disease, excessive carbs in a cat's diet can also lead to gut dysbiosis--another way of saying the bad bacteria outweighs the good. Gut dysbiosis is believed to be a leading cause of IBD.

Cats evolved as obligate carnivores and a mere hundred years of the pet food industry has not changed their evolution. Their pancreas produces little amylase because carbs are not meant to be a part of their diet. You may hear someone say, "but cats eat grass." Some cats can eat grass with no issues. Many eat it precisely because it can be irritating and help bring something up. In the wild, cats will eat grass to help them bring up indigestible bits like hair and hide. The other argument you will hear is, "but cats eat prey and prey eat carbs." Many cats avoid eating the stomach contents. But if they do, that's a tiny, tiny fraction of the total animal--and those carbs are already digested, or partially digested.

As a personal aside, I can't know this for sure. But I am guessing my Betty White was pre-IBD when she was surrendered before I adopted her. I have been working with a company called AnimalBiome and their Gut Restore Supplement to fix her gut microbiome. One of the services they offer is biome testing. Looking at her "before" report (the test before we started the Gut Restore Supplement), it has many markers of a kibble-addicted kitty: huge imbalances with carb-loving bacteria strains over-represented in her gut and not enough of the good animal-protein-loving strains. This certainly isn't helping her IBD. In the first month of treatment, her biome is recovering and her symptoms are lessening.
 
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Meekie

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Thanks everybody. You've convinced me.

As long as she's enjoying the Fancy Feast wet I will limit her dry food even more. I suppose it would be ideal to stop feeding it to her at all, right?
 

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I assume that European countries don't favor the pet food companies over the health of the animals that eat it as much as America does.
Hi, I just wanted to mention that Purina, which was one of the best American pet and animal food manufacturers, was bought by Nestle' which is based in Switzerland. Many people stateside don't like Purina any longer.

Be sure you weigh your cat before you make any further changes to her diet so that you can see what, if any, changes occur.
 
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Meekie

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Hi, I just wanted to mention that Purina, which was one of the best American pet and animal food manufacturers, was bought by Nestle' which is based in Switzerland. Many people stateside don't like Purina any longer.

Be sure you weigh your cat before you make any further changes to her diet so that you can see what, if any, changes occur.
Well now that's confusing. Wasn't Nestle the company that said water was not a human right?

I have been weighing her, just not too frequently. She's still growing!
 

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I don't know if this is working against us as we've just started treating Betty's presumptive IBD. But Betty gets 5 pieces of dry food per week--all at once on Sunday. They come out to 1.5 grams. I feed her by weight rather than volume. I use these 5 pieces of dry to get her butt into the baby scale every week. All I have to do is rustle that bag, and she starts towards the kitchen where I have the scale ready for her. Once I put the pieces on the scale, she's so happy to get them, that she doesn't even mind if I have to lift her butt skyward to get it into the cradle with the front half of her body. I don't know what we'll do when time comes to cut her off completely. Perhaps we'll find some freeze-dried treats she likes just as much before then.
 

Robyn5678

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I have a female cat that for 16 years ate nothing but dry food. She would not touch wet food. I went thru hundreds of dollars worth of canned food that I always ended up tossing.

my male cats I try to limit dry food as I have 2 family members that had male cats that got blockages from being dehydrated from dry food.
 

daftcat75

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My last cat, my angel avatar kitty, Krista, she ate nothing but dry food for 10 years (maybe more because she was two years old when I adopted her. In her thirteenth year, IBD started to present. In her sixteenth year, it had progressed to lymphoma even after she had been switched to an all wet food diet. Some cats can go their whole lives eating dry with no ill effects. Some cats, like Krista, it comes back to bite them in their senior years. And my current cat, Betty, her biome testing suggests she was a kibble addict before she came to me. At only five years old, she's awfully young to be dealing with IBD. But that's what the ultrasounds and biopsies--and hairballs and nausea--seem to suggest.
 

arr

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Perhaps I’m paranoid but I always keep a little dry food in my cat’s diet. I have a fear that something could happen to me or there is some kind of disaster, and maybe dry is the only thing available to them, and I want their system to stay used to it. I also feed a wide variety of wet food brands and flavors for these same reasons so that if worse comes to worse, they can happily eat something. Depending on the cat, they eat 2 to 6 tablespoons a day of dry and the rest is wet.
 

Furballsmom

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maybe dry is the only thing available to them, and I want their system to stay used to it. I also feed a wide variety of wet food brands and flavors for these same reasons so that if worse comes to worse, they can happily eat something.
I personally think this is a really smart approach :)
 

Margot Lane

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Along w/ Daftcat’s mention of grass, the first thing my indoor cat does if he sneaks outside by accident is to eat grass. Oddly, doesn’t seem to result in something to clean off the carpet…it may just add that roughage he doesn’t quite get from any catfood, wet or dry. Not to complicate your menu further, but, some cats do enjoy a nibble of greens, now and then. You might add Pet Natural hairball prevention to your cat’s diet, just to keep things moving along.
 

Margot Lane

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As a PS too much canned fish is not good for cats due to possible mercury content which can built up over time.
 

daftcat75

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Some reasons to skip the fish:

1. Mercury
2. It's inferior nutrition for cats.
3. It's highly appealing and addictive. Some cats will hold out for only fish flavors.


It's #3 especially that I recommend holding off on fish flavors. Save them for getting a sick cat to eat something. Exceptional times require exceptional measures. But if you are always feeding fish, you lose that "nuclear option."
 
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