Protein & Sodium Restriction may trump Kitten Food

Question:
A year ago I contacted you about an older cat, overweight. I thought you said to feed her canned kitten food but now I am wondering if that should be cat food instead. She has been on Purina kitten & cat food all of her 13 years till a year ago when I started adding Iams kitten food.

Dr. Nichol:
Cats have evolved for stalking, maiming and consuming helpless creatures. Doughnuts and fries are not on their menus. Canned kitten food, with its high protein and low carbohydrate and fat composition, is a great diet for healthy cats of all ages. But your 13 year old kitty, entering her golden years, could be a horse of a different color. Wear and tear may be taking a gradual toll on her kidneys. The right diet is important. Reduced sodium and protein can spare struggling kidneys and give a feline retiree more great years on the shuffleboard court.

Multiple research studies have examined the influence of dietary protein and carbohydrate on cat health. The dry, baked kibble favored by many busy cat owners can be a real problem. Loaded with starch (carbohydrates) so it sticks together during processing, this is the genuine article of feline junk food. We now have a huge number of fat cats to show for it with overloaded painful joints and preventable diabetes. It’s a medical nightmare.

Just last week I attended a continuing education conference where a debate, between two renowned veterinary internists, was held on the best weight reduction diet for fuzzy feline fatties. While the controversy rages regarding protein there is some agreement. Whether a healthy cat eats protein-rich canned kitten food or a high fiber low fat diet, minimizing the carbohydrate load (less than 25%) is the key to good health and a svelte and slinky feline figure.

The buffet you are offering your kitty tells me that you are trying your best but you may be missing the mark. Ask your veterinarian to submit a fasting blood and urine profile. If all of your cat’s organs are firing on all cylinders, canned kitten food may her best weight control option but it is her personal doctor who should make the final recommendation.