The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Could Your Cat’s Food Be Making Them Smelly?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Could Your Cat’s Food Be Making Them Smelly?

No one likes having a smelly cat. It isn’t their fault, and they shouldn’t be blamed for it. The real culprit? It’s probably you.

No, we’re not saying you’re a bad parent! The majority of maldigestion issues are the result of poor nutrition. Sadly, most of the food out there is made primarily of carbs and plant based proteins, both of which lack the nutrition cats need to stay healthy. Cats have specific nutritional needs, namely protein, vitamins, and minerals. Do you know what they don’t need? 

Carbohydrates. Yes, the much maligned nutrient is something that cats are not naturally inclined to eat. Yet most commercial cat foods contain as much as 70% carbohydrates!

So, if cats don’t NEED carbs in their food, why is it impossible to avoid them, and what kind of complications do they lead to? While not inherently life threatening, carbs may hold the key to your smelly and gassy feline.

Carbs serve a fairly important job in cat food, stretching out the amount of food to help keep prices down, and providing an easily digestible energy source. That’s right, even though cats typically only get about 5% of their nutrition in the wild from carbs, they can digest carbs and use them for energy. Dry food uses carbohydrates to give the food form, texture, and to keep it together in a way that’s easy to handle. Without them we wouldn’t have dry food at all! This leads to the important question. If these carbs aren’t BAD for you cat, how can they lead to digestion issues?

The issue come from the amount of carbs you find in your cats food.

The most obvious reason an excess of carbs is dangerous for your kitty is the same reason carbs are so maligned in the human nutrition world. While a quick and easy form of energy, carbs are easily converted to glucose, meaning that it is very easy for a cat to take in far more fuel than they can burn off. The result is obesity and other serious digestion problems, from mild to severe, that can include excessive gas, bloating, and diarrhea. While small amounts are easily digestible, the larger the quantity, the more difficult it is for cats to digest, leaving portions that aren’t broken down. The undigested carbohydrates will then ferment and create bacterial overgrowth resulting in the production of gas, and leading to other symptoms of maldigestion, including that unpleasant odor.

If you need to de-stink your cat, the most effective way is to scrutinize the nutritional content in his food. Protein is the most important ingredient.  Look for “complete and balanced” on the label as a great indication that the food uses high quality proteins. The term “complete and balanced” officially indicates compliance with The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requirements.

Protein sources with “named” protein in the listed ingredients are vital to search for as well. Chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, etc are key. A huge number of brand name foods contain by-products, meat or bone meal, and other wiggle words that apply to things your cat should NOT be eating. Corn or rice meal are another sign to tell you to put the bag down and move on.

The final piece of the puzzle is water. Cats are not huge water drinkers, and in the wild they get the majority of their fluid intake from their food. Adding wet food to their diet is a fantastic way to help keep them hydrated, a more natural way for them to consume their nutrients, and will also help them better digest their dry food. Treat them to a few cans a week and you will notice a marked difference in their litter boxes.

And as a helpful reminder to not ostracize smelly cats, we’ll wrap up with this classic hit.  Remember while you laugh: diet can make a cat more socially acceptable – and healthier.

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