Cat Food Open Thread

Long day.

Question for you all. I’m thinking about moving Tunch to all wet food rather than the kibble, because even though we have been dieting for a year we have only lost 3/4 of a lb. Many of you said your cats were much leaner and more active on an all wet diet, so I think I might try it.

Today, I gave Tunch his morning kibble and then for dinner I gave him some wet food. I gave him Before Grain 100% salmon, and he loved it. I thought he was going to choke to death because I have never heard him purr that loudly while eating, and afterward I got a rare look that didn’t seemed like he was sizing me up for a casket. I don’t want to go overboard, but he almost looked happy.


1.) Is Before Grain a solid choice?

2.) If so, how much should I give him? A can a day?

3.) How will this affect his stool?

4.) What about his teeth? Isn’t one benefit of kibble that it helps with their teeth?

84 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Jake says:

    I’m thinking about moving Tunch to all wet food rather than the kibble, because even though we have been dieting for a year we have only lost 3/4 of a lb.

    Uhm, “we”? I assume this means you lost five pounds, and Tunch only gained 4 and a quarter.

  2. 2
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Tunch photo, we wants it

  3. 3
    JK says:

    Kudos to Hugh Jackman for his reaction to the jackass with the ringing cell phone at one of his recent stage performances

  4. 4
    Karatist Preacher says:

    They’re all different – when I first got my guy I only bought wet food and after a few days he would turn his nose up at it and not eat. Even now when I give him a tiny container of wet food he’ll eat some of it and leave the rest. So he gets kibble 95% of the time and when I open a can of tuna will give him some of that.

    He also runs around like a lunatic most of the time so I’m guessing he and Tunch have different metabolisms.

  5. 5
    valdivia says:

    related question–my cats have had urinary tract problems and eat special food (when they eat something else they end up at the vet for days). will this food, or anything not based on grain still work given their building crystals proclivities?

    also–Tunch pic please!

  6. 6
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Checking in early — still at work.

    Today was not a good day for me. Worst since I got my prescription increased. I’m not suicidal, but the wave of hopelessness and despair that hit me was almost too much to bear, so I talked it out with a friend.

    Every day is another chance to get it right.

  7. 7
    valdivia says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    hang in there Jay. we are here for you.

  8. 8
    JeremyH says:

    3/4 of a lb per year is a pretty decent weight loss rate for a cat. Kinda equivalent to a full-grown dude losing 35lbs. I’d be happy to lose 35lbs over the next year!

    I have my cats on a half-and-half diet: wet food for breakfast (1 tin of Solid Gold blended tuna between two cats), and dry food for dinner (the special kibble that scrubs their teeth). Works pretty good for them.

    Whatever wet food you give Tunch, just make sure it’s low in grains – rice etc. as filler is bad.

  9. 9

    Yes, one of the benefits of kibble is that it helps keep cats’ teeth clean. The bad aspects seems to be that indoor cats tend to get fat on kibble.

    (I suppose that Tunch won’t be too thrilled by brushing his teeth?)

    So after he has had his wet food, give him a little bit of kibble.

    Don’t be surprised if Tunch gets the trots for a day while the food change works through his system.

    As for how much to feed him, what’s it say on the can? How big is the can?

  10. 10
    Mark S. says:

    1) Never heard of it. If he likes it, I say go with it (cats can be extremely choosy).

    2) If that’s all you’re going to give him, he might need more than that. My cat’s a pig (he’s also huge, without an ounce of fat) and he needs at least two cans a day.

    3) I’ve never noticed much difference between stools of cats who ate wet food vs. dry food. My biggest problems have been with certain kinds of dry food.

    4) Don’t really know.

  11. 11
    JeremyH says:

    Equivalent to 35lbs? Why did I write that? More like 7 or 8 pounds. Which isn’t that impressive, you’re right. My brain is fried this afternoon.

  12. 12

    Cole, all wet is better. I don’t do it for a variety of reasons, but the dry is better for their teeth is a fallacy. I feed mine a mixture of high-quality wet and dry. Ideally, raw is the best, but I don’t do that.

    @Jay in Oregon: Keep talking it out with friends. Keep posting. Keep breathing.

  13. 13
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Today, I gave Tunch his morning kibble and then for dinner I gave him some wet food. I gave him Before Grain 100% salmon, and he loved it.

    I’m the same way with salmon. Me and Tunch could be twins. We’re both really fucking white, have beautiful blue eyes, are very slightly overweight, pretty fucking mean and we spend an inordinate amount of time licking ourselves.

  14. 14
    Demo Woman says:

    I have no idea. What I do know is that I have voted for Little Bitsy for weeks and she still has not won. Please vote! This might be her week.

  15. 15
    baldheadeddork says:

    John – I’ve had the opposite experience with wet and dry food. I started feeding my cats moist food and moved them to dry because they were getting fat. They haven’t lost weight on Hill’s Senior Light, but they’ve stopped gaining weight. Activity levels didn’t change between the kibble and moist.

    We were talking about food with our vet last week when we took our twenty-pounder in for his checkup. The vet said one of his other customers built a 3-4 foot tall staircase and put the dry cat food at the on the top step, and it worked. The cat went up the stairs several times a day to eat and lost a pound over six months.

  16. 16
    RedKitten says:

    You could give Tunch dental treats to help keep his teeth clean, I’d say. Greenies has a line out for cats, or you could even just use some high-quality dried kibble as treats.

    Looking at the Before Grain website, the canned stuff is intended to supplement only, and shouldn’t be his sole source of food. They do make kibble as well, so you could mix the kibble in with the wet food, and on the back of the bag, it shows a feeding guideline so that you know how much to give him.

  17. 17
    Jennifer says:

    asiangrrrl, must disagree. Eating some kibble every day absolutely does help retard tartar buildup on the teeth. The only cat we ever had that got a wet/soft food diet exclusively lost all her teeth. On the other hand, she did live to 18… but significantly, that was the only cat we ever had that lost any teeth…all of the others got kibble along with wet food, and two of them are now in their 17th and 15th years of life.

    I would suggest supplementing the wet food with a small amount of kibble just for the teeth-cleaning benefits. If that means reducing the amount of wet food by a slight amount to maintain or reduce his weight, just feed a little less of the wet stuff and a small quantity of the dry.

  18. 18
    R-Jud says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Me and Tunch could be twins. We’re both really fucking white, have beautiful blue eyes, are very slightly overweight, pretty fucking mean and we spend an inordinate amount of time licking ourselves.

    Wild thing, I think I love you.

  19. 19
    Jay in Oregon says:


    Don’t worry, I don’t feel so bad that I plan on doing anything to harm myself. But the up-one-day, down-the-next is starting to wear on me.

    I’m not going to give up. Not on myself, not on her.

  20. 20
    Randy G says:

    4.) What about his teeth? Isn’t one benefit of kibble that it helps with their teeth?

    On the advice of my vet years ago, I started mixing in Hills Prescription Feline TD with the crunchies (about 1/3 to 1/2 by volume) and my guys’ teeth have since been much healthier for longer periods. They also love it just as treats.

  21. 21
    Skepticat says:

    I absolutely recommend the change. One of my cats became diabetic, and after considerable research I’m convinced that dry food caused or at least triggered it. When I changed both cats to canned food, both slimmed considerably and just seemed more healthy. The diabetic one actually went into what seems to be permanent remission.
    Please check out this article: and a few others on the site.

    I’m not familiar with Before Grain, but it seems to address the “kitty crack” problem. Tunch will let you know how much he needs. I’d suggest starting with half a can in the morning, half a can in late afternoon, and see whether he knocks you down, gets his paws around your throat, slams your head on the floor, and screams “More, more.” Unlike dogs, apparently cats eat only what they need rather than anything that’s available.
    His system may take a bit of time to adjust, but his intestines ought to adapt very well.
    I’ve read that the “they need dry food for their teeth” position has been debunked, though that seems counterintuitive. I have found that Crunch ‘n’ Clean treats do a very good job. Somehow I don’t see you converting the Tunchmeister to having his teeth brushed.
    I’ve also read that we ought to limit fish cat food because of the mercury problem.
    My formerly diabetic cat is 17 or 18 and has gone into chronic renal failure, which is what my vet tells me is my reward for taking good care of him and keeping him alive a long time. However, he has done well (and long outlived his prognosis) because (blush) he gets only high quality protein—baked chicken breast with liquid from the other cat’s canned food for taurine and the like. Lawd, my animals are sooooo spoiled.
    Good luck.

  22. 22
    AnneS says:

    We use wet food for treats so now it’s a good medium for administering meds. (Our older kitties have thyroid and kidney issues.)

    John, just check the history of the food to make sure there’s not a history with kidney issues with cats who consume the product.

  23. 23
    Karatist Preacher says:

    Adding that Trader Joe’s has these Bench & Fields ‘Holistic Natural Feline Treats’ which are like crack to the cat – its how I get out the door without an escape attempt.

  24. 24
    freelancer says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    I’m not going to give up. Not on myself, not on her.

    Good for you, Jay.

  25. 25
    ellaesther says:

    It amuses me that you changed the title of this post because I was going to comment that “Hey! This isn’t an Open Thread! This is a Cat Food Thread!” But then I decided that would be obnoxious, so I didn’t. IT’S LIKE YOU CAN READ MY MIND!1!

    I don’t really have any useful advice, though. My vet said that I was wise to give our now-deceased cat almost nothing by dry food, but she was a different cat. I would say: Ask your vet. But I will also add that I love how much you think about your pets and how much you obviously love them. It’s a very sweet thing, indeed.

  26. 26
    Madeline says:

    I’ve been feeding multiple generations of cats wet food (5.5 oz can, split between 2 or 3 cats) for breakfast and dinner, with crunchies available at all times for snacks. I do watch the ash content in the wet, and avoid the poor quality stuff, but otherwise give them lots of variety.

    In the 35 years I’ve had cats, have never had one be overweight or get a urinary blockage. All have lived to 16-18. They do get outside for some exercise tho.

    Teeth cleaning, yes — every 1-3 years, but that seems to depend on the individual cat — I have 3 from the same litter — one needs his teeth cleaned annually, his brother hardly ever, and the sister needs it every couple years.

