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Why High Cat Food Fiber?

by Koki Koki

There is a bit of a controversy regarding high fiber cat food. Many believe a high fiber diet is not good for your cat. Many believe it is. The truth is both arguments are correct. A high fiber diet that is full of bad fiber sources can be more harmful than good. Bad fiber is a fiber that cannot be fermented by a cat. Bad fiber sources include corn and wheat. In contrast, a high fiber diet full of good fiber sources can be very beneficial. This fiber is fermentable and can come from oats and rye.

It is important to know that a diet marked as high-fiber can be misleading. Most would assume that it means it is healthy and is promoting well-being. This may not be the case. As mentioned above, a high-fiber diet can be loaded with corn gluten meal and wheat sources. This is especially true for dry food. Does it mean it is healthy for the cat? Absolutely not. The ideal fiber percentage is around 3%. If you come across food that has a high percentage, looking at the ingredients is a must.

What are the benefits of fiber?

Fiber is widely associated with weight loss diets. This is because the fermentable fiber remains in the stomach and intestines for quite a while. This gives the cat a full feeling for a longer time, thus reducing the number of carbohydrates the cat is eating.

Another important aspect of fiber can help out with is ensuring a healthy digestive tract. Good fiber actually lubricates the digestive tract. When cats lick their hair, it’s natural that they ingest some of it. This lubricating action ensures that the hair moves swiftly through the digestive tract. This reduces the number of hairballs a cat may have. It also reduces constipation because cat hair sitting in the digestive tract is known to cause constipation.

So what does bad fiber do for a cat?

Bad fiber can do a lot of damage. First and foremost, when the bad fiber is ingested, it basically just sits there. It doesn’t become fermented like good fiber. This can prevent the cat from absorbing important proteins, vitamins, and minerals from food. Fiber is known to prevent the body from absorbing these elements. On the same note, fiber built up in the digestive tract will cause bloating and flatulence.

This type of fiber can aid in constipation. Because this fiber is not fermentable, it is bulkier. This actually makes stool dry and harder for a cat to pass. This can lead to constipation. Take the fact that it is not a lubricating agent into consideration, there is more cat fur sitting in the digestive tract. This also can lead to constipation.

When switching to a high fiber cat food, it is important to know what brands are the good ones and which ones are not so good. The high-fiber label can be misleading at times so it is important to do some research before you commit to a particular brand. It is also important to note that you should seek assistance from a vet to ensure that your cat switches over without any complications.

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Any animal needs proper nutrition and nutrition to ensure longevity. Being a responsible cat owner, the duty falls on your shoulders to select the right food for your lovely little tigers. But should you feed your cat dry or wet food? We will answer this question to provide you with proper guidance for taking care of your cats.

Admittedly, there are many issues about dry food and the top three and most significant are a protein type, carbohydrate content, and water content. Studies have also shown that there are many diseases associated with eating kibble or dry food such as diabetes, hairballs, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, asthma, and dental health. To understand further, let us discuss the three main problems with dry food one by one.

Protein Type

Dry cat food has a high plant-based protein. If you do not know by now, cats are carnivores in nature. In the wild, cats hunt birds and rats. By natural design, cats are obligate carnivores and this means their bodies were designed to get protein from other animals. This is why lions, tigers, and other members of the cat family are fed real meat in captivity. Dry cat food, having plant-based protein, does not provide enough of this essential amino acid to your pets.

To top that, cats are not physically built to effectively digest protein coming from plants. Their internal organs are designed in such a way that they can absorb protein better if the protein came from animal meat. Cats also need Taurine. It is an essential amino acid found in protein but plant protein contains very little of it compared to animal-based protein. Without Taurine, cats are likely to develop blindness and heart diseases. In humans, Taurine is essential for babies to develop their brains and cognitive functions.

