Is Cat Food Best for Cats?

Commercial cat foods are incredibly popular globally because of their convenience. But most of these foods are really just fast food for cats – unnatural, man-made and ultra processed. Long term use of these foods mostly come with a steep price - the breakdown of good health.

Best Fed Cats - image of cat shaped bowl of kibble
Photo by ZsuZsa | Pixabay
“Content the stomach and the stomach will content you.” – Thomas Walker, 1784–1836

If you are reading this post, you likely have mounting reservations about the healthfulness of commercial cat foods. Or you might be wondering what these foods are potentially doing to cats?

Or maybe you are wondering what else is out there? You are in good company. These nagging questions over many years are what inspired this project.

...letting the cat out of the bag

We constantly hear that we should avoid junk food for the sake of our health. We are told we should eat healthy, whole foods that are completely unprocessed, that burst with goodness and live nutrients.

And we know this to be solid advice. Yet, we lose this wisdom entirely when it comes to feeding our cats.

We rip open a bag and give them the complete opposite – ultra processed cat food. Our minds make a 180 degree turn and we suddenly accept that man-made food is best for our cats. So we choose cheap, fast and convenient.

...but think about it

What is another term for convenient, fast or ultra processed food? Junk food. Commercial cat food is just that – junk food for cats. However, all of these popular convenience foods have one thing in common:

They will negatively affect health, given enough time.

Best Fed Cats - image of processed cat food alongside human processed food
Best Fed Cats - image of dry cat food bowl next to junk food 

Universal dietary truths

There are common sense dietary principles that apply to all species – humans, cats and everything else. All organisms have evolved to eat the foods mother nature provides for them.

...unnatural foods are unhealthy foods

No matter what the species, processed foods are unnatural and disease promoting. They are the furthest removed from natural, instinctual diets.

Deep down, even the greatest junk food lovers know that processed foods are bad for them. Admittedly, junk food is delicious. The textures, flavours and the whole eating experience comes together to pleasure us.

But these delicious conveniences have a very unpleasant side – the breaking down of good health, especially when we overdo it.

...real food = real health

Everyone who has ever cleaned up their diet can attest to the health benefits. At a minimum, many report that chronic lifestyle diseases improve. At best, chronic health issues disappear completely.

This is especially true when dietary improvements are maintained.

...eating clean feels great!

A few weeks into a healthy diet, people report feeling rejuvenated – like a million bucks. Energy, optimism and a new-found zest for life are at the order of the day.

When we eat real food – the food we were designed to eat – we feel great. The same goes for every other species on the planet.

...junk foods are highly addictive

Junk foods are carefully engineered to please our senses. They are laden with chemicals and ingredients that heighten sensory experience.

These foods are also rich in addictive ingredients such as sugar, starches, salt and unhealthy fats. When we over-indulge, we soon reach a point where we want nothing else.

And no matter how poorly they make us feel, we continue to crave them. Species inappropriate, highly processed foods will likely wield the same power over cats – or any other species – if they eat enough of it.

Logical conclusions

Junk foods have invariably negative effects on physiology – no matter the species. It will do to a cat’s physiology what it does to ours. By its very nature, ultra processed food is damaging to health.

If it will make us sick, it will make our cats sick. Yet, we feel comfortable to feed cats ultra processed foods day in, day out – for the duration of their lives.

Imagine how we would feel if we ate nothing but junk food – for our entire lives? If we overdo the junk food, even for just a short while, we start to feel the effects.

We feel bloated, tired, sluggish and irritable. Have you ever looked at your cat and wondered how these ultra processed foods are making them feel?

...our cats probably feel exactly like we do on junk food

It is only logical to surmise that cats on a man-made, ultra processed diet will also suffer a breakdown in health. They too probably experience painful bloating, tiredness, sluggishness and crankiness.

Oh, and let us not forget the acid reflux and weight gain.

Best Fed Cats - image of obese, grumpy house cat
Photo by Kat von Wood | Unsplash

But, our cats can not communicate to us how their food is making them feel. If these artificial foods are making them feel sick – they have to bear it in silence. They have to eat what we feed them, or go hungry.

Given enough time on these foods, cats too develop lifestyle diseases that are very reminiscent of ours.

...carnivores addicted to junk food

The Ancestry section of this blog features four articles that collectively demonstrate that house cats are strict carnivores. However, after enough time spent eating ultra processed foods, carnivores also become hooked on them.

Just as we become addicted to unhealthy foods laden with sugar, starch and salt, so too do cats.

Best Fed Cats - image of a cat staring at a mouse on his plate with a puzzled expression

"Why is Commercial Cat Food So Bad? offers a more meaty discussion of commercial feline diets. It takes a three part, in-depth look at these foods for cats.

Focus falls on the research, the facts, the fallacies and why this food is so bad for our cats. The first part focuses on the nature of commercial cat food and exactly what makes it so unhealthy.

The second part focuses on how the health of cats are affected and why. The third part looks at easy and viable solutions to the identified problems.

So, what are we to do?

Just as it is never too late for us to make better food choices, so too can cats be reprogrammed to eat more species appropriate foods.

Almost every day, cats of all breeds, ages and sizes successfully revert back to a more biologically appropriate diet – with a little help from their human friends.

...first and foremost, we have choices

This post is not an attempt overthrow the pet food industry. And we are not conspiring against pet food – or fast food – corporations when we make healthier food choices.

No. We are simply exploring choices and exercising our freedom of choice from a place of knowledge. And we should never be made to feel that we are doing something wrong when we choose to do things differently.

All we are doing is to put health and well-being first – for us and the cats in our care.

Best Fed Cats - image of kibble, canned and raw plated cat food

...a cat's diet can be cleaned up

Interestingly, in a study where cats were given free choice to eat the food they wanted, they consistently chose the most nutritious meals over the most tasty ones 1. This is both sad and encouraging.

A later post looks more closely at the very fascinating topic of food selection in cats.

...they can feel like a millions bucks too‌‌

Without any doubt, if we cleaned up our cat's diet, they too will reap the health rewards: Feeling great and enjoying optimised health and well-being.

To achieve this, they simply need to eat food that fits their biology better. Real food that is fresh and unprocessed.

...good health is a gift

Despite the greatest wealth, without our health we have nothing are very wise words from Steven Adler. To preserve health, we have to eat healthy – a diet reflective of our ancestry.

It is only logical that the house cat’s carnivorous status should be the guiding principle of what we feed them., how do we do this?

This entire website is dedicated to the improvement of the house cat’s diet. See it as a learning centre where you can find out how to take your cat's diet up a notch – or three.

Because balanced raw food is simply the pinnacle of the house cat’s diet, a lot of the information on this website is dedicated to this method.

This website provides the skills, tools and a wealth of information on how to feed an optimised, species appropriate raw diet.

An upcoming post What Should House Cats Eat? And Why? will begin to explore this method of feeding.

...something for every cat

However, for those who aren't sold on a raw diet, there is still a lot that can be done to improve the cat’s overall diet.

By making small changes, even those on a shoestring budget will be able to improve the healthfulness of their cat's diet.

Dietary Improvements On A Shoestring Budget discusses simple ways to improve the cat's diet that won't necessarily cost more. All supporters and subscribers get 100% discount on this resource!

Browse a while longer. For the love of your cat!

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1 Hewson-Hughes, A.K., Colyer, A., Simpson, S.J. & Raubenheimer, D. (2016). Balancing macronutrient intake in a mammalian carnivore: disentangling the influences of flavour and nutrition. Royal Society Open Science, 3, 1 – 12.

The information provided on the website is educational and informational. We are here to give guidance on how to feed a properly balanced raw diet. We also offer advice on how to improve the diet of the modern house cat. Please note that we are not veterinarians. We are not here to give veterinary advice. Best Fed Cats will not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to your cat based on the information on our website. The health of your cat depends entirely on you. We expect you to use your knowledge of your cats, their circumstances and their health – in conjunction with a trusted veterinarian – to determine if any advice provided on this site is appropriate for your cats.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons License