Monday, March 9, 2009

Should You Feed Organic Cat Food for Best Feline Health?

The health of domestic cats is on the decline. Their life span is much below that of their wild cousins and the cats of your parents era. I frequently hear people implying their cat is old by the time they have reached eight or nine years of age.

Not that long ago, it was common for cats to reach 18 or 19 years of age, with a few rare exceptions reaching nearly 30.

You may have your own reasons why this might be happening, and I’m probably going to voice most of them here!

By virtue of the regularity of eating, I consider the most important reason why cats aren’t as healthy as they once were is the diet they are fed.

As people are coming into this awareness, there is a mad scramble by the commercial cat food industry to attract you with pretty words and smiling actors on the labels. The pretty words include icons such as ‘scientifically proven’ or ‘recommended by top vets’, although that is now less alluring than ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’. (I’m not sure what a ‘top vet’ is either. Could it be one who does the most advertising for the industry?)

However, ‘nature’, ‘natural’ and ‘all natural’ are slipping into second place as ‘organic’ becomes the favourite word of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong contender for organic food, both for humans and for cats, but not all organic cat food really is organic.

For a start, the word ‘organic’ means nothing if it is not backed by a reputable certification. Everything that grows could be said to be organic. Many conventional producers have marked their produce as organic, when it had no certification.

Becoming a certified organic producer takes time - years. The soil is regularly checked. In that period, the producer can’t sell his produce as organic or use chemicals. It can be a tough time.

I have seen some dried organic cat food for sale. It was certified. But what’s the point in that? You’re feeding your cat organic cat food to avoid the chemicals that go into food production - the antibiotics in standard stock feed, the hormones given to stock to increase weight and production over a shorter period, the pesticides, herbicides, insecticides that are regularly used on the crops, the chemical fertilisers.

Stop and consider this. Can meat (in reality meat by-products as the good stuff goes for the higher priced human food) be kept indefinitely without the use of strong preservatives? How else can a packet of dried organic cat food have such a long shelf life?

Sure, the packet may not list preservatives in the list of ingredients. Why would they? You wouldn’t buy it.

The packet may even boast ‘no added preservative’. The wording needs to be clever to avoid litigation. ‘No added preservatives’ means they, the brand, didn’t add the preservatives. It doesn’t mean that preservatives weren’t added to the ‘meat’ before delivery.

So the million dollar question is, should you buy organic cat food? In my opinion, if it’s a commercial organic cat food, it is no better than non organic cat food.

All commercial cat food, whether organic or not, have one or more of the following preservatives in:

  • ethoxyquin (which causes diarrhoea, vision disorders, blindness, organ failure, cancers, leukaemia on just exposure to the human factory workers)
  • formalin is used to preserve dead bodies
  • sodium nitrite, which gives a nice rosy colour to food and can produce powerful carcinogenic substances known as nitrosamines
  • propyl gallate - is now suspected of causing liver damage
  • propylene glycol used to maintain the right texture and moisture content is used as coolant antifreeze in engines
  • up to 1000 times more salt than occurs naturally

Most of these are not allowed in human food, due to their high levels of toxicity. Do you think that could be why cats are not living as long as they once were Would you?

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