I've always been a dog person, but for the past four months I have owned, and grown to love, my little manx Lucy (pictured above, about to jump away from the camera, as she's shy of it).
As a responsible pet owner, I'm always trying to balance having financial issues with trying to provide the best for my pet. I took her to an amazing groomer today (City Kitty, for those of you in the Seattle area), who told me some informative things about Lucy's dietary needs.
Apparently, cats should be on a raw food diet, ideally, given the types of carnivores they are. They aren't able to efficiently process any grains (which dry food is mainly comprised of), dry food dehydrates them (whereas they are biologically programmed to get their hydration through food, not by drinking water), and dry food (given the amount of grain they ingest when they eat it) increases their waste production AND causes increased shedding problems.
Additionally, cats lack the 'grinding' type of teeth that allow them to efficiently eat kibble, so they tend to crunch it and swallow it nearly-whole, which lacerates their gums and allows plaque to build up. Who knew?!
So the best thing to do is get them on a raw food diet, by slowly transitioning from dry food to a mix of dry-and-wet, then to a mix of wet-and-raw.
What does a cat raw food diet consist of?
- Raw meat (preferably from a trusted butcher, and either used immediately or frozen in individual servings)
- Bones (the strong ones, like neck or back)
- Supplements (probiotics, cod liver oil, fatty acids, enzymes, etc which can be purchased at pet stores or your local vet's office)
- Fresh raw veggies (like broccoli, carrots, squash, potatoes)
- Fresh raw fruits (apples, cranberries, bananas)
- Occasionally whole grains (barley, oats, brown rice).
There are companies that make a powdered food supplement containing all that non-meat stuff that you can just sprinkle onto meat or organs for your kitty, which saves time but perhaps not money.
Personally, though I'm tickled by the idea of feeding Lucy what I eat for dinner (before it's cooked), I can't really afford that right now.
So I'm in the canned cat food stage of her diet at this time. I prefer the Wellness brand, as it's grain-free and available in most stores (including non-pet-food stores, like QFC and PCC). It averages to about $1.50 per 5.5 ounce can (and as a 10 pound cat, Lucy needs to eat 4 ounces of food twice a day). I'm also considering occasionally adding in a bit of baby food, parmesan cheese, or tuna juice to get her used to non-processed food. I'd love to price some frozen baby mice (which you can get at any pet store that sells snakes), to see if, once warmed a little, Lucy enjoys those.
If you have an "All the Best" pet store near you, I highly recommend it. They are happy to give free samples of enzymes, pet food, treats, etc and talk to you about how to care for your kitty (or puppy!).
I got a dietary supplement sample, and dental hygiene sample from them that has lasted me months with Lucy. I believe you can also get raw meat specifically for pet food from retailers such as Whole Foods now, as well. It's worth a check!
I imagine 'throw away' parts like gizzards and organ meat goes cheaper than prime cuts for human consumption.