Is dry food good or bad for cats?
It’s pretty hard to make a sweeping generalization about canned versus dry cat food. Commercial dry cat food does have some concerns, but there are also a few advantages, such as easy storage and being less expensive. It’s also great for dental health. The chewing action helps reduce surface tartar.
The important thing is that you understand the basics of feline nutrition and that you read labels thoroughly. The label should also have the AAFCO seal of approval. AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) is considered to be the foremost expert on animal nutrition, and they work closely with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.) AAFCO oversees labeling. To meet the organization’s requirements the food must be “complete and balanced” according to AAFCO standards.
That said, there are three main concerns with dry food:
• Low water content. Cats are descended from desert animals and, as such, aren’t big water drinkers. It’s necessary for them to get water in their diet. Some people feed a combination of wet and dry food.
• Carbohydrate load is too high. Remember, cats can’t digest plant-based foods, so make sure the first ingredient is a named meat or seafood, not a by-product and not something vague like “meat meal.”
• Type of protein. Yes, plants do contain protein, but it’s a different nutrient profile than meat or fish protein. Protein is made up of chains of amino acids are the cat requires 23 of them, 11 of which must be included in diet.
Since protein is created in the cells, in a kind of step-by-step fashion, the lack of just one can stop the entire process, cause major health problems and, possibly, death. Remember also that proteins have different amino acid profiles, so please don’t assume that something has an adequate amount just because it has a high protein count.
The biggest health problem is called feline taurine deficiency, a syndrome most commonly caused by inadequate intake of taurine in the diet. The most common cause for deficiency is an improperly balanced diet. You must see these on the label: Arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and taurine. A deficiency in any of the amino acids can cause health problems.