September 30, 2013

I’m back in Pennsylvania and enjoying this gorgeous weather! The AAFP conference was great, but I was happy to bid adieu to the 90 degree Texan weather. The final day of the conference was devoted to feline nutrition, an essential topic especially given the obesity epidemic in our feline friends.

The nutrition lectures I attended returned to a few main themes:

1.) Fat, or adipose tissue, is an active biologic organ. It emits inflammatory mediators, and hormones. Fat doesn’t just make our skinny jeans too tight, and predispose us to arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, but it contributes to an inconceivable number of disease processes.

2.) Fat cats are an epidemic in the United States! There are a variety of contributing causes to this: sedentary (indoor) lifestyles, spaying/neutering (which reaps a variety of health and population control benefits but does slow the metabolic rate), free choice feeding of highly palatable, energy-dense cat food.

3.) Cats are true carnivores (dogs and people are omnivores), which means their dietary requirement for carbohydrates is very low. Yet, what’s in that dry cat food we’ve all been feeding our felines for decades? Tons and tons of carbs! Dry food, while convenient, easy and cost-effective for cat owners, is not akin to the natural diet of the cat and is now thought to be a major contributor to obesity, urinary tract disease and other medical problems.

4.) The vast majority of feline medicine gurus are now strong advocates for a high protein diet. The only diets formulated with high protein and low carbohydrate levels are wet food diets. It is impossible to formulate a dry food that is low carb!

5.) There is still much to learn about feline nutrition but the consensus among veterinary nutrition experts is that we need to undergo a dramatic change in the way we feed cats, to help keep them lean and healthy.

6.) The last thing to remember is that there is not one perfect diet for every cat. Depending on Fluffy’s age, lifestyle and underlying health problems, there are probably a variety of diet options to suit her needs. We are happy to discuss the best type of diet to keep Fluffy happy and healthy!