Yes, this is yet another guide to feline nutrition and cat care on the Internet. I don’t claim to be better than any of the other cat health care guides out there in the vast wastelands of the Internet, but I do have some goals for this site; whether I succeed or not in those goals is for you to decide.
Approaches and Philosophy
Three parts to my philosophy when it comes to feline nutrition:
2. Cats are carnivores with inadequate thirst instincts. Carbohydrate-heavy and dehydrated foods as staples are right out. I basically advocate for an anything-but-dry-food diet: feed home-made raw if you can, commercial raw and high-quality canned if you can’t, and don’t feed dry food unless you absolutely have to.
3. Compromise is more than okay; compromise is often necessary. We don’t have the time, money and energy to do the best for ourselves or our family, a lot of the time, so we do what we can in good faith, out of love for those fuzzy little bastards. We often need to work out kludges and work-arounds to keep sane, and there’s nothing shameful about preserving sanity.
I feed a mix of raw and high-quality canned to my cats, and I definitely think one of the best options available, but I’ve seen people get shrill and evangelical about raw feeding, and it’s off-putting and unnecessary. We’re human, with human limits on our time and energy, so why guilt the shit out of somebody if they don’t have the time, money or inclination to feed raw? I’d much rather talk to people about working within the limits of their resources and improving cat health in whatever way we can.
I don’t claim to be unbiased about cat care. Beware of those people who claim to be making unbiased recommendations for cat care, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the time I’ve been involved in dialogues about feline health, it’s this: nobody’s unbiased. It’s a religion; we’ve transferred a lot of the purity taboos and rituals surrounding sacred practices to beliefs about diet and healthcare. Organic vs. conventional; raw vs. cooked; home-made vs. commercial: people are really invested in their point of view, and it’d take a nuclear bomb or three to dislodge them. I certainly count myself in that number.
I do, however, claim to be objective—that is, I have reasons for believing in what I do, and they can be independently verified. I strive, whenever I can, to link to what scientific studies have stumbled across my attention as being worthy of notice, and of providing thoughtful, sometimes brutal critiques of the ones I think are poorly-designed.
I will do my very best to point to where I’ve gone wrong in the past, and where my practices are driven more by belief than by objectively verifiable, replicable science.
Most of all, I’m a skeptic. I don’t necessarily believe what that the pet food companies tell us is good for our pets, and I’m deeply critical about the science of industrial pet food formulation. I’m also critical of a lot of claims made by raw feeders—their paranoia about the dangers of carbohydrate and their support of pseudoscience like raw food enzyme theory and homeopathy are especially aggravating.
Here’s a quick list of the things I’m not: I’m not a vet. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not any sort of professional in the pet care business. I don’t work for or receive any kind of compensation from any company that makes any kind of pet care products. I don’t own a pet shop. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I’m just trying to add to the conversation.
Here’s a quick list of things I am: I am beholden to nobody and nothing other than my cats and the overriding interest I have in ensuring they lead long, rich, fulfilling lives. I am more science- and math-literate than the average person. I am a nerd who gets unreasonably excited when talking about gluconeogenesis, and I’ve been known to check out veterinary textbooks from the library for fun. If I can’t get the full text of a study I’m interested in, you better believe I’m grabbing it via interlibrary loan. And yes, I do actually own a copy of the fourth edition of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, with which I have a fervent love-hate relationship.
Despite my nerd-fu, however, my opinion is nothing more than a layperson’s, so use your common sense, do your own research, question what you read, and consult with your vet if you’re ever unsure. My advice is to take your vet’s word over some Internet stranger’s.
If you need to contact me, you can e-mail me at my Gmail address, username misshepeshu.