Enjoy the freak show, lol. - J.W.J.
I'm really excited about my cats' current diet so i need to write
this down somewhere... basically through lots of research plus
actual trial and error on toastface and snowpoke, i've figured
out the best combination of foods to feed your cats if you want
them to be optimally healthy, energetic, well-hydrated not barf,
not be constipated, not be obese (as a result of being more
energetic and not overeating), have silky coats, and
non-stinky/infrequent poops. it's not expensive either. my rabbit
has the best possible diet too but i have less to say about that
because i started off feeding him the ideal diet, unlike how i
tweaked the cats' diets based on research and then saw different
results with different kinds and came to a conclusion based on
observations, blah blah. so that's why i wanted to document all
this here. also i know more of you actually own cats than rabbits
so this is relevant!
disclaimer: this post is long and insane but before you think i am actually crazy, just remember that i am just super meticulous when it comes to things i care about (and i LOVE these lil guys). plus i'm a scientist (not to mention a reluctant biologist) and a perfectionist and i over-analyze/rationalize everything so NATURALLY i am insane about my cats eating the perfect, biologically appropriate diet. PLUS, i am way into food. i eat for pleasure. i eat very well so it's important that my animals eat well too. I AM NOT CRAZY I SWEAR!!!!!!!!!!
first off, it should be known that the vast majority of commercial pet foods are crap. do people not read the labels on things? the first few ingredients should give a good idea of what the food is like because they're listed in order of prevalence. for example, purina cat chow indoor formula: corn meal, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soy flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, powdered cellulose, salmon meal, animal liver flavor, soybean hulls, malt extract, and so on...
WTF??!! it's mostly grains/filler! and btw "by-product meal" is like ground up gizzards and beaks and feet. sick. and "indoor formula" is pure hogwash. doesn't matter if a cat lives indoors or outdoors, their biology is the same and they're still obligate carnivores. that means they can't process plant-based proteins, and are meant to eat meat. dry-food-only diets cause health problems, obesity, over-eating, etc. not to mention the fact that dry food in general* is not great for cats because they have a low thirst drive; in nature they get most of their water intake from prey, which is 2/3rds water. so it's dangerous cause if a cat only eats dry food and still has a low thirst drive, he/she may develop urinary tract and kidney problems due to inadequate hydration. poor quality dry food also makes cats vomit because they can't digest all the grains. contrary to common belief, cats aren't supposed to throw up. yeah accidents happen, but if a person threw up regularly you'd assume there is a problem. it's the same for cats!!
*i say "in general" because obviously top quality dry food is going to be way better than low quality wet food. i think if someone wants to feed their pet only dry food, it's not IDEAL, but it wouldn't be detrimentally bad if it were a good kind like innova EVO or wellness CORE (both grain-free and probably on the same level) and of course orijen (which i think is better) as long as the cat is getting enough water. that being said, my bf's cat pauncho eats innova dry food (he turns his nose up at non-dry food, even fresh SALMON!!!!) but he seems to drink a big bowl of water every day and he is "fine." HOWEVER he is fat despite not eating very much; he simply has low energy and a slow metabolism cause he's not active at all, and i don't really think this is due to his age, because even old and sick cats seem to be revitalized by a bettering their diets. i'm not saying he would turn into a spry/energetic kitten but i'm sure there'd be an increase in energy/activity and probably some weight loss as a result.
indoor cats shouldn't be expected to get fat. adjusting their diet, and providing exercise and stimulation should keep them lean and fit. of course a cat is going to get fat if he/she is free-fed kibble all day and just sits around doing nothing. but it doesn't have to be like that!!!
plus pauncho used to eat natural balance dry food which is full of grains and he would always have dandruff, but after brandon switched to innova the dandruff went away.
and in early may i got my friend to switch his cats, one of whom is even older than pauncho, from meow mix to orijen 6-fish and they FREAKED OUT and ate a ton right off the bat just because was so delicious compared to the kibble they had been eating for years (one of them ate so fast he threw up lol) but after that they actually started eating less because it was providing them with the nutrition they needed, sans fillers. and he says their fur is softer/silkier and they are more energetic than ever
what i'm trying to say is, you don't have to feed your pet the optimal diet. but if you don't, make sure it's the best kind of dry food available and that your cats are getting enough water. and you should know that canned is better, but obvs i don't expect everyone to give their pets the BEST possible thing. good diets are still good. good dry food is still good food. i would say top quality dry food + adequate hydration is like a 'B' but i am going for the 'A+' haha. most of my friends with cats fall into the 'B' category and i think that's a good place to be.
i realize i'm little nuts about it but i think of toastface and snowpoke as not just my pets but also my furry little companions/minions/proteges/pals. they are an investment (of money, time, love, care) plus it's really fun and kind of like a hobby for me to have them in optimal condition. i also exercise them every day so they grow strong muscles and can jump supes high/far, lolol. i don't do this to show them or put them in the cat olympics (does such a thing exist?) but just because it's fun. it's like a hobby; i want to hone/shape these little dudes into my jiapprentices. i want them to be pristine and perfect!!!! but also these cats make me happy. taking the best care of them i possibly can makes me happy. it is immensely satisfying and rewarding. i fucking love these cats. and i really wish i had the money for a giant cat wheel. hmph!
