Proper nutrition plays an enormous role in the health of felines of all ages. When your cat doesn’t eat a balanced and complete diet, their entire body is affected leading to weight problems and its related health problems, other diseases and shorter life spans.
Cats are true obligate carnivores who must eat animal protein to survive. Additionally, they are unique in their need for large amounts of dietary protein to supply the amino acids they need for many functions in their bodies. What they don’t need are ingredients like corn, wheat or vegetables. In fact, with a digestive system designed to process meat they have difficulty digesting plant material.
Breaking ground for special cat food formulas
Dr. Mark Morris Sr. DVM, the founder of the Hill’s® pet food lines was a pioneer in the field of veterinary clinical nutrition. He believed certain health conditions in pets could be managed through carefully formulated nutrition.
In the 1930s Morris Frank, a young blind man, turned to Dr. Morris for help with his dog Buddy the original seeing-eye dog. Buddy was a German Shepherd suffering from kidney disease. Dr. Morris believed the illness was a result of poor nutrition, and developed a new pet food to help Buddy. Buddy’s health improved and as reported by the Chicago Tribune on May 24, 1938, “Buddy, original seeing-eye dog dies of old age.”
Dr. Morris and his son Mark L. Morris, Jr. PhD DVM, continued to work on pet nutrition over the next several decades. In 1968, their food line was made available through veterinarians and pet professionals as Hill’s® Science Diet®. The line has continued to expand, and today includes more than 16 cat foods formulated for many life stages and special needs in healthy pets.
Many of these veterinary prescribed formulas rely on limited ingredients.
The modern twist on limited ingredient cat food
As more and more cats began to develop health issues related to the food they were eating – things like food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) and stomatitis – cat food manufacturers took on the challenge to create cat food that would limit or eradicate these diseases.
Initially, they introduced grain free formulas, both dry and canned. Taking it one step further, more and more cat food manufacturers are selling cat foods with a limited number of carefully selected ingredients with a single source of animal protein. These formulas include some easily digestible carbohydrates but no grains, corn or gluten. Some manufacturers also stay away from dairy, soy or eggs.
Are all animal proteins equal?
Studies and personal experience have led some cat nutritionists to suggest that the animal protein source should be limited to sources other than chicken, beef or fish. They recommend that the cat food contain what is referred to as “novel proteins” to eliminate the potential for allergic reactions.
These proteins include rabbit, duck, venison, lamb, veal and kangaroo.
The bottom line is that limited ingredient cat foods supply the optimal nutrition through the use of the fewest, most essential ingredients.
Cat parents have shared stories that a change in diet, to a limited ingredient, grain free formula has diminished or totally healed their cat’s stomatitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) and other issues associated with food allergies like frequent vomiting and diarrhea.
If your cat shows signs of any food sensitivities, you should consider switching to a limited ingredient diet.