Monday, December 06, 2004

What We Feed Them and When We Feed It

Let's talk turkey. Come to think of it, let's talk chicken and liver and lamb too! After reading's tips for choosing cat food and "Canned Cat Food: Can Your Cat Afford to Live Without It?," I am convinced that cats need wet food. As Franny Syufy writes:

In the wild, a cat will eat only a very small quantity of any grain, namely the stomach contents of mice, rabbits, or birds he catches. Why then, should a pampered household cat eat a diet that is loaded with the one food nutrient he really doesn't need? Although french fries and Twinkies might be tasty treats on occasion, what human would consider living on them day in and day out, much less feed them to their children as a regular diet. Why then, would we do less for our cats?

Dry cat food can also contribute or be directly related to certain health conditions:

  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
  • CRF (Chronic Renal Failure)
  • Urinary crystals (which are potentially fatal to cats)
  • Diarrhea or other allergy-related conditions
  • Dehydration (cats on canned food diets get sufficient water in their food)
Franny's argument strikes a chord with me. Domesticated as they are, the best kind of food for cats is the closest to what they would get in the wild. Cats don't get crunchies in the wild; they eat fresh meat which is wet and juicy. They're "obligate carnivores" so they don't need the other stuff. It's the atkins diet -- nothing but meat -- for them if they can help it.

So what do I feed my boys? I read through Franny's list of Top 6 Canned Foods for Kittens and, while they all sounded good, I decided to go with Nutro brand cat foods.

My reason for choosing Nutro over the other brands Franny listed is simple. In my area, Nutro is readily available and affordable at a wide variety of stores. I think it's important to use food and litter that are not only high-quality but easy to get. If I had to special order a rare brand of food all the time, it would be a pain.

So I'm going with Nutro brand, both their Nutro Max Cat line and their Nutro Natural Choice line. Both contain a good mix of high-quality ingredients and interesting flavors. Primarly, I use the Nutro Max Cat, which comes in three flavors: Chicken & Oceanfish, Turkey & Giblets, and Chicken & Liver. I give the boys all three, though they seem to like Chicken & Liver the least. Who can blame them for disliking liver?

I'd feed them wet food for every meal if I could be psychic and anticipate when they'll get hungry, but sometimes they want food in the middle of the night or during the day when Liz and I aren't around. So we leave out dry food during the day and at night for them. The dry food we chose is also Nutro brand. It's Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Kitten Food.

So, for our boys, it's:

  • A half can each of canned food at 7:30 am
  • Dry food available for snacking all day
  • Canned food again at 7:30 pm
  • Dry food available all night
  • Water available at all times

Does this sound reasonable? The boys doubled their weight in the 3 weeks we've had them and they seem healthy.


Anonymous said...

Sounds reasonable, but as they get older there are two things to watch:

Kittens can generally free feed, because as you know they use lots of energy, but as they become adults, make sure you feed the recommended amounts to keep them at a healthy weight (feel the ribs to check for extra padding). Like people, it is much easier to maintain a healthy weight than to lose the excess, and cats are susceptible to diabetes and other ailments associated with excess weight.

The other thing to watch is their teeth. With wet food, you should get into the routine of brushing their teeth. Dry food can help scrape some of the gunk off. Good teeth also depend on luck; my 12yo has excellent teeth considering I've never brushed them (I need my fingers!), but some of the young adult cats that come into the shelter have horrible teeth.

How old are they now and how much do they weigh? They are so cute; I love checking daily to see what's new!


Avram said...

The boys are now 13 weeks old. I do want to get a sense of how much to feed or not feed as they get older. We changed their feeding schedule quite a bit from the one the shelter gave us.

The shelter we adopted them from told us to feed them 3 times a day, 1 wet in the morning, 1 dry in the afternoon, and 1 dry in the early evening. We found this schedule just wasn't in touch with what the boys wanted. They prefer the wet food and they get hungry at night.

We didn't leave food out at night until one night when Beowulf literally came up to me and demanded food at around 11:30 pm (I won't go into how I know he was demanding food, but trust me; he was).

socidoc said...

