The same is true for pets.
What Do Cats Eat in Nature?
- Cats are “Obligate Carnivores”. They eat meat and all of the animal that comes with the meat – organs, bones, (some of the) feathers, stomach contents, etc.
- Cats don’t graze on grass like an herbivore. They take a bite or two in the summer to help with fur balls.
- Cats enjoy an egg now and then along with the bird that laid it.
- If they can stalk it, it looks like food to them.
- They don’t dig potatoes, eat fruit, lentils, nuts, or grains (grass seed).
Are Dogs Obligate Carnivores Too?
No – dogs’ #1 food is definitely animal protein, bones and organs, but they can forage for other foods as their wolf ancestors did.
Is Grain-Free Cat Food Good for Cats?
A fundamental premise of the Ancestral/Biological (Paleo) diet and lifestyle is that all creatures do best with the food they evolved to eat. In the case of Humans, we ate lower-carb foods as Hunters and Gatherers, not high-carb diets of bread, corn and sugars.
Cats, wild or domesticated, are like Humans — grains have never been a large part of Human diet until agriculture began 15,000 years ago.
Have you ever seen a cat eating wheat or corn in the field, or stalking rice?
Why Grain Free Cat Food is Better for Your Cat
In one word: DEHYDRATION.
Cats did not evolve eating kibble. They ate wet prey which provided them with moisture, organ meats, minerals, fiber and fats.
Dry food contains 5 – 15% moisture. Wet food is 45 – 80% moisture.
Kidney and urinary tract diseases are leading causes of cat death and discomfort. Male cats are especially prone to urinary blockage.
Cats eating kibble are prone to UTI’s and other kidney issues caused by dehydration. Those dry pellets require a lot of water to be digested.
Do Cats and Dogs Drink Water the Same?
- Cats are picky about drinking.
- They prefer their fluid in their food.
- Dogs will drink “water” anywhere they find it. You don’t have to encourage them to drink.
- Dogs get water/moisture from their prey too
- Your cats will drink less water when fed wet food, but always have water on hand. Especially if outdoors in the heat.
Choosing the Best Grain Free Cat Food
Generally I feed Freeze-Dried Cat food. Find out much more in my previous article and Primal Diet – Modern Health Podcast on “Freeze-Dried Foods for Healthier Cats”.
Here are some options my cats like:
- Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried, or, Primal Freeze Dried cat foods. I moisten these as the label directs with water or bone broth or juices from plain cooked meats (pastured meat)
- Frozen raw pet food (thawed, room temp) that provides pastured ground meat AND organs and bones.
- Adding in some canned grain free cat food. Sometimes I mix canned grain-free cat food with the above. Wellness Core, Instinct, and Tiki DARK are good choices. (Tiki Dark has organ meats added to the muscle meat).
- Put a kibble topper on any of the above to stimulate interest in the meal and keep costs down. I buy the best kibble available – see more below.
Avoid Additives in Canned Cat Food
Select several grain free cat foods, avoiding the cheaper national brands. I’ve had good luck at Pets Supplies Plus for finding better brands. Ask for their help choosing the best grain-free cat foods.
Then study labels for the following:
- Potato, peas and lentils as major ingredients (too high in carbs and not very digestible to cats)
- Gums (used in many canned cat foods to make them “creamier” but not very digestible). Look for brands with only 1 or 2 gums, and farther down the ingredient label.
- Compare the percent of carbohydrates in this food. Keep it low.
- Generally avoid nationally advertised, medical or discount brands which often contain colors, artificial flavors, sugar, excess carbs and the cheapest quality of meat (non-human grade).
Adding Grain-Free Cat Food
Introduce wet food slowly to your kibble pet. They may prefer it immediately or may need time to adjust from their flavored kibble (with artificial fish by-products sprayed on it)….
Experiment with different flavors and brands to note which are accepted best.
Blend the wet and dry together, Or offer side by side.
NEVER LEAVE FOOD OUT FOR PETS! Set a timer and remove the food when time’s up! Cats do not browse on food all day in the wild – it’s not good for their weight or digestive systems to eat all day…
Healthier Kibble for Cats
- Choose grain-free kibble (wheat, corn, rice, soy)
- Select kibble with no corn, soy or peas (lentils) and minimal if any potato
- Check labels closely for preferred free-range meats, poultry and wild seafood (not farmed). Same advice I give human Clients.
- Fats should come primarily from free-range meats and seafood, not corn or soy oil
- I currently buy Open Farm kibble to use as a topper on the freeze-dried food or the raw pastured meat blends. This keeps cost down and adds taste and crunch interest.