So what should we be feeding our cats?
To answer the question from our last article about pet nutrition objectively, we must first really understand cats and how they live. Since we tend to think the world revolves around us, the obvious first question is: “Are humans at all like cats?”
Not even close. As 21st century humans, we live entirely different than our more basic ancestors did just 100 years ago… and even they were nowhere near a cat’s life. Similarly, that’s about how long it’s been since most domestic cats (and dogs) started eating very differently. Pet nutrition has really changed in this past century.
Humans used to know how to eat, when to eat, what to eat, and most importantly – what not to eat! We also used to know the basics of how to prepare foods. We’ve since forgotten most of this, focusing instead on what’s easy to access, affordable, and convenient to prepare. Most people today say they do not feel comfortable in kitchen, and less so about preparing a healthy and tasty meal.
On the other side of the spectrum, food production has changed a lot too. It used to be tasked by one in five humans. 20% of our population produced 100% of our food. Now it’d down to one in 50 humans – that’s less than 2% of our population trying to feed 100% of us.
Ergo, the presence of knowledge regarding food production and nutritional health, as learned and practiced by human farmers for thousands of years, has been reduced to 1/10 of what it once was. This means the general (or average) human dietary perspective is no longer a reliable reference even for humans, let alone for cats.
The wild – where it’s do or die. Do it right, or die of complications. Cruel for some, but undeniably effective for everyone else:
Oh, you drank water from the wrong waterhole?
You die, slow and painful from intestinal parasites. Bummer, that e-coli/salmonella/shigella is no joke!
You made that left bank turn too fast?.. on a bad ankle?!. and tore a tendon???
You die. You’ll be really hungry first because you can’t catch food, or you won’t because you’ll be food. But eventually, you’ll die. Sorry.
You ate something you weren’t supposed to?
You die. That flower was pretty… toxic! Belladonna – the most beautiful poison.
Our choices define our reality, and being healthy, nurtured, and in good physical condition is a choice. Most animals make the right choice through instinct, like stretching when they first wake up. But some animals, like our domesticated furriends, do not have access to hunting or foraging grounds, and therefore have to eat whatever foods we provide them with. So we determine pet nutrition with every pet food investment we make, be it with the time we spend at work earning the money to pay for it, or spending the time in the kitchen preparing it ourselves.
It’s only become more difficult to eat the right things in our modern world of convenience. Processed foods and eating-out is so normal to most of us (and our pets), yet so unnatural for our bodies. So many different readily available food options have made it exceedingly difficult to know about every bit of food you put in your (and your pet’s) body. Today more than ever, our health is a product of our choices. That being said, what do our choices say about how we feed our pets?
Kibble. Canned. Baked. Dehydrated. None of these options are optimal life-long food sources. They are, without a doubt, excellent emergency food options – because of their extremely long shelf life and low-contamination risk – but how much of the food our pets eat these days is fresh?.. or at the very least unprocessed?
Nutritional intake defines the resources available to the body. We are quite literally what we eat. Some foods are easy to digest, others are very difficult. Digestion is a huge factor in over-all health. Some foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, while others are rich in probiotics and enzymes. Most sickness and disease is ultimately cause by (or is a product of) mineral or vitamin deficiency. So, keeping our pets (and ourselves) nutriated and mineralized is very important.
But avoiding the wrong foods can be equally important. Some foods can be deadly, and their deadly effects are not always immediate nor obvious. This is why getting it right (when it comes to nutrition) is so furking important! Getting it wrong will always lead to an untimely end. Sometimes death is instantaneous, while other times it’s a very delayed effect. But it always costs us life (hours, days and months off our lifespan). Usually, poor eating choices result in ending a single life, but sometimes, on very rare occasions, it can mean the subtle and unsuspecting end of an entire species.
Food maters. What we eat maters. What our pets eat maters. So, let’s try and get this pet nutrition thing right.