DRY FOOD: ONE CONVENIENCE YOU CAN DO WITHOUT
When cats first began to live with humans and rely on us for their food, they took a huge and risky step. This is because the feline is completely dependent on his prey for his nutrients. The feline has discarded many important biochemical mechanisms that would allow adaptation to other foods (such as carbohydrates, which in nature would only be found in their predigested form in the prey animal’s gut). The feline is bound by his obligate carnivore nature, and he thrives only on meat based foods. Why then do we see so many carbohydrates in commercial pet food?
Unfortunately, real meat is very expensive for commercial pet food makers to use, and they must limit their costs to make a profit. Since we don’t care about their profit margi, we can learn to make our own food for cats instead!
You may still be asking why it’s so important to feed a diet that mimics what they would eat in the wild. Isn’t dry food the best for cats? Let’s keep in mind that dry food, which many people have become addicted to feeding, as well as the cats themselves, because it may have seemed convenient, but there’s been a terrible trade-off: your cat’s health and well-being. If good nutrition is compromised, your cat is likely to develop one of the following dry-food-related syndromes such as: obesity, diabetes, chronic vomiting, constipation, chronic diarrhea, hepatic lipidosis (liver failure), pancreatitis, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic renal failure, lower urinary tract disease, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, Viral conjunctivitis, skin and coat problems, and of course cancer.
And what about feline obesity?
Thanks to the free feeding of dry food, nearly 50 percent of cats in the United States and Europe are overweight. Obesity is a contributing factor to nearly all of the diet-related diseases listed above. Fat cells produce inflammation, and chronic inflammation ultimately produces disease. Cats require a steady supply, just like us humans of Omega 3′s from marine lipids to keep inflammation at bay.
Free-choice feeding of dry food (pouring it into a bowl and leaving it out all day) is without a doubt the single biggest factor affecting our cats’ weight. Getting cats off dry food and onto their species appropriate diet of raw meat, raw bones and state of the art supplements including cold extracted, organic Omega 3′s is the key to weight control.
How does a farmer fatten his cattle? The answer is by feeding lots of low fat grain!
In most mammals, carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase that is secreted in saliva; you have to chew for a while to distribute the enzyme. Not only do cats lack salivary amylase, they don’t chew! Cats, after they shred, tear, and bone crush, swallow their food in large chunks. Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates (except as young kittens, which is why there is lactose in the mother cats milk). Most other mammals (humans included) use carbohydrates as their bodies “highest octane”¯ fuel. For these animals, the energy system is based on an enzyme called glucokinase, which we think of as the feast or famine mechanism. This system is used by athletes who “carbo-load” (eat a big pasta dinner the night before an event). The glucokinase system is kicked into high gear, sending a massive dose of energy to the body, which in the athlete’s case is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. The day of the race, the body has extra glycogen to use as fuel–a big advantage for the athlete.
Cats do not operate on the glucokinase enzyme system; they use protein and fat directly for energy. The small amount of carbohydrate they get in their natural diet is handled by hexokinase, an enzyme system that cannot speed up to handle large meals or slow down during a fasting interval.
When fed carbs such as those found in nearly all dry foods and many canned as well, cats store them primarily as fat, not glycogen. The purpose of carbohydrates in commercial cat foods is a source of “energy,”¯ which simply means calories and is also just a cheap filler to save money on meat.
For cats, these carbs are empty calories. This is why cats that eat dry food so often get fat! Just like Farmer John fattens his cattle on the low fat grains!
The cat uses dietary fat and protein for energy; if these are not supplied, it must break down fat and protein stored within its own body. Be he wild or tame, large or small, the cat’s basic structure and function have not changed through the ages.