I’ve been thinking a lot about cat food lately, what with Sunshine’s hyperthyroidism and the anticipation of the arrival of Team Kitten.
It’s interesting to find in my research, that ragdoll breeders across North America have very divergent opinions on what brand of food is best for this breed. Owing to the popularity of the Ragdoll, Royal Canin even has a Ragdoll-specific cat food.
Okay, so most animal nuts like me have been conditioned to believe that no grain, no corn, no soy is a good place to start. But here’s the thing: the highest-quality kibbles tend to give kittens the runs!
And what about the animal’s point of view? What do they want?
Chicken, every day.
She means she wants cooked chicken breast, still warm, cut up into 2” pieces. Maybe some juices.
Last time I took Sunshine to the vet, the vet very strongly recommended *against* the dehydrated raw food I was giving to Sunshine. I started feeding her Honest Kitchen Prowl, which is a dehydrated, powdered cat food that is borderline-raw. It’s been pasteurized / cooked to a high enough temperature for a long enough time that salmonella risks are very much reduced, although you should still treat it like it’s raw chicken.
We started feeding this to Sunny after the regular foods just couldn’t keep the weight on her. Her hyperthyroidism was revving her metabolism and she just couldn’t eat enough nutrients.
When we switched her over to the Honest Kitchen, she stabilized for a number of months and stopped losing weight. Between the Honest Kitchen and the Thyroid Gold supplement, she felt a lot better, although it really seemed she was preparing to leave her body for a while there. She was happy, purring, playing and all, but she seemed… faded. Sweetie has an odd knack of being able to sense when a person or animal is getting ready to go, and she gave me a “warning” a while back.
When Sunshine’s thyroid gland became enlarged despite the supplement, we started on the pills from the vet, which now mandates regular blood testing. We’ll see how she tolerates the testing (the last time went terribly, but we’re going to a different vet. Hopefully they’ll do a better job, and I hopefully Sunny remembers to stay calm and that everyone is helping her.) She is certainly tolerating the pills very well so far, and she’s even started to regain some weight for the first time in 8 months.
Here’s the thing: The vet commented on Sunshine’s condition being surprisingly good, considering her thyroid was enlarged. My thought is, “Why do you think she’s in such good condition? Surely that has something to do with her food!”
Sunshine’s coat is very soft and thick, and improved noticeably when we switched her to Honest Kitchen (Prowl only, the other types have iodine-rich ingredients like sea weed.) Hyperthyroid cats tend to go bald! To me, she is obviously doing very well on the dehydrated raw food.
Well, the vet sent me home with a pamphlet on how raw food is potentially fatal to me and my cat. This is the party line from the College of Veterinary Surgeons. Well, I’ll take it under advisement.
When our pets get sick, or heck, when *we* get sick, we tend to look to the diet to figure out what we did “wrong”. With Leo and Sunshine, honestly, I could not access the best food for them all their lives. When Leo died before he was 20 years old, as all of us who love our pets expect the maximum life span, I wondered if I’d just fed him some magic combination of wonder-food, would he have lived longer?
I think this is why the prey-model raw food folks are willing to put hours and hours and hundreds of dollars a month into their cat’s bellies.
With this sky-high standard of care, there can be substantial guilt involved in keeping an animal for a friend, one who relies solely upon US to give them what they need to be healthy and happy.
I tell ya, when Sweetie and I didn’t have much money or a car, we *had to* feed grocery store pet food to our pets. For the record, if pet food is sold in a grocery store, it’s generally considered to be low-quality. Hell, we were eating a lot of rice and lentils ourselves! But if you ever ask a pet, “Would you rather live here with us, and eat this food, or go live with someone else and eat the best food?” What do you think they’ll pick?
Even the most food-motivated creature is going to pick the human friend over the food. You don’t need to ask. We know this. So we all ate the equivalent of Kraft Dinner for a couple of years.
On some days, when I’m missing Leo or worried about Sunshine, I wonder if these Kraft Dinner years shortened their lives.
So, Team Kitten. What will I feed Team Kitten? Two brand new bodies, two special little beings just waiting to come into our lives! Two hilarious, bouncing, mischievous, boisterous personalities ready to fill our house and lives with laughter and brevity! I am so looking forward to it.
