What do I feed the cats after the recall?
April 5, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

What brand of cat food do I feed my cats now?

With the Menu Foods recall, I'm extremely hesitant to purchase any of those brands ever again. Can anyone recommend a high-quality brand from a trusted manufacturer? I cook for my senior dog, but don't really have the patience to do that for the cats too. Right now, they are getting Whole Food's 365 Brand canned food or Trader Joe's brand canned food in the evenings, and dry Science Diet and NutroMax kibble (mixed together) in the mornings. Please share your experience with those foods if you have any. The 3 hungry kitties thank you.
posted by Alpenglow to Pets & Animals (47 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Because one of my cats has a skin problem, I have been feeding all 5 of my cats Natural Balance Venison and Green Pea formula for several months now. It's pricey, but I was glad that I had been doing it when I heard about the contamination.

This food is frequently used as a hypo-allergenic diet, because it has single sources of protein and carbs. And it's endorsed by Dick Van Patten! How can you go wrong with that.

They have it at Petco, but I order it online cause it's a bit cheaper that way.

Also, the canned food is quite dense. I actually add water to it and mix it in a blender to get it to a consistency that my cats like.
posted by MsElaineous at 6:48 AM on April 5, 2007

Science Diet dry C/D is what my vet recommends (to prevent & treat renal failure, which is rampant in cats). It doesn't have what supposedly is causing the recall. My kitties love it.
posted by bolognius maximus at 7:02 AM on April 5, 2007

Best answer: Wellness cat foods are made with all ingredients that humans would like (blueberries, grains, etc.) and my cat loves it. It doesn't have as much corn in it as most other brands so apparently it is less likely to get your cat fat. (This is just what the salesperson said, I'm not a vet-- but I haven't had any complaints.)
posted by np312 at 7:04 AM on April 5, 2007

I'm switching to Innova from Natura for my animals, but the cat food is quite hard to find locally (we found the dog food at a kennel/doggy daycare). I think most of the people I know who are changing foods are going with Natural Balance.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:10 AM on April 5, 2007

Best answer: Seconding Wellness as it doesn't use wheat gluten.
posted by jheiz at 7:12 AM on April 5, 2007

I've been using this for years and my dog loves it.

They have a cat version too.
posted by Thrillhouse at 7:13 AM on April 5, 2007

We feed our cat Fancy Feast wet. And only certain flavors of Fancy Feast that are relatively low in carbs.

Our cat became diabetic last summer and because of that I learned a bit about what to feed a cat. Much of what I learned defied the conventional wisdom I had always assumed was true. I started to do a little online research and once I had the info, I presented it to my vet for his opinion.

I learned that you should never feed any cat (diabetic or healthy) dry cat food. It's full of carbohydrates that cats don't need, makes them fat, and prone to diabetes. My vet agreed. So why don't they evangelize this to their patients' owners? Dry is so much more convenient and many cats are finicky.

We had been feeding our cat a combo of wet and dry. The dry was Science Diet but when I looked at the amount of carbs in this brand, it was very high.

Amazingly, by feeding our feline low carb wet food she is no longer diabetic.

Here is a link to a list of the carb content for many wet and dry foods. The list was compiled for owners of cats with diabetes but this would be applicable to any healthy cat.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 7:15 AM on April 5, 2007

Don't buy food that humans would eat - they're cats, goddammit! "Human-grade" is just a label pet food companies use to fool owners into buying their product.

Cats are obligate carnivores - feed them as much flesh as possible. I follow the advice of my vet and the excellent cats.about.com and buy wet food with as much animal content as possible. Right now at home our kittens are loving Felidae cat and kitten formula.
posted by look busy at 7:16 AM on April 5, 2007

I learned that you should never feed any cat (diabetic or healthy) dry cat food....My vet agreed.

All the vets I've ever gone to have disagreed. I have specifically been told to feed cats dry food to help clean their teeth.
posted by DU at 7:17 AM on April 5, 2007

My kitty's been eating Natural Balance for several years & no complaints. I always looked at the "human grade" claims as a bonus, like, if the end of the world comes, I can eat it too.
posted by apostrophe at 7:30 AM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

My cat does quite well on Pro Plan. The dog is on Natural Balance and also does great. Both are also only getting dry food (better for their teeth). I'm certainly relieved I don't have to switch.
posted by hankbear at 7:30 AM on April 5, 2007

Clean teeth are important. But obesity and the resulting diabetes are very problematic in cats. We were lucky. But reading what cat owners have to go through with their diabetic cats, it's really tough. We didn't think our cat was overweight at all but the vet did.