    The new favorite around here is Paul Newman’s organic chicken and brown rice. Pricey, but man, they love it.

  27. 27
    Ella in NM says:

    Cats are obligate carnivores, and are supposed to ideally have a diet that is around 3% carbohydrate, the rest being protein, fat and water. Cats who eat a lot of dry food, especially high carb dry food made from grains and simple starches, will be more likely to be obese and develop diabetes, liver and kidney diseases. They are just not made to metabolize that much carbohydrate.

    They can tolerate a little more than than 3%–even up to 10%–but it needs to be in the form of wet food as much as possible. This is because they are physiologically adapted to getting a large proportion of their H20 from their food/prey (think of how few carbs you find in a mouse, for instance, and just how much of it’s tissue is water) and tend to be chronically underhydrated on a dry diet. You may see your cat drinking, but they may not be getting enough to compensate. Also, some vets think that the upsurge of kidney, liver and urinary tract issues in cats is directly related to their low protein/low water diets.

    There are plenty of commercial canned cat foods that meet the basic requirements for low carb content, but not as many that don’t use whey, corn, rice etc. as fillers. You’ll end up doing some simple math to estimate their breakdowns.

    For meeting cost and basic nutritional requirements, I settled on 1and 1/2 cans a day of Authority Cat food from Petsmart for my 2 big boys (16 lb’ers). I also use Blue Buffalo Wilderness, which is over 45% protein and has no grains in it, for my one stubborn little old lady who simply must have her crunchies (“Dammit!”). And the boys get some for treats now and then, too. Or they steal it from her, but in any case, they are staying super muscle-y and perky.

    Here’s some info:

    Buena Suerte!

  28. 28
    Ella in NM says:

    Sorry, that’s 1 and1/2 to 2 and 1/2 cans per day of canned for my big cats, depending on how hungry they seem to be, time of year, etc.

  29. 29
    raptusregaliter says:

    I should be so lucky to have your problems. My shelter cat, Casey, has chronic irritable bowel syndrome for which he gets a steroid pill every other day (fun!). He eats like a horse (probably 3/4 C of kibble and 2 1/2 cans of wet food every day) but can’t crack 9 pounds. And his poop? Imagine opening up an 8 oz. container of yogurt and scooping the contents onto the floor. I clean up about two of these messes a day (almost always on carpeted areas) in addition to two full litterboxes. All for one cat.

    I can’t offer you any weight-loss advice, but here’s a poop protip: If your cat is having loose stools, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of canned pumpkin to his wet food once a day. The pumpkin is a natural and gentle binding agent that really seems to help Casey.

  30. 30
    CJ says:

    You will come to wish you hadn’t given the cat wet food. It is messy, expensive, smells bad (or worse – good), and your cat will not want to eat dry food once he gets used to the wet. I believe that you could use this as a periodic diet tool though. One week of wet followed by one week of dry. He won’t eat anything during the dry week and he’ll lose weight.

  31. 31
    Joey Maloney says:

    The main thing with wet food – or any cat food, FTM, that’s going to be the sole food source – is to make sure it has the proper amount of taurine. That’s the one amino acid cats can’t manufacture and it’s only found naturally in meats.

    Our cats all go outdoors, and their depradations on the local vole and squirrel population are legion, so we don’t worry about them. We supplement their diet of tasty rodent brains with kibble always available and a little wet food once a day. Keeping their teeth clean through diet is a big point. Cats have to be anesthetised to clean their teeth and anesthesia with animals that small can be rather dicey.

  32. 32
    peeper says:

    Wet catfood is great, however, introduce slowly into Tunch’s diet. Otherwise diarrhea will likely result. Supposed to be great for the kidneys, as others have pointed out (the wet food, not the diarrhea).

  33. 33
  34. 34
    WereBear says:

    I feed canned twice a day, the baby a midday snack since she’s growing, and the two year old, who is still growing, cleans up after her.

    Then they have a bowl of dry out all the time, Innova EVO, which is grain free and the lowest in carbs I could find.

    Dry or wet, cats can’t digest carbohydrates. They don’t have the enzymes. Even the glycogen their brain needs is synthesized from protein.

    So all the carbs can do for these Perfect Predators is stress their pancreas and turn to fat. It’s Science!

  35. 35
    chuck says:

    My own vet tells me kibble doesn’t do a whole lot for teeth, because most of it is really not all that hard. There are dental health varieties that are much harder, but most cats hate it (mine certainly do).

    I’ve tried giving them healthy canned foods, but Friskies is the only damn thing they want to eat. Meh, I’ve seen cats live 20 years on worse, so I’d rather just keep ’em happy and not worry.

  36. 36
    valdivia says:

    @Ella in NM:

    thanks for that info

  37. 37
    Jim Henley says:

    More of a dog person, but . . .

    1. BTFOOM, but Ella’s point that cat’s are true carnivores (as opposed to dogs, who are actually omnivorous) is important. Check the reviews and the staff at the really hoity-toity pet stores. If they sell Whole Dog Journal and have Tellington Touch videos, they are probably granola enough to work with.

    2. Less than you think. Do cats have stuffable toys like Kongs so you can make it last longer and give him more to do? I’ve pretty much given up on bowls for Zach and Kate. Zach eats his dry kibble out of a hard ball with openings at the poles. Kate gets her raw-or-soft food stuffed into Kongs and frozen.

    3. At a guess, shrink the volume?

    4. Kibble benefits pet teeth like corn chips help human teeth, for the same reasons. Consider raw bones or some kind of dental chew. (Greenies can be problematic and had to be reformulated after some, er, deaths in mid-decade.)

  38. 38
    Scott de B. says:

    Unlike dogs, apparently cats eat only what they need rather than anything that’s available.

    Have you seen Tunch?

  39. 39
    Chasm says:

    Ridley was on 1/4cup dry in the morning, and 1/4 can wet for dinner (no open bowls for Ridley), for YEARS and because he was outdoor and eating other kitties’ food, got up to 22 pounds and developed diabetes.

    Now he’s indoor, eats only wet (Evo 95% – very good high meat content, less filler and carbs) and is down to 19 pounds. No remission on the diabetes yet, but it’s stable. Teeth don’t seem to be worse, and he sure likes it better.

  40. 40
    Annie says:

    One of our cats had a horrible urinary problem. One day, he literally became a statue, because he had so many crystals in his track that he could not move from the pain.

    The vet told us that cats need water, as they don’t always drink enough. I give both of our cats wet food in the morning — i add water to the wet food sort of a gravy thing — and dry food in the evenings for the teeth. This has been extremely helpful. No more urinary problems for Diesel. I will say that both of our cats are overweight, and as a result I have cut way down on any cat treats.

    With tuna when I give it, I add water to the tuna, and they go crazy with happiness.

  41. 41
    Svensker says:

    How will this affect his stool?

    Oy. From Sarah Palin to cat poops. You betcha.

  42. 42
    IndyLib says:

    oops dropped the keyboard.

    Someone on a thread on this very site, about 8 months ago, turned me onto Wellness as a good low carb food for my overweight kitteh.
    I feed him one small can of the grain-free in the morning and then give him the Wellness Core dry in small helpings the rest of the day (about a total of 1/2 cup). I don’t weigh him, so I don’t know how much weight he lost, but he can climb our back fence now and he’s much less lazy. I may have to adjust when it gets to be winter because he doesn’t like going out into the Wisconsin winter, but it sure has been a good combo for him when he can go outside and get exercise.

    I give my puppy dog the same brand, a mix of wet and dry.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    The big issue with our oldest boy is that he seems to be sensitive to wheat gluten, which even our vet was a little surprised to hear. It used to be that he would puke every other day. Since we switched him to gluten-free food (Blue Buffalo dry and Purina ProPlan Selects wet), he only heaves when he has a hairball (or gets wet food in the morning that’s WAY too exciting, like Cod & Shrimp).

    He shares two small cans of wet food with the other two cats but it seems to be going okay. He hasn’t had a UTI in a while now — the last one was after he got accidentally locked in the litter-box-less bathroom all day and had nowhere to go.

  44. 44
    ScottD says:

    @Annie: I was feeding my cat primarily dry food thinking it would prolong dental health. Eventually she started having kidney problems and my vet told me to do exactly what Annie says here and I think it bought her another year at least to make it to the cat milestone of 20.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    Oh, and it could be brought down to me from heaven by an angel, but I will never, ever use Natural Balance again. They killed my cat with their fucking Chinese rice gluten.

  46. 46
    sarah in brooklyn says:

    i feed very high quality, grain free food (weruva wet, wellness core dry) and my cats are all slim and trim. i’d say try tunch on a can a day of wet for a while and see how he does. you can always give him a little dry, just keep the quality as high as you can. i spend a frigging fortune on cat food.

  47. 47
    Moe Gamble says:

    I agree with Ella in NM, but even better would be to feed 100% raw.

    Feed the lower part of the chicken breast, WITH BONE (for calcium), and with skin of course. Feed raw wild sockeye salmon with bone. Feed grassfed beef, with fat but not bone.

    A raw diet should be based on raw prey ratios–roughly 5-10% bone (they crunch right through it like potato chips after their jaw muscles get used to it, as long as the bones are small–again, lower end of chicken breast, salmon bones, or quail or cornish hen), roughly 10% organs (heart, liver, tongue, kidneys–and half should be liver) and the rest raw meat.

    See for the details, including excellent advice on the transition to raw, and join the rawfeeding newsgroups for more advice. You can find links at the web site.

    You should raw feed Lily too.

    Don’t get hung up by the raw feeders who follow complicated recipes, with veggie mixes and the like. That’s not what they’re built to eat. Go simple. It’s very easy, and they not only thrive, they love it.

  48. 48
    AhabTRuler says:

    @IndyLib: I’ve been feeding Momo the Wellness, with “Taste of the Wild” kibble because she rarely finishes the wet. We tried a number of different canned foods before we settled on Wellness as the one she hated least.

    Henri fairly devours the stuff, although.

  49. 49
    Jill says:

    Hi, John: This is a subject near and dear to my heart, as my girls (age 10 and 13) have decided (probably due to teeth issues) that they no longer like the kibble they’ve been eating exclusively their whole lives. They started off on Purina One, then I switched them to Innova after the wheat gluten/melamine problems, and then to the BG (Before Grain) kibble.

    Now they will only eat canned food, but I don’t want to feed them the crap that passes for cat foods in the supermarket.

    You should know that BG canned is NOT a complete food and should not be fed exclusively. You might do well with the Wellness or Instinct brands. One of my cats has been puking up everything that is “pasty” in consistency and she far prefers fish — so I give her the Merrick’s canned food (which comes in yummy-sounding flavors like “Grammy’s Pot Pie” and “Turducken” and “Ocean Breeze” or other gluten- and grain-free foods. The other one does fine on Wellness, Natural Balance, and the like.

    All this said, there is no link between quality food and longevity. My neighbor’s cat is nineteen and has lived his whole life on Meow Mix and Friskies Buffet.

    One other thing about the puking….I have elevated Jenny’s bowl a couple of inches and that seems to alleviate at least most of the post-meal regurgitation.

  50. 50
    merrinc says:

    My vet agrees with asiangrrlMN that the dry food/cleaner teeth is a fallacy. My big guy had a few bouts of cystitis and a steady diet of dry exacerbates that.

    Our old vet claimed that Science Diet wet (some formula or other) was best for his problem but new vet (friend and neighbor) claims that any decent wet food will do. Mine are fond of Friskies Turkey and Giblets classic pate. Since we started feeding wet food once daily (crunchies in the morning), no more health problems.

  51. 51
    Skepticat says:

    @Scott de B.: Well, I was referring to common, ordinary felines (if such things exist), and I agree that Tunch may not meet that criteria. But dry food (total carbs) is called “kitty crack.”

    “@Chasm: If you haven’t yet found, please check it out. The support and information saved my cat’s life more than once during the diabetes drama. Good luck with Ridley, it’s an adventure.

  52. 52
    mutt says:

    an older cat might well have problems with crystals n the uretha/ urinary tract. ….a regular cause of older cats dying w/o medical attention.
    Throw in a regular can of science diet perscription, keeps ureac acid content high, keeping crystals from forming.
    the amount of grains in kibbel isnt all that good for them.
    Lux’s guardian….

  53. 53
    IndyLib says:

    Maybe you’re the one who mentioned it in an earlier thread. I spent about 6 months weaning my cat off the old kitty-crack food he used to eat. Now he’s meowing at me the second I get up in the morning for his wet food and starts looking for his dry snack in the middle of the afternoon with a booster of dry at bedtime.

  54. 54
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    My cat eats birds, squirrels and rabbits, although he seems to prefer birds to mammals. He is in excellent health as catching his own food requires plenty of physical effort. When he gets stuck in the house and cannot get outside to eat, he will often attack and eat a portion of a loaf of bread.

  55. 55
    Ruemara says:

    meh, I give mine 1 can of avoderm, natural balance or any decent organic cat food and all the kitty kibble they want during the day. kitty wet chow is 1 6oz can per 8lbs of body weight a day. Be warned some kitties are messy eaters.

  56. 56
    Annie says:

    I will say that my husband and I could stand to lose a few pounds. I suggested to him that we eat wet food in the morning for our urinary health and dry food in the evening for our teeth. So far, he is nonresponsive.

  57. 57
    Lesley says:

    It just slays me that Tunch lost “3/4’s of a pound” in one year. Hellaciously funny, that.

    Does Tunch go out? Some cats are good at hitting up the neighbours for food.

  58. 58
    agua fruta says:

    I’m with Ella in NM (27/28) and Moe Gamble (47) – raw is the best, and the link Moe gives is a good one.

    We have been feeding a raw diet to the kitten we found a few months ago. She loves it!! And it is so easy. You being a chef and a foodie will have no problem at all with it, and probably have a good butcher, too, which is a bonus, though not necessary. Our little kittie eats mostly raw chicken with the little bones included (crunches right through – great for the teeth!), all the tasty organs (liver, heart lungs, kidneys, etc.) plus some beef heart occasionally, fish, eggs, and sometimes or a bit of the yogurt we make at home (or just the whey). She is health and happy. Actually, there was one day she seemed strangely lethargic and looked visibly bloated. The neighbor came by later to tell us proudly that she had fed the kittie some kibbles earlier. It was a very graphic demonstration for us that raw is the way to go.

    Also, you can always keep some wet, meaty food around just for backup when you don’t have the raw on hand. That’s what we do – we keep a bunch of Friskies wet kitten food, which at least in Mexico where we are is just fish and vitamin supplements.


  59. 59
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    We converted to a 100% raw diet (with occasional cans of Wellness or Instinct as treats) several years ago after we lost the old man to complications from diabetes. For the most part, everyone’s at their ideal weight. The girls were grossly obese on kibble, but after 6 months of raw they were 90% of the way to their ideal weight. It is possible for a cat to get a little overweight on a raw diet; couple a slow metabolism with a touch of food aggression and you’ll get a fluffy cat.

