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Fat Cat

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pet Food. That’s one of the missing items from this list of 10 Unexpected Places Gluten Lurks ( www.mindbodygreen.com/0-
). I think I was aware of most of these EXCEPT for imitation crab meat. Sayonara, California Rolls.

Seamus, our foster cat ( wp.me/p1N36Q-8a ), has returned to us after a month away. When we left for Minnesota (the day Kirbi, our other cat, escaped - wp.me/p1N36Q-b1 ), we brought him to his more permanent home – my husband’s parents. However, they are off on a jaunt in Ireland for the next 10 days and Seamus has returned.

4 lbs heavier.

You might not be able to tell from this photo, but that’s about a 20% increase in weight in less than a month.

When we brought Seamus to his new home, we told his new parents what we had been feeding him – Purina Pro Plan (both dry and wet) – over the past few months so that they could continue his diet without much digestive distress to him – and if they wanted to change his food, that would be fine, but they should consider gradually mixing in the new feed until he was completely switched over.

Seeing him in this state just a few short weeks later concerned me, so I checked the stash of food his parents left us with. Same brand – Purina Pro Plan – only a different variety of “flavors.” Chicken & Rice Entree. Beef Entree with Carrots. Turkey & Vegetable Entree.

Now, the last I checked, cats were not omnivores. Do you think lions eat their gazelle with rice? So when I select wet food for my cats, I always go for the ones that sound the most “meaty” – it’s either Tuna Entree or Beef & Chicken Entree for Kirbi. Nothing with vegetables or rice. I initially assumed that must have made the difference for Seamus’ weight gain.

But then I thought more about the word “Entree” that seems to accompany all Purina Pro Plan wet foods – it broadens the description of what you are getting in your cat food quite a bit. I checked the top three ingredients of all the flavors we had on hand, and was surprised to see they were all the same:

1. Water
2. Liver
3. Wheat Gluten

Yikes. So even though I swear by Tuna over Turkey & Vegetables for my cat, it really makes no difference. And it certainly wouldn’t explain the weight gain in Seamus.

He’s also been fed the same Purina Pro Plan Dry food that we had been giving Kirbi before, although recently we switched to Nutro.

The only reason I switched was because I had a coupon for Nutro (I’m a coupon fiend). At first glance they look the same – both are a meat and rice blend – but Nutro is Wheat Free.

I’m thinking I should probably stick with Nutro going forward, but I’m not 100% sure it matters. After all, Kirbi still seems to be in good shape, and she has eaten the gluten-containing Pro Plan for most of her life. I consulted one of my favorite sources – Mark’s Daily Apple – and he recommends raw food over any commercially produced cat food. I’m not quite ready to make that leap yet. I think I should probably try to get my husband off of wheat before I worry about getting my cat off of it.

So what gives for Seamus? I’d chalk his weight gain up to overfeeding and will talk to his new parents about it when they get back – and see what their thoughts are about hidden wheat in pet food.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You're right to be searching for a good alternative for Seamus. Cats are what's called "obligate carnivores," which means they MUST receive the majority of their daily calories from *meat* sources. They also have a difference in the fatty acids which are considered "essential" for them - different even from dogs. When you're looking, search for a formulation which states "complete and balanced", and make sure it specifies CATS. They do have to include some type of carbs and other non-meat items, and that's okay: they're using ingredients which fulfill the "complete and balanced" requirement.

    You CAN make a home-prepared diet... but it's a chore, and it's tricky, because you have to know what to include (or exclude) to make that nutrition correct. Deficiencies or excesses are deadly to cats. Since there are commercial products available, I think that would be the first option.

    Seamus could probably benefit from a short stint on weight reduction. It's much harder (as we all know!) to reduce from a higher weight than to nip it in the bud. It sounds like you probably have a good relationship with your veterinary healthcare team. I'd take Seamus for a nutritional counseling and ask them for recommendations - most will design a plan and provide (or suggest) a feed they carry in-house to accomplish the goal.

    If you're weighing the balance between canned or dry, most formulas make up for the additional water in canned so that the actual nutritional value of the feed is the same, regardless of the form. It's a bit more of a PITA to feed canned, because you can't (shouldn't) just leave it down and let the pet self-feed. But, if you're going to be working on getting Seamus back to his previously healthier weight, he SHOULD be on controlled and timed feedings anyway. Sorry to say! The "up" side of canned is that it does help cats take in more water. Many cats aren't especially avid drinkers. Anything you can do to encourage water consumption will be beneficial.

    Seamus is a beautiful boy! Thanks for the picture!
    1804 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/13/2013 11:40:12 AM
    I think it's pretty likely that most of the ailments that older cats go through are related to their food. I'm slowly switching ours to wet food, then better quality wet food. I would love to be organized enough to serve them real foods, but it's a pretty daunting proposition.

    There are some very good commercial brands as well - I haven't priced them yet, but I'm pretty sure they'll be out of our financial reach for quite some time. :(
    1804 days ago
    Wow! That's quite a weight jump.
    1804 days ago
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