image of cat playing with mouse

Or Purchase the Right Cat Food

The raging debate on healthy cat diets continues. Dry vs. canned, high protein or grain free? You could go to the mountaintop and consult Google, that wizened guru. But instead I’ll share current research which, like all good science, continues to shift.

Obesity is epidemic for our short eared, round headed pets. As they expand their girth their diabetes risk skyrockets, not to mention joint disease. Diet matters and so does lifestyle.

Cats are behaviorally and physically programmed to spend their days lurking, listening, and sniffing for prey. In nature they only catch 1 of every 15 mice they pursue but they need about 7-8 mouse meals every day in order to survive. They’re meant to work to live, not doze on the couch watching soap operas.

Is there an adequate population of varmints darting around your house? My two cats, together, would need about 15 mice per day. That would be a lot of traffic for our Border collie to direct. Not gonna happen at the Nichol house. So we buy food for our cats.

Dietary moisture is important to a properly functioning feline digestive tract. Mice are about 80% water. The feline body is also crazy for protein, somewhat less fat, and very little carbohydrates. Sadly, the latter is found in prodigious quantities in most dry cat foods. Kitties can digest carbs but they get less energy from this nutrient, meaning that they have to eat a lot more dry starchy food to satisfy their hunger, which can make them porky pigs.

It takes about 11-15 pieces of dry cat food to equal the nutrition of one mouse. So a cat who eats around 80 kibbles and then puts his paws up to read the Pet Care column on the Fetch page is a lot less fit than his country cousin who expends energy hunting, killing, consuming, and digesting his natural diet.

Are you a bottom line person? Look for 50% or more crude protein, at least 40% fat, about 10% carbohydrate, and plenty of moisture in your cat’s diet. All of it is best found in canned kitten food and, of course, mice.

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video, blog, or a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.