There is still much misinformation and debate about low protein diets for cats with kidney disease or renal failure, in any stage. The latest research is showing that the source and quality of the protein is more important than the quantity of protein.
The “low protein diet” philosophy comes from research conducted decades ago on mice, who are vegetarian, that were fed a high protein diet, which is not natural for them. This caused their kidneys to begin shutting down because they weren’t designed to process all of the protein they were forced to ingest. These inappropriate findings were then applied to all companion animals, saying that high protein diets contribute to kidney failure. Recent research is supporting the theory that protein is not a major contributor to renal disease and should only be restricted under special circumstances.
Diets high in phosphorus are now being considered as a possible problem, but only for cats that are in acute renal failure or have severe renal disease and clinically show elevated phosphorus levels. However, for the obligate carnivore, phosphorus cannot be restricted without restricting protein. Typically, cats with advanced renal disease are thin, have a very low appetite, are lethargic and need to be fed whatever they will eat in order for them to get any nutrition and keep any weight on. This should be a food they love that is nutrient rich. Rad Cat has been the answer for so many cat companions because this is a nutrient dense food that cats will consume with voracity. At Rad Cat, we receive regular testimonials from people who started to feed their cats raw when they were diagnosed with renal disease. These cats are full of life and putting weight on because they’re eating again. That is wonderful and beautiful to hear.
Even though phosphorus may be in question for its involvement with renal disease, it is essential in a cat’s diet. Phosphorus is a building block of bone. It can be considered the “scaffolding” and calcium is the “cement” when building bone. These two minerals have many other functions in the body, especially with cellular metabolism, but this is one of their biggest roles. When looking at any diet for cats or dogs, there is a ratio of calcium to phosphorus that needs to be observed or some potentially serious health problems can occur. In cats, too much calcium can lead to stone and crystal formation – calcium oxalate stones, in particular. Too little can lead to the body pulling calcium from the skeleton, which can lead to osteoporosis. This is one of the main considerations in home prepared pet food or using “pet food blends” available in many grocery and pet stores. Most contain muscle, organ meat, and necks, backs, or other bones. Do these other companies and grocery stores who design their own blends know what the best bone to muscle ratio is? And, is it consistent? At Rad Cat, we use powdered eggshell. Our recipe is very specific and every batch of our food maintains a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio. Also, there is no need to worry about bone shards that can potentially be harmful to cats with sluggish or compromised digestive systems. Many cats that are new to eating raw diets can have difficulties with the challenges that ground bone can cause.
Our products are also naturally low in magnesium, which tends to be the major concern, among minerals, in cases of urinary tract obstruction (kidney stones and crystals). Our foods are formulated to contain all of the minerals in proper balance and only contain healthful levels, not high levels.
The amount of moisture present in a cat’s food is extremely important, especially when considering cats with urinary tract stones and crystals (FLUTD). As mentioned above, cats are designed to extract the moisture they need from their food. When consuming dry food, cats need to rehydrate the food in their stomach – taking the moisture away from other critical systems. Once the food is hydrated and broken down, then the water can be reabsorbed. During this entire process, there is no additional, needed moisture contributing to the digestive process until the cat journeys to the water dish, which is typically long after a meal is consumed. This can lead to a state of chronic low-level dehydration and highly concentrated urine. This can be a major factor in the development of urinary crystals and stones.
The intracellular moisture present in raw food is slowly released during the digestive process, providing sufficient water for digestion and therefore, adequate hydration.
Our products also promote a healthy urinary pH, around 6.2, which is slightly acidic. High protein diets can lead to urine that is more acidic, but less concentrated, which is optimal and especially important for cats that have a tendency to develop crystals and stones.
Because we don’t grind bone in our products, all of our diets are naturally low in ash. All of our varieties are 1.4% or less.