When we started feeding our cat wet only and got her diabetes under control, she began acting more like a 2 year old cat instead of a 10 year old cat. It was amazing.

Of course, talk with your vet. Make sure that your cat is as healthy as it can be (teeth and the rest). I would agree with look busy, cats are carnivores. They don't need carbs of any kind.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 7:33 AM on April 5, 2007

Have you considered a raw meat diet?
posted by mkb at 7:33 AM on April 5, 2007

I agree with the Wellness recommendations. My cat was eating the wet food for years, but was on prescription dry. She just recently appeared to have come down with a food allergy (we're still not certain what happened) and now eats Hills Prescription d/d (wet and dry) which is similar to the Natural Balance mentioned above. They're both venison and green pea and much easier for cats to process, plus no wheat gluten, no dairy, and no beef which are all things that cats can be allergic to.
Like DU, I was told by my vet that dry is good for their teeth.
posted by jdl at 7:35 AM on April 5, 2007

I feed mine Felidae Chicken & Rice dry food. No wheat, no corn, and cheaper than Wellness.
posted by amber_dale at 7:36 AM on April 5, 2007

I am a huge fan of Wellness. My elderly cat is prone to both urinary tract infections and and cat IBS, and Wellness is the only thing I've ever given him that didn't aggravate one condition or the other. It's magic.
posted by 912 Greens at 7:47 AM on April 5, 2007

I use the low-carb & gluten-free Fancy Feast wet on this list. It's worked very well as both at weight loss and maintenance food. The vet says the girls are in the best shape she's ever seen them in on this food. Glossy coats, few hairballs, and it's not too expensive.

For dry I use Nutrience, a Canadian brand perhaps not available in the US.
posted by bonehead at 7:52 AM on April 5, 2007

Also, the dry-food-cleans-teeth argument for cats is bunk.
posted by look busy at 7:54 AM on April 5, 2007

Seconding apostrophe. My boys have been on Natural Balance since Iams went to crap a few years ago.
Besides...it's made by Dick van Patton, so it has to be good!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:08 AM on April 5, 2007

We are feeding our girls Nutro dry kibble, because that's what they got at the shelter, and the vet said would be best for them as kittens. I looked on their website the other day to confirm that it was still ok (in light of the most recent recalls) and they state that they make their dry in their own factories, and that there isn't wheat gluten in it.

My problem is replacing the recalled Nutro packets - our girls _will not_ eat anything from the can, they only want packets with chunks and gravy. We've tried two other brands without recalls (Whiskas and Friskies I believe) in the chunks, but it didn't agree with one of them. So I'm glad you asked this, and eagerly looking forward to hearing what others are doing.
posted by librarianamy at 8:17 AM on April 5, 2007

I have absolutely no cat experience, but I feed my dogs Eagle Pack and I know they also offer cat food. They use quality ingredients, and while it can be hard to find, the price is pretty reasonable.
posted by thejanna at 8:32 AM on April 5, 2007

I also feed my cats the 365 Whole Foods cat food. They seem to love it, and you can't go wrong with actual meat being the first few ingredients. Also, $.49 a can is pretty good. It's good quality food and if your cats eat it, I say you should stick with it. There was also a sign up at Whole Foods the last time I bought cat food there that said that their pet food is not affected by the recall.
posted by blueskiesinside at 8:46 AM on April 5, 2007

I am a big fan of Innova.
Pricey like all good foods.
But I have read great things about "Newman's Own" organic stuff.
The ingredients seem the highest quality of any food I've seen and I read a fair amount on pet foods.

And I have heard alot about no dry food for cats, too. It makes sense to me. I always felt that attempting to mimic what an animal (including us) evolved eating makes alot of sense.

I have not seen ONE food at PetCO I would feed my pet.

