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Sunday, October 18th, 2015 @ 3:00pm  

A discussion of feline nutritional needs; how to decode pet food labels (“grain-free” may not mean what you think it does); and how to safely and effectively convince the carb-loving cat to eat like the lion he is.

 

Feeding Your Cat for Optimal Health and Happiness

Obesity. Diabetes. Urinary issues. Chronic vomiting.

All of these are common feline health problems. And there’s growing evidence that all of them may be caused—partly or completely—by high-carbohydrate diets.

But when faced with a sea of marketing claims, confusing labels, and conflicting advice, how do we decide which food is best? And then, how do we get our cats to actually eat it?

 

Lion in the House: Feeding Your Cat for Optimal Health and Happiness from Animal Community Talks on Vimeo.

 

What we learned

Dr. Fletcher's Lecture Room

Dr. Christine Fletcher provided her insights and experience with feline nutrition, in conjunction with prevailing theories most notably championed by Dr. Deborah Greco. 

She spent some time dispelling common myths about cat food.  For example, some cat food brands include fruit and vegetable ingredients to sound healthier.  However, such ingredients are little more than filler, so far as feline diet is concerned. 

She also translated the true meaning of common marketing buzz-words like "natural" and "by-products," which are used very effectively to sell pet food, but which are sometimes deceptive because of how consumers perceive their meaning.

Most importantly, Dr. Fletcher discussed what is believed to be the ideal balance for the feline diet, be they young, old, diabetic, or unremarkable and healthy in every way:

Water content should account for roughly 70% of overall volume.  Cats are built to consume a significant amount of water via their prey.  Studies have shown that cats eating canned cat food in addition to having access to fresh water take in markedly more water than cats eating dry food and drinking water separately.

Of the remaining percentage, protein should account for 50-60%, fat 30-40%, and carbohydrates 10%.  These approximations are based primarily on the study of typical diets of feral cats, along with some new research into feline metabolism. 

Dr. Fletcher repeatedly stressed the need for more research and evaluation of these diets in long-term controlled studies.  However, in her 10 years of clinical observation and experience in treating overweight and diabetic cats, the benefits of transitioning to high-protein canned diets have been unmistakable.

 

Recommended Resources:

  • Catinfo.org (Lisa A. Pierson, DVM)
    • Cat Food Composition Chart
    • Transitioning the Dry Food Addict to Canned Food
  • YourDiabeticCat.com (Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM)
    • Good discussion of high protein, low carb canned diets in diabetes
  • BalanceIt.com
    • Homemade recipes from board-certified veterinary nutritionists
    • Dietary supplements to make sure homemade diets are complete/balanced
  • American College of Veterinary Nutrition (www.acvn.org)
    • Directory of board-certified veterinary nutritionists available for consultation
  • American Association of Feed Control Officials—AAFCO (www.aafco.org/consumers)
    • Pet food regulations, including pet food labels, ingredient definitions, and food recall information
  • The Business of Pet Food (petfood.aafco.org)
    • More detailed information about pet food regulations and ingredient definitions from AAFCO
  • Indoor Cat Initiative: Information for Cat Owners (indoorpet.osu.edu/cats)
    • Environmental enrichment strategies for indoor cats

 

Attendees qualified for 1 CE credit approved by the Veterinary Medical Examining Board, Portland, Oregon.
 

ACT extends a sincere thanks to Dr. Christine Fletcher for her time and expertise.