Ask the Veterinarian/Feeding 4 Cats
QUESTION: I have 4 cats ranging from ages 3 to 11 years old. I am having a difficult time feeding them. They all seem to like different foods and it is getting way too expensive between Blue Buffalo and Wellness. I do feed them Blue Buffalo Dry Food and Blue Buffalo and Wellness wet food twice a day. They have free range of the dry food. If I wanted to keep them just on dry what is the easiest way to do this or do you have any other suggestions, such as a cheaper food? As far as wet food is concerned most of the times they take a couple of bites and leave the rest and never come back to it. Only one cat eats most of the wet food when I give it to him. HELP!
ANSWER: Hi Ellen,
I know how hard this can be, as I have three cats ages 1.5 yrs, an 11 and a 15 yr old. I feed all of my cats Hills Science Diet Healthy Advantage Chicken and Brown Rice food for mature cats.
Now technically a cat isn't "mature" or a senior until they are seven, but my young cat thrives on this food.
There is no corn, wheat or soy in it and all the cats with scabs have clean, clear skin now and thick, lush coats.
I have been feeding Science Diet for over 30 yrs to my pets but this is by far one of their best foods ever. I am not sure what the cost is but a large bag lasts me about 5-6 months or so. I know I don't go buy food very often, and even during the fall, when they really start to eat a lot for winter, the food still satisfies them so much that they just nibble it and walk away. They LOVE this food but it meets their energy requirements so well that they do not require a lot of food. My pets are never sick. I mean, NEVER. No colds, viruses, gastro-intestinal problems, anything. I have only lost one pet ever to cancer. And she was very old.
Hills has a 100% money back guarantee so if you don't see a difference in a month, or whenever the bag is empty, take it back to where you bought it and get your money back.
In all the years I sold this food, I had one person bring it back. Now let me tell you it takes a good month before the cats all settle into the food. So they will eat a lot at the start because they are filling empty nutritional needs, then they will taper off the food.
That is the sign that their nutritional and energy needs are being met.
I feed a few teaspoons of wet in the morning and evening but no more than that. Other than the fact that they like it, it is of no other benefit to them. If I stopped it wouldn't hurt any of them.
Since I feed them the best food I can, I only use friskies for wet food. They don't get enough of it to make any difference.
So remember that cost of your food must be divided by how long a bag lasts to determine if it's true cost to you.
To truly feed what it takes in other foods to meet your cats needs it usually costs about $1.70 -$2.35 per feeding. with Hills it costs (due to the high density of the nutrition= not eating as much= bag lasts longer) around .75 cents to $1.20 per feeding. With my cats it's on the low end since a bag lasts so long with them.
I hope this helps and doesn't confuse you. Let me say from experience that you get what you pay for. Buy cheaper food and you will have cats that get sick, eat more and it will cost you more in the end. Why? Horrid ingredients and imported food from China, plus lack of nutrition causes the cats to eat and eat. It's like trying to get steak protein from saltine crackers.
It's not going to happen!
So instead of buying cheap food made from whatever was cheapest on the docks, buy 100% made in the USA food that has a 75 yr proven record of Veterinary Science behind it.
You won't be sorry.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I don't feed cheap food. Wellness and Blue Buffalo are very expensive. I have been told over the years that Science Diet was one of the worst foods ever. I guess they have changed. When I don't feed them the wet food they beg for it but they only eat a few bites of it. I fed them Fancy Feast a while back and found that one of my cats was throwing it up and could not keep it down, so I came to the conclusion he was allergic to all the fillers in it. Corn and corn gluten and wheat cannot be the healthiest foods for a cat. Blue Buffalo and Wellness don't have any of these fillers. I am afraid if I stop the wet food completely they will come down with urinary track problems. I have read so many conflicting reports about a pure dry food diet for a cat. Cats need moisture and the wet food is what provides that moisture. Am I wrong? They seem to like the Blue Buffalo Healthy Living dry food. I am not sure if that will satisfy them completely if I take them off the wet food. Call me a nervous mother. I have a water fountain and a couple of other bowls of fresh water around the apt. Cats do not drink as much as they should.
I buy a 15lb bag of the Blue Buffalo dry and it lasts me approximately 3 to 4 months, give or take.
If I wanted to give them the wet food only in the morning, how do I wean them off the wet food at night? I have one cat that begs for the wet food like clockwork at the same time every night. Any suggestions?
ANSWER: I didn't mean that YOU buy cheap food, I meant that when someone does, they pay more in the long run. I think, and most vets feel, that canned food is a 'habit.' I'd have to say that's true with my cats as well. I just adopted a cat a year ago and she never ate wet until I gave it to her. Now she sits and waits for it as well.
You will just have to either cold turkey them off of the wet or do an every other night and then start stretching the days in between them until they are only getting it at night.
I understand your concern about dry food and urinary tract infections, but my cats have never had one and I have plenty of male cats. I had one cat 40 yrs ago that had a URI and was plugged, but that was when I didn't know better and I fed cheap food! Not one of my cats is ever sick- and I do mean ever!
Working at a vet clinic yes I had plenty of medical options but I never had to bring in a cat for any reason at all. My cats are indoor/outdoor so they are exposed to things but they are so healthy that they never get sick. I live on some acreage so they are not exposed to dogs, cars, etc.
I think once you wean them down to the one feeding a day they will be fine. My older female bugs me too at night- in the am at 6 and at night a couple of times while I am cooking. I just have to ignore her and shew her away. They can be very persistent. But I know that she is fine without the canned, she just likes the taste. Her dietary needs are being met totally so I don't worry about that. By then way, the one male cat I have I took in at the age of 15 as a scrawny mess and he never eats wet as it makes him sick too. But he filled out, grew a lush coat and is very healthy now. His previous owner didn't pay any attention to him and fed him such bad food I couldn't stand the smell in the cat box until he got it out of his system.
So most males do fine with dry as long as it's formulated to keep the urinary tract healthy. Make sure it states that on the bag.
And yes, Hills has come a long way. I trust the fact that they trial feed their food and they have veterinarians working for them in every department of their manufacturing plants.
All cats are sparse drinkers because they come from a desert dwelling ancestor.
Hope this helps some! Just do the weaning slowly and steadily. Don't give in or you lose all the ground you gained.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: The food that you feed your cats I would have to buy at the Vet. The stores do not sell it. Is there a Science Diet that is just as good that I can purchase at a pet store or online?
It is sold at most pet food stores. PetCo has it and if not in the store, online.
I'm sure the stores have it.
This is the bag I feed. :-)I apologize, I called it Healthy Advantage but it's Ideal Balance.