HEALTHY FOODS FOR KITTIES: A QUICK LIST!
Updated July 31, 2023
GUILDWOOD CAT RELIEF HEALTHY FOODS FOR KITTIES: A QUICK LIST!
For her sensible, up-to-date opinion, in readable daily articles and intelligent YouTube videos, on food-related issues as well as medical ones, google the name of well-known integrative American veterinarian Dr. Karen BECKER. Also, here are two great no-nonsense, impartial sites to check the content of all brands’ bags and cans of food: (1) catfooddb.com (2) allabout cats.com. You’ll be as surprised as I was to see the results! Two more outstandingly professional sources for cat-feeding info are the site catcentric.org and the remarkable Facebook group “Feline Nutrition – Feed Cats Like Cats” – which has both resident experts and skilled members.
NO FISH FLAVOURS IN GENERAL : always read the ingredient list on a bag or can. English-language encyclopedias call cats “obligate carnivores” for a reason – as desert animals their digestive system evolved to handle meats, not fish. But fish is cheaper to bring to market… The first 4-5 ingredients on a can/bag are the main ones in descending order of percentage; if they include fish put it back. HOWEVER fish oil mentioned further down the percentage list is fine because its Omega-3 fatty acids are great for skin and coat.
TRY TO LIMIT KIBBLE INTAKE. Most (ultra-processed) kibble is at least 60% carbs. Cats’ bodies aren’t designed to digest carbohydrates efficiently, and most carbs in a cat’s diet convert to sugar and fat - leading to dental plaque, obesity and related diseases. Type 2 diabetes is rampant in (typically plump) North American kitties. The generally low protein levels in kibble mean cats often eat more of it to satisfy their basic protein need. Kibble is also addictive, some brands more than others.
A quick guide to help you navigate the jungle of cat food labels and claims :
Kibble if you must
We prefer Go!’s ‘Carnivore’ formula because it has somewhat higher protein than usual for a kibble and healthily exposes a cat’s gut biome to several meats (chicken, turkey and duck) rather than only one, which in time can create an allergy). Other brands include Oven Baked; Fromm’s 4 no-grain formulas: Gamebird, Hasenduckenpfeffer, Chicken au Frommage, Beef Livattini; also Carna-4 (only the chicken package, not the fish one); Open Farm (ecologically appropriate); N & D (high quality but watch the numerical position of herring in the ingredient list); and Instinct. There are also Orijen and Acana, once upon a time okay; however in November 2022 they were bought by the world’s largest petfood producer, Mars Inc. (owner of Whiskas, Pedigree, Cesar, Royal Canin, Iams, Eukanuba, Nutro etc., not to mention Wrigleys, Masterfoods, MarsBars and the list goes on. Mars is also the owner of VCA, a now-huge vet clinic consortium that owns scads of clinics across North America, and is disproportionately well-represented in Toronto).
Freeze-dried and air-dried raw foods
Do try them out on your cat(s); unlike cans & especially kibble they don’t have carcinogenic AGEs from high-heat ultra-processing, questionable thickening agents, preservatives or kibble’s excessive-calorie carbohydrate count. The prize-winning Feline Naturals (several flavours), Stella and Chewy’s (Chick Chick Chicken, Tummy Ticklin’ Turkey or Duck Duck Chicken and the probiotic-rich Digestive Boost), PureBites or Primal freeze-dried raw brands, plus Ziwi Peak air-dried raw, are all available between Global, Pet Valu and Petsmart, not to mention our favourite on-line place , petonly.ca, where you can also order cans without having to buy an entire case of something. (They deliver, and their prices are entirely comparable.)
Think wet food in miniature cartons : Open Farm, Stella & Chewy’s, Go!, Now brands. Ecoconscious, plus healthier as well! As for cans, always READ THE INGREDIENT LIST! Pet food ingredients are listed by law in descending order of presence and the first 4 or 5 are the main ones. Something really essential to be aware of is thickening agents. Those brands around the longest contain earlier thickeners like carrageenan (carcinogenic) and guar gum (diarrhea-causing in some cats, like people) as well as cassia gum and xanthan gum (synthetic, apparently also carcinogenic). More recent arrivals on the market have safer thickeners like agar-agar, or else (of late) no thickener at all. On the occasions when we’ve had to help very sensitive-tummy kitties, we’ve found, through research and trying, that a combined diet of thickener-free canned food and freeze-dried raw food in bags was the only thing that resulted in normal stools.