    Advantages of a raw diet:

    1. Everyone poops less, and the poop is much less stinky;
    2. Skin and coat problems have gone away;
    3. Everyone’s energy level went up a notch; the 10-year-old still tears through the house gurgling periodically;
    4. Weight issues went away;
    5. Haven’t had urinary tract issues;
    6. Teeth have stayed in fairly good shape;

    Disadvantages of a raw diet:

    1. Food safety does come into play — you are dealing with raw meat; you have to keep it frozen until you serve it, you can’t just leave it out all day, and whatever isn’t eaten needs to be disposed of promptly;
    2. If you prepare your own (as we do), you have to pay attention to nutritional issues like calcium/phosphorous ratios, amino acid content (taurine especially);
    3. You can’t just buy a chicken from the supermarket and throw it at the cat; meat should be bought fresh from a known, trusted supplier;
    4. It’s expensive compared to dry food, although the cost is comparable to high-quality canned food;

    We’ve heard too many horror stories about peritonitis, so we grind the bone through the medium die (raw chicken bone is no safer than cooked chicken bone). We’ll leave chunks of meat in the mix (half-inch cubes or so) which helps keep the teeth clean. If you don’t want to go through all that, there are several suppliers of premade raw food, though you may have to go to smaller, independent pet stores to get it.

    It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s been absolutely worth it; our kids are healthy, they’re at the right weight (mostly; Milo and Gracie remain on the fluffy side), and are very active for their respective ages.

  60. 60
    agua fruta says:

    oh, also, re: Wellness Core – I used this for a while with my other two cats but it actually just replaces the grain filler with potato. Potato, turns out, apparently has a toxin for kitties. So I ended up switching their crunches to the Whole Foods brand of cat food, which just replaces the potato with rice (still gluten free, better than wheat or barley), and is like $4 a bag instead of $24. It is surprisingly cheap.

    but you’re thinking right to get off the all dry diet – my kittens had urinary problems and tooth problems on their all-crunches diet and were overweight. wet food is better, and raw is the best!

  61. 61
    agua fruta says:

    i don’t fuss with a grinder. that helps with the food safety factor a lot, too. i just put pieces like half the size of my palm on the plate and the little kitten attacks it! a wing, for instance, i’d chop into buffalo wings pieces – done.

    she has no problem with taurine because in addition to the chicken heart she always gets with each chicken, she gets occasional beef heart (gracias, carniceria!)

    and we just follow the general rule of thinking about their prey in the wild for ratios, like Moe said: mostly meat, then ~5-10% small meaty bones, ~10% organs, about half of that being liver. easy peasy.

    we just move some raw down to the fridge from the freezer the day before we need it. our kittie will eat it cold from the fridge. of course, it’s also extremely hot where i live, so maybe that’s why.


  62. 62
    agua fruta says:

    oh, one last effort-saving tip from the lazy – i use kitchen shears (i.e. cheap kitchen scissors from IKEA) to cut a chicken wing for instance, or beef heart, or other parts. is easy.

  63. 63
    bubba says:

    John, I’m the owner of the Tunch size cat carried by my granddaughter who’s picture you recently posted (Plus another). I feed all dry. My daughter was a crazy cat lady in college and was helping to run a program for feral cats in her town. Living in the deep south where the temperature is kinder, they are rampant. She has 3 indoor cats of her own and is adamant about feeding them a cup at each feeding, period. When Ange, (the cat in the picture) started to plump up, I did the one cup routine and it did a great job of stabilizing the weight. Plus no more picky, picky at the dinner table.
    So I stick with the dinner routine and if I want to treat them, I do so.

  64. 64
    slag says:

    My vet agrees with @asiangrrlMN and @merrinc‘s vet. Apparently, the way cats eat (as in gulping their food) means that they don’t chew much and don’t get any real benefits from dry food.

    One of my beasts has a history with urinary tract infections so they both (in case they switch bowls on me) get 1/3 of a can of wet food mixed with water twice a day. They’ll still whine that they’re not getting enough, and when I finally can’t stand the whining any more, I give them a handful of cat Greenies (totally different from dog Greenies), which gets them to shut up. (We’ve even taught them to do tricks–twirling, sitting, etc–for their treats, which always entertains the guests.) Both cats are fairly active and social, and their weights are perfect for their sizes.

    As for brand, I just go with what my friend who owns a pet store suggests. I want to say Pinnacle is the brand, but I don’t remember for sure, and I’ve got a cat sitting on me right now, so I can’t go look. Just look for human-grade food.

    PS My friend who owns the pet store once sent dog treats to Rachel Maddow. She loved them so much she sent a handwritten note back. Apparently, Rachel and Susan ended up getting snowed into an airport or something and all they had to eat was those human-grade dog treats. Based on the note, it seemed like they kind of enjoyed them though.

  65. 65
    Lizzy L says:

    After my big cat got those urinary crystals and one nasty expensive UTI, I bought a table-top running water fountain (brand name Drinkwell) made for cats to drink from, and switched both my cats to mostly wet food with special Science Diet crunchies thrown in. Both cats have lost weight, and they both drink a lot more at the fountain then they ever did from a bowl. I recommend the water fountain strongly.