And don't even get me started on the Science Diet/Hill's scam! What crappy food at outrageous prices.
posted by beccaj at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2007

Wellness and Innova are both very good. Neither seems to have any corn or wheat ingredients of any kind, and they both are pretty low on grains in general. Innova even has a line called Evo that has no grain (or grain products) at all in it.
posted by dilettante at 8:57 AM on April 5, 2007

Our boys eat Wellness. Our girl, who refuses to eat anything other than dry food (and the occasional pilfered tortilla chip), eats Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul. I hate the name and I'd prefer she eat wet food, but this was one of the better dry foods I could find.

Like others have said, a high protein, very low carb diet is best for almost all cats (not just diabetics). I found a lot of information on this website when I was researching what to feed our babies:
posted by curie at 8:58 AM on April 5, 2007

Do you have a pet supply store that's run by hippies near you?

We freaked out and went looking for better-quality wet (to replace the morning pouch of 'Nutro Natural Choice,' a favourite even with me for its relative lack of stink), and the local independent had good brands, zero of which were affected by the recall.

We took home almost one tin of everything going (dry food stays consistent here, but some variety in morning stinkies seems appreciated), and we're cycling through to find what we all like. As others have said, Wellness is good... Go! Natural was a hit with both cats.

Dry here is Blue Buffalo Spa Select, also not affected by the recall, actually eaten by the cats, and of (I think, anyway) good quality. Their wet's also quite good.

One caution: Sophie and Max have turned up their whiskers at anything that really reeks of stuff people would eat, like Active Life. Gross is good if you're a cat, it seems.

Trying to evaluate all these foods -- yeah, it's a hard life when even your cats are spoiled by choice -- I kept coming to the conclusion that, as with so many other things, extensive advertising should be taken as a warning. The 'good' brands that people hear about -- Eukanuba, Iams, etc -- don't compare well to the little 'ultra-premium' brands. I'm leery of the Hill's stuff for that reason.

Finally, a little pot of cat grass does not go unappreciated here. Saves the houseplants, too.
posted by kmennie at 9:00 AM on April 5, 2007

My wife has been writing a lot about the recall in her blog. She recently covered brands she trusts, and why.

The real point of buying human grade food is that it's subject to tighter regulation and quality control, so it's more likely to be made with meat and organs that have been refrigerated. Not the buckets of guts that sit in the sun waiting for the petfood plant to pick it up, or the wheat gluten that got mixed up with the plastic feedstock. It's not about making sure that kitty gets tenderloin.
posted by Good Brain at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2007

Phew! My brand for both cat and dog (Wysong) is on your wife's list. Good link, Good Brain.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2007

Just look at the ingredient list. Is there wheat gluten or corn? If so, put it back and get something else. Look for named, specific animal sources -- that is, you want beef (meal) or chicken (meal), and not meat (meal) or poultry (meal). And you certainly don't want [foo] byproducts.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:33 AM on April 5, 2007

The real point of buying human grade food is that it's subject to tighter regulation and quality control


I feed my kitty dry kibble by Techni-Cal. Precision is wheat free and the Natural Blend is wheat and corn free.
posted by squeak at 9:37 AM on April 5, 2007

my cat eats dry food with wet for a treat (he's skinny, so i like to give him lots of treats to chubb him up a bit). since the recall, i've kept him on the dry food, but switched the wet food treats to human food-
canned pumpkin
and his new favourite, chicken baby food.
i'll switch back to regular food when it stops being scary.
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2007

I've been feeding my cats Precise. They seem to like it. I chose it as being one of the only brands I could find that didn't have any beef, which my vet advised me to avoid for them in general. (There was a comedy bit about this in the 80s by someone whose name escapes me - "Filled with flavors that cats naturally love! Tuna! Liver! Beef! And when was the last time you saw a cat ripping across a field, and taking down a cow?! Zoooom. Uh oh, Martha, he brought home another cow." Or something. It was on the Pop Tarts mail-away stand-up video with Paula Poundstone.)
posted by Caviar at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2007

Solid Gold Katz-n-Flocken

If you live in Seattle you can buy it from me!
posted by vito90 at 9:52 AM on April 5, 2007

I'm currently trying to move my cats over to a raw food diet. I'm using the supplement Instincts TC. So far, they are resisting....
posted by melt away at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2007

nth Wellness or Innova.
posted by winna at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2007

