Horses boiled at ten thousand degrees?
March 24, 2005 5:01 AM   Subscribe

So, my new roommate brought a cat with her, and she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I want her to eat wet food as well as dry (she seems to love it), but everytime I open the can I retch. Has anybody found a way around this?
posted by jon_kill to Pets & Animals (26 answers total)
Have you tried packets rather than tins? I find those smell less.
posted by Navek Rednam at 5:10 AM on March 24, 2005

actually most vets i've ever dealt with have told us that the wet food isn't ideal for cats. can't remember why, but they discouraged us from giving it to our cats. but after poking around a little (pdf), sounds like our vets didn't really have much to back up their advice.... anyway, i just hold my breath. our elderly cat would have wasted away to nothing if we didn't give him wet food.
posted by chr1sb0y at 5:20 AM on March 24, 2005

Do you dislike fish and tuna? If so, perhaps not.

You could try eating a spoonful to overexpose yourself to it. Though, I watched my brother eat a pouch of the wet stuff once and it was pretty traumatic even to watch. (Long story. Video cameras, dares, webpages and other stupid eating challenges were involved.)

You could simply feed them tuna a few times a month as a treat if you can tolerate tuna.

The wet food isn't really all that nutritious, it's just cheap flesh-like material that's stinky and tastes good to cats. It tends to have a lot of ash and/or bone meal in it or other foreign-matter extenders or binders. There's probably a logical, organic reason why it makes you retch. Maybe you're just sane and whole-picture minded and you know consciously or subconsciously the supply chain involved. It's not really wholesome stuff, but it can be nutritious enough for a cat that can't eat dry kibble. Anyways, wild felines eat some grotesquely funky stuff.

If they're healthy and don't eat wet food and don't expect it, I'd almost say don't get them started. It's one of many forms of kitty crack, like catnip, but catnip is cheap and extremely entertaining, and canned anything gets you nothing but pestering ever time you open any kind of canned food. But a little tuna is probably good for them, they need protein.

I wonder if cats still pester you if you only give them pouched tuna or cat food, like they do with can openers or pop tops?
posted by loquacious at 5:39 AM on March 24, 2005

My cat adores wet food, but he gets dry food most of the time. I give him wet food in the single-sachet packets (as a treat - I wouldn't want to eat dry food all the time either!), but it does tend to make him crave it more (loquacious - yes!) so he'll meow and meow every time I go near the kitchen for a couple of days afterwards, but he never refuses his dry food. It's a little annoying though, so just something to be aware of it you're giving it as an occasional treat.
posted by eatcherry at 5:56 AM on March 24, 2005

Why is the title of this web page "Horses boiled at ten thousand degrees?!"
posted by abbyladybug at 5:59 AM on March 24, 2005

don't breathe through your nose. As a child, I was a mouth breather...and if I think hard about it, I can do it when necessary. You're 'aware' of the smell, but it cuts like 99% of it. The problem is that you unconsciuosly nose breathe - a clip like swimmers use to keep their nose shut might work too.
posted by filmgeek at 6:03 AM on March 24, 2005

Why is the title of this web page "Horses boiled at ten thousand degrees?!"

What do you think wet food is made of? :p
posted by eatcherry at 6:05 AM on March 24, 2005

Which brand of wet food? I've found Nutro Max Cat -- which is reasonably high quality, and has less in the way of horrifying fillers, like animal digest -- to be almost pleasantly odorous. Like, it smelled like food and not horses boiled at ten thousand degrees, which is, indeed, something like what the other stuff smells like.

My cat loves anything that is remotely tuna-ish, so I give her a half-pouch of fishy Nutro wet food some mornings, putting the other half in the fridge for the next day, and reduce the amount of crunchies she gets that day. When I was feeding her similarly flavored Nutro dry food, she didn't get overly demanding for the wet stuff.

I've read that you really shouldn't give actual human-grade canned tuna to cats because of mercury poisoning and other risks. My cat would sell her soul for real tuna, so she does occasionally get a tiny dab, which is her big birthday-and-holiday treat.
posted by kittyb at 6:10 AM on March 24, 2005

Handy tip-- refrigerate the can before you open it. The stuff smells 5 times worse when it's room temperature. Also, the smell of the alleged beef, chicken and turkey products is much less offensive than seafood. Pop the can in the fridge for at least an hour before you feed, and stay away from fish. That's how I do it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:06 AM on March 24, 2005

Dry food is better for cats and dogs because it helps to remove tartar on their teeth.
posted by agregoli at 7:20 AM on March 24, 2005

High quality canned food smells far less than nasty grocery store canned food. Try brands like Innova, Wysong, Solid Gold, etc.
posted by lobakgo at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2005

I give my cats Fancy Feast and it really doesn't smell at all (although I can conjure a perfect sense memory of the vile smell you're talking about from the olden days.) The grilled varieties also have the advantage of being made from chunks of actual meat and not that pressed filler crap.
posted by Cyrano at 8:38 AM on March 24, 2005

Wellness smells exactly like the meat it contains. Wet food is the second best diet for cats, next to a raw food diet (which is gaining in popularity, supplemented with vitamins that dissolve in water). My vet was just over and really wanted me to switch to a completely wet diet especially since I own a male cat and they are more prone to urinary tract infections. Dry food can lead to a host of problems: bugs in the food from being left in the bag too long, problems with digestion, dry food lends itself more to urinary "crystals" forming, it makes cats fat since there's less protein.

The biggest problem for me is how aggressively my cat now demands his wet food. We have to feed him at night so he won't wake us up in the morning. Anyway, try Wellness, it's the best of the best.
posted by scazza at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2005

Read the labels. There are a bunch of wet cat foods out there with perfectly nice ingredients. Wellness certainly is one but we've gotten a bunch of others over time (whose names I don't remember).

