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Discussion Starter #1
I am sooo confused!
On forums and other internet articles I have been told that ground beef is okay (and can even help solidify diarrhea). And that pork is bad and should never be given to cats.

However, I just came back from a specialist vet of 30 year practice who said cats should never have any beef, but pork is perfectly fine. (I forgot to ask, but I assume that the pork should be cooked to prevent the parasites usually found in it)

So here's the situation. The rescue group I volunteer for had a kitten who wouldn't gain any significant weight, but always had a swollen belly and BAD diarrhea (as in, dripping behind him as he walked ALL the time!). His coat was also very oily/greasy.
So we took him to our regular vet who of course prescribed pumpkin, some antibiotics in case it was needed and said to watch him. No better. Then I think he was given steroids in case it was something like IBD... still nothing.
We finally took him to the specialist vet, and she said he had pancreatic insufficiency and needed a low fat diet. Gave us the Science Diet/Hills intestinal prescription kibble and some Royal Canin canned food also for GI stuff, and he takes some sort of enzyme pill twice a day. He started to improve! Now he's gaining weight properly/proportionately and has a soft/sleek coat.
However, he gets bored with his diet food, so we started looking for treats to give him every day. We've been doing cooked chicken, fish, hamburger and ever so often a little bit of chicken liver.

So yesterday I was at this vet for another cat (skin condition we couldn't figure out). I told her how great Merlin was doing, and that we finally found a low fat food that didn't cost a fortune (because as soon as people find out "special diet" they don't want to adopt him cuz it's expensive). Fancy Feast has several varieties with only 2% fat, so we were happy, as we thought he simply needed a low fat diet.

Apparently it's not the amount of fat, but the type/quality. The vet said ANY cat should not have beef as it's fat and other nutrients are hard for them to process. Only give them poultry, and fish should be salmon or trout, nothing "white" (tilapia, swai, like we had been giving him). I said "what about pork? I heard it's bad, but all these canned prescriptions have it as the first ingredient" and she said it was okay.
Of course she also said no more Fancy Feast, as she's seen lots of problems with it. And no meat by-products, which of course I already knew that rule ;)

I did tell her I was feeding my cats raw diet, and she said it was not a good idea because of bacteria and salmonella, but that cooked meat was okay.
So now I have no idea what to do! Do I listen to her 30 years experience, or multitudes of articles/other owners?
 

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ah, yes - the conflicting advice conflict. We all try and do the best we can with what we are given. I live by the rule to try out something by an "expert" if it makes sense, is affordable and I can accommodate it in my day to day treatment. For instance, Missy's eye surgeon had me on a regimen of 5 different eye drops 16 different times a day. Some days I'd miss some and fret. Finally she said just do the best I could. I did and Missy's eye didn't fall out. yea.

With food, I follow the advice of Dr. Lisa Pierson, the cat nutritionist at catinfo.org and other feline specialists. My cats get raw when they will eat it, and Fancy Feast or Newman's Organic when they don't because they won't eat much else. Beef makes them barf so it's an easy thing to avoid it.

Bottom line: Take the good info you know and do the best you can. If the problem clears up then you've won the war but maybe lost the food battle to a small extent. Try their suggestions, then look for lower cost substitutes. Properly prepared and stored raw has no more of a chance to harbor salmonella than any other foods. I would not use pre-ground raw food ingredients though.
 

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With food, I follow the advice of Dr. Lisa Pierson, the cat nutritionist at catinfo.org and other feline specialists.
I would add to that reference:

- Cat Nutrition - website
- Feline Nutrition - website
- the book Raising Cats Naturally by Michelle T. Bernard - this book is out of print, but can be found on the Amazon Marketplace. I was lucky enough to source it to Amazon and, thus, receive a copy for Christmas. :)

I would take the advice of any of these 4 resources over that of a "conventional" vet when it comes to food and feline nutrition, for the simple reason that they stress a bio-appropriate diet over meat-flavored cereal (dry food).
 