I have fed my cat Drs. Foster & Smith Food since I got her. She is allergic to wheat, and possibly corn - both used as fillers even in most high end cat food. Foster and Smith (both vets) have very high quality food (for both dogs and cats) which does not contain either wheat or corn. They are definitely not part of the recall (they have their own factory) and they are a vet-owned company, so their quality control is high. They are only available by mail order, their customer service is excellent, they deliver very fast, and they are even a bit cheaper than other high end brands of pet food.
posted by ljshapiro at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2007

We feed our cats Lick Your Chops wet food and Royal Canin Green Pea & Rabbit dry food. The Royal Canin is available only through vets.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2007

Fixed link.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2007

You can order online if there is no store that carries it in your area. My dog has been eating it for nearly fourteen years, and my cats were very healthy on it as well. Lts of information on their site about feeding your pets- they even point out that their own products, along with any other commercial pet foods, are not necessary for optimal pet nutrition.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2007

Has anyone mentioned Nature's Variety yet? Another 95% meat, no grain food that is processed using human grade standards. They have an excellent selection of novel proteins - lamb, venison, duck and rabbit - in addition to the standard varieties.

But basically, what ROU_Xenophobe said. Almost all the canned varieties recommended in this thread have one thing in common: no grain or grain derivatives. You can achieve varying degrees of obsessiveness over your cat's diet, but if you do nothing else, eliminate grain. Cats don't need it and their systems can't handle it well - leading to everything from irritable bowel to diabetes.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2007

Nth-ing the recs for Wellness and Wysong, both are very very good stuff (and have excellent canine products as well).
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 2:35 PM on April 5, 2007

My four cats love Wysong - particularly their "au jus" canned line, where the ingredient list is pretty much meat and water. The rabbit and duck seem to be especial favorites around here. I think they somehow know they're more expensive than the chicken and turkey flavors.

The dry food I've been feeding them isn't Wysong, so I can't vouch for their dry food being free of gluten, although they do have a message on their site saying the gluten problems don't affect their foods.
posted by Stacey at 3:52 PM on April 5, 2007

I feed Innova Evo dry food (all the convenience of dry food, but without the unnatural grains for cats). Before the recall I had not yet switched out their wet food to Evo, but now I have. They don't seem as excited by it as the wet food they used to get, but they still eat it. I feel better knowing it's a healthier choice for them to have a no-grain diet, we will have to see if there are any long term changes.

And while I can't buy Evo at the local Petco, there is a local chain that sells it, plus you can buy it online (amazon.com for example).
posted by Joh at 4:15 PM on April 5, 2007

Just a note, there's a suspicion that the problem in the recalled catfoods was rat poison-contaminated gluten from China, but it's not proven. There also seems to be some thought that Vitamin D overdoses may have killed pets.

Since the recall, we've been making chicken and veggie stew for our cats, blending it down, adding a little rice and appropriate feline nutritional supplements (Taurine is the most important, also yeast, bone meal, kelp, lecithin, wheat germ, and A/D/E vitamins once a week), and... dang! The fat cat is slimming down, the recently ill cat is bulking up, both are frisky and their fur is kitten soft. It's more work than opening a tin or a sack, but we can make a week's or more food at a time and freeze it, and it's nice not to worry about poisoning the little darlings.
posted by Scram at 5:30 PM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

With a dog, several cats, and a hedgehog, I feed them all Chicken Soup dry foods. It's the only dry food to date that they've truly loved. I won't feed wet foods, because I value my fingers and toes. They hear a can opener and the house goes mad. And, the cat variety rates high in hedgehog-care-land.
posted by ick at 11:53 AM on April 6, 2007

My cats were on the Nutro packets. I switched to Natural Balance canned food, which they rejected at first. It's really bad for cats to miss meals entirely, but fortunately they eat dry food too (they were already eating NB dry). Meanwhile I let them turn up their noses at the wet food for a few days until they decided they liked it after all. Also, I found that mixing equal amounts food and water so that it forms a thin gruel makes it more palatable to them.

They will stay on the Natural Balance unless I find something better that they will tolerate. I've heard that it is not the best of the premium foods, but not the worst either.
posted by bchaplin at 3:21 AM on April 9, 2007

Update: I just found out that the Natural Balance Venison and Green Pea dry food that I have been feeding my cats exclusively for the last 4 months has been recalled. Good times. Apparently the canned food is fine.
posted by MsElaineous at 12:41 PM on April 18, 2007

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