As promised in my review blog on cat food, cat treats, and cat toppers, I posed some questions to a cat food industry insider who worked for several years at a boutique pet supply store and has attended conventions like the Super Zoo in Las Vegas, a show for national pet retailers. The insider weighs in on the dry food vs wet food and raw cat food debate and answers questions about common cat food myths, making sure your cat’s food is a good source of protein, prescription vet food diets, cat dental treats and more!
But first a caution:
Industry Insider: PLEASE do your own research. This is how I learned everything I know. When my cat became ill, I did my own research using many different resources and came to my own conclusions. I encourage you to do the same.
Squish Delish: How do I know if my cat food is a good source of protein or contains poor/low grade protein sources?
Industry Insider: You have to read the ingredient list! If there is ANY mention of “by-product” I would steer clear. Also, if it only states “poultry” or “meat” but not specifically which type, that is another warning sign that your food may be low grade. Most reputable companies are very open as to where they source their meat from. It if it isn’t listed on the package, most will happily reply to questions on their website or through email.
Squish Delish: What don’t cat food companies want you to know?
Industry Insider: Dry food is not good for cats, period. They receive most of their moisture from their diet and if they do not drink enough water to compensate the dry food, their organs, especially kidneys, suffer.
Squish Delish: Is cat food made in other countries as good as the United States?
Industry Insider: It really depends on the country. I advise people against a cat food made in China, but Thailand is fine. It all comes down to who does the inspections of these factories. The European Union (EU) is who inspects many reputable company’s canneries overseas. The EU is stricter than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) here in the United States.
Squish Delish: Are prescription diets from my doctor worth the price?
Industry Insider: Flat out no in my opinion. If you read the ingredients on these prescription diets they are mostly made of low grade ingredients. There is no “medicine” in the food and one has to wonder why it is prescription at all. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state, and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds (including dog and cat foods) and animal drug remedies. They do not regulate the “prescription” cat food diets.
Squish Delish: What are two myths about cat food products marketers hope you believe?
- That dry food cleans teeth is a HUGE myth. I used to believe this nonsense. Most cats don’t consistently chew dry food, they swallow it whole. Cat teeth are designed to cut meat from bone, in no way does dry food or treats clean their teeth. If anything, the carbohydrates and sugars found in dry food provide a ready energy source for oral bacteria to grow.
- Cats need veggies. Cats are obligate carnivores. They lack the means to process vegetable matter.
Squish Delish: Do dental treats that promote healthy teeth and gums through probiotics and other supplements work?
Industry Insider: Customers have reported positive results from this type of dental treat and the science is promising, but I have yet to read of any solid scientific results to confirm they do. The “crunchy” treats that do not have these probiotics do not work.
(See our review of three different cat dental treats, including Vetri Science Feline Perio Plus, in our blog “Squish Delish Reviews Cat Food, Cat Treats, and Cat Toppers.”)
Squish Delish: Is it safe and cheaper to make my own cat food?
Industry Insider: Yes! I make mine sometimes. As long as you do your research and find something you are comfortable with, it is safe and often cheaper. If your cat has a food allergy, it may be more expensive because you might have to find protein for them to eat that is not commonly found in your supermarket. But overall, in the long run, it is cheaper to make your own.
Here are some websites that I suggest that can help you feel more comfortable with this process.
Squish Delish: Would you like to weigh in on the dry vs wet vs raw discussion?
Industry Insider: Raw is by far the best diet for your cat AND dog. Most raw foods have whole ingredients, which cats are naturally meant to consume. More of the raw food is utilized by their body, which equals less waste.
Wet food would be the second-best diet, but make sure to look for unnecessary ingredients like food dye. Cats clearly don’t care about color. Dye is placed in foods to make US feel better.
Dry comes in dead last if at all. I understand some people feel like their cat will annoy them to no end because their bowl is empty, but just remember it is better in the long run for them. Dry food is convenient for us, I get it, but after knowing what I know, I refuse to feed it to my guys. They know they are fed in the morning and in the evening.
My older cats, who have since passed only ate dry food before I knew better. After I learned how damaging dry food can be, I switched to wet and raw. The cats protested at first when I made the switch, but I am their caregiver and did not give in. They both eventually loved the wet food. My current cat family only had dry at their foster homes. I started them on raw from day one with me and they loved it and have never looked back!
Go here for A Quick Guide to Cat Nutrition and Tips for Choosing Cat Food Products
*Also provides tips on changing your cats food.