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Cat Food

What You Need to Know About Prescription Pet Food

Today’s post is an infographic on 16 things you don’t know about prescription pet foods, but you really should know—trust me, you want to know these things to help you decide whether it’s worth the extra cost to feed your cat or dog a prescription diet. This infographic is brought to you (and reprinted with permission) from our friends at Top Dog Tips. That’s why there are pups throughout the infographic, but this information applies to kitties too.

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7 Key Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Cats

omega 3 benefits for cats, photo source; 123rf.com

Although many people are aware of the benefits of Omega-3s for their health, did you know that they’re also really good for your cat? Discover seven ways that omega-3 fatty acids help your kitty stay healthy and thrive.

What Are Omega-3s?

Omega fatty acids are considered essential fats because your cat can’t naturally produce them on her own. Instead, she needs to get them as part of a healthy and balanced diet. There are two main types of omega fatty acids, omega-3s and omega-6s—and each can contribute to your cat’s health in different ways.

Omega-3s are the ones that most people are familiar with because of their benefits for the heart, skin, and brain. Good omega-3 levels have been linked to cancer prevention and curbing psychological disorders. And, as cat owners, we all want these benefits passed on to our beloved furry companion. Cats are already highly sensitive on their own!

Omega-6s are also essential fatty acids. However, it’s the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s that’s key to good health. It’s important that cats have a higher level of omega-3s because they help regulate the function of omega-6s. That’s because all fatty acids compete for the same physiological areas, thus, a poor ratio of omega-6s can lead to an increase in prostaglandins, which can significantly increase pain sensitivity.

Omega-3s in Cat Food

Often, we assume that cat foods are complete, but your cat may not be receiving everything she needs from commercial cat food, especially when it comes to omega-3s. Thus, it’s a good idea to supplement your cat’s diet with omega fatty acids. They can help with many common feline ailments like allergies, dander, and skin infections.

According to Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic veterinarian based in Denver, Colorado, omega-3 fatty acids are “the most important supplement you can give your pet.” From the relief of joint pain to a healthy shiny coat, the benefits of omega-3s for cats are far-reaching.

Here are seven ways that omega-3s can help you cat stay healthy and thrive:

  1. Heart Health: The anti-inflammatory benefits of EPA (long-chain omega-3 fatty acids). Studies have shown that the use of omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood pressure and prevent ventricular arrhythmia in cats.
  2. Brain and Eyes: The DHA in omega-3s has been shown to play an important role in brain and eye development in kittens. These omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep the brains of older cats working at their optimum for longer.
  3. Healthy Joints: Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is best known for relieving joint pain and inflammation associated with arthritis in cats. The beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3s is attributed to their EPA content.
  4. Strengthen Immunity: Omega-3 supplements can support cats with a weak immune system. This is especially true for older cats that are more susceptible to inflammation and infections.
  5. Fight Cancer: Veterinarians are increasingly recommending omega-3s for cats with cancer. This comes after a study showed that omega-3 in fish oils can slow down the development of cancer cells.
  6. Healthy Skin: Omega-3s are regularly recommended for cats with dry skin. Many cat lovers report that dandruff problems go away once they introduced omega-3 supplements to their cat’s diet.
  7. A Shiny Coat and Fewer Hairballs: Omega-3s are also regularly recommended for cats who shed excessively. They help keep your cat’s coat shiny and reduce shedding to minimize hairballs.

Sources of Omega-3s for Cats

The sources of omega-3s for cats are very similar to those for people. However, we all know how much cats like pills, so you can’t just pop into your local Vitamin Shop and buy a bottle of supplements for your cat. Natural sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids include fish, seeds, and oils derived from these sources. You can also get supplements designed especially for cats.

Here are thee easy ways to add omega-3 fatty acids to your cat’s diet:

1. The Missing Link

cat-missing-linkThis powdered food supplement contains a healthy balance of omega-3s and omega-6s to help your cat maintain a healthy skin and coat. The Missing Link is made from whole foods and whole food concentrates including ground flaxseed, beef liver, sunflower seeds, dried carrot, ground beef bone, and oysters. And it’s super easy to give it to your cat. Simply sprinkle a small amount (varies depending on weight) on your cat’s food. And if your cat is a picky eater, start by adding a tiny amount to their food, and gradually increase until you reach the recommended level. Read more about The Missing Link.