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I agree with Marcia: sometimes you feed what works, even if it's not the absolute best. GI food is a great example. Companies like Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Hill's put a lot of things in their foods that I don't really think have any business being in a cat food pedaled by veterinarians (or cat food, period), but both companies have spent a significant amount of money and done a lot of testing to create their formulas, and, despite the less than stellar nutrition of specialty vet diets, the foods are scientifically formulated to cater to cats with special dietary requirements, and can help to manage certain medical conditions. All you can do is weigh the potential risks and benefits and do the best that you can while taking all the factors into account. Your rescue's kitten's immediate health concerns trump any potential long-term health affects associated with feeding a not-so-great diet, so, for now, that's what you've been feeding. It may be that this cat will have to be on GI food and probiotics for the rest of his life, or maybe not, but right now you're doing what's working and what you feel is best given the information available. There's nothing wrong with that.

I wouldn't necessarily put too much stock in the nutritional information given to me by a vet, regardless of their years of experience, when it comes to raw though--especially not a vet that pedals prescription foods. Admittedly, I have difficulty trusting vets when it comes to feline nutrition because so many of them know so little about it. I wouldn't ask my doctor for nutritional advice either because beyond the standard "eat your leafy greens, and try not to eat a ton of sugar and fat", nutrition isn't actually something that doctors know much about either. Vets and I tend to agree to disagree on what constitutes proper feline nutrition, but, then, I'm free to feed my cats whatever I feel is the best thing for them because they're my cats. A vet can tell you how to modify a cat's diet to manage various existing health issues and conditions, but I don't think that prescription foods are always the only (or best) way to go about doing that, and I don't find that most vets know much at all about preempting health issues via nutrition.

My own cats won't touch raw, but my foster loves it, so she gets raw chicken and raw bison a couple times a week. She also gets the occasional can of beef-flavoured wet food. Beef-based wet isn't something she gets very often at all, so I don't lie awake worrying about her ability to absorb the nutrients from her dinner after feeding it to her. She has only thrown up the raw bison once, and I suspect that had more to do with the speed with which she wolfed it down than any sort of digestive difficulty. :roll:
 

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Personally I would feed mostly fowl and rabbits, but include some other animals like venison for variety. Only give about 5-15% beef (if my cats would tolerate the raw diet).
 

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I would add to that reference:

- Cat Nutrition - website
- Feline Nutrition - website
- the book Raising Cats Naturally by Michelle T. Bernard

I would take the advice of any of these 4 resources over that of a "conventional" vet
I just took the time to look at the Feline Nutrition website. OMG, I like this better than the Cat Nutrition website. MUCH easier to navigate for the recipes. It's a keeper for me!! Thanks for posting this.
 

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What to accept and what to ignore is a decision you need to make for yourself. The one thing I have learned over the years is to not blindly put my faith in any source of info.

Take the info provided by your vet, you've been given several good sites here...read, compare and decide what makes sense to you. But...also consider the motives of the source....basically follow the money. If it's obvious that a source is supported by a particular food company you need to take that into account when deciding how much faith to put in their opinion.

I will also add that a vet with 30 years experience can be a double edged sword...on one hand she's seen it all. On the other, her education is 30 years old. Has she kept up to date in the areas that are of concern to you? Nutrition is one area that many vets seem to be very out of date with even if they're on the cutting edge of medical issues.

I will also add that you need to ask lots of questions when presented with info from your vet. She said beef is hard for cats to process...did you ask why? Why not white fish? What about fish contributing to urinary issues? etc. Basically don't be shy about grilling her.
 

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What to accept and what to ignore is a decision you need to make for yourself. The one thing I have learned over the years is to not blindly put my faith in any source of info...
...Basically don't be shy about grilling her.
I couldn't agree more! As easy as it is to second guess your vet, one should use the same scrutiny with information they get online, also!!
Just because it's in writing doesn't make it wise or even true! Take the time to read a bit. Inform yourself of all "sides" of an argument and why they take the stand they do.
Check and see if they can back up their claims with sources. I can't tell you how many times I run into online info that sounds fantastic, but none of it is sourced. <shrugs> And without support for your information you may as well be telling a fairy tale.
As doodlebug says, follow the money. Check the last page of the site, the links page. Notice if ONE particular product gets mentioned. Do a google search on the individual(s) who wrote the site and see what can be found that way. ... and so on.