  66. 66
    Darkrose says:

    Joxur and Ogdred get about a cup of kibble (Science Diet Light Hairball Control) and a can of Fancy Feast grilled. Ogdred the 2-year-old kitten only licks at the gravy; Joxur, who’s Tunch-sized and 12, usually eats all of his gooshyfood and then most of Ogdred’s.

    Especially with Joxur, I’ve found that the key is to introduce changes very slowly. Any variations on the routine are likely to result in really gross litter boxes.

  67. 67
    John MacNeill says:

    Our country vet prescribed a third of a can of 9-Lives chicken, three times a day. The cat is now trim and bouncing around like a kitten. He also said any alleged heath benefits of kibble are marketing BS.

  68. 68
    The Saff says:

    @Lizzy L: I have a Freshflow drinking fountain for my cats (after the Drinkwell died). It keeps the water fresher and encourages cats to drink. My two boys use it all the time; my tortoiseshell likes to drink from the kitchen fountain.

    My suggestion, John, is to check with your vet. Our vet told us that you don’t want a cat to lose too much weight too quickly. You want to have their weight reduce steadily.

    After Sherman had a UTI 4 years ago, our vet recommended to put him on Hill’s Prescription C/D (then W/D now R/D). Knock wood, he’s had no urinary problems since (his sister is on it too; the vet said urinary issues can be hereditary). They always ate dry but after Sherman’s UTI, they’ve been eating more wet. They both love ProPlan Chicken for Urinary Tract Health (our vet suggested it).

    Our little black cat eats the R/D but he also gets his own rotisserie chicken every week. He turns up his nose at wet food.

  69. 69
    Steaming Pile says:

    Our cats get dry food overnight (so they let us sleep) and during the day, and they split a can of wet food in the evening. They seem to like that arrangement, and I haven’t noticed any of them getting fat. Yet.

  70. 70
    Lee says:

    I can tell you that as a veterinarian my wife is against wet food. We feed kibble to our cats as their daily diet. We do have a few small cans of wet food that we feed them as a treat every 2 or 3 weeks.

    I do not know all of the reasons she is against wet food.

  71. 71
    WereBear says:

    Well, as noted, there is a secondary benefit from wet food: they get more hydration that way.

    My Wegie mix, Mr. Bond, used to throw up every day. The more I reduced his grain load, the better he did, and the more research I did, the more I realized no prairie farmer ever stormed into the cabin to exclaim, “That mountain lion’s into the wheat again!”

  72. 72
    WereBear says:

    Aw, heck, since it’s so pertinent, permit me to blog-whore and offer my Cat Food Calculator.

    Find out what’s really in the food.

  73. 73
    Michael D. says:

    @Jay in Oregon: Not to air my own emotional laundry here, but I take a medication called Symbyax. You’re supposed to take it daily, but I found (with my doctor’s approval) that I only need to take it when necessary. Which is good, because it’s $60+ per month. Not an atrocious amount – but enough to make me want to dish out for it as little as possible.

    You know how you KNOW “tomorrow is going to be a bad day”?? That’s when I know to take it the night before. Also, it helps me sleep. Basically, it’s a combo medication. It’s a mild anti-psychotic. It’s too mild to treat psychosis, but strong enough to “turn off your brain” after about a half hour. Basically, one of my biggest issues is that my mind races so much while trying to sleep that I never get to sleep. It’s is a root cause of my own depression. This stuff really helps, because now I can sleep regularly.

    The other part of the combination is either Prozac or a Prozac-like medication. Can’t remember.

    Only downside is weight gain. But that’s manageable. Anyway, thought I would throw that one out there for you in case you experience the same thing!


  74. 74
    MazeDancer says:

    What Ella in NM and Moe Gamble said.

    Cats are supposed to eat meat. All meat, all the time. Raw best. But canned for convenience. (Though people make their own and store in portions in freezer.)

    Dry food is a treat. It’s basically junk food for cats. For dogs, it’s healthy. That’s how people — and some misinformed vets — get confused.

    You’ll need several non-grain brands. Because Tunch will get finicky.

    Wellness is a great food nutritionally. One little can in the morning, one at night. Or, if he’ll tolerate it from the fridge, even 1/3 of a 5.5. ounce can, morning and night, with just some dry sprinkles.

    The better the food, the less you have to feed.

  75. 75
    NobodySpecial says:

    I must be a bad person. I’ve fed my cat Friskies in cans for years now. She’ll hardly touch dry food. Then again, something must be working, she just hit 20 and she’s still going strong.

  76. 76
    Mrs Skullstars says:

    My vets recommend wet food due to help avoid kidney problems and control weight. The extra moisture in wet food helps keep them hydrated and they feel fuller too. We switched over to grain-free wet food and the personality changes in our cats were amazing. One kitty that was in constant “bitch-mode” and thin became much more friendly. The other kitty that has a little weight problem has also become more friendly. The one kitty may be allergic to grains and that impacted her mood so I highly recommend any “grain-free” food (we used Wellness and then switched to Blue Buffalo because it was less expensive).