2. Omega-3 Fish Oil for Cats

cat omega 3 fish oil supplementFish oil is an excellent source of omega fatty acids, but quality can vary. That’s why Deley’s Natural Fish Oil for cats is a great choice if you’re concerned about quality ingredients. This 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} pure fish oil is human grade with no additives, preservatives, mercury or toxins, and it’s packaged in a BPA-free bottle. Plus, Deley’s formula is more concentrated than cod liver oil or krill oil, so your cat gets more of the benefits with fewer of the calories. The fish oil comes in an easy to dispense pump bottle and is virtually odor-free–so no strong fishy smells in your home. Find out how cat lovers love Deley’s fish oil.

3. Feline Greenies Smartbites Cat Treats

cat-greeniesFeline Greenies Smartbites Cat Treats are a fun way to add omega-3s to your cat’s diet. They’re made with natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including fish oil and ground flaxseed. Smartbites come in two tasty flavors, chicken or salmon, making them ideal for finicky felines. Use them to replace regular cat treats so Kitty gets a healthy snack that nourishes her skin and helps keep her coat shiny and healthy. Get Greenies on Amazon for just a little over $5 a pack.

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Now that you know the benefits of omega-3s for cats—heart health, brain function, immune system support, fewer hairballs, and a healthy coat and skin—you may want to pick up some omega fatty acid supplements for yourself too!

Why Human-Grade Pet Food May Be Bad For Your Cat and the Environment

2016-05-beefcutsAdmittedly, I have been swayed by the marketing hype, believing that human-grade cat foods were better for my cat. However, that was before I knew what exactly is meant by human-grade.

A recent article published by World Wildlife Fund revealed that the “human-grade” label is not so much about the quality of the meat, but the choice of meat cuts. Human-grade pet food uses prime meat cuts and ingredients that people like to eat.

But if you ever watch a nature documentary, you’ll notice that the first thing the lions go for are the guts. They’re tearing into the underbelly of their prey to get to the nutrient dense organs.

While you may not want to see “animal byproducts” on your own dinner plate, this term can include nutritious parts of cows and chickens that are good for your cat. Of course, it all depends on what is included in the “byproduct,” but there is a lot of nutrition that many people miss out on when they insist on eating only the “choicest” cuts of meat.

In terms of the environment, cat foods using “animal byproducts” are more sustainable than foods that only use human-grade ingredients. When the whole animal is not being used, that’s a lot of wasted resources. And unless someone or something eats the animal byproducts, these unwanted parts could also end up in the landfill.

Human-grade pet food adds extra pressure to the global food system. In their article, World Wildlife Fund estimates that there will be 9 billion people to feed by 2050. We can’t all be eating only the white meat from the chicken.

While offal is a growing trend in high-end restaurants and for foodie millenials, it’s still a long way from becoming mainstream. Until the demand for sweetbread equals the demand for top sirloin steak or chicken breast, then animal byproducts need to be used in order to reduce waste.

So maybe, it really is better for your cat and the environment to skip the human-grade ingredients, as long as you choose a quality cat food. Your cat will very likely gobble it up. Chicken feet? Pig snouts? Kidneys? Yum! 😉

Purina Facing Lawsuits Over Claims That Beneful Kills Dogs and Makes Them Sick

benefulNestle Purina, makers of Beneful dog food, is facing a class-action lawsuit. It is alleged that the popular brand has caused thousands of dogs to get sick or die as a result of eating the food. What’s disturbing to me is that Beneful is marketed as a premium dog food that is better for pets.

The ingredient in question is propylene glycol, which is used as a food preservative. It’s also used in anti-freeze. Supposedly this ingredient is safe for humans (yep it’s in some of our processed foods) and dogs. However, it is considered a toxin for cats, so it’s not used in cat food.

Hmmm, if it’s bad for cats, it’s still considered safe for dogs? It certainly makes you wonder.

FYI, Purina also manufactures the following brands of cat food:

  • Fancy Feast
  • Purina Pro Plan
  • Purina One
  • Friskies
  • Cat Chow
  • Purina Veternary Diets
  • Beyond
  • Whisker Lickin’s
  • Kit & Kaboodle
  • Deli-Cat

Click here for more information on the lawsuit

Click here for more information on propylene glycol

A Great Value for All Natural Cat Treats – Review of Dr. Tim’s Natural Beef Chips

Our friends over at Chewy.com were kind enough to send Furball a container of Dr. Tim’s premium Natural Beef Chips. Being the foodie (aka “eat all food-foodie”) that he is, Furball graciously volunteered to sample the treats and gave me his honest opinion (as if cats could do otherwise!)