It is your cat after all and obviously you think the world of your kitty or you wouldn't be here! Invest a little time to educate yourself. You'll be better able to come up with answers that both you and most importantly your kitty, can live with. :)
 

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This is from my personal experience, but I'm definitely dealing with a cat who can't handle beef. *sigh*

Ok, quick recap for anyone who doesn't know:

Jitzu has a LOT of food sensitivities. She can't eat processed cat food or she starts throwing up. Lots. My cats are fed raw which has helped immeasurably for the past 5 (I think...) years, Jitzu had only been throwing up when she ate too fast, which is normal, and that wasn't happening often. A difference of throwing up multiple times a day on kibble/canned, to once every few weeks on raw.

Now.

Jitzu can't have dark meats any more (beef, venison, moose, goat ect). I thought it was a fluke at first when this reaction started showing up a few months back, and then I tried to pretend that wasn't the problem. After a few careful experiments it's become apparent that she can't handle it anymore.

That being said, the other three of my cats not only have no digestive issues with the darker meats, but the vastly prefer them over anything else. (So does Jitzu, but the puking all over my house....not cool).

TBH I'd try it. Give the kitten some ground beef, or even better stew meat chunks, and see how he reacts. One bad reaction to food won't hurt him, and it'll give you a solid answer to this.

Just remember that cats can develop sensitivities over time, so if he starts having concerns in the future his new family would need to be able to recognize his symptoms for what they are - a reaction to his food.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks guys! We were kind of shifting to the "go with what works" stuff. So, we have switched Merlin's diet to include no beef, switching to salmon, and he still gets chicken muscle & liver (along with his GI kibble free-feeding). A'course today he was being extra picky and wouldn't eat the fish ;p LOL little brat... but now he's a HEALTHY brat!

I totally understand any thoughts about the "vet peddling Hills/Science Diet" thing. I know MANY vets who think this cures all! 4 of my former vets did for my Paizly, and she KEPT having problems! I took her to this 30-year vet and she solved the case in 5 minutes (she also said, at the time, that if I felt comfortable feeding raw and knew what I was doing, go for it. She also said THIS time, that raw is okay - but added the note of potential bacteria problems is the only reason she would discourage it).
I also understand the thinking that her knowledge is 30 years old, but one reason we like this vet is that she keeps up with new studies and research. She goes to conferences often, and even performed surgeries that other vets won't do because of either not making enough money (newer techniques actually can be cheaper) and not having the knowledge/skill for them. Heck, she had to fix a dog's hip that another vet botched by not putting in the rod the right way :/ And only charged us $400, but the other vet had done the surgery for $1,000 (which is partly why the owners gave her up, they didn't want an expensive dog...oiy - then don't let your dog run off and get hit by cars! *grump*)
 

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She also said THIS time, that raw is okay - but added the note of potential bacteria problems is the only reason she would discourage it).
But, then again, if she were completely "up" on cat biology, she would know that a cat's digestive system is too short and too acidic an environment to be affected by salmonella, unlike a human's, which is too long and too alkaline to prevent illness. And anyone who has experience working with raw meat (or who has done the work of researching proper safety precautions beforehand) will be mindful of bacteria problems already.
 

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So, we have switched Merlin's diet to include no beef, switching to salmon, and he still gets chicken muscle & liver (along with his GI kibble free-feeding).
I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said about sources and opinions on raw, but the one hard and fast rule that we all agree on is absolutely no feeding raw and kibble at the same time! Raw and wet food can be OK, but because kibble digests at a much slower rate, you really are setting the gut up to have problems with handling the bacteria load. Pick one, or feed some 8-12 hours apart.

As for the ground beef (or any ground meat bought at the store already ground), the reason people recommend against it is simply because of the potential for a higher bacteria load (and depletion of taurine). If you grind yourself, or personally know a butcher it isn't an issue.
 
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