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Cat food advice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
From a concerned roommate-of-a-cat-owner,

Not too long ago my roommate and his girlfriend brought in a stray cat: A pathetic creature seemingly not long for this world, they (actually, his girlfriend) were overwhelmed by its affability; unphased by its Feline Leukemia, broken leg, tragic malnourishment, mange, and eye and respiratory infection; indifferent towards our apartment complex's policy against cats. Without asking, they brought the cat home.

I gave it four weeks to live.

Against all odds, the cat has lived several months longer than was expected of it.

The pair dutifully saw to its eye and respiratory infection, sparing no expense for its medication and treatment. They saw to its neutering (I initially feared that that doing so might cause it to lose much of its zest and liveliness; I am very relieved to say it is just as playful and insane as it ever was ^_^). The girlfriend, whom had taken over absolute dominance over the cat's care, insisted that dry food was enough for a cat whose ribs were nearly piercing through; whose fur was peeling off whenever it cleaned itself. She also insisted that, even though the broken leg had healed wrong and needed to be broken and reset, it was much more important that it be declawed.

Needless to say, I ignored her "expertise" regarding the cat's diet, and started it on 9 Lives...the canned, meaty variety.

Nearly a month and a half later, and you could never tell that this cat was the Ethiopian refugee of household pets.

She's since learned her lesson, this girl: She still feeds the cat dry food, but has since added canned food to the mix. However, the two of us have come to a head regarding *which* canned food to feed it. I stick to the tried-and-true guns of 9 Lives; she insists that the tiny cans of Meijer-brand premium cat food -- the kind that resembles a greasy jello mold -- are the better brand. Her reasoning: She read on a web site that 9 Lives was the worst kind of food for cats; that it was all meat; that it was unhealthy for a cat with Feline Leukemia. (A shift from her original testimony that her vet told her that 9 Lives was a bad brand.)

Exposition concluded, I was wondering if anyone here could educate me on what food I should go with. Several sites I've visited have listed *neither* brand as being particularly good or bad for a cat. But I would like the advice of actual cat owners themselves, since some sites can have less than objective opinions on what brands to choose from.

I appreciate any advice or opinions anyone here could offer. While this is *not* my cat, I feel responsible for its well-being.

Thank you all very much.

The Chosen One

Oh, and a ps: When de-clawing a cat, should you remove both the front AND the back claws? It doesn't seem right to me, but I've been wrong before.
post #2 of 11
9 lives is NOT considered a good food...from the grocery store I would choose Meow mix (wet only-not the dry) or IAMS.

For example:
Ingredients in 9 lives canned:
Water sufficient for processing, meat by-products(what kind of meat?), beef, soy protein concentrate (plant-based protein=barely digestible), beef broth, wheat flour, modified starch(both fillers, not necessary in a wet food), steamed bone meal, animal digest (ew), guar gum, caramel color (artificial coloring), salt, vitamins/minerals

Ingredients in Natural Balance canned (found at Petco):
Tuna, Whitefish, Fish Broth, Poultry Liver, Brown Rice Flour, Carrots, Shrimp, Eggs, vitamins/minerals

see the difference?

And regarding declawing, I am very against it and I'm sure there will be others that agree too who have links, etc as to why it is bad.
post #3 of 11
You should never declaw a cat for any reason. That is inequivocally my answer, as it is a surgery that does nothing for the cat and nothing for the owner. This board is heavily against declawing, as it is a cruel surgery banned in most other industrialized countries. It is proven to cause behavioral problems, and not prevent them. Why don't you try a scratching post and some SoftClaws instead?

You are correct, neither food is good. 9Lives made my cat all stinky and oily, plus it contains dubious ingredients like "animal digest" and "meat by-product". You are also correct in that a cat needs wet food, for a variety of reasons. There are several decent brands at the grocery, and better and about the same price foods at the pet stores.

Cats are absolutely remarkable and resilient creatures, aren't they?

ETA: Do a forum search regarding both declawing and food. there are dozens and dozens of threads on each! Good luck, and we'll all be more than happy to answer more ?s!

Make sure that no other cats come in contact with your little guy, even casually. Cats can live long happy lives with FeLeuk, and if they eventually want another kitty there are all sorts of FeLeuk+ kitties in need of a home in shelters.

Bless you for being concerned for this little guy even though you didn't necessarily want a kitty!
post #4 of 11
Originally Posted by jlphilli View Post
9 lives is NOT considered a good food...from the grocery store I would choose Meow mix (wet only-not the dry) or IAMS.

And regarding de-clawing, I am very against it and I'm sure there will be more ppl to agree and give you links and detailed info regarding why it is bad.
... Some Purina ones would also be okay.. for good food try big pet supermarkets for really good specialty pet
post #5 of 11
I edited my post to add more info...but yes, there are some Purina ones that are good too
post #6 of 11
When lookiing for a quality food this is a good place to come. There are people here quite expert in cat nutrition.

In regards to declawing.... Pleeeeeeeeeeeez, NO!

If you are having problems with the cat scratching furniture or other areas that cause a problem, see about getting some soft claws or soft paws. Those are a cap that slips on the cats claws and glue in place that will prevent the cat from clawing up things while it learns the appropriate places for scratching.