To assure your cat has a resilient gut biome (and respect her taste buds), always feed her a daily wet food serving that ROTATES various meats from different brands; feeding your kitty the same food over time creates a narrow-tolerance stomach guaranteed to be easily upset.
Some brands with high meat content we like (with a nod of thanks to FB’s Feline Nutrition group):
Feline Naturals : All flavours except fish. High quality indeed, with numerous nutritional prize rankings to show for it! At Global and Pet Only.
Tiki Cat: The “After Dark” series, chicken, beef duck etc, with nutrient-dense organ meat, high protein. Patés have guar gum, though. Other forms no gum. Good supply online at Pet Only and Global in Cliffside Plaza.
Canada Fresh : Any meat flavours, including chicken, beef and duck. No additives, thickeners etc. From B.C. At Harmony Pet Supplies, 3255 Lawrence Ave. East , Global in Cliffside Plaza, or on-line at Pet Only.
Boréal : All meat recipes, including Turkey with Cobb chicken, Duck with C.c., Turkey with C.c. or combination Cobb chicken, New Zealand lamb and Angus beef. Again, no additives or thickeners! Made in northern Ontario. At Global in Cliffside Plaza or Harmony Pet Supplies or canadianpetconnection.ca.
Identity : 6 meat flavours, including quail and chicken. Great, but only at Pet Only.
Essence : 2 meat flavours, Ranch & Meadow and Air & Gamefowl. Only at Pet Only.
KitKat : All flavours except fish. No gums.
Inception : Poultry recipe. Only at Pet Only.
Vintage : only sold by Costco and usually sold out.
Instinct : Duck formula, Lamb formula, Chicken formula, Rabbit formula (this last is ‘limited ingredients’).
Applaws : Chicken breast and rice in water, Chicken breast/rice with cheese (ultrafine strips). No vitamins added, meat only, so don’t feed as sole daily food.
Hound and Gatos : Chicken and chicken liver, Turkey, Beef, Duck and duck liver. Gamebird flavour is too high in iodine (leading to thyroid problems), hence feed only occasionally.
Pure Vita : Chicken, Turkey, Beef and several mixed flavours. Single meat ingredient foods.
NutriSource : made by same family-owned company as Pure Vita. Any meat flavours.
Rawz : Chicken, duck, turkey, beef, rabbit etc.
Ziwi Peak : all flavours but fish.
Koha : Duck paté, Chicken paté, Turkey paté, French guineahen paté, Kangaroo paté. All single ingredient foods – ideal for cats allergic to certain common meats or fish. Their stews aren’t recommended since they have gums.
Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein : Meat flavours.
Orijen : Be careful, Chicken and Duck is actually the sole flavour with no backstopped fish.
PureBites : comes in 4 meat flavours. Only meat, no vitamins added, so don’t feed as sole daily food.
Ultra (Pet Valu in-house higher-level brand) : Chicken stew, Turkey stew. Real pieces of meat in the stew! Contains guar gum though.
N & D : Duck and pumpkin, quail and pumpkin etc. Great as a special treat!
A lot of the above brands are available at Global, Ren’s, Pet Valu and Petsmart. We feed them all, several at a time, always rotating different meats and brands (as opposed to the same 1 or 2 foods for years) because quality wet foods are interchangeable without troublesome results and rotation makes for a healthy tummy, happy taste buds and a satisfied kitty.
Brands we no longer use at GCR :
Fromms : we used to do all the meat flavours but cans contain locust bean gum and guar gum though.
Merrick’s : (e.g. Duck paté, Beef paté, chicken paté, Thanksgiving Dinner). Some cans in this brand’s lineup have guar gum as a thickener, others still have carrageenan while some others have lately been reformulated with agar-agar. Merricks is high in salt so as to make kitties like it best (just like the other wet foods owned by Nestlé-Purina, such as Friskies and Fancy Feast).
