View Full Version : House cat food -- grainfree and all that -- plus feeding cats of different weights

Nov. 25, 2009, 02:06 PM
I am looking to upgrade my indoor cats' food. Reading web sites, the mind boggles. What is the rationale for grainfree? In the back of my mind I recall hearing that "wild" cats DO eat grains, including the contents of their prey's stomachs. Is grainfree a fad or trend?

I am currently unemployed so I really can't start paying $50 for a 20-lb bag. So best-on-a-budget would be what I'm looking for.

Also -- I live in a studio (OK, I live in one big room) so I really can't separate cats at feeding time. As of right now I free-feed dry food. I have one cat of perfect weight, one perhaps a bit overweight but nothing serious, and one obese. Any ideas on how to balance this out? Are cats prone to metabolic issues (fat cat is young, 4 or 5, and has been round since about a year old)? If so would you recommend vet work/blood panel? FWIW (not much, I wouldn't imagine), perfect-weight kitty and obese kitty are littermates.

Any chance that a higher-quality (or even grainfree!) food might balance the three kitties out? Fat cat is lowest on totempole and definitely does not spend more time than the others at the feeder.


Eclectic Horseman
Nov. 25, 2009, 02:45 PM
Have you read the information at http://www.catinfo.org? it seems pretty clear to me, but here's my version.

With little or no regulation, pet food manufacturers have been substituting cheaper and cheaper ingredients over time. Instead of using meat, they use "meat by-products" which include feathers, beaks, skin, etc. and not much protein, let alone high quality protein that is needed by obligate carnivores. Because it is so much more abundant and cheaper, the pet food manufacturers also started to add wheat and corn gluten instead of meat. (A lot of this came to light when the Chinese manufacturers added toxic chemicals to the gluten to up the protein levels, and pets were poisoned by it.)

So the reasons for no grain are many. First, cats need higher quality protein than grain can provide. The need real lean meat as the base of their diet. Secondly, just like in people, high carbohydrate diets (grains are high in carbs) cause diabetes. Obesity alone will also cause diabetes.

If I were in your situation, and money is tight, I might consider making my own cat food. There is information on the website at the link I provided. I gave up free feeding dry food years ago. You should consider doing that as well.

Nov. 25, 2009, 02:51 PM
I can't answer most of your questions, but I can tell you my experience. I have two barn kitties and one of them develops allergies every summer. He ends up licking himself bald and even a little raw sometimes along his back. My horse vet suggested moving him to a grain-free cat food, so I started both cats on the Acana Grasslands food. They love it and I noticed that my cat's allergies went away shortly after starting it. It's not a whole lot more expensive than the Nutra Choice cat food I'd had them on prior, so I don't mind just putting it in the feeder for both cats.

I don't know if it's just a fad or not, but I have heard the rationale that cats are carnivores not omnivores from several different people (not that that makes it more or less correct!). And I don't know about your cats, but mine always leave the intact stomachs of their victims sitting on my tack room floor :dead: But then they're not wild kitties, so maybe they would snack on that too if they didn't have a constant supply of kitty kibble too.

moonriverfarm's elf
Nov. 25, 2009, 02:51 PM
Taste of the Wild cat food is grain free and is about 20 bucks for the large bag.. My cats love it and I have a fatty and a normal size... the fatty isn't getting any fatter... but not exactly slimming down either... :lol: Could be the slug impression he does all day though. :winkgrin:

Nov. 25, 2009, 03:40 PM
I pretty much have moved completely to canned food, and my cat now eats better than I do as far as "byproducts" and quality ingredients :)

The only dry food I use, and it's not very much, is Solid Gold.

The rest of the time, he gets:

- Wellness
- Merrick
- Avo-Derm
- Solid Gold Tuna

It's pricier than the big jugs of purina he used to eat, but he's healthier, has lost a little weight, has more energy, and a better coat. He has a history of UT problems as well, and since we switched to this diet he's only really had one issue with that in the last several years.

I buy the large cans of wellness and it works out to a tolerable price per feeding since one large can lasts me two days.

Nov. 25, 2009, 04:48 PM
I would not free feed. The fattie is just going to get fatter! Could you lock the fat one in the bathroom to eat while the other two eat?

Nov. 25, 2009, 05:20 PM
I feed Wellness Core dry and their grain free wet. All three of my cats love it and are a great weight. I also would not free feed dry. Mine each get fed a small handful of dry 3x/day (probably 1/2-3/4 cup total), ~2 oz of wet, and something raw (either an egg, or raw chicken or beef). They are all looking great and very healthy. A 12# bag of the dry Core is $32 at my local store, and it lasts three cats ~2 months. The regular grain free Wellness is cheaper.


