Bio-Inappropriate: The Dangers of Dry Food
Last Updated on Saturday, February 15, 2014 07:07 PM
Published on Sunday, March 07, 2010 11:12 AM
Written by Margaret Gates
"I have never seen a single case of serious obesity, diabetes, urinary tract disease, or IBD in a cat fed meat instead of commercial dry foods. Many other people have seen the same results. Further, I do not see nutritional deficiencies in cats fed properly balanced raw-meat diets."
"I want to emphasize a point here. The incidence of these problems has not just declined on a raw-meat diet, they have entirely disappeared. These results are too dramatic to ignore."
Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, from Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life.
It is very important to remove dry food from your cat's diet. This one change alone is a big step forward in improving your cat's health. Dry food, be it premium, prescription or "natural," harms your cat's health. It consists mostly of starch and carbohydrates
— it must be, as it can't be manufactured and extruded otherwise. It is not the vital protein
that your cat, an obligate carnivore, requires and is detrimental to health.¹
The problems with dry food are:
- It is far too low moisture content,
- It is far too high in carbohydrates,
- It contains protein from plant rather than animal sources.
Cats must have water in their food. A mouse is about 65 to 75% moisture.²
Author Michelle Bernard: "Cats evolved as desert creatures and are well adapted to survive in a dry climate, if fed their natural food. Cats are not thirst driven like dogs and are able to survive on less water than dogs. They compensate for reduced water intake by concentrating their urine. When fed a dry food diet (which has less than 10 percent moisture), unless they drink a lot of water, which most cats do not, they are in a constant state of dehydration. Moreover, although a cat consuming a dry food diet does drink more water than a cat consuming a canned food diet, in the end, when water from all sources is added together — what's in their diet plus what they drink — the cat consumes approximately half the amount of water compared with a cat eating canned foods. On a dry food diet, a cat's urine becomes overly concentrated which leads to feline lower urinary tract disease."³
High in Carbohydrate
A cat's natural diet, usually rodents, rabbits, insects and birds, is usually less than 2% carbohydrate. Dry cat food is generally 25-50% carbohydrate.⁴
Not only does this excess carbohydrate promote obesity in cats, but also is implicated in diabetes. Obesity doesn't cause diabetes. Rather, obesity and diabetes appear to have the same cause, too much carbohydrate in the diet.⁵
From Lisa A. Pierson, DVM: "Cats have a physiological decrease in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic pathways that are present in other mammals, and they lack a salivary enzyme called amylase
. Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates and, more worrisome is the fact that too many carbohydrates can be highly detrimental to their health."⁶
From Kymythy R. Schultze, CN, CNC: "Another good reason not to feed grain is the fact that it breaks down into sugar within the body — something a cat definitely doesn't need! Many studies link sugar consumption to illness, including cancer. Eating a high-carb diet really wreaks havoc on a cat's body. Carbs are usually thought of as energy foods, but felines utilize protein and fat very efficiently for those needs."⁷
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Protein From Plant Sources
From Michelle Bernard: "While the label on dry cat food will show what looks like sufficient protein, a good amount of that protein is coming from grains. I do not believe grains are a high quality source of protein for carnivores or that they are as able to utilize protein from non-meat sources."⁸
From Kymythy R. Schultze, CN, CNC: "Complete proteins contain ample amounts of essential amino acids
and are found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. Incomplete proteins do not provide all essential amino acids
and are found in many foods, including legumes, grains, and vegetables. These plant proteins don't provide the essential amino acids
that a cat needs (such as taurine
), which come from animal protein."⁹
Additional Problems With Dry Food
Dry food as it is initially manufactured would be of no interest to a cat. It must be sprayed with flavorings and their accompanying odors to interest the cat in eating it.¹⁰ An entire industry has arisen to manufacture such sprays for this biologically inappropriate food product.
Dry food can be contaminated with mold, fungus or mycotoxins
due to improper grain storage.¹¹
is unlikely to be made from the highest quality grain — perhaps grain not fit for human consumption — it is a further concern. Dry food should never be moistened with water, as it creates an ideal soup in which mycotoxins can proliferate.
Recent pet food recalls involving salmonella
contamination were commonly for dry pet food.¹²
Dry food can be more dangerous than raw diets for the reason that people are not cautious about handling it. With raw food, safe handling and feeding practices are followed, so contamination is unlikely.
Margaret Gates is the founder of the Feline Nutrition Education Society.
4. Michael S. Hand, DVM, PhD; Craig D. Thatcher, DVM, MS, PhD, Rebecca L. Remillard, PhD, DVM, and Philip Roudebush, DVM, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Walsworth Publishing Company, 2000, 1075, 1077.
Susan Donoghue and Janet M. Scarlett, "Diet and Feline Obesity
," The Journal of Nutrition
128, no. 12, December 1998, 2776S-2778S.
7. Kymythy R. Schultze, CN, CNC, Natural Nutrition for Cats, Hay House, Inc., 2008, 29.
9. Kymythy R. Schultze, CN, CNC, Natural Nutrition for Cats, Hay House, Inc., 2008, 23.
10. Christopher S. Cowell, Neil P. Stout, Mark F. Brinkman, Edward A. Moser, and Stephen W. Crane, "History of Pet Food Manufacture in the United States," Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Walsworth Publishing Company, 2000, 132-134.