Carbohydrate Content

As mentioned earlier, cats do not eat grass. This means they have lesser carbohydrate demands than other animals because plants like grains or wheat are high sources of carbohydrates. The problem with dry food is that it contains too much carbohydrate that our cats do not need. In the wild, cats will eat smaller animals that have high levels of protein and high moisture content. Dry cat food does not provide this but it has high carbohydrate content. Cats do not need carbohydrates and feeding them with food that has high carbohydrate content is detrimental to their health.

Water Content

Every living thing needs water. The problem with cats is that they do not seem to have a natural drive to get thirsty. You will observe that they rarely drink water compared to dogs. This kind of flaw in their natural design poses serious risks for their health.

And this is why you need to induce a lot of fluid on their diet. If you do not do so, you are risking your cats to develop chronic dehydration. Needless to say, dry food has very low moisture content compared to wet canned food. In the wild, a mouse or a bird normally has 70% water. With this raw diet, the cat is getting enough protein, fewer carbohydrates, and 70% water. Dry foods or kibble only contain about 10% water and this is not enough to supply your cat with the right amount of fluid.

So what is the verdict? Feed your cats with canned wet food or raw diet that can meet all these three basic dietary requirements. Also, you have to be careful since not all wet foods meet this nutritional value. Read the labels carefully and use sound judgment.

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While researching another post I’m working on, I saw an article about how dry kibble is a better food alternative to wet cat food because it can easily be bought in bulk and makes less mess when cats eat it. I was fuming after reading that! It’s wildly irresponsible to make these claims, especially based on ease for the owner and worse still, that it’s more natural.

Cat kibble was designed to be the cat version of dog kibble. There is nothing natural about it. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies can only metabolize meat. From meat, their bodies can generate all the vital nutrients they need to thrive. Their teeth are designed for tearing flesh, not crunching on kibble. Interesting fact: Cats don’t naturally chew.

So why was I so mad? It wasn’t that his article was misguided, but that it was leading people away from healthy cat food, to one that is less so. Not to say that feeding kibble is unhealthy! Just that not feeding wet food CAN be. The problem lies in cat ancestry.

Wild cats live in deserts and can conserve water well enough to have a low thirst drive, meaning that wild cats can spend their time hunting and sleeping, instead of wasting valuable energy on looking for scarce water sources. This low thirst drive was maintained in the domestic cat.

It’s why the veterinarian I worked for used to complain that most cats live their lives consistently dehydrated, which can lead to health issues like kidney disease. He advises clients to incorporate wet food to combat this.

If your cat is a picky eater and won’t warm up to wet food, there are many things you can try. Drastic change is usually not tolerated, so try mixing a small amount of wet food into their preferred kibble as a soft intro to wet food.

For my cat, Trout, texture matters! We have experimented with shreds, cuts, flakes, and patè. He kind of sucks, because on any given day his preference for texture will change. We keep a cabinet full of the various textures in preparation for these mood swings (smh). If even after experimenting with all the different textures (and flavors), you still don’t find one that strikes your cat’s fancy then it’s time to accept defeat.

So now would be a good time to look into moisture content. Different brands will have different levels of moisture in their kibble, but even the “wettest” dry food is still dry. Try adding small amounts of water to the kibble, but not too much!

Remember, it’s important not to adjust your cat’s food drastically because this can cause a kitty to go on a hunger strike. Hunger strikes (especially in obese cats) can lead to fatty liver disease, which can be very serious.

Luckily, there are ways to encourage your cat to drink. A fountain style water bowl entices cats with sound and allows them to drink easily without getting noses and whiskers wet, which is super annoying for cats.

A similar strategy is to leave a faucet lightly running. If you aren’t looking to run to the store for an expensive water fountain or leave your tap running, you can try filling your cat’s water dish to the brim. This is another good way to help kitty keep his nose dry and his whiskers from hitting the sides of the bowl (yet another super annoying thing).

Before I go back to my research, I will say dry food has its place in your cat’s food dish. Wet food alone can cause a gunky build-up on your cat’s teeth, which leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. Crunchy dry food can help to reduce this build-up. Healthy teeth are a vital part of your cat’s overall health

It’s important to always talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet

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