Nov. 25, 2009, 05:29 PM
I tried, honestly, to switch my cats (and dogs for that matter) to a better diet then the Hills Rx W/D they've been on for years. My mom was/is tired of paying so much $ for pet food.

Well, tried a 4 star food for the dogs and another for the cats. The verdict? My dog's allergies flared up, big time. And one of my cats is peeing outside the litterbox. Took the one in, thinking it was her (reason why cats were on W/D to begin with... history of UTI) but her urinalysis came up clean. I can't afford to take the other one in at the moment (just shelled out $250 in a week for both the dog and one cat to the vet) so we're going to try separating them to see if we can figure out who is doing it. Uggh.

So, saying that. If it ain't broke, I wouldn't fix it. Ideally, I'd love to feed a better food then the W/D - both dogs and cats are on it (respective versions, of course) but it's working wonders for them.

Bank of Dad
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:52 PM
I am going thru this right now. I've read all the web sites.

Barn cat Charlie Brown is 21 lbs. Vet said if he doesn't lose it, he'll be diabetic. Barn cat Peppermint Patty is 12, but still too fat for her size. They had been on Iams weight management cat food which is high protein, but Charlie steadily gained weight, even with 1/2 cup am and pm. I changed both to cheap canned cat food (5 0z can) and they both get 1/2 in am and 1/2 in pm. I stand there until Pep is done so Charlie doesn't eat it. They are not happy or full, but after 3 weeks they are going with the program.

George, the 12 yr old house cat was on Science Diet c/d which he ate until the formula changed from brown rice to brewer's rice and he slowly stopped eating much and has gone from 13 lbs to 10 lbs. Then he od'd on gardenia plant and almost died, losing one more lb. He refused to eat anything. We force fed liquids and a high fat high protein food for 10 days, then in desperation I gave him the old Iams weight management leftovers which he loved. However, its too high in protein for him, and I'm mixing with old cat stuff from Pro Plan, with a little Wellness Dry added. He hovers around 10 lbs, but now he's eating. He'd refuse anything homemade.

The barn cats would be happy with plain chicken chunks.

I feel your pain.

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:20 PM
Funny this has come up.
Grain-free: my cat is allergic to wheat, so we had no choice. things are much better with her skin now that we have gone grain free.
Diabetic cats: on our way to grain-free, I told our vet that I had sworn off canned cat food for good. He replied that studies are showing that if you take a diabetic cat and put him back on canned food only, the condition reverses itself and diabetic cat becomes non-diabetic. Amazing stuff coming out now!

Bank of Dad
Nov. 25, 2009, 06:27 PM
Chief2, that's what my vet said, and thats why Charlie Brown's back on canned food.

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:28 PM
I have been feeding my cat ONLY organic (Innova, Wellness, etc.) WET food for years and years and he also gets people food organic chicken, fish, etc. It's worth the money, and worth giving them wet food too. I also add in acidophilus, colostrum, and as much organic chicken broth as he'll drink. Hydration, IMO, is SO important to keeping cats living a long, healthy life.

This is him yesterday. He's 21-years-old and still catching mice and climbing trees: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=33020367&l=ff2b586ccb&id=13002359

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:28 PM
I have read that generally wet food is better for cats because they naturally drink so little. My 15 year old calico has chronic renal failure and is doing well on 1x weekly subcutaneous fluids and she eats Innova canned food (which I researched to find the right combo of high quality protein and low levels of phosporous and ash). In any case, I think a strong case can be made for cats doing better on wet food than dry food.

My other 1 year old cat (at a svelte 11lbs) gets slightly less than 1/4 cup of Innova dry cat food 2x a day (he will be switched to wet food next year).

You need to feed the cat the amount it would need at its ideal weight NOT its overweight weight.

Nov. 25, 2009, 06:56 PM
I put my overweight mature Maine coon mix cat on Innova after reading the recommendations here. I originally wanted to put him on wet, but he eats a few bites then leaves and I'm gone a lot so I went back to the Innova dry. So far (probably 6 months or so) I am very happy with it. He has less hairballs and is finally taking off a little bit of weight. He is on a restricted diet in terms of amount, but he was on his old food as well. As for drinking I don't worry too much about the dry vs. wet as he loves water and drinks quite a bit.

