Is grain-free dry food bad for cats? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-05-2013, 07:28 PM
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So I was reading about food for cats and found one spot that swore grain-free dry food caused crystals and UTI problems in their male cats. I know that wet food is best for cats, period, but if you have grain-free dry sitting out for snacking is that setting up your cat for problems, especially is it's a male? My sister just adopted a male kitten who needs something during the workday because feeding him canned 4 times a day isn't possible. He's not very big yet and needs to eat more often than the adult cat.

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#2 Old 10-05-2013, 08:31 PM
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My parents have been trying to figure out the best cat food for their cats, but it can be tricky. They've tried all sorts of price ranges from the cheap stuff with lots of grain and ash (yuck) to the higher end products that are almost all meat (very little filler). I find that the cats' potty habits have been different depending on the food. And I can tell by their poop smell and the appearance that the food with grain does them quite poorly, while the ones that are more meat-based tend to upset them less.

 

This makes sense though, since cats are obligate carnivores. I too have heard about the relationship between UTIs and diet in felines, especially males. I found this article online by Lisa Pierson, DMV which in a nutshell states that grain-based cats foods increase the chance of UTIs because they make the pH of feline urine more acidic. This increased acidic contributes to the UTI.

 

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#3 Old 10-05-2013, 10:51 PM
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My family had a male cat that had chronic urinary tract problems. After the first incident (his urinary tract was completely blocked and he couldn't urinate) the vet put him on a special low ash dry food. As I recall wet food was as bad for him as dry, but that could have been specific to him and not a general rule. Even with the special food he got another blockage.


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#4 Old 10-05-2013, 10:59 PM
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Wolfie, I think that having a grain free dry food available for snacking on is fine. I feed primarily wet food to get as much moisture into them as possible, since cats seldom drink enough for optimal urinary tract and kidney health. However, I have found in a multi cat household there is a decided benefit to always having food available (it makes them feel less competitive about food, so they get along better and also tend to not overeat, because they are confident that there will always be food available), so I do keep a bowl of dry out around the clock.

 

One thing to watch out for after the kitten is grown - overweight cats tend to have more urinary tract issues, and are much more prone to blockages. This is because an overweight cat can't empty his bladder completely, and in time, a kind of sludge builds up in the bladder.

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#5 Old 10-06-2013, 05:56 AM
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My cat had that problem and his food wasn't grain free. It's very common, mostly in male cats, who are fed only dry food. I didn't know that back then and it made me feel really guilty.  I only feed wet food now, twice a day (three times for the kitten).

 

In your sister's situation I think leaving the dry food out while she's gone is fine. Then she can feed the canned when she's home.

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#6 Old 10-06-2013, 06:39 AM
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In my experience, grain free is the way to go. My cats were overweight, less active, had terrible skin issues, plenty of hairballs, and their fur was wiry- not soft. This is when they were on a food with grains. When I switched them to a grain free food, they lost most of the extra weight, became more active (less drowsy if that makes sense), skin issues cleared up, they only have the odd hairball and their fur is soft. The changes were to the point that the vet noticed a difference. 

 

I have read that wet food in general is better than dry food for this reason. I have never heard that grain free food has anything to do with it- that doesn't even make sense with the cats being obligate carnivores. You would think that the grains not being digested properly would contribute to the problem. I would be willing to bet that said source was feeding a grain free food with something in it that the cat had a sensitivity or allergy too. 

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#7 Old 10-06-2013, 08:18 AM
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I'm trying to figure the best kind of food for my herd of older, fixed males. The two oldest have had emergency procedures due to crystals in the bladder, which eventually blocked the urethra. I've been using a (very expensive!) food based on the amounts of ascorbic acid, etc.. in the food that would raise the urine's pH, dissolving any crystals that might form. Recently the oldest one -9yrs, began having symptoms again!
All the vets do is push their tiny bags of prescription food... which they admit leeches the calcium from their bones and causes 'rubber jaw.' Not sure what I should be looking for in the food anymore! If grain raises the pH it seems to be good in my case, but could the grain based foods be causing the problem?
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#8 Old 10-06-2013, 02:08 PM
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Grain free dry is what my 10 get. Most won't even eat canned, but if I try to get the ones I think need it isolated, there's too much interest- and chaos ensues.

I guess quality wet is best, but we have to do the best we're capable of doing. I've succumbed to the best grain free I can afford, and it seems to do well for everyone. 4Health at Tractor Supply.

I think the more important issue is how much water they drink. They're such copycats - I have one who is so intrigued by water, at the faucet, drinking from the bowl, scooping the water in her paw, dropping things into it- the others watch and wait for their turn. It never gets old.

 

Maybe one of those fountains for a cat who's not so interested?

 

I see nothing wrong in leaving out dry grain free.

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#9 Old 10-06-2013, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecanna View Post

I'm trying to figure the best kind of food for my herd of older, fixed males. The two oldest have had emergency procedures due to crystals in the bladder, which eventually blocked the urethra. I've been using a (very expensive!) food based on the amounts of ascorbic acid, etc.. in the food that would raise the urine's pH, dissolving any crystals that might form. Recently the oldest one -9yrs, began having symptoms again!
All the vets do is push their tiny bags of prescription food... which they admit leeches the calcium from their bones and causes 'rubber jaw.' Not sure what I should be looking for in the food anymore! If grain raises the pH it seems to be good in my case, but could the grain based foods be causing the problem?

 

Food is often the biggest contributor to renal issues with pets, but there could also be other underlying issues (such as inadequate water consumption, congenital defects, etc). According to this Dr. Pierson, grain in the food changes the pH of the urine by making it more acidic; this leads to urinary tract infections. I'm not a veterinarian, but I'd think that having cats consume grain, which is not part of their traditional diet, is counter-intuitive and potentially harmful. In all cases, it's best to consult with one's own veterinarian about pet-related issues, as we can only offer anecdotal evidence and observations. 

 

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#10 Old 10-11-2013, 11:59 PM
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Interesting site.

 

Now I may waste as much time at work reading up on cat food as I have on dog food. :p

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#11 Old 10-12-2013, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecanna View Post

I'm trying to figure the best kind of food for my herd of older, fixed males. The two oldest have had emergency procedures due to crystals in the bladder, which eventually blocked the urethra. I've been using a (very expensive!) food based on the amounts of ascorbic acid, etc.. in the food that would raise the urine's pH, dissolving any crystals that might form. Recently the oldest one -9yrs, began having symptoms again!
All the vets do is push their tiny bags of prescription food... which they admit leeches the calcium from their bones and causes 'rubber jaw.' Not sure what I should be looking for in the food anymore! If grain raises the pH it seems to be good in my case, but could the grain based foods be causing the problem?

Even if using an Rx food, I'd go with canned. I wouldn't want to feed a cat who has already had issues dry at all. Though that might be expensive if you have multiple cats. :/

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