Dr. Tim's natural all beef freeze-dried cat treats

This is a two-paws up product! Err, perhaps it’s a better description to say this is a one-gulp-down treat.

Made from 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} USDA inspected beef hearts, these Natural Beef Chips are minimally processed. They’re basically freeze-dried beef hearts broken up into large bite-sized pieces.

I added a couple to Furball’s dinner and he knew there was good stuff in his bowl. Within a couple of seconds, he discovered the surprise treats in his bowl and gobbled them up in an instant.

The heart pieces are a bit on the large size compared to other cat kibble and treats. However, that’s what makes these such a good value. A 4-oz container is about 2 cups worth of dried pieces and for a cat, one or two pieces is enough. Dr. Tim’s recommends 1 to 2 treats per 10 lbs of body weight daily as a reward.

Unlike other cat treats made up of filler and flavourings, these beef hearts contain a high concentration of Coenzyme Q-10 and also high levels of taurine and L-carnitine.

The treats can be fed straight from the package or soaked in water to make them moist and tender. The only slight inconvenience is that because these are freeze-dried RAW beef hearts, you have to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling as well as any surfaces that may have come into contact with the treats.

By the way, Dr. Tim’s Natural Beef Chips also made for dogs too! You’ll find them for about $15 at Chewy.com.

Recent Study Raises Serious Concerns About Bacteria in Pet Food

What's in your cat's food?
What’s in your cat’s food?

Here’s some disturbing news that should come as no surprise to Green Little Cat readers. It came to my attention from our friends over at The Conscious Cat:

“The Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF), an advocacy group established by Susan Thixton, the publisher and founder of The Truth About Pet Food, recently published the results of an unprecedented pet food testing project conducted by U.S. labs late last year. The results reveal serious concerns for pets and for the human families that purchase and handle the pet food.

Testing results show that some of the most widely-purchased brands in the U.S. and Canada contained high levels of dangerous mycotoxins, problematic nutrient concerns and/or numerous bacterial contamination risks, including antibiotic resistant bacteria the FDA terms as “qualifying pathogens”. Funding for the project came solely from consumers, who raised nearly $16,000 via an Indiegogo donation campaign.”

What’s interesting to note is that 75{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of the foods tested positive for bacteria that has been linked to rotten meat. What’s even more interesting to note is that the study results are being questioned, so it’s turning a bit into a “he-said, she-said, they-said” type of debate.

You can read more about the study and the ensuing questions at The Conscious Cat.

With a therapeutic dosage, Tramadolhealth.com may not cause drug addiction, but the problem arises with the slightest overdose.

So, as a concerned cat lover, what can you do to keep your cat safe?

  1. If your cat is eating any of the foods listed in the study, the first thing you can do is call the manufacturer. There’s usually a 1-800 number on the package or you can visit their website to find contact info. Ask them directly about the study results and voice your concerns. Manufacturers want to provide safe food for your pet as much as you do because of huge liability issues and lost sales if there’s a problem with the food.
  2. Consider switching to locally made pet food from family-run businesses. I’ve written tons of articles reviewing different brands of foods and even reported on changes in ownership of companies too. You’ll find reviews in the Food category of this website.
  3. Consider switching to an organic cat food. While it certainly costs more, there are higher accountability standards for organic meat and produce vs. the conventional variety. The way I see it, I can fork out $50 for cat food every month or THOUSANDS of dollars in vet bills in a few years because poor quality food leads to more health problems. You just have to look at a human diet to see that people don’t thrive eating fast food alone. Which would you prefer? Pay a little more each month or shell out a huge amount in a few years? What’s best for your cat?
  4. Make your own food. This is a big commitment, but it depends on your lifestyle and how much you value your cat’s health. You also have to value your mental health too!

Is This the Most Expensive Natural Cat Treat in the World?

gourmet organic cat treatsShort of feeding your cat kobe beef flown in from Japan, this has got to be one of the most expensive organic cat treats that you could choose to spoil your kitty. Whole Life Pet Single Ingredient Certified Organic Freeze Dried Chicken Breast Treats for Cats cost an eyebrow-raising $21.99 on Amazon.com for a 2.8oz bag.

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That’s TWO POINT EIGHT, not TWENTY-EIGHT ounces. However, when you check out the ingredients, these gourmet natural cat treats might just be worth the indulgent price.

They’re made from 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} human grade, USDA certified, organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free white meat chicken breast. There are no fillers, chemicals, additives or preservatives.

Hmmm, but a pound of organic boneless chicken breast can be purchased for $6.99 at Whole Foods, you say? Well, you need to factor in that these cat treats are also made in small batches in the USA. They’re fully cooked for safety and then freeze dried for maximum flavor and nutrition.

Whole Life Pet describes their treats as the first “Farm to Friend” treats for pets. The fresh ingredients are sourced from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen with no “mystery meats” or middlemen. Whole Life Pet produces and packages all of their freeze-dried cat treats in their own state of the art facility located in the Western Massachusetts.

The organic chicken treats are low in fat, calories and carbohydrates, but high in protein. This makes them suitable for pets with allergies, weight and/or digestive problems. And, it’s also why they’re so expensive. It’s a bit like having a personal chef creating an organic entree for your cat and then cutting the meal into cat-sized bites.

What do you think? Is your kitty worth it? If you’re curious to learn more, check out these organic chicken cat treats on Amazon.

Please note that the links in this article to the organic chicken cat treats are Amazon referral links. If you’d prefer not to click them, you can go directly to Amazon and search for Whole Life Pet cat treats to learn more.

However, if you do click these links and make a purchase within 24-hours, the small referral fee that Amazon pays will go towards offsetting some of the costs of running this blog. As well, I’m a sucker for donating to environmental charities, animal welfare organizations and personal fund-raising campaigns for vet fees. I appreciate your support and will be sure to pay it forward. Thank you.

Review of Instinct Raw Boost Minis Freeze Dried Treats for Cats

I’d been thinking of switching my cat to a raw food diet when the folks at MrChewy.com offered to send us a package of Nature’s Variety’s Instinct Raw Boost Minis Freeze Dried Treats for Cats. Raw Boost Minis come in two flavours—duck and chicken&mdash and I was given my choice to pick the flavour. Feeling adventurous, I chose the duck for Furball. He’s never eaten duck in his life and I was curious to see what his reaction would be.

Instinct Raw Boost Minis Cat TreatsInstinct Raw Boos Minis are made from all natural, pure raw ingredients. These treats don’t contain any wheat, corn, soy, grain, gluten, by-product meals, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. They’re also made in the USA and contain only 2 calories per treat.

The ingredient list for the duck formula reads like a who’s who of health foods and supplements:

Duck (Including Ground Duck Bone), Turkey, Turkey Liver, Turkey Heart, Pumpkinseeds, Apples, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Dried Kelp, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Salmon Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, Olive Oil, Rosemary Extract, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Inulin, Rosemary, Sage, Clove.

As you can see, with the exception of Montmorillonite clay and Inulin, all of the ingredients are foods that you might find in your own pantry or fridge. Being a curious cat, I had to look up what the two exceptions were.

According to the Nature’s Variety website, Montmorillonite is a natural clay that sourced from deposits in southern Utah that is approved by AAFCO for use as an anticaking processing aid. Inulin is an insoluble plant fructan, also known as a prebiotic, that stimulates growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive system. It’s harvested from plants such as chicory, dandelion, and Jerusalem artichokes.

As someone who has been frequenting health food stores for almost 20 years, I have to admit that uber-healthy sometimes doesn’t equate to uber-tasty. In order to give Instinct Raw Boost Minis a passing grade, they’d have to pass the final taste test with Furball.

I sprinkled four treats into his dinner bowl and eagerly watched his reaction. At first, Furball ate around the treats. Then, his curiosity got the better of him and he tried one. Right after that first taste, he gulped the rest down and every day after, whenever I added the treats to his food bowl, they were the first thing he finished.

I’d say the Instinct Raw Boost Minis passed with flying colours!

Learn more about Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Mini Bites for Cats and Nature’s Variety raw pet foods.

Natura Pet Products – Huge Dog and Cat Food Recall

Shame, Natura Pet Products, was once highly renowned for their green practices and for providing quality dog and cat food.  In fact, they were the winner of my Natural Cat Food Throwdown a few years back.

Then, success got to them. It was announced in May 2010 that Proctor & Gamble was purchasing them.  As a result, I promptly revoked the winning title that I had awarded Natura Pet Products for environmental stewardship.

Unfortunatly, it didn’t take too long for a fall in quality to occur antidepressants under P&G’s cost-driven leadership.  The FDA found salmonella contamination in one of their products and now ALL of their pet food, from dogs, cats and ferrets, is being voluntarily recalled.  This includes the following brands:

  • Innova
  • EVO
  • California Natural
  • Healthwise
  • Karma
  • Mother Nature

I guess you can’t buy your way into pretending to care about Mother Nature or food quality.  Karma’s a bitch, huh?

For more details on which foods are being recalled and what you can do if you have some, visit the FDA website.

The Honest Kitchen: Review of Prowl Cat Food

If you’ve been thinking of switching your cat to raw cat food, but are looking for a more convenient option, here’s my honest review of The Honest Kitchen’s Prowl cat food.

Honest Kitchen Prowl cat food review

My cat, Furball, had been on the same diet for about two years. Because he had a history of struvite crystals, I had him on the prescription cat food from the vet’s and supplemented his diet with organic turkey baby food.

I know, I know. The natural solution would have been to put him on a high protein diet, and I did explore this in great depth in my Natural Cat Food Throwdown. However, Furball also had a sensitive digestive system where he would vomit if he was stressed and the high protein cat food was particularly difficult for him to keep down. I don’t remember exactly what triggered it, but at some point, he experienced another struvite crystal scare and when the vet told me to get Furball on a prescription diet or else, fearing the worst, I followed the vet’s instructions.

So, for two years, my little cat ate the prescription diet. I noticed right away that his fur wasn’t as nice on the diet and that’s when I added the organic turkey baby food (easy to digest). I always felt slightly uneasy about feeding him the factory food, but I let myself listen to the “expert” and thought it was best to keep Furball on the anti-struvite diet.

A few months ago, I looked into Furball’s eyes and noticed that they were starting to show flecks of gold and brown in the irises. In iridology, it is believed that the eyes reveal one’s health and that muddy splotches are signs of disease. My cat’s eyes had always been a pure minty green and now, they were starting to turn brown and splotchy.

I could have chalked it up to age as he is heading into “middle age cat years”, but I suspected it was his diet. If you eat processed crap, it affects your health. It seemed to me that the same would hold true for cats.

That’s when I began searching for a raw meat cat food for Furball. However, I also had to factor in my curious son who was old enough to know not to touch the cat food, but that didn’t mean he always listened. I wanted something that was convenient and safe and that’s where the Honest Kitchen’s Prowl cat food came into the picture.

The Honest Kitchen originally began making raw dog food, but they’ve since branched into producing both cat and dog foods gastrointestinal from human-grade ingredients. Because their pet foods are made from human-grade ingredients, the meats are steamed and dehydrated so they’re technically not raw. Only their fruits and vegetables are technically ‘raw’, so this makes their foods safe to have in the home even with small children who might be a little too curious.

The Honest Kitchen is also very eco-friendly. Based out of San Diego, many of the Honest Kitchen’s employees commute to work by bicycle. The packaging for their pet food is made from recycled materials and is also recyclable, even the plastic bag inside. As well, because the food is dehydrated, it’s very light (for cat food) and this helps to reduce the amount of resources needed to ship the food to stores or your home.

The Honest Kitchen also has supported hundreds of organizations over the years such as Heifer International through their Pawlanthropy program.

The Honest Kitchen was kind enough to send me a sample of Prowl dehydrated cat food. Prowl is an all natural cat food made with free range chicken, eggs and produce like sweet potatoes, spinach and cranberries. And, it’s made up of almost 70{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} meat.

When I first received the sample, I was surprised to see that Prowl in its dehydrated form, is actually a powder. I was expecting chunky pieces or dry slivers. Because it’s a powder, it was incredibly easy to measure and mix up a batch of Prowl for my cat. All you need to do is measure food out in a 1:1 ratio of food to water. Pour it in a bowl, stir and allow it to hydrate for 5 minutes. Then, voila! Dinner is ready. Prowl cat food expands to 4 times its original weight when hydrated.

The true test was whether Furball would eat it. I started out only adding a teaspoon to his food. Furball left it for last, but then gobbled it up. I then gradually increased the proportion of Prowl until after about 2 weeks, he had completed the switch to Prowl cat food.

See these eyes so green. It’s the Prowl cat food!

It has been almost 2 months since I switched Furball to Prowl dehydrated cat food and I’m happy to report that I do notice a difference. When I look into his eyes, I see the brown muddy splotches are clearing up and his bright green eyes are shining brightly once again.

Prowl Cat Food is available online and at specialty pet stores.