Canned Food and Loose Stool - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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Canned Food and Loose Stool

We have a bit of a dilemma at our house. I want to feed our 3 year old long-hair Maine Coon mix at least a partially canned food diet. She gets dry in the morning and a can of wet food at night. Our previous kitty only ever ate dry food the ten years she was with me and died at 14 of kidney failure. I know now what can happen when you think your cat is drinking enough water, but she isn't.

I started off looking for brands that only listed real food as the first few ingredients, including some of the cheaper brands "natural" varieties which my cat loves. At that time, I had only begun giving her only 1/3 or half a can in the evening along with more dry food.. and that was OK for a while. Her stools were soft but still somewhat normal looking. Then I started feeding her only canned food in the evening and her morning stools became very loose, sometimes mostly liquid. I thought this meant the food wasn't agreeing with her tummy, so after a couple weeks I started buying the more expensive organics and tried the gluten free versions (Paul Newman, Harmony Farms). I gave each of these a week or so as well to see if they had a similar reaction but my cat would eventually only nibble a few bites of it before refusing it all together. It did seem her stools were slightly more solid with this food (until I tried the liver variety which was a disaster).

So I went back to the grocery store and tried yet one more cheaper variety - Meox Mix market something-or-other. The shrimp and fish flavor has all real food at the top of the ingredient list and no by-products. I bought a dozen of these after she had a couple days of devouring the food and producing stools that though they were rather loose, at least seemed in the normal range. This morning though it was a loose mess which she stepped in trying to cover, then proceeded to leave poopy footprints on the floor and who knows where else yet to be discovered. Her back end looks a mess, but she freaks out and hides under furniture when I try to pick her up to clean her (she is not a cat you can pick up and hold).

Does anyone have any suggestions? Is loose stool pretty common with canned can food?

I know the mess may be par for the course since she has long hair, but I'm at my wits end about that too. I think next time I can catch her calmly sleeping in her bed I'm going to trim as much of her back end hair around her butt as I can.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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I've been Googling and saw where someone suggested that fish tends to producer looser stools in cats than say chicken. Perhaps that's playing a part in things?

I am trying not to be too impatient before switching and trying some other brand because part of the issue may simply be giving her digestive system time to adjust to new food.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 09:17 AM
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To answer your question "Is loose stool pretty common with canned can food?" least, once a cat is regularly eating canned food, then loose stool is not a problem. However, loose stool often arises when you try to change a cat from dry to wet food. So, I suspect that the problem with your cat is that her system has not yet adjusted to the wet food.

I would stay away from feeding too much fish, since there are a lot of problems associated with fish. Rather than organic or gluten-free food, I would opt for grain-free wet food. You will find that if the food is grain-free, the overall ingredients will be healthy. Possibilities include Evo, Wellness, Weruva, some Merrick, Nature's Variety Instinct, and Blue Wilderness, to name but a few.

I know the problem with long-haired cats! And Muffs, in particular, hates to be held or handled. When one of my girls has an "accident" (which fortunately only happens every blue moon), I put a few treats on the ground and while they're busy eating I go "snip, snip".
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 09:23 AM
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It does take some cats time to adjust to having a new type of food source. You may have been giving her a bit too much to start if those are 5.5 oz cans.

The first thing I recommend is to stop looking for 'good' food in the grocery're very unlikely to find it there. Foods like Meow Mix Market Selects may have 'real' ingredients at the start, but then degrade to things like wheat gluten, artificial colors and flavors, modified food starch (since it doesn't define the source it can be anything including corn) etc.

Good foods include brands like Wellness, Natural Balance, EVO, Innova, Holistic Select, Fromm, Merrick, Nature's Variety, Tiki, Weruva and a bunch of others...that list gives you a good start. Go to their websites and use their store locator to find a store near you. Some of these can be found in Petco and Petsmart too.

Start off by giving her a teaspoon per meal and work it up as long as her stool is good. You can also add some canned pumpkin (no pie spices) to help firm up her poop.

Regarding fish...I have a Maine Coon who can't eat fish. The higher on the ingredients list, the more watery things are.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the replies, Susan and Doodlebug!

Do you think part of the problem is that I am giving her two types of food each day? Dry in the a.m. (Iams) and wet in the evening? Should we switch to strictly canned food? I know the more water in her overall the better.

I will give up on the idea of grocery store canned food and investigate what Petsmart has. Thanks for the recommendations!
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 12:11 PM
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I would switch to all canned, it is so much better for cats. has a list of what I consider good wet foods. Yes, the list is meant for cats with IBD, but they exclude foods with grains, dairy or certain herbs and spices on their list.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 12:15 PM
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If you can move her to all-wet, then that would be preferable, although you'll still go through an initial period of soft stool as you make the transition.

You're not likely to find too many grain-free brands at Petsmart. I can't speak for New York, but where I am, about the only brand you'll find might be Blue Wilderness (although I think some U.S. locations carry certain types of Wellness products). The grain-free food is normally carried by the smaller pet food stores. If you were in Canada, I could advise you of the pet stores that carry higher-quality cat food, but I can't speak for New York. You might want to visit some of the websites of the grain-free manufacturers (Evo, Nature's Variety, Wellness, etc.) and search for retailers in your area...or perhaps some U.S. members can chime in.

You can also order online in bulk, although you're best to try out a few cans of various brands on your cat first, to make sure she likes it, following which you could order in bulk.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 03:35 PM
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I second Susan's and Doodlebug's food recommendations (and the recommendation to avoid feeding fish too often). My cat Athena had chronic loose stool on both kibble and canned and it turned out to be an indication of digestive sensitivities. The more indigestible materials in the food (grains, corn, highly processed meat meals and by-products) the worse her stools were.

In her case I had to eventually put her on an all-raw diet, because nothing else was working, but you may be fine switching your cat to just a quality food with less indigestible filler. Athena's stools were definitely improved (although not perfect) on a grain-free food over a food with grain. Even higher quality foods with compelx carbs as their grain source (like barley) were a problem for Athena.

As Susan said, I have a very hard time finding all the brands I like (Wellness, Merrick, Blue Wilderness) at Petsmart. They have some, but not a wide selection. Do you have a PetCo near you? They have a much larger selection of grain-free foods. Also if you have any small local pet stores, they may carry them.

Also, just a note: make sure you check labels if you want to go the grain-free front, as the above-mentioned brands make varieties with grain in them as well. All of Wellness' grain-free flavors will boast a "grain-free" yellow triangle on the front. All of Blue's Wilderness line is grain-free. Merrick's Before Grain line is all grain free but only some of their Gourmet Entrees are grain-free, so you'd need to check the ingredients list on those.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 04:16 PM
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Just to chime in - Petco is definitely better than PetSmart for healthier and grain free foods...but I found my favorite pet store by going to a few brands' websites and looking up what retailers carried them. One store carried all the brands I looked up (which have been mentioned in this thread already). I had never even heard of that pet store before, since it's relatively small, but now it's my favorite one, and they sell premium foods very inexpensively. There might be a gem like that near you...just a thought.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-30-2011, 04:38 PM
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i have a 7 month old siamese, and has been getting dry kibble,,,but i am switching to can.......well, at least trying. i have tryed many canned foods, and he just does not like most of them, and i have tryed many...i bought merrick california roll yesterday, and he seems to like it, and it looks something a lot bettter than most canned foods. so it seems that merrick is going to be what he gets since he likes it....
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