Dedicated cat owners are a heterogeneous group. I have met some whose lives are focused on their fur kids. Others still love their cats, but have additional interests and/or responsibilities that can distract from their cat’s care. I suspect most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum.
If you are an uber-dedicated owner, you may have the time, energy, and money to home-cook your cat’s food or make a special trip across town to the boutique pet store to buy a special diet. The rest of us, however, might do better to stick with a readily available brand of cat food. Why? Cats are notoriously resistant to changes in their diet and when you realize you’re out of cat food after a day at work, carpooling the kids to karate, and folding a mountain of laundry, it’s awfully nice to be able to run to the nearest grocery store or 24 hour supercenter and pick up what your cat is used to eating.
This is about more than convenience. When faced with something new, many cats will go on a hunger strike, which can lead to a potentially serious disease called hepatic lipidosis. When cats don’t eat, their fat is mobilized and sent to the liver where it is broken down and utilized for energy. All goes well when this happens in a controlled manner. However, when large amounts of fat are mobilized quickly the liver becomes overwhelmed and the organ stops functioning normally. One missed meal isn’t enough to initiate a case of hepatic lipidosis, but it doesn’t take more than a few of days of inappetence to set the wheels in motion, particularly if a cat is overweight.
Foods of all different qualities are available through major retailers. I recommend that owners base their cat’s diet around the best food that they can reasonably expect to be able to purchase on a regular basis. However, that doesn’t mean that busy owners have to avoid specialty foods entirely. They can either be used as the occasional treat or in combination with a more readily available brand. Here’s how I’ve balanced convenience and my cat’s taste for the gourmet.
My cat Victoria eats both canned and dry food. Her canned variety is a brand that I can buy at the grocery store located just a few blocks from my house. That way I know that in a pinch, I can always run down the street and provide her with a meal. Her dry food, however, is fit for a feline “foodie.” I’ve chosen this combination because “grocery store” brands of canned food tend to be of higher quality than are the dry foods located in the same aisle, and I have more confidence in my ability to keep her stocked in a fancy kibble that I only need to purchase every few months in comparison to the cans that I restock on my weekly trips to the grocery store.
This system works to keep me sane and Victoria healthy (she’s 17 and going strong). Give it a try if keeping your cat’s pantry stocked is stressing you out.
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: Mariia Masich / Shutterstock