Hi there Avram and friends,
I feed my two cats, similar to your feeding schedule, and always have, ever since they were tiny (they are now 9 and 15 years old). I feed them each 1/2 of the small cans of wet food in the a.m. and 1/2 small can each at night. I always leave the dry crunchies available, and of course, lots of fresh water. They stopped begging me for more food once they reached about 6 mos. because I think they realized the crunchies (I feed them *organic* chicken crunchies) were always there. Be sure with your wet food that the FIRST ingredient is some kind of protein (chicken meal is also good) and NOT 'animal by-products' (there are some really nasty things included in this category) but you probably already know that. Keep posting those pictures! And thanks again for this blog.

Avram said...

What I have heard and am going on is that Nutro is "the good stuff" as far as nutrition is concerned. The primary ingredients look pretty good to me. Here are the ingredient listings for the 3 most common flavors of Nutro Max Cat for Kittens. Let me know what you think:

Thumper said...

Sounds reasonable to me. Our cat gets half a can twice a day and there's always dry food available for him to munch on, but he LOVES canned cat food. So much that he starts pestering me anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours before it's dinner time.

So after reading the stuff at, I'm wondering if it's the food, if he's getting far too many calories but not enough substance (yeah, he's getting a bit of a tummy...)

I may go over to the pet store and see what they have; he likes a lot of variety, so whatever I choose needs to come in lots of flavors. It would be nice if he wasn't such a pain in the butt about mealtimes...

socidoc said...

Hi again Avram,
I checked out the Nutro website you gave and the ingredients for Nutro Max Cat (for kittens) have 'corn meal' listed as the second ingredient. NOT GOOD!! My local natural pet food store (yes, they do exist... they are NOT Petsmart or any of the national chains... usually they are small, independently owned stores which specialize in ONLY food and products actually GOOD for your pets)... my local nat'l pet store refuses to stock any pet food with corn as an ingredient. It's simply a filler, simply carbos which they DON'T need, and which detracts from all the good ingredients they COULD be eating. Why not look in your local phone book under 'pet food' and see whether there might be a local store which only stocks the 'good stuff'. For my adult cats I have found the Wellness brand of canned food to be much to their liking... I use the Organix brand dry food. You might do a Google search under 'natural pet food' or some such. Please post how you are doing in this search, and keep looking! :-)

Avram said...

FWIW, only the dry food contains cornmeal, but the wet ingredients seem pretty good. BTW, I am not using Nutro Max for the dry food, just the canned. The chicken and liver flavored canned food has the following ingredients, for example:

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Beef Liver, Turkey, Cod . . .

To me, the Nutro wet sounds pretty good, but you're right that the dry could be better. For the record, I am not using Nutro Max Cat for the dry, but using Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care. Not sure how much better it is, but it sounded better than the Max Cat. Here's the list of ingredients:

I appreciate your suggestion about Organix and I'm eager to find something even more nutritious for my boys. I will see if I can find a place in this area that sells it. My goal is find something that is affordable and easy to obtain. If it's something I have to special order or that will go out of business next month, I won't feel too good about it.

Timmy said...

I eat one can of yummy "pessie" every day. I get half at breakfast and a'cause I get hungry again so soon, I get the other half at lunch. The rest of the time, I eat my crunchies! I have a special water fountain that keeps the water clean and it makes fun noises too :) Mommy says it looks like I meditate while I am drinking a'cause I will sit there for like...5-10 minutes! I sip like a gentleman and watch the bubbles, it's fun!

socidoc said...

Hi again Avram,
I sure appreciate your caring attitude and willingness to 'go the extra mile' for the health and happiness of your kitties!! I am the exact same way. As for the dry Nutro Natural Choice that you mention, as you can see, it does have the corn meal as a third (thus major) ingredient. I hope you can find Organix or some other good brand. If you wish I could check my own Natural Pet store next time I go in, and make a brief list of their dry foods they recommend? I'm happy to do so, if you would like. Then you could search by brand name and find a dealer near you. BTW, Organix isn't that expensive (not any more than any other healthy brand). Your canned food choice ingredient list sounds GOOD! Thanks for providing that, it definitely has a good amount of pure protein as major ingredients. I look forward to your further comments and ~enjoy your boys!~

Athena said...

I do the same for my kitten, half a can of Nutro in the morning and the other half at dinner time. She has dry food for snacking through out the day. I used to use Nutro dry too but I didn't care for the corn in it, so I switched to Blue Buffalo. It's only about .10 more per lb and available at the local Petsmart.

She took to the change just fine and she's doing great. The corn isn't going to hurt her really, but when you think about it just being filler it seems like a waste of $$ and makes the slightly pricier stuff worth it.