Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS ● Nutritional Periodontist
February 19, 2018
Meet Cricket. She is my adopted 2-year-old Ragdoll cat, who is a fluff ball. She eats Paleo, too! Just like me, sort of. (I define Paleo to be equivalent to Ancestral.)
By now, you must know that I eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. My healthy lifestyle began at the age of 66. I will be 71 in April of this year. I feel healthier today than ever. My story is interesting, and I have written about it many times.
An ancestral diet and lifestyle saved my life. Our genetic blueprint and our gut microbiome depend on this way of living to survive and thrive. An ancestral way of living also goes for animals – both in the wild and domesticated. Animals must eat and live the lifestyle their bodies require. Sadly, you can imagine what is in commercially processed animal foods that we feed our domesticated cats and dogs.
Cats Are Carnivores
I’ll speak for Cricket.
Cats are obligate carnivores. They must eat animals from nose to tail with few exceptions. However, if you looked at the ingredients of most cat foods, they contain hefty portions of grains, other carbohydrates, byproducts (whatever that means!), flavorings (more chemicals), pesticide & herbicide residues, preservatives, and emulsifiers.
For example, the Ingredient List of one of the most popular cat foods formulated specifically for Ragdoll cats starts off with: chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, wheat gluten, chicken fat, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, natural flavors … etc. These ingredients are at the beginning of the Ingredient List, which means they make up the far majority of the “food”.
Cats demand a diet rich in protein and water. These will help prevent conditions like feline kidney disease and feline IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Cat liver failure is also a common side effect of poor nutrition that can be prevented by adding a source of water into a cat’s diet.
Interestingly, animals in the wild rarely are obese and rarely have chronic diseases, gum disease, or tooth decay. Yet, our domesticated pets eating unhealthy commercial pet foods suffer from all these conditions. Humans who are eating a Standard American Diet also suffer from advancing and degenerative chronic diseases.
Paleo Cat Foods
So, my fluffy Cricket eats Paleo.
I have done some research and have found a few cat foods that are based on ancestral foods.
One that impressed me was Hound & Gatos. It is an ancestral-based, canned food with no added byproducts, fillers, grains, or artificial preservatives. However, cats in the wild eat raw food, and this product is not raw.
I investigated frozen raw foods for cats and discovered Stella & Chewy and Rad Cat. Stella & Chewy is about 98% muscle, organ meats, and bone; Rad Cat is about 96% muscle and organ meats. Other nutrients necessary for the cat’s health make up the remaining ingredients. Both companies state their products are cage-free or pasture-raised.
If I had the time, I could prepare Paleo meals for Cricket. But, since there is Stella & Chewy and Rad Cat (among others), I am satisfied with these ancestral raw-food choices that are convenient for me and healthy for Cricket. As far as Cricket’s in concerned, she absolutely loves all three choices from Stella & Chewy – rabbit, duck, and chicken.
Transitioning to Paleo
Although your cat requires healthy animal protein, he or she may only be used to eating commercially-prepared cat foods. So, when it comes down to feeding your cat ancestral raw foods, there will be a transition process to get your cat accustomed to these healthier options. You might need to introduce a little raw food along with the usual food your cat has been eating. Slowly increase the Paleo food and decrease the commercial food until your cat is completely eating healthy. Your precious cat may reflect the healthier diet with increased energy, beautiful coat, a healthy mouth, and less veterinary visits because of less sickness.
We were fortunate. After we adopted Cricket as an adult Ragdoll, it took only a week to transition her from a diet of kibbles and commercial canned food to a diet of raw Stella & Chewy foods. We also discovered a holistic dog and cat market called All is Well.
Christi Gephart is one of the owners of All is Well and is a registered dietician. She understands nutrition from an ancestral point of view. One “pearl” Christi told me was to feed Cricket eventually only once a day, which is the way cats hunt and eat in the wild. The company’s website is a great resource of useful information, which you won’t find on many typical animal sites.
Our next step for Cricket is to introduce her to an occasional treat of a pastured, raw chicken wing. Our local Farmers’ Market has vendors that can supply them. My wife and I love them seasoned and baked in an oven at 400 F for 40 minutes. But, Cricket will get one that is raw – powerful for her teeth and jaw!