Allagash's mom
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:01 PM
The grains and such in dry food (cereal grains mostly) also strain the pancreas, which is what causes most cats to go diabetic. Hampton went diabetic just about two years ago at age 11. With insulin injections (self testing at home, etc) and a switch to as high protein canned wet food as I could get (except for going straight to raw food), he is not only healthy now but OFF insulin entirely since January of 08. So Mr Pancreas is happy and I've a healthy cat again -- as long as he does NOT get any sort of carbs/grain/etc in his diet.

for anyone interested:

Nov. 25, 2009, 08:18 PM
I had this discussion with my small animal vet recently and she also recommended that I switch my cats to a low carb diet.

We're just started the transition. They have mostly been eating dry food so I'm also integrating canned food into their daily diet.

My vet also recommended a pet "water fountain" as a way to encourage them to drink more. I happened to find one in the clearance section at Smartpak when I was there this week and it's true that they are fascinated by it (one they stopped being terrified of it!).

Nov. 25, 2009, 09:00 PM
I've had great results with Evo, both wet and dry. My fatty has slimmed down a bit and my skinny is now a more normal weight. I switched them from Science Diet t/d, and they immediately started displaying a ton of energy. They are both more active and playing more, running around like idiots, etc.

I was originally concerned about their teeth (one is a Siamese and was the reason they were on the t/d in the first place,) but their teeth actually look better. My vet explained that the added grains are converted into sugars in their mouths by their saliva (just like saltines in ours,) which can lead to dental issues. By giving them a more protein-rich diet, this reduces their grain/sugary intake and their dental health has improved.

All I know is that I have two very, very happy, bouncy kitties who consume a lot less food each day. They're down to 3/4 cup of dry a day for BOTH cats and they don't always finish it. They also adore the wet food when I give it to them, and won't leave a scrap, compared to some foods where it would just sit.

I've been really impressed with Natura products in general. As a kitten, my orange boy was very finicky-tummied, and he really thrived on California Natural.

Nov. 25, 2009, 09:34 PM
definitely check out Wellness. If you can't afford the wet (I buy about 50 of the 12 oz cans at a time for 4 kitties, this lasts 25 days and costs around $150-160) definitely check out the dry. One thing to keep in mind too is the higher protein, higher quality foods although more expensive will last you longer. Kitty will get full on less food so you don't have to feed as much. Also you will rest better knowing their are getting the equivalent of a steak dinner as opposed to McDonalds every night.

Nov. 25, 2009, 10:21 PM
Sometimes I think feeding animals is a highly individual process. Although there are certainly sound principles behind grain-free diets for cats, I don't think feeding is a one-size fits all approach, and there can be a wide variety of "right" answers.

For example, I actually have one cat (Fluffy) who did horribly on Evo. Unknown to me until we did radiographs, this kitty had a prior pelvic injury. He needs to have more fiber in his diet or else he gets constipated, and if that happens, he also develops struvite crystals and UTI's, since he has trouble emptying himself out completely if he's backed up. Wet food, however, is a great idea for him, since there needs to be enough fluid moving through him to get that fiber to soften his stools, and to flush out his bladder. He actually did much better on a combination of one of Hill's Rx urinary foods, and a homemade wet food with chicken, pumpkin, flaxseed meal, and cranberry.

Other cat (Alvin) had the go ahead to eat whatever Fluffy was eating. He developed some gum inflammation the vet thinks may be an allergy to something in the Hills. So I'm trying things without corn, to see if that helps. Right now we're doing Wysong's uretic dry food and the homemade wet mentioned above.

This in contrast to previous cat, Tita, who ate grocery store purina dry chow for her entire life, had completely normal bloodwork and urinalysis, never needed a dental, and passed away quietly in her sleep at the age of 18 :lol:

And we used to have a dog who would have terrible diarrhea if he ate anything but Science Diet, and now I have the dog who, despite being fed Solid Gold, insists upon eating anything she can wrap her mouth around including such lovely items as dirt clods, crayons, and used kleenex :eek: And of course, all her BM's are perfectly normal, aside from the fact that the crayons and kleenex show up in them.

Anyhow, if it were me (which it isn't) I'd probably find something moderately priced with meat, meat meal, or meat by-products as the first couple ingredients, and feed it in measured meals instead of free choice, with a little wet food on top.

Nov. 25, 2009, 10:45 PM
I have been feeding my cat ONLY organic (Innova, Wellness, etc.) WET food for years and years and he also gets people food organic chicken, fish, etc. It's worth the money, and worth giving them wet food too. I also add in acidophilus, colostrum, and as much organic chicken broth as he'll drink. Hydration, IMO, is SO important to keeping cats living a long, healthy life.

This is him yesterday. He's 21-years-old and still catching mice and climbing trees: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=33020367&l=ff2b586ccb&id=13002359

Impressive!!! You've done such a great job with him!!! :yes: