Grain Free Doesn't Equal Meat Based
As I've made people aware of we recently got ourselves a cat and while there are a few similarities between dog and cat food I've never personally bought cat food. When it comes to pet sitting I don't share my opinions on pet food or the pet food industry with people. Consistency in a pet's eating is important and it isn't our job to try and change people's minds on what they feed their pets so when they say one cup from the blue container we give one cup from the blue container, but as pet owners I have a lot of opinions.
My first and most important opinion on pet
food is I will not feed my pets any of the foods produced by the candy companies. Nutrition wise those brands aren't much better than the candy those companies peddle at the cash registers of grocery stores. I am also a believer in grain free feeding for pets. Cats have to have a meat based diets and dogs do better on it. Cats are predators and dogs are scavengers. There are a few key differences but I won't bore you with the science more than linking to an article on dog and cat nutrition by veterinarian T.J. Dunn from PetMD on why meat based diets are better than grain based.
The issue I have however is one I discovered while I was looking for food for our new cat, Bagheera, A fitness podcast I listen to starts with the saying, "Your good intentions have been stolen," and while that is true of human food it is doubly true of pet food. So while our foods are littered with phrases like, "All Natural Sweetener" (what do you think sugar cane is?), "Wild Caught," and "Extra Light Olive Oil," grain free has become the big selling term on pet food. But grain free doesn't mean is good. The essence of a meat based or Paleo diet for humans is to avoid starchy carbs and the same goes for pets. Most starchy carbs are grains but things like rice and potatoes are technically not grains. Rice is a grass and a potato is a root, but they have the same harmful effects of being metabolized as sugars by the liver and it is even more important for cats and dogs to avoid these starchy carbs than us.
Standing there in the food isle looking at how many high end brands listed potato starch or corn flour as the number two or three ingredient I started to realize why we've taken care of so many diabetic cats. Cats more than dogs need a meat based diets. Dogs co-evolved with humans and the first domesticated dogs were self domesticated wolves scavenging from human encampments. Dogs digestive systems are more aligned with human's than cats and therefore they can better process the sugars and grains that make up the majority of our modern diets. They should still be fed a high fat low carb diet but they can process the sugars and grains better than cats.
We are the caretakers of our pets. We no longer toss bones to our dogs while huddled around the campfire and unless your cat is a barn cat or a mouser then they depend on your to provide them quality nutrition. When an industry, like pet care, becomes a billion dollar industry a lot of shady people start trying to butt their way in, and they will attempt to make their money by selling that they have higher standards or better quality when it is just a shell game and they in truth have no standards or ethics. Saying a food is grain free and then using potato starch as a filler is as low as it gets in my opinion. These are people knowingly and actively harming pets for the sake of making money and preying on people with the good intention of feeding their pets a healthier diet. So even when a food says it is grain free flip it around and look at the ingredients because just because a diet is grain free doesn't mean it is meat based.