Don't feed the cat first thing in the morning, or first thing when you enter the door.

We've had good luck mixing up the kind of food we give them. Most places on the net say "always give your cat the same thing" but a few say "mix it up so they don't become finicky cats who insist on only one thing", and the latter sounds like a more natural state of affairs to me.
posted by Aknaton at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2005

Dry food is better for cats and dogs because it helps to remove tartar on their teeth.

I have had the same advice from my vet. I do believe, however, that wet food is particularly bad for cats with particularly weak or sensitive teeth.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:41 AM on March 24, 2005

Best answer: Sorry this doesn't answer the original question, but i had to chime in on the wet versus dry.

Wow, its funny how different vets are. Up until today I never heard anybody say dry food is better for cats than wet food. I used to feed my cats an equal mix of dry food (usually the Nutro stuff) and wet food (usually Science Diet) but after three incidents of FLUTD i finally fully listened to my vets persistent advice and switched to a full wet food diet (Wellness).

Basically it boils down to dry food can lead to solid crystals in the urine. Within a couple days of switching food, the one troublesome cat went from peeing blood to normal urine.

And his personality changed pretty much overnight, he went from a skittish cat who would only be slightly interested in his food dish, to a freaking primal animal who would go absolutely insane when i fed him and would constantly attack my other cat (who loves nothing more than being attacked.) And on top of that, he has now become a lap cat, with any available lap. Not that he didn't like affection before, its just he would be too damn skittish.

I really just can't say enough about how much a positive change it was for him. Maybe it's just Wellness is that much better, but i think it also has to do with it being wet and much closer in the evolutionary change to real food as opposed to dry food.

And as far as the teeth, just get your vet to brush your cats teeth every year or two, in my mind much better than risking having to spend a bunch of money to unblock your cats urinary track.
posted by lips at 11:55 AM on March 24, 2005

I recently heard from my vet that while for a while it was thought dry food was best for cats because of the tooth thing, they're now thinking wet food might be good because the protein content is so much higher. Cats are carnivores; they don't need all the extra carbs that cat food companies stick in their dry stuff.

Would a surgical mask help at all?
posted by Anonymous at 12:10 PM on March 24, 2005

Oh, my vet also said that chicken and beef was much better than seafood, for what is worth (can't remember why.) And Wellness wet food smells, but not as bad as other wet food i've smelled.

And i just realized that my previous comment was almost word for word scazza's comment, d'oh
posted by lips at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2005

Interesting the variety of wet vs dry beliefs. I'd always heard a combination of the two was the way to go. I similarly find the wet stuff disgusting and instead would moisten the dry slightly.
posted by phearlez at 12:20 PM on March 24, 2005

Just one more comment on the wet vs dry debate. Canned food is 70% water, which is fine - if you don't mind spending the $ on canned water. I've heard that it's bad for their teeth too... If anything I would feed a mix.
And, although I can't speak to the smell, I highly recommend always feeding quality pet food (wet or dry) over any cheap nasty grocery food made of horses boiled at ten thousand degrees....
posted by sarahmelah at 12:51 PM on March 24, 2005

What Shroedinger said: surgical mask.
Over the course of my short and illustrious career, I have worked in particularly smelly environs. A mask has always helped me get through the day.
posted by Corpus Callosum at 12:53 PM on March 24, 2005

I feed a mix of wet and dry food (the wet is mostly because the cat loves it and has gotten so accustomed to it that he'll decline dry food alone unless he's _really_ hungry). The idea of keeping the can cool will help with the smell, and also make sure to rinse the can before disposing of it. Try to feed the cat in a remote part of the house and don't keep his food in a kitchen cupboard--otherwise you'll have him begging every time he sees you open THAT cupboard to take a glass out. We feed Mr. Zimmerman in the basement and keep the cans in a cool corner.

As a somewhat off-topic question, what does your roommate thing about all this? You didn't really define your relationship with your roommate (maybe it's your clever name for "fiance" or something), but if the cat belongs to your roommate in the sense that your roommate pays the vet bills and will take the animal when he/she moves, you should probably make sure to consult with him/her before you make a major change to the cat's routine. You may be fine paying for extra canned food, but if your roommate moves out he/she may be stuck with a canned food-crazy cat and no desire to pay extra for nasty-smelling food. Maybe you already addressed this, but there was something that struck me a bit odd about "I want her to eat wet food..."
posted by handful of rain at 1:10 PM on March 24, 2005

don't breathe through your nose.

You mean the other way around, right? If I open my mouth when I breathe, the smell is ten times as strong.
posted by kindall at 2:12 PM on March 24, 2005

You mean the other way around, right? If I open my mouth when I breathe, the smell is ten times as strong.

that's probably because you're breathing through both your mouth and your nose. If you hold your nose altogether and only take in necessary oxygen through the mouth, you should be able to reduce the smell.
posted by mdn at 3:17 PM on March 24, 2005

My cats get the same stuff as Cyrano's. They (2 cats) share a can once or twice a week. The rest of the time they have Nutro for indoor adults on a free range basis.

Cats shouldn't have human tuna due to the previously mentioned FLUTD. It'll clog up the works due to the ash content*. One option is to occasionally give the cat the water drained from the can of tuna.

*This happened to a male cat of mine (it's more prevalent in males). He was switched to Science Diet C/D. If that hadn't worked he would have had to have surgery or, more likely, due to lack of funds, he would have been euthanized.
posted by deborah at 3:39 PM on March 24, 2005

Best answer: Try putting Vic's VapoRub under each nostril. I used it quite frequently when working in an emergency room. The smell overpowers quite a few unpleasant stenches.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:24 PM on March 24, 2005

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