Best Low Protein Cat Food
Low protein diet is not just a problem for cats with renal failure. Kidney disease patients are also affected by low protein diets. For example, one of the most common problems in cats with CKD is hematuria (blood in urine). Hematuria occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to the kidneys. If too little blood flows into the kidneys, then they cannot remove waste products from your pet’s body properly or at all.
When this happens, the result is death.
The other major risk associated with a low protein diet is weight loss. Weight loss can occur because of several reasons:
Your pet may become overweight due to poor nutrition or obesity. Your pet may lose muscle mass due to lack of exercise or malnutrition. Your pet may develop diabetes mellitus (kidney disease) which causes it to lose its ability to use insulin effectively.
If your pet loses weight while on a low protein diet, the result will be decreased energy level and lethargy. This condition is called ketoacidosis. Ketone bodies are produced by the liver and enter the bloodstream through urine when your pet burns fat stores for fuel instead of carbohydrates like you would normally do if you were feeding your cat a high protein diet.
A low-protein diet can also result in a loss of body fluids (dehydration) which can cause nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
Is It Safe To Feed My Cat A Low Protein Diet?
The short answer is no. Veterinarians do not recommend feeding your cat a low or reduced protein diet unless it is advised by your veterinarian. However, there are a few low or reduced protein diets which can be fed to your cat to help prevent the onset of kidney disease. It is always best to ask your veterinarian before switching cat food since these diets may be more expensive. In addition, many of them contain a lot of carbohydrates which may cause weight gain in your pet.
If your cat is already suffering from kidney disease, then a low-protein diet is a great place to start. However, this alone will not treat the disease. Your veterinarian may suggest that you begin giving your cat vitamins and supplements which are designed for CKD cats. These are available through your veterinarian or at pet supply stores. There are also prescription canned and dry low-protein formulas which you can feed your cat if your veterinarian suggests it.
The prescription canned and dry foods which we have found to be helpful in managing kidney disease are Hills m/d and d/d which can be found at most pet supply stores.
What About Other Low-Protein Foods?
Many pet owners and pet experts believe that feeding your cat a low-protein diet can extend the life of your pet. While this is most likely true, there have not been many studies on this specific topic. It is possible that feeding your cat a low-protein diet could help to prevent kidney disease from occurring or at least delay its onset. There has been some research on this topic, but none of it was done on cats specifically. The studies were performed on humans and showed promising results.
Some pet food companies have taken this research and created “prescription” low-protein foods which should be fed to your cat in place of its regular food. These foods are available from your veterinarian and may help to slow down the progression of kidney failure or prevent it altogether. Talk to your veterinarian about whether or not one of these prescription diets would be suitable for your cat.
Sources & references used in this article:
Dietary protein constraint on age at maturity: an experimental test with wild deer mice by AG McAdam, JNS Millar – Journal of Animal Ecology, 1999 – Wiley Online Library
Effect of late gestation low protein supply to mink (Mustela vison) dams on reproductive performance and metabolism of dam and offspring by CF Matthiesen, D Blache, PD Thomsen… – Archives of Animal …, 2010 – Taylor & Francis
Digestion of low-protein grass hay by muskoxen and cattle by JZ Adamczewski, WM Kerr, EF Lammerding… – The Journal of Wildlife …, 1994 – JSTOR
Nutritional uniqueness of cats by JE Bauer – Veterinary Quarterly, 1998 – Taylor & Francis
High-quality male field crickets invest heavily in sexual display but die young by J Hunt, R Brooks, MD Jennions, MJ Smith, CL Bentsen… – Nature, 2004 – nature.com
Supplementation with branched-chain amino acids to a low-protein diet regulates intestinal expression of amino acid and peptide transporters in weanling pigs by S Zhang, S Qiao, M Ren, X Zeng, X Ma, Z Wu… – Amino acids, 2013 – Springer