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Wet food vs. dry

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I thought it might be less confusing to make this its own topic, an offshoot of http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...48#post2256848

So, Ronronne, I must say that yours was a very excellent rant! Now it's my turn!!!

I can see where you might have gotten into difficulty using pumpkin with dry food. That’s a lot of carbs (~30% in the food plus nearly all of the pumpkin), a lot of fiber, and not much moisture. Too much fiber can be very irritating to the gut. But constipation is mainly about fluid balance. Cats eating dry food are chronically 3-5% dehydrated. (I have the reference for that somewhere…!).

I have been studying feline nutrition for about 15 years now, and in that time I have come to realize the profound differences between canned and dry and their effects on cats. Over the years I have come to recommend canned food only--not even just "mostly" canned food, based on both hard science, and observation of some 15,000 cats over my practice career. Actually, I've become downright cranky about it!

That’s not to say you aren’t smack-dab on the nose about the rapacious profit-seeking behavior of pet food companies, 'cuz you are—that's totally true. A few companies seem to be a bit less about profit than others (like the ones who don’t have advertising budgets larger than the the GNP of some countries!). In fact, I wrote an article about deceptive pet food marketing for Animal Wellness magazine (at their request), but they refused to publish it because it would offend too many of their advertisers—duh! They are all guilty of one or more marketing gimmicks. Eventually I got the publishing rights back, and put it on my own website. Here’s the link: http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.ph...dmarketinghype

BTW, Evo was not involved in the recall, but a food called Evolve (unrelated to Evo’s maker, Natura) was. Natural Balance was as well—they were caught out soon after they substituted rice protein for venison meat. And let that be a lesson in karmic retribution! I’m not sure what your definition of “premium†is, but nothing from Science Diet, Iams/Eukanuba, Purina, Waltham, Nutro, or Royal Canin fits the bill in my book. Some of them used to be better, but no more.

Here's a summary of my take on the issue, based on literally hundreds of hours of research in various veterinary school and medical school librarys, Medline, etc. (I’m trying to write a book on the subject…well the first draft is done anyway. When I added up everything on my computer that I had written about pet food over the last 15 years, there was enough—I’m not making this up—for something like 2200 pages! The editing is brutal! Ack!!) I will try not to go overboard, there are multiple articles on my website if you want to know more, and I have a long list of references.
  • Canned and dry foods have very different macronutrient profiles and don’t really provide comparable nutrition, even among the same flavors of the same brands. I'll give you some ballpark numbers so you can compare. Canned foods are high in protein (45-55% on a dry matter basis (DMB)), moderate fat (20-35% DMB) and low carbohydrate (usually about 8-10% DMB). But dry foods contain only 30-40% protein (some of the “low-carb†versions have up to 50%), 10-25% fat, and 20-50% carbohydrate! Dry foods are typically higher in fiber (1-15%); most canned foods have very little (usually less than 2%). Of course, weight control and senior foods will be somewhat different in proportions (higher in carbs and fiber, lower in fat and protein), but the comparison between wet and dry versions of identical “formulas†will still follow this pattern.
  • IMO, the dehydration issue is not solved by putting water in the dry food. It still doesn't make up for the percentae of water in canned food (or in natural prey). I’m sure you know from your own research that cats eating dry food take in only half the moisture of cats eating canned. If you add enough water to the dry food to make it 78% moisture (or even 65-70%, the natural moisture content of a prey animal), most cats won't eat it. Think about what that would really look like--1/4 cup of dry food floating in a little over 3/4 cup of water! You probably also know that dry food gets wet, the population of surface bacteria (always present) doubles within 20 minutes, and grows exponentially from there. I mention these points for others who may not have heard and are curious.
  • The carbohydrate issue is not solved by "grain free" formulas--which simply substitute starchy vegetables like potatoes or green peas for the grains. They all still have double or more the carbs as most canned foods—even the diabetic diets. EVO advertises itself as 7% carbs, but analyzes at 13%.
  • The animal proteins in dry food are heat-processed twice (first during rendering, and again during extrusion). This causes protein denaturation, which can lead to allergies and IBD. Canned foods are heated once, and generally at a lower temperature.
  • Dry food, by its nature, has to contain preservatives; canned doesn't. Even with "natural" preservatives like Vit E and C, ingredients can still contain chemical preservatives. It's illegal not to list them, but most pet food companies ignored that little detail, and didn't list them for 30 years! For example, all fish meal coming into the US is required by US Coast Guard regulations to contain ethoxyquin (evidently the ships carrying it were blowing up due to the heat of oxidation, kinda like how compost gets hot). A few companies (Eagle Pack and I forget who else) have gotten permission to use a safer alternative called Natur-Ox. Nevertheless, most fish meal has ethoxyquin in it, and most dry foods contain fish meal.

