Monday, June 15, 2009 2:21 PM

What--Dry Food Again?

Do these "premium" pet food makers sell a nutritious dry food for cats as well as their canned line? Well, yes and no. Comparatively speaking, most of the manufacturers I mentioned in the previous post make a better dry product than the average supermarket-variety brands. These are, again: Newman's Own, Wellness and Nature's Variety. I will check the ingredients on the Trader Joe's and Whole Foods dry chow and update later. Iams has a line of dry food, as well, but my cats tended to gain weight on it. That's probably true of any dry food, though, so I won't penalize it for that reason. Another brand, Blue Buffalo, also makes premium dry food. How would I suggest you feed your cat these premium dry foods? That's easy--not very often!

As I've mentioned before (once or twice...), dry cat chow should not be fed except as a special treat. What I've done in the past is to buy a small bag, put the chow in a plastic bag or container when I got home, and leave it in the freezer. Then, you don't have to worry about how long it takes to use it up, as it will probably last into the next ice age, being stored in that way! You can take out a few kibbles at a time, for treats on special occasions (like nail clipping?). Don't worry about it being too hard to chew, as there is so little water content in these products that freezing won't change the consistency very much. Of course, if your cat has any health problems for which your veterinarian has forbade dry food, these products are also verboten!

What about supplements? You may be nervous about diluting your pet's canned food with your own preparations, thinking perhaps Spunky may not be getting all his vitamins and minerals with each of his new gourmet meals. You really don't have to worry about that. As we've discussed, these products are over-supplemented, even the premium ones. If it makes you feel better, though, there are many vitamin tablets specially made for pets. Take a look at some and see what you think. I don't recommend any, however, for a couple of reasons. One is that they have many additives and fillers that can cause gastric upset in some animals. Another is that they are not regulated like human vitamins, so it's a bit of a crap shoot. What I do is buy human daily multiple vitamins from Whole Foods (no iron), grind them up, and give a few grains to each cat with their meal each day. For cats, the rough dosage is approximately one-tenth of a human vitamin tablet. Alternately, a little brewers' yeast or kelp each day is an excellent supplement. I always put a few drops of olive oil (extra virgin, of course) in their food-does wonders for the coat!

Remember: Even though these brands make higher quality foods, they still may contain some additives that could make your pet sick, or that you may want to avoid on principle. Always read the label before you buy. If one brand doesn't work, at least it's good to know there are others that you can try.
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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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