Providing cat trees, scratching posts, etc are a great help.

Thanks for taking care of kitty.
post #7 of 11
What big hearts all three of you have!!! To take in such a pathetic little kitten and *fix it* I can tell you all care about your pet. Having your pet spayed/neutered is a good idea....nix on the declawing. Congrats on your new family addition!
post #8 of 11
I would say that if you're on a limited budget regarding the food, for wet, the Meow Mix pouches or little applesauce containers (Market Selects) that are available at the grocery store or big box chain are pretty good, if expense is not an object, go to a pet supply store and get something like Natural Balance or Innova, read the ingredient labels, you want at least the first 2-3 ingredients to be MEAT, not by-products, actual MEAT, as that is what a cat's diet should consist of as they are carnivores. As far as declawing, it is cruel and inhumane and should not be done for the convenience of a cat's owners, and in this case as the cat is leukemia positive it should absolutely not be done, a leukemia positive cat has a weakend immune system and a surgery as traumatizing to the body as declawing could be detrimetal to its health. Is the cat really scratching the furniture that badly? cats can be trained to not scratch inappropriate places, it just takes time and patience. Also, thank you to to you and your roommates for taking in this kitty, I also adopt feline leukemia positive kitties, I have 7 currently and am picking up 4 more tonight If you have any questions about this disease, please feel free to send me a PM
post #9 of 11
There are other options besides declawing:

Proper training and providing of scratching posts/area, and soft paws/claw caps.

I have only had declawed cats (all were adopted declawed - not done by me). I have had 2 front paw declaws, and one that was declawed on all 4 paws. The 4-paw declaw had problems - without claws of any kind, she was even more defenseless than the front-paw only declaws. The most heartbreaking part to me was that she couldn't scratch herself well - when she itched, there was no claw there to scratch!
Eventually, she had seriously behavioral problems eventually and had to be rehomed.

My front-paw only declaws are absolutely perfect, normal cats. However, that does NOT mean they are problem free. One has litterbox issues from time to time, and issues with chewing on his paws where the claws had been removed. He is the sweetest, friendliest cat in the world, but that was not enough to keep him from being given up just because of these few problems that a little time and effort could have solved.

Declawing does NOT solve problems - in many cases it creates more, and it takes a ton of patience and willingness to work with your cat and vet to get things right. Declawing a cat, and then giving it up at the first sign of a problem is what happens to too many of these lovely kitties, and then end up in shelters - which is why I adopt them.

Make sure your roommates have tried all the scratching posts/training stuff first, and even tried clipping and soft paws. Those two simple things will work wonders, and will save the cat a lot of pain.
post #10 of 11
You are 100% correct to feed this cat wet food. Cats are obligate carnivores and their diet should generally consist mostly of meat (95-100% is considered optimum by many). They also tend to not drink quite enough water on their own, so the water content in wet food is very important to preventing a number of serious health problems related to dehydration. A lot of people, including some vets, still believe the myth that dry food is better for a cat's teeth. This is not true, it's old, mis-information. Dry food does not scrape the tartar off their teeth, and the sugar and carbs in dry food often cause more dental problems than it's worth, not to mention the fact that it contains way too much grain/carbs/sugar for a carnivore, this results in obesity which can lead to diabetes. You want your little guy to gain weight for sure, but you don't want him to get fat, that comes with a whole new set of health problems that you definitely do not want to get into with a cat who is already high risk.
If he'll eat it, a good quality wet food with chunks of meat in it, is going to be your best bet.
Read the ingredients list, real meat should make up the first few ingredients, grains should be low on the list or non-existant. Try to avoid by products and lots of chemical preservatives (the names escape me right now).
I think most people here are of the opinion that the best you can do at a grocery store is the meow mix pouches and cups. Be wary of the packaging though, for example they will could be labled as chicken and turkey, but when you read the ingredients, it's mostly fish. And ideally, fish would not be the primary meat in your cat's diet.
If you have access to a good pet store, you can try brands like Nutro (which is still reasonably priced), Innova, California's Natural, Wysong (which requires Wysong supplements for proper nutrition), Nature's variety, Felidae etc ...
There are tons and tons of options when it comes to cat food, if you see something you like, but aren't quite sure, a search of these forums will probably yield hundreds of opionions on every food out there.
And you can always ask questions.
post #11 of 11
When I was feeding canned foods, I stuck with Iams, Friskies or KalKan over the other brands. They seemed to be the better quality canned foods.

As far as declawing goes - you only remove the front - not the back as they would be TOTALLY defenseless then! But declawing is not a good thing to even do. Learn how to trim the nails and teach the cat to use a scratching post.

Without claws for defense, your cat could be in big trouble if he/she ever got outside. Declawing is not just removing the nail - its removing the joint too - like taking off the first joint of all your fingers. Many declawed cats wind up with litter problems - wetting/pooping in other places other then the litter pan, or deformed nails that grow back if not done properly. Also declawed cats are more likely to resort to attacking and biting out of defense. Or they can become very fearful of people/other animals.

If you want to declaw to save your furniture, then get a stuffed cat that won't hurt furniture. I tell people to try everything else first, and if you still have to declaw then be prepared to keep the cat for its entire life and not get rid of it when problems are created by the declawing.
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