Pet Food Trial Verdict

Back in November, I posted about the dry pet foods I’d been trying for my Ragdolls.  I continued to try different ones, per suggestions from friends and kitten buyers.  Over the years and up to the present I probably tried about all of them – Science Diet, Nutro, Pet Lovers Soul, Fromm Family, Earthborn, Evo, California Natural, Wellness, Royal Canin, Blue Buffalo.

With most of them, a couple of my cats would like the new food at first, but then nobody wanted them anymore and the dogs got them.  Since I would always transition them onto the new food from the old, the old would still be there.  At first that was Purina One and then recently it was Royal Canin.  Blue Buffalo was the only one that could compete with Royal Canin, and it was quickly obvious that only the Wilderness was really accepted. (Of course it was, it is the more expensive of the Blue selections.)  But the Blue Wilderness is high in protein, at 40%, and I didn’t really like all of my cats having that, especially the older ones.  A few years ago, when I tried Evo, the group had liked that, but it also was high in protein.  At that time I had a cat with compromised kidneys, so I took them off if it.

The other issue with the Wilderness was Rusty’s reaction to it.  He has traditionally had trouble with throwing up whenever I made the slightest change to his food.  He also has had digestive trouble on the other end.  Diarrhea in his stud pants are not fun, and on the Wilderness, he had that issue day after day when he was out for his exercise.  His litter box was a horror show as well.  My only conclusion was that it was too rich for him.  The lower protein Blue variety didn’t fix it either.  Could it possibly mean that he needed the ‘cheaper’ ingredients?  I went back to Royal Canin’s site to see the ingredients of the Indoor Adult 27, which hadn’t seemed to bother him.  Chicken meal was the first ingredient and further down there was corn gluten and wheat gluten as other sources of protein.  I’ve gone back to it and his problems have gone away.  I’ve also given it to the other cats, along with the Blue Wilderness, and they choose the Royal Canin first, but still like the Blue when the Royal Canin is gone.

I have a litter of kittens now, and at four weeks old, when they start to eat solid food, I put out some of the Royal Canin Babycat that I had left from last spring.  They immediately started eating it.  It ran out quickly, as their mother loved it too, and I put out the Wilderness kitten kibble.  Though Susie Q still ate it, the kittens barely touched it.  So I bought the new Royal Canin Mother and Babycat and they love that too.  I do still put out the Wilderness Kitten, but only the mother eats that.  The kittens still like their Blue Wilderness canned kitten food, but also steal the older cats’ Fancy Feast when they get a chance.

Kittens eating their Blue Wilderness canned food.

Kittens eating their Blue Wilderness canned food.

As a result of all this, I have had to rethink my issues with Royal Canin.  I went back to the internet to see if I could determine why the top foods were rated the way they were.  And what I discovered is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of scientific reasons for why various sites rate certain ones high, but instead they are rated on ‘good ingredients’.  They are also, invariably, the most expensive brands.  What are the best ingredients?  It seems they are the ingredients that people like.  Chicken, turkey, fish, carrots, peas, rice.  Because more people now think they are sensitive to gluten, and we know people with Celiac Disease really are, maybe dogs and cats are too, so gluten became a bad ingredient.

I thought about what felines and canines in the wild eat.  You see big cats bringing down an antelope on TV and what do they eat first?  They dive into the viscera of the animal.  They don’t go for the rump roast, they go for the intestines, heart, liver, i.e. ‘by-products’.  When my cats that I had as a young women caught a bird or a mouse, they ate the whole thing.  That meant fur, feet, eyeballs, some feathers, bones and other yukky things – more ‘by-products’.  Included in the antelope was a stomach (or maybe a rumen) full of grains and partially digested grasses.  The birds and mice had plant material in their stomachs too.  Mmmm, could that be the reason why my cats like the food with by-products and grains?

Royal Canin makes a very large number of different varieties of foods: by breed, by size, by taste, smell, or textural preference.  The ones, like the Ragdoll variety, that don’t sell in huge quantities, have higher prices.  Are their ingredients really cheap?  Maybe, or maybe not.  The important thing is that all my cats like the Indoor Adult 27 and really like a new one I tried, Selective 40 – Protein Preference.  Because I know that my cats like variety, I will still offer them the Blue Wilderness.  They also get a variety of canned food like the trusty favorites from Fancy Feast, as well as Earthborn Chicken Cacciatore, Wilderness chicken and turkey varieties, and Wellness chicken and turkey varieties.

But I’m no longer averse to corn or wheat, providing meat is the first ingredient.  I never really did have a problem with by-products, since they are the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart and other yukky stuff that dogs and cats just love.

I keep remembering the cats of my youth, who lived healthy lives to advanced age on Meow Mix and 9 Lives…