I have more than 2 file drawers full of primary references on nutrition (peer-reviewed journal articles for the most part). The file on FLUTD alone is about 4 inches thick! It's been a slow change but the feline experts are really starting to recommend canned food for many health conditions (obesity, diabetes and FLUTD, to name a few), and they’re starting to recommend it just in general. I recently had a nice chat with Dr. David Twedt at my alma mater, Colorado State University. He especially recommends that all *elderly* cats be put on wet food-only diets, unless they develop kidney problems. There we diverge on opinions, but hey, not everyone can be as perfect as me!

Here are a few references from veterinary sources that you can find on the internet. If you want more, I’ll be happy to send them to you!
http://www.catinfo.org/zorans_article.pdf – Dr. Zoran is at Texas A&M
http://www.catinfo.org/ – Dr. Freeman is in private practice; she has also done a lot of research and contemplation and gives a very nice summary of all the angles.
http://www.catnutrition.org/catkins.php – summary of a talk by Dr. Deb Greco, board-certifieed in Internal Medicine (ACVIM), formerly of Colorado State (one of my professors there), then of Animal Medical Center in NYC, recently sold her soul to the devil and works for Purina. How the mighty have fallen.
http://www.catnutrition.org/diabetes.php – Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, a former Hill’s employee and feline specialist, whose credentials were sufficient to make her a primary consultant to the FDA during the pet food recall last year; she was one of a handful of people to testify at the congressional hearings.

Okay, I’m done with my rant now! Time for ...\t
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, guess I didn't do it right; it stayed all right here. Can someone help me split out the nutrition thread? Oh, well I guess it doesn't matter that much!
post #3 of 12
Dr. Jean, which posts would you like to be cut off this thread and turned into a new thread in its own right? Post #5 and onwards? Just say the word and we'll do the trick!

Love how the forum is going, btw, totally awesome threads!
post #4 of 12
This thread is an offshoot of the Slippery Elm thread.
post #5 of 12
Thank you very much, Dr. Jean! I really appreciate the time and thought you took into replying to my rant. I doubly appreciate the links to your references at the bottom of your post -- I'll be reading those very shortly. Now that the numbers are in front of me, I can see why wet food is preferred. I wish other people would cite the research and present it as clearly as you have!

I think you're right -- I got Evo and Evolve confused. My bad.

Thanks again for your informative post!! And when your book is published, I'll be buying a copy!
post #6 of 12
Can I ask which brands/flavors of wet you recommend? Say, your top 5? I have a 14 month old male DLH, healthy, good weight, etc. no known allergies or problems. (mods, let me know if this should have been its own thread). I can generally order online anything I can't buy locally. I generally rotate between 5 or 6 brands because he stops eating them after a month or two.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
The brands my cats like that I am not too twitchy about the ingredients are, for now, Wellness, Precise, Merrick, Innova. If they didn't get a snack that day and are really hungry, I'll open a can of EVO 95%, Petguard, Nature's Variety Prairie, because it goes uneaten if they aren't starving. I use chicken and turkey, rarely beef, and occasionally I sneak in vension, lamb or some other flavor, just to get them used to eating weird things. There could come a time when their usual brands are unavailable, so I like to have them willing to eat anything.

Once or twice a week they get some Friskies, on the theory that in the wild they would be eating those "by-products," I consider it a supplement. They seem to like it okay.

Other brands I think are okay are APD, Natural Balance, and some Weruva, now that they have non-fish formulas. I should mention that I buy primarily large (13 oz) cans and feed a whole can of that per day (alternated with homemade raw food).

That should get you started!
post #8 of 12
What are your thoughts about the garlic in Wellness?

Also, what do you think of this food? http://www.brandonfarmspetfoods.com/...ail.php?p=MjU=
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Guar Gum, Cassia Gum, Carrageenan, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Inulin, Vitamins (Vitamin E, A, D3, B12 Supplements, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Choline Chloride, Flaxseed Oil, Salt, Taurine.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Garlic is much less problematic than onion, and is a very common flavoring agent. As long as there's not much in there, I don't worry about it. Wellness is my cats' current favorite. I just avoid the fish flavors.

The food you listed looks fine. I might prefer that liver be a bit further down in the list, but otherwise the ingredients are acceptable.
post #10 of 12
My cats are on a 80 percent raw diet with a 20 percent Wellness. I do give them the fish flavors then. Sometimes some solid gold. Is this to much fish?

The raw I feed is a product called Rad Cat.


I don't buy the lamb because one of my cats threw it up on three occasions so I skipped it.
post #11 of 12
Every once in a while I have a silly fantasy of buying fresh live fish from the grocery store, dropping them in the tub partway filled with water, and letting my cats fish for their dinner.

I'd never do it because I'd feel sorry for the fish (never mind the mess!), but I bet my cats would love it!
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
The Rad Cat looks good...but their advice on how to switch foods sucks!

I feed Wellness, and occasionally will use one of the fish combos, but I wouldn't do that more than once a week or so, and never salmon. Also, be aware that "lobster" and "crab" will contain a lot of shells and small amount of meat--that's too valuable in the human market. When the food is tested for protein, the shells, made of chitin, will add to the protein content, but are relatively indigestible.
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