    You can give Tunch “Greenies” to help with his teeth. Our kitties get their treats every morning and they go nuts for them.

    I bet you will see a marked improvement in Tunch’s overall disposition if you switch him to wet food.

  77. 77
    DMac says:

    Jeez, John, I thought you switched him months ago after another of these interminable IS TUNCH FAT threads.

    Cats eat meat, as has been pointed out repeatedly. Kibble is the equivalent of Doritos and Ruffles. I feed my cats, no kidding, ground up chickens. Bones and all. That’s the closest I can get to their normal diet in my house. My cats are all svelte and healthy with shiny coats and tons of energy.

  78. 78
    angrystan says:

    1.) Is Before Grain a solid choice?

    Before Grain is not intended to be a complete diet. It tells of this on the can. It is a supplement. If you feed a high-quality kibble and Before Grain, he’ll be fine. Before Grain is a Merrick product which means it is a very high quality feed.

    2.) If so, how much should I give him? A can a day?

    See how much he eats, and how this effects his demeanor. A half 5.5 oz. can to one can per day is reasonable. If he wolfs down whatever you put in front of him try two half-can or quarter-can feedings per day.

    3.) How will this affect his stool?

    It will be a little weird for a while as the body adjusts to additional moisture in the food. Ultimately it should be somewhat more wet. Wet stool is good.

    4.) What about his teeth? Isn’t one benefit of kibble that it helps with their teeth?

    Sorta. The act of chewing the dry food is supposed to scrape the teeth clean, and keeps those muscles strong. Of course, my Bob gets plenty of chewing done waking me up in the afternoon. YMMV

    For the record, I feed Addiction NZ Brushtail rotating weekly with Homestyle from the Prairie Duck or Lamb, one-half can once per day with Taste of the Wild kibble available at all times for one thirteen-pounds-of-muscle cat. I have a theory which should not be taken seriously; using different feed from different companies concurrently will give him an even more complete diet.

  79. 79
    The Other Steve says:


    My vet agrees with @asiangrrlMN and @merrinc’s vet. Apparently, the way cats eat (as in gulping their food) means that they don’t chew much and don’t get any real benefits from dry food.

    I have two cats. One chews everything, and the other will gulp unless the kibble is fairly good sized.

    Foods that have a larger kibble tend to invoke crunching.

    I’m using Blue Wilderness now and my cats love it, but the kibble is small. Before I used to use Natural Choice i think it was, and it has a larger kibble which they’d chew.

    I need to do some more research and find another good food. I dumped the Nutro after they were implicated in the Chinese Melamine massacre.

  80. 80
    BombIranForChrist says:

    I’m a little late to this discussion, but wet food basically saved my cat’s life.

    My cat was 18 years old, obese and newly diagnosed with diabetes. We had our insulin for a while, but we also switched her to wet food, and after a couple months, she lost all of her weight and now she no longer requires insulin to maintain her blood sugar levels. I had fed her dry food all her life, and this one switch made all the difference.

    We feed her half a can of wet food in the AM and one half can in the PM. During the day, we give her a very small amount of dry kibble to help her with any munchies and to help her maintain dental health. It’s a very small amount, though. She doesn’t have too many teeth left ;).

  81. 81
    Paul in KY says:

    If you really want him to lose weight, you need to get him a little girl kitten to pal around with. The kitten will want to play alot & since it’s a girl, Tunch should tolerate her much more than he would a young male cat. That way he’ll get more exercise than just holding the couch down all day.

    Also, you need to find out what his minimal diet needs would be (for his age, etc.) & just put that out each day. If he eats it all in 3 mins, then it’ll be a long wait until next meal. Wet or dry or a combo, but only so much & no more. Make sure he has plenty of water (which I’m sure you do).

    He won’t like it, so what else is new?

  82. 82
    round guy says:

    I’m probably not the guy to suggest anything since my cat (Moe) is now 27 pounds.
    We’ve tried dieting without any success. Our vet noted that many wet foods are high in filler; unfortunately the dry food she suggested (ancestral diet) gave poor Moe the runs even when we tried phasing it in as 10% of his food.
    Moe’s a big guy and was very active at 20 pounds, but we’re at our wit’s end with this; he actually gained 3 lbs. in a year on his diet. He only gets 2/3 cup of dry food (Natural Balance) and .75 ounces of wet a day (he is contented with this amount by the way). He’s indoors and we don’t feed him anything else except the occasional strawberry or bit of cantaloupe (he’s a fiend for both).
    I’ve appreciated all the suggestions here and if anyone has others, it would be great. That boy is like a son to me.

  83. 83
    Paul in KY says:

    Round guy, maybe get him a playmate & also reduce his food some more. You probably need to reduce it to the point he is not contented.

  84. 84
    Scott says:

    Hi John,

    Looks like you have gotten many responses already. I didn’t realize this was such a popular topic. Different cats respond differently to different foods. Both of my cats do much better on dry food. I have written a series of articles here at Your Special Cat that will help guide you in the right direction in regards to experimentation. I however have never directly weighed the benefits of each against one another in writing. Thanks for the idea.

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