Friday, August 26, 2011

Keeping your ca'ts food FRESH is essential

A patient I saw recently, a cute little 3 year old orange and white tabby, was brought in for her annual wellness exam.  I was shocked to see that she had lost 2 1/2 lb since I had seen her last  (20% of her weight!!). 
After inquiring about her eating habits and diet, I discovered some dangerous facts:  She was being fed from a food dispenser.  Her large bag of dry food was being stored for months at room temperature.  One can of food was being fed a tablespoon at a time over a 2 week period.  This poor little girl was starving for fresh food, but unknowingly the owner was allowing the food to become rancid...
Here are the rules of thumb that I gave to the owner:

-Never -ever-ever (ever) use a free choice "fill-er-up" food dispenser.  Feed the cat fresh food DAILY, and throw away any of yesterdays leftovers.   This keeps the food fresh AND allows you to monitor your cats food intake.

-Only buy one month's supply of dry cat food at a time.  The food, once it is opened, will not stay fresh beyond 30 days at room temperature.  Store dry food in a sealed rubbermaid always.  Scrub the rubbermaid out completely between EACH fresh bag of food.  Oils go rancid quickly, especially in "natural" brands of food.  A cat's sensitive nose will detect this off-smell LONG BEFORE WE WILL, and they will stop eating!

-Canned cat food is meat.  Meat does not keep refrigerated beyond 5 days before going bad.  It is best to only store opened canned cat food for 1-2 days, as most cats are not fond of "old leftovers". 

The bottom line is that every cat needs and deserves FRESH food daily.  Along with lots of loving, play time, head scratches, brushing, belly rubs, a super clean litterbox, a fresh cool bowl of water, and any and all additional forms of feline appreciation!!

I firmly believe that health starts with good nutrition! 
Hug the cat,
Dr. Maureen Flatley, Fox Valley Cat Clinic
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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Scary World of Pet Food Recalls

We live in a global ecomony. What that means for pet food is that ALL pet food manufacturers are buying some  ingredients from inexpensive overseas suppliers.  And, just about EVERY CAT FOOD manufacturer has had at least ONE recall in the last 5 years.  That is a scary fact when you think about it.  They have left out  essential vitamins, they have  added  mineral at 10 times the recommended level, they have used ingredients that were laced with  toxic ingredients.  The most recent recall involved Salmonella contaminated meat. 

How can we protect our pets?  What can we feed that is safe?  I am now recommending to my clients to chose at least 3 or more reputable pet food companies (that are not owned by the same parent company) and rotating foods.  Specifically feed a different canned food every day if possible.  Rotate from one SMALL bag of dry food to another brand.  Consider rotating in a home made diet, or balanced raw diet.   Just rotating flavors from the same company is not enough.  Most of the recalls have included a large percentage of foods from the same company.  For example, the last wellness cat food recall, ALL their canned  cat food was lacking essential B vitamins except their 2 flavors of Wellness Core.
What does rotation do?  It reduces the likelihood that you will be feeding an unsafe food over an extended period of time.  The key is ROTATION and VARIETY.

More on home made diets and raw alternative diets next time.

If you enjoy my blog, please consider joining my email list!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, August 5, 2011

The GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY

This is the first of several short blogs on what every cat owner needs to be concerned about...
How healthy is  the CAT FOOD we feed.
Today I will expound on DRY CAT FOOD.  (Hang in there, this is exciting stuff!)

First the GOOD news:
 -Dry food is convenient.  It will stay fresh in the bowl for days. 
-Cats like dry food. All dry food is surface sprayed with a very 'tasty" coating.
-Dry food  is nutritionally complete.  Dry food contains all the needed nutrients that your cat needs to live.
-Dry food  is inexpensive when compared to canned food, homemade diets, raw diets.

Here's the BAD news:
-Dry food  is processed under very high heat.  This kills bacteria, viruses, molds etc, but also destroys and degrades the nutritional quality of the ingredients.
-Dry food is very refined.  Look at the ingredients and you will see "meat meals".  This is like meat flour. All dry foods use a meal form of meat in their formulas
-Dry food contains plant proteins.  Cats are carnivores -meat eaters.  Their systems are NOT built to process and utilize plant proteins.  But, plant proteins are a much cheaper ingredient. 
-Dry food contains a large amount of carbohydrates -even "grain free" diets.  Carbohydrates are what makes dry food crunchy.  Hi carb diets are also responsible in part for  feline obesity , diabetes and possibly thyroid disease.
-Dry food contains ALMOST NO moisture, which can lead to dehydration, urinary tract disease, and more.  Because of this, dry food should not be fed as a solo diet to any cat over 14 years of age.

Many less expensive dry foods are LOADED with artificial flavors, colorants and preservatives, and are very high in carbohydrates.  That is why they are cheap!

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOSING A DRY FOOD:  The first 2 ingredients should be meat based proteins.  Avoid foods that include corn gluten, wheat gluten, as these are plant proteins.  Try to chose foods that use complex carbohydrates.  Chose brown rice over white rice.  Chose sweet potatoes over white potatoes.  Stay away from corn -it is very undigestible (which means it ends up in the litterbox!).  The most important thing is to READ THE LABEL and know what you are feeding.

Coming up ...canned foods and more.
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic