Discussing if carbs are good or bad for cats seems quite irrelevant if we understand that given a choice, cats would never choose carbohydrates as a source of energy. Yet it’s a debate that arises frequently because so many carbohydrate based cat foods are available and recommended by vets.
You can argue with me about how we can be sure of cats’ natural choices but their physiology speaks for itself. They are obligate carnivores and lack efficient mechanisms to use carbs.
I don’t even have to get into how nutritious carbs are and if they are well cooked they are easy to digest. We are talking about cats. Cats are obligate carnivores. Fact.
There are many professionals recommending cats to eat the same food 24/7 for their whole lives (and in many cases, a food which is not species appropriate). I don’t know any human health professional that would recommend such a barbarity.
After all, we make our own decisions about food based on our health and how we look at life. When feeding carbs to a cat, we are neglecting the basics of nature. We are now aware of so much information about the ethology and biology of cats, ethically, we can no longer ignore the significance of this. We are all aware of the consequences of the human processed food industry and now need to recognise the situation in the pet food industry.
As a feline vet, I have seen so much poor health in my own patients. Evidence supports processed food as a major cause.
The ever- increasing number of obese, diabetic and cancer patients is alarming. We know with hard evidence that an ultra-processed high-carbohydrate diet is the main cause.
Moreover, some studies suggest that apparently healthy cats show signs of pancreatitis post mortem, even when they have died from a completely different cause. (Dr Conor Brady’s book).
The phrase ‘all we need to look at is nutrients and not ingredients’ has been promoted by all the big ultra-processed food companies to add scientific authority to their businesses, changing proper nutrition into profit nutrition
This is when I ask myself, why are we still saying there’s no evidence that ultra-processed carbohydrates are causing health issues when we can all see the elephant in the room?
Vets are dealing on a daily basis with these sad cases and we are still trying to change our carnivore cats into a more convenient pet instead of a healthy one. We choose what to eat every day. Our cats rely on us to choose for them. Please let’s all choose according to their physiological needs and offer species appropriate food.
After all, having a cat is a choice not an object of convenience.
Dr Amaya Espindola MRCVS, RFVS Junior Vice President