Wellness Core: its ingredients don’t warrant paying its price.
Weruva : mostly produces fish flavours, plus loaded with up to three gum thickeners and lots of water. Weruva has, however, recently come out with a low-phosphorus wet food formulated for older cats called Wx that has zero gums.
WET FOOD BRANDS TO AVOID because of chemicals, various cancer-linked substances including thickeners, meat by-products, food colouring, soy, too much corn and not enough meat, high salt content (the better to addict) etc. (These foods are usually cheaper.) :
Friskies, Special Kitty, Fancy Feast, Whiskas, anything from Walmart, Meow Mix, ‘Lovibles’ from Pet Valu, a lot of Weruva brand flavours (reasons mentioned above). Also: be careful about Blue (Buffalo), which owns Wilderness as well – Blue was convicted in court for false ingredient-advertising. At GCR we tend to avoid anything advertised on TV because it mostly means a deep-pocketed multi-national owner (e.g. Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé-Purina, Royal Canin). Look for smaller/family-owned companies, e.g, Purebites, Pure Vita, Canada Fresh, Essence, Fromm’s etc.
DRY FOOD BRANDS TO AVOID for the same reasons as wet ones, plus the threat of very painful, potentially deadly (and very expensive) urinary blockage in male cats: Friskies, Special Kitty, Purina Cat Chow, Meow Mix, Beneful, Whiskas, Iams etc., even regular Kirkland (Costco).
***TREATS : no Temptations PLEASE, nothing by Whiskas etc. ONLY packets clearly marked “natural” or “grain-free”. ALWAYS read the ingredient list!!! At GCR we prefer people food treats - meat, cheese, ricotta etc. (but check first if your cat is lactose-intolerant). And in the treat department we LOVE rotating packages of different brands of freeze-dried raw food!
Remember: (1) always read the ingredient list for all foods wet and dry! You don’t want to see the word “by-product” - it refers to animal parts not allowed for human consumption including claws, beaks, hooves, skin etc. that are liquefied (with chemical agents) and have altered DNA owing to extremely high cooking temperatures. By-products are what cheaper dog and cat food contains.
(2) try to even partially replace kibble – since how it’s made (“extrusion”) renders it nutritionally suspect and too many kibbles contain feed-grade ingredients. Instead slowly transition your kitty to raw cat food (Tollden Farms brand is top-grade and its bone content is optimal, unlike certain other brands); raw is slowly but surely gaining in popularity because of its way-superior nutrition and its teeth-cleaning properties (unlike kibble, fine-ground bone fragments clean the teeth; plus it’s cheaper than the combination of high quality freeze-dried and wet food). If you don’t have the time to thaw it the night before, try freeze-dried raw with water added, like us, or - top-rated by Dr. Becker - check out cooking for your kitty. She has helpful articles on how to transition your cat from kibble to wet to raw, and for willing cooks, she and others offer lots of recipes online. Cooking for your pet is easier than you think! 😊
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENTS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR KITTY’S HEALTH
(especially good for middle-aged and older cats, recovering cats, sickly cats etc.)
A Preventative all cats benefit from! Sprinkle powder on wet food.
Bene-Bac Plus Prebiotic/Probiotic Powder
At : Amazon: Click Here
Or : Pets Drug Mart: Click Here
2. Green Lipped Mussel
Has amino acids, glycoproteins and omega 3 fats and works as anti-inflammatory for joint arthritis, asthma and digestive issues.
Loyalty Dog Treats, Green Lipped Mussel Powder. Dose: 1/8-1/4 of a teaspoon.
At: Amazon: Click Here
Excellent immuno-support, also anti-inflammatory
Now Colostrum Powder
At : Amazon: Click Here
4. Kidney Supplements
Slow down kidney degeneration as cats age. Contain the phosphate binder chitosan.
(a) Kidney Complete by Aventi (has less chitosan, includes lactose; useful for milder cases)
At : Amazon: Click Here
Also at : Pets Drug Mart: Click Here
(b) Epakitin by Vétoquinol (has more chitosan, no lactose; certainly for more advanced kidney degeneration)
At : Pets Drug Mart: Click Here