I have *never* had an animal friend live with me their entire life. This will be the very first time that I bond with baby cats, just as they leave their mama. They will be the very first pets that come to me *healthy* from the very beginning. I won’t need to fix them up, they’ll *already* be healthy!
They won’t be underweight from neglect or overweight from months confined to a kennel with unlimited amounts of low-quality food. They will have strong muscles from playing with their mother and siblings, from climbing the cat trees in their birth home and they’ll be used to being handled by people.
They will have had the very best of starts – all I’ll have to do is keep it going, not screw it up!
Of course, I’m in full-on planning and research mode. What is the breeder feeding? What should I feed? How much wet? Should I offer unlimited dry? Should I feed dry at all???
Back when I was a teenager, wet food was considered to be terrible for their teeth. Now, dry food is the enemy and considered to be the cause of kidney disease and a numerous other problems, especially if there’s grain in the kibble.
Do you know what Sunshine’s second-favourite food is, next to cooked chicken? Canned fancy feast. Cats LOVE the stuff. It’s full of sugar! OF COURSE they love it!!! It really is not the healthiest food for them, and yet, I see the tides have turned and I am reading on multiple websites that wet food such as wiskas or fancy feast should be at least HALF of their diet!
My, how times change. In the 1990s, wet food was cautioned and should only be used as a special treat!
Sunshine gets a good-quality canned wet food twice a day, as well as a half-serving of Honest Kitchen, rehydrated with warm water. She has a semi-moist kibble available to her at all times, which she doesn’t really eat anymore. She just likes to know it’s there. She is a very spoiled kitty!
I just heard from the breeder and they recommend Royal Canin kitten 36, and believe it or not, she was recently at a conference in France where the vet said that Fancy Feast was the best food at preventing kidney issues. Isn’t that crazy? I fed both Sunshine and Leo Fancy Feast, and in my research about the cause of hyperthyroidism, it seems that cheap, fish-flavoured canned foods like Fancy Feast are being implicated.
So you see, it’s hard to really know what to feed our pets! Vets from across the world are looking at different research and so form different opinions, depending upon their country of origin.
From the animal’s point of view, it depends on who you’re talking to. A dear kitty friend had terrible irritable bowel syndrome, and the owner tried a dehydrated raw (I can’t remember if it was Honest Kitchen or Stella and Chewies) and he seems to be doing very well on it, last I heard. He communicated the feeling of the dry kibble to be like a lump in his stomach he had trouble moving through his body, and he didn’t experience that feeling with the dehydrated raw at all, although it took him a while to get used to the texture of the reconstituted food.
This belly full of mud feeling is really common in dogs who scarf dry kibble too. Some older dogs really benefit from having their kibble moistened with warm water before feeding, so that the dry kibble doesn’t suck all the moisture right from their stomach. Mocha really complained of this in the last year of her life. If I could’ve afforded to move her completely off of kibble at that time, I would have. If Mocha had the choice, she would have eaten only pizza.
Meanwhile, for my old Leo boy, his very favourite all time foods were, in this order: Fancy Feast Salmon, Cheeze Whiz, Pringles plain chips, Cheetos (loved the cheese and the corn).
Whenever I’d pop open a can of pringles, he’d come running and sit on the couch behind me, place his big paw on my shoulder and purr. And Purr. And PURRR!!! It was the weirdest thing, he loved Pringles.
So clearly, the pet’s preference is not necessarily the best guiding star to a healthy diet!
How about you guys? What do you feed? What have you fed in the past? How old are your critters / how long did they live? Did they get sick? What did they get???
You see what I’m trying to do here, right? I’m trying to find the perfect food so that Team Kitten will live forever! HA!
(Incidentally, Ragdolls generally don’t live past age 15. They’re large-breed cats, and like large-breed dogs, they tend to lead shorter lives. If I truly wanted longevity, I’d go for Abyssinian!)
NEXT TIME: I’ll write about pet reincarnation. For the record, the white Snowball kitten and the Leo cat spirits / consciousness have not yet gone into kitten bodies, even though these kitten bodies have already been born for them. Just yesterday, Leo said that it still wasn’t clear where he was supposed to go. Maybe it’s not decided which kittens we’ll get when, there’s still free will, there’s still some randomness yet.