Yesterday I picked up an assortment of canned cat foods for Whit when I went grocery shopping. He’s always eaten dried food and was such an excellent rodent-hunter that I tended to think of what I offered him more as supplemental feeding. Even so, I always provided him with what I considered the best, although I admit that I’ve made adjustments several times over the years when new data about feline physiology made it clear a particular era’s best wasn’t as great as we thought it was.
But when I went shopping yesterday, the cardinal rule of nutrition was paramount in my mind: Nothing is nutritional if they won’t eat it. With that in mind, I purchased an assortment of products from the generic store brand to top of the line organic. For once in my life, I didn’t read the labels. My old goal that Whit eat only the very best was replaced by a much more basic one. That he eats, period.
And yet even as I did this, I found myself fighting feelings of guilt and even thinking about hiding that can of store brand stuff (as I smugly had thought of it) under my other purchases lest I meet someone I knew. I wondered whether I, as a vet, had ever put a client or friend in a similar position. I hope not because it’s a crappy feeling.
Not surprisingly, Whit immediately dove into the cheap store brand and even munched on some of his premium dry afterward. No vomiting, no diarrhea.
What is a well-balanced diet for a cat? Good question. Given that Whit was born under a farm porch, I’d say that the ideal diet for him would beNew Hampshire Rodent Feast. Not just any rodents, mind you, but local rodents who fed on local vegetation, a dietary combination of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and probably a lot of other nutrients whose presence we don’t even know about and whose function is even more obscure. Those rodents and their ancestors and Whit and his co-evolved, predator and prey in a timeless dance that ensured the survival of both.
Alas, I can’t go to my local supermarket and findNH Mouse MousseorUpper Connecticut River Valley Rodent Buffet. It offends us Americans that our pet cats would have such uncouth eating habits. Nor is there anything on the cat food shelves that produces sound and motion, those prime triggers of feline appetite. So I reach for cans of smell, combinations of fish the likes of which never appeared on Whit’s or any other area cats’ ancestral menu.