Question about Puri...

Question about Purina/Hills/Science Diet/Royal Canin  

Claudine T.
Originally Answered: Question about Purina/Hills/Science Diet/Royal Canin

I came across this Facebook group called Feline Nutrition & Cat Food Discussion ( where they only recommend Royal Canin, Hill's, Eukanuba, IAMS, and Purina because they follow the WSAVA guidelines. They also say there's no such thing as fillers as every ingredient has a specific purpose, carageenan is fine, never ever feed raw (though I get the concerns around this one), dry food is fine, etc. 

This goes against what I've read on the majority of other websites, including this one. Anyone able to provide insight into the legitimacy of that group?

Thank you!

Mallory Crusta
Originally Answered: Question about Purina/Hills/Science Diet/Royal Canin

Hi there! Thank you for the question, and I apologize that it's taken a little while for me to get back to you on it. I joined the group and looked around a little bit, and I think much of the information there is sound, though perhaps blindly attached to WSAVA guidelines. There seems to be some hivemind around WSAVA and the idea that you can never go "boutique", and I think people are unquestioningly repeating these points, including a pattern of significant overstatements and distortions around the connection between boutique foods and DCM. 

Still, I think there's legitimacy to the model this group (like most vets) uses for evaluating cat food brands and recipes. Looking for companies that meet WSAVA guidelines ensures that they employ nutritionists and meet high quality control standards, giving a measure of confidence that the food is both safe and able to meet cats' dietary requirements long-term. Remember that WSAVA doesn't approve or certify any brands. Brands can simply choose to call out the fact that they meet their guidelines, which you can read here

Overall, I think the standards are generally good and wish more companies met them. Reading through, I suspect that more companies meet these requirements than those often-recommended ones alone. For instance, The Farmer's Dog claims that they meet these guidelines, as does Wellness. There's room for brands to kind of "sneak in" and meet these guidelines in a cheap or misleading way. To understand this, read the critiques of their guidelines here.

On nutrition...

The nutrients vs. ingredients model dictates that the quality or variety of the ingredient matters less than the nutrients it provides. Basically, ingredients are packages for macro-and micronutrients, and as long as you're meeting or exceeding that cat's dietary requirements, the packaging doesn't matter much. Whether or not an ingredient is a filler comes down to bioavailability, digestibility, and price. While ingredients often labeled as "fillers" don't always bloat the food as the word would suggest, some may be less efficient and cheaper than others, and in that sense, I think there is some truth to the idea of filler ingredients being used. For instance, whole prey ingredients deliver the nutrients your cat needs in a more efficient way than would a combination of corn and synthetic additives. But the former is more expensive. It's not that the ingredients don't all have a purpose. It's that some get to that destination more efficiently than others.

Raw food is a human/public health issue on top of a pet health question. Vets have a responsibility to protect human health as well, and more traditional vet-aligned communities will repeat the same warnings about it. While pathogen contamination is a real issue for any raw food, nutritional adequacy is primarily a concern for homemade food, not commercial diets. Virtually all of the raw cat foods on the market meet AAFCO guidelines for nutritional adequacy and are held to the same standards as other foods.

The dry food issue is one that, I believe, even the veterinary community and more "mainstream" cat food community is coming around to. While we haven't put together all of the pieces, we know that moisture intake can affect urinary tract health and that cats who eat dry food consistently get about 2/3s the moisture that wet-fed cats do. More and more vets are encouraging people to give their cats a high-moisture diet, and I think the tide is changing on this. 

Carrageenan, like a lot of other feared ingredients, has not been proven to have any adverse effects. From what I understand, the worries about it may very well be misinterpretations of information about poligeenan and the result of people becoming "married" to their fear of it. For now, though, remains cautious. Since it's not a necessary ingredient, and since some cats don't respond well to gums in general, it seems safe to avoid it. 

There's more to know about food than simply whether or not it meets WSAVA guidelines. They're very broad, don't really address the finer points of nutrition, and can be stretched to allow not-that-great companies to claim excellence. I would use those guidelines as a starting point, then explore subtler things like digestibility, ingredient quality, and appropriateness for a cat's specific needs.

Claudine T.
Originally Answered: Question about Purina/Hills/Science Diet/Royal Canin

@mcrustawildernesscat-com Thank you so much for your comprehensive reply, I really appreciate it! Yes, that blind attachment to the WSAVA guidelines and saying only those few brands are good for your cats is what made me so confused because they're so insistent that it's science-based and correct.

I tried to find a brand that is more locally available and affordable in my country, and have been feeding wet food from this line:

I saw it was on this website's article for best cat foods in India so hope it's okay that I'm feeding my cats this! Not sure if the "best" means just out of everything available in India even if it's not a good option in general. 


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