Has your cat ever tried to steal a piece of pizza or a French fry? Cats are junk food addicts and, like children, when presented with healthy food or a poor-quality option they will usually make the wrong choice!
Cats tend to crave fat and salt and can easily become addicted to both. They can also become addicted to the texture and even the shape of food! Pet food companies spend a lot of time researching flavors and shapes that will get cats hooked.
The increase in popularity of dry kibble foods has actually hurt our feline friends. While dry food is convenient, it is so different from a cat’s natural diet that a variety of illnesses have become common in cats, particularly: kidney disease, urinary tract disease, and diabetes.
To understand why kibble is so bad for cats, you need to understand their ancestors’ lifestyle. The domestic cat originated in the deserts of the Middle East. They relied on their diet of rodents and birds to provide the water they needed. Cats are less sensitive to feelings of thirst and dehydration than dogs are, so if they are fed dry kibble, cats are unlikely to drink enough water to keep their kidneys and urinary tract flushed out. This chronic dehydration leads to inflammation and disease.
The carbohydrates required in the extrusion process to make kibble (for example grains, potatoes or peas) are not part of a cat’s natural diet. Cats quickly become addicted to carbs despite not being able to process them, and the large amount in cat food has been linked to diabetes and obesity. In addition, dry cat food often contains protein from cheaper plant sources, rather than from more nutritious animal sources.
Your cat will have the best shot at a long and healthy life if you feed him/her canned foods or a raw diet. If your cat is currently eating only dry food, it may be very difficult to switch over but it IS possible with patience. For more information on how to switch your kibble-addicted kitty, click here.
One last little tidbit about cats: their taste buds can’t detect sweetness. So while your pizza is fair game, your donut is probably safe!