ANYWAY, moving on to my findings...
i've given my cats lots of different food and i have legitimately noticed differences with every change. so i feed them canned food twice a day and they have access to dry food (same brand for both) and fresh water 24/7. i started off feeding toast innova cat and kitten, because that's what the breeder used, along with various raw meats and her own raw diet. pretty good holistic food with mostly meat (turkey, chicken, chicken broth, whole eggs, chicken meal, herring, etc.) but not grain-free. toast's poops were TERRIBLE with this. soft and soooooo stinky. SOOOOOOOOO STINKY. so i switched him to innova EVO cat and kitten, which is 80% meat and grain-free (turkey, chicken, turkey broth, chicken broth, chicken meal, herring). btw both of these foods smelled like spam so if you're spam-fan realize you're basically eating cat food lolol.
even though 80% meat EVO is great food and gives cats lots of energy and the silkiest pelts ever, the poops were still putrid!!! and then i got a second cat and the poops DOUBLED and it was just so stinky (smelled like hot fart + rotten spam burp) that it filled up my entire apt in seconds despite having ALL THE WINDOWS OPEN ALL THE TIME. and i'd have to spray sooo much air freshener. i was seriously concerned about how i would handle this when it gets cold and i have to keep the windows closed. plus the sheer amount of their poops was ridic. like... you just don't understand. dumb box had to be scooped twice a day BAHHHHH STINKY STINK, SO MUCH POO. anyway by this time i also switched their dry food from EVO to orijen adult cat and kitten cause not only is it 80% meat and grain-free but it is also made from fresh ingredients, never frozen, no preservatives. free-run chicken and turkey + freshly caught wild fish lolol.
for dry food, the breeder gave snowpoke's litter orijen 6-fish formula (six varieties of fresh, never frozen, human grade fish... INTENSE!!). i'm going to switch to that next time i have to restock on dry food cause it's only $5 more for a huge bag. i bought a 15.4 lb bag of the chicken and turkey at the end of may for $50 and that might seem expensive, but the cats eat less but still have a ton of energy because there's no filler. that thing is going to last me till the end of august so it's $50 for three months' worth of dry food for TWO CATS. two highly active bengal cats who love to eat! in that sense it's not expensive at all -- $16.67 per month for two cats. plus the canned food is $21 for a case of twelve cans; each can lasts 2-3 days for both cats. i have to buy a case less than once a month, but let's just round up to once a month. that's less than $37.67 a month (barely over a dollar a day) to feed TWO active/growing/BIG cats top quality, biologically appropriate food.
to be honest i am not sure if their intake will increase or not as they get bigger/older, because right now i free-feed them dry food since they are still growing and are insanely active so they need the extra sustenance. but snowpoke is already over 8 lbs and he's not even 6 months old. toast was the same weight 2 months ago when he was that age, and both were the biggest of their litter and are growing like weeds. so even if they do eat more as adults, let's assume their intake doubles (this will obviously not be the case cause they'd have to be 20+ lbs for that) it'd still only cost ~$1 a day per cat. the point is, MONEY CANNOT BE AN EXCUSE. do not get a pet if you cannot provide him/her with proper care and nutrition. and i am stingy as hell, so that's saying something. (don't ask me how i'm stingy and still have two bengals.) plus all this should be carried at your local pet store granted it doesn't suck.
additionally, even though the breeder fed the cats very well, when i first got snowpoke he had a coarse coat, especially compared to toast's, which is the softest thing ever. i assumed it was normal for different types of bengals to have different coats. toast is a tricolor marble and snowpoke is a seal lynx point spotted. the light and medium brown in toast's coat have glitter, but the black parts don't. snowpoke's ENTIRE coat is covered in glitter. it looks like someone brushed him all over with silver paint. so i figured glittery pelts were just coarser in nature than mostly-non-glittery ones. but after having snowpoke for a little over a month (he had gone from regular innova with grains at the breeder's house to grain-free innova EVO with me) i noticed his pelt had gotten super soft!!!! it's crazy how a switch from something that's already a high-quality canned food to something that's a step up made a huge different in the quality of his coat.
i had also read about raw diets and even thought about doing this but ultimately was too lazy/cheap to buy a meat grinder and scale haha. but what appealed to me the most about the raw diet is the description of cat poops while on it. here's thelink if you care to read the whole thing, but essentially on an ideal diet, a cat will poop less than once a day, and the poops will be dry and practically odorless. this is because ALL of the food ingested is utilized, nothing more and nothing less than what is necessary. plus cat should pee a ton. mine already did that so i knew they were well-hydrated, but man... i don't know how many times i need to reiterate this but SO MANY POOPS. SO MANY STINKY, STINKY POOPS... which leads me to why i am writing this post in the first place...
SO. brandon (pauncho's human) and i went to the pet store earlier this month and i asked him to grab me a case of EVO 80% meat canned food from the back of the top shelf, and neither of us even looked at what the cans said just cause we assumed it was what was at the front of the shelf. oops. i noticed it was like $5 more expensive than usual at checkout but i thought maybe prices just fluctuate. i didn't know i had bought the wrong food until last week, when i finally opened the first can. i was like what the, why does this smell different? why does this have a different color/consistency? so i looked at the can finally and i was like WTF IS THIS! i had accidentally bought 95% venison EVO.
i was not happy at first cause i prefer my actions to be the result of conscious/informed decisions rather than just accidentally buying a case of food that i had not read anything about. in this case i thought i would be spoiling the cats because i was already quite pleased with the regular EVO and had no intention of upgrading their food. well the cats loved it and i looked it up online just cause i might be a little neurotic/meticulous about what i feed the cats, bahhah. anyway this food has the least number of different ingredients of anything i've seen. i mean as the name infers, it's 95% venison including bones, cartilage, and connective tissue. this is essentially a raw diet but better imo because i can't screw it up by trying to make it myself. still, i thought it was just a treat, and fully intended to go back to regular EVO the next time i have to buy it.
then.............................. today............................. this very morning.......................................... my entire life changed....................................
the cats were pretty active at 5am as usual, and i was still awake cause apparently i'm nocturnal now, so i decided to feed them some canned food and scoop their poops, which i hadn't had to do in over a day. i already noticed the last time i scooped it that there were less poops and more pees (MONSTER pees)... i also did not smell any funny business, poop-wise, as it usually has a startlingly large stink-radius. but it was a subtle difference so i didn't think about it. this morning though i would estimate 97.3% of what i scooped were giant clumps of pee. and VERY few small turds that had no odor and were very dry. EXCITEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ELATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and i KNOW they aren't constipated because when i give them canned food, i feed them until their stomachs reach a certain point of fullness... nice and firm and full but not engorged. i do this instead of giving them a fixed amount because who knows if one cat ends up stealing the other cat's food and one cat is hungrier as a result? so that's how i make sure they are fed the appropriate amount haha... by monitoring/feeling their belly size as they eat. then throughout the day i make note of their belly size. not really consciously, i just am very astute by nature. it goes down surprisingly fast!! cats digest food way faster than humans do; it only takes a few hours. and both of them had eaten to fullness and then deflated and eaten to fullness again in the past day so i wasn't worried about any backed-up poos. plus constipated cats are noticeably uncomfortable. symptoms include straining without producing pewpz, crying in the litter box and acting distressed, excessive butthole-licking, etc. they have been happily playing all day.
oh i should also add that they barely drink any water. they like to drink out of a cup so i put one on the kitchen counter. i keep it filled to the brim with clean water; each day i empty the cup and refill it... i am pretty sure, based on how much the water level goes down, the two of them combined only drink 1/4th cup (2 oz.) of water per day. this makes sense as i'm pretty sure their diet now is super close to a good raw diet, which is meant to provide precisely the nutritional value a cat requires. but yeah they still pee giant pees. the vast majority of their waste is urine. this is good cause it means their bodies aren't retaining water. the body retains water when it isn't properly hydrated, but if water intake is consistent/adequate then the body has no reason to store an excess of it. whoo hoo... health stuff... whoooooo yay.................. i'm sleepy.
i don't think it matters what breed the cat is either. sure, some are more active than others by nature. but biologically they require the same quality of food. to say otherwise would be analogous to claiming a couch potato only needs to eat junk food whereas an olympic runner needs to eat healthful/natural foods. i mean if the couch potato ate better he/she'd prob have the energy to get off the couch and go do something...? and if the olympic runner only ate junk food he/she wouldn't be an olympic runner! so it's true, you are what you eat. but i like "you are what what you eat eats" better (that's a whole different thing). even when i changed my diet a year ago i felt better. lost weight without trying, more energetic, happier even. idk brah i just think food is sooooooooooooooooooooo important and affects sooooooooooo many things. yes, i am a snob about human food too but i try to refrain from saying anything cause eh i don't want to seem like an ass.
dude. bro. i just stayed up all night and i have no idea what the fuck i'm even doing right now so i'm just going to stop typing. there are probably a lot of typos. oh welllllllllllll.
I AM JUST SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!