Wrap your mind around this. I am sitting in a class listening to one of the best veterinary gastroenterologist in the country at one of the best veterinary colleges in the country, and he tells us students that cats don’t get diarrhea. All of us in the class made our simple note about this fact and we moved on to the next, important medical topic. Now, remember, this was back in 1980 and certainly things have changed.
How in the world could this have happened because we know that cats get diarrhea. We know that they can get chronic diarrhea such as IBD, chronic colitis and also enteric cancer. What happened?
Let’s go back to the early 80s again. I have been in practice for 5 or 6 years and guess what? No cats with diarrhea. Guess what else? No cats with diabetes, or pancreatitis, or allergies, or hyperthyroidism. Maybe I am just a dumb vet that can’t diagnose one of these diseases if it stares me in the face. The truth is, there weren’t any, well, weren’t many.
What happened? We took our cats out of the barn and put them in the house and made pets out of them. I am not saying that there weren’t indoor cats at that time and that we didn’t have cats as pets, but I am saying that in rural central Texas where I practiced back in the 80s, almost all cats were outside cats and they hunted for a living. Their primary food supply consisted of mice, birds, other rodents and so on. They might get some table scrap leftovers, primarily meat, but that was about it. Heck, they weren’t dogs, they were cats and cats were meant to be hunters and fend for themselves. Ha!
Then we decided that we loved our cats too much to have them out in the barn so we took them inside, spayed or neutered them, declawed them and fed them cat food in the way of processed kibble or canned food. Ouch. So much for cats without diarrhea or any of the other diseases that have been directly linked to inappropriate diets fed to cats.
As veterinarians, we suddenly got busy with cat diseases. People started bringing in their cats for diseases that we had not even heard of. I remember seeing a cat that had all the symptoms of systemic lupus but according to the specialists, it didn’t happen in the cat. So, I took some tissue samples, sent them to the lab and on the insert form I put that the pet was a dog. Yep. It was lupus. The first recorded case of lupus in the cat. Now, we see it all the time.
Certainly, this was good for business and it was great to be able to learn new ways of helping sick cats, but we never took the time to connect the dots. We never saw the connection between feeding the cat cat food instead of its natural diet.
Several years ago, a lady vet (can’t remember her name) at Animal Medical Center in New York City seemed to connect the dots. She decided to do some research with diabetic cats. Diabetic cats, like humans, fall into the category of Type 2 Diabetes, which means that they develop a resistance to their own insulin. Type 1 Diabetes, like most dogs get, is usually due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin. This means that it is much more difficult to get cats and humans regulated because they do not respond well to any type of insulin.
The lady vet was keen to suspect the implication with the diet so she took 100 cats that were insulin-dependent diabetics and changed their food. She took them off the cat kibble (high in carbs, particularly starch) and started feeding them a high-protein, low carb canned diet. She was able to get every single one of these cats off insulin just by changing their diet to something similar to what they were eating while living out in the barn. You see, cats are called obligate carnivores which require meat as a source of energy. Starch, when fed to cats, is converted to sugar, causing a jump in blood sugar and insulin resistance. Both are precursors for diabetes.
In my opinion, this was earth-shattering news. Unfortunately, her research fell on many deaf ears and most vets continued to promote the feeding of heat-processed cat kibble. Why? Because it keeps their teeth clean. NOT.
Now, I am not going to say that heat-processed kibble is the cause of most chronic diseases in the cat. NOT. Of course I am. It is absolutely the cause of most chronic diseases in the cat. I have seen scores of cats with intestinal disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, chronic urinary tract diseases and many others resolved with diet correction alone.
So, you have two choices if you would prefer to keep your cat healthy and happy. One, put it back out in the barn. But, if you don’t have a barn, let’s look at choice number two. Feed a balanced, wholesome diet, high in protein (meat), low in carbs and no starch. See what happens. Your cat will love you for it.