Wednesday, May 20, 2009 4:26 PM

Is It Ever OK to Feed Cats Dry Food?

Giving your cat crunchies is certainly not the worst pet owner behavior around. We’ve been taught that our cats love it (and they do!) and want it, so we buy it for them. We want our cats to be happy! The fact that it’s really convenient for us only adds to its charm. So--let’s take a look at when feeding dry food may be acceptable, and when it’s not.

First, I would suggest that kittens not be fed dry food, even those products supposedly formulated for them. I say this for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t believe that it is nutritionally complete enough for growing bodies. Second, if you do decide to forgo this type of food altogether once they’re grown, you will avoid having to wean them off of it since they never got used to it in the first place! Feeding a quality canned product will be better for them and will help avoid the “overfeeding syndrome” that sometimes occurs with kittens and puppies. This can cause too-rapid growth which can cause skeletal problems later in life.

Cats are considered adults at about 2 years of age. If you feel the need to feed dry cat food, this “prime of life” time, between 2 and around 7 years of age, would be the time to do it. These are a cat’s strongest, healthiest years and represent a time when a less-than-perfect nutritional profile will do the least harm. If you only supplement a premium-brand canned cat food diet with crunchies, rather than feed only dry, your kitty will likely be fine. By supplement I mean that a measured amount is given as a special treat, daily or less frequently. Leaving dry food out in a bowl is still a nutritional no-no. Having food around all the time messes with a cat’s internal hunger mechanism, never allowing it to “shut off”. This is a major factor in obesity.

Of course, I’m talking about cats with no health problems and who are still relatively young. There are many health issues that can be directly attributed to the feeding of dry cat food, or at least exacerbated by this type of food. I’ll cover those problems in individual posts about specific diseases (so it won’t look like I’m still ranting about dry cat food). I’m also not talking about older cats, who have nutritional needs all their own (we’ll talk about them, too, eventually).

OK, enough about nutrition for now. I’ll talk about something different next time, I promise!

Just So You Know: There are some dry cat food products out there that claim to be "natural" or at least less processed and better nutritionally than typical "supermarket" brands. I'll be researching these and will report on my findings in future posts, so stay tuned.
Chat later!

2 Comments On "Is It Ever OK to Feed Cats Dry Food?"

Anonymous Says:
May 21, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Hi Amanda,
Well this a super blog and I am passing on to my friends. Your voice has authority and is friendly - two good combos in blogs.
Thank you for all your information. I will look at your blog often - you are researching. Thank you.

My cats thank you.


Anonymous Says:
May 22, 2009 at 2:14 PM

That chick is adorable.Thank you for watching over him/her while his mom is out. He got to sit under a blade of grass yesterday afternoon and was very serious and silent as he looked up at a violet hanging nearby. The wind blew and the blade of grass and violet moved - he ran to my shoe peeping. Babes are babes.

Ms. P

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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