Let them graze! (and a discussion about canned food)

I learnt something new from the vet today.

I told him that Tabs often asks for snacks and the vet said, “Let them graze, because that’s their natural way of eating!”

I was quite surprised because I thought they should only be fed twice a day, at fixed times (yes, proper meals) so that their intestines have time to rest. Well, I suppose this is one school of thought.

Today, I learnt a new one – let them graze! But graze a controlled amount of food per day, and not free flow of eat-all-you-want buffet style! So, it’s not about giving them a free flow of an uncontrolled amount of food, but letting them “graze”, ie. eat a little whenever they wish.

Well, okay. That’s good to know because Riley is definitely a grazer. She simply cannot eat a heavy meal at all. She will ask for food several times a day. And sometimes, she will just take a small bite and she’s off and about.

So, that’s Riley’s natural way of eating! Now, I know and I should not force her into eating two big meals a day. Phew…so I don’t have to feel guilty about giving in to her demands for grazing now. I used to feel like I’ve just totally failed to discipline her into eating two square meals a day. Now I know, she cannot. She’s a grazer!

The two big meals per day can sometimes produce gluttons, the vet joked. Haha…yes, Ginger!

Gerald and Misty are also grazers and so are Cow Mau, Indy, the Blondies, and actually….everyone!

Come to think of it, yes, everyone of our cats is actually a grazer and I’m the one controlling them and trying to discipline them to eat twice a day!

Sometimes, it’s for our convenience too, isn’t it? It’s easier to feed them twice a day and ensure they eat enough food for every 24 hours.

I used to feed our cats three times a day, then it was only this year that I decided to change it to twice a day, especially when Jayden was younger and I couldn’t give the cats a proper lunch. Now that Jayden is bigger and he participates in the feeding sessions, I can let the cats graze already! But one important point is that grazing doesn’t mean they get an eat-all-you-want buffet free flow of food. The amount to be grazed per day has to be controlled. If only 100g can be grazed, then it’s 100g and no more. Hmm…strict too, yes?

The vet also asked me why I choose to give our cats raw food. Now, this is always a bone of contention when discussing with vets because most vets do not agree that raw food is the most biologically-appropriate food for cats. I’m not a diehard raw food proponent, but from my own reading, I tend to agree with the raw food school of thought. But, having said that, I’m very open to learning and am prepared to change my views and practices. After all, we want what’s best for our pets, right?

Now, my favourite go-to website for raw food is this one: https://hare-today.com/feline-nutrition/

When I was transitioning all our cats to a 100% raw diet in 2019, I would always read this website whether I felt like giving up or when I felt I was faltering.

But even after transitioning all our cats to a 100% raw diet, I remained flexible. I am not a “eat raw food or starve and die!” parent. No, no, no. If they don’t eat for two meals, I will offer some other food, which they would normal happily eat, for a change of taste.

Today’s vet taught me what to look out for when choosing canned foods. As you probably know, many canned food brands are complementary foods, which means it does not contain all the required nutritional needs for the animal. Only some are complete foods. So, if you are feeding only canned foods, then it is important that you feed the complete food brands.

Here’s two things to look out for to find out if a certain canned food brand is a complete food.

  1. It must have this statement: “….is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles…”
  2. It must have a feeding guideline.

The vet gave me two examples of wet food brands that have the above.

Fussie Cat

Purina Proplan

Yes, I actually went to the pet store to purchase some to check!

Of course, our cats LOVED the Fussie Cat. They will always love anything new! The Purina – hmm….not as much as the Fussie Cat!

Please note that I am not promoting any brands here, but merely sharing what I’ve learnt. Please consult your vet for nutritional advice for your pets.

Please also note that the above food is not suitable for CKD cats or cats with certain health issues. They are only suitable for healthy cats.

The vet also shared that when animals eat in the wild, they actually CHOOSE which parts they eat. They know which parts they need. This, I do know, especially the part about carnivores who will first eat the stomach of their prey (where it contains digested plant food of the herbivore – that is the fiber that they need), then get go for the organs and muscle meat before finally chewing on the bones (they also do not eat up all the bones). So, if those who prepare raw food do not study how much of each part of the prey that the animals need (dogs and cats’ nutritional needs are different), then the food might not be nutritionally appropriate. Animals in the wild often do not eat up the entire prey; they choose which parts they need. Smart, right? So when we purchase raw food, we need to find out if the company or person who prepares the food has done their research too.

Whereas if we purchase canned food, some companies claim that their formulation has met the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles, then if we trust that company and the AAFCO, we know that that would be a good brand for our pets. But can we trust these organisations? Aha…I won’t go into that, because I don’t know! Do your research, please!

And then there’s the constant debate on whether kibble is good. Kibble is highly processed and definitely dry (lacking in moisture), so is this natural? Is it good? Another bone of contention! I will also not go into that now. Do your research, please!

Goodnight! It’s been such a long day today.

Let them graze!!

This is my take-home lesson today – let them graze, it’s their natural way of eating!

 


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