Would You Switch to a Lower-Quality Cat Food if It Improved Your Cat’s Health?


I’ve always been the type pet owner who believes in feeding my pets the best I can afford. For my cats, that’s always meant a grain-free diet since cats are known carnivores. I’ve used the same high-quality, grain-free dry kibble for the past couple of years. It’s not cheap, but I felt it was well worth the price tag to have healthier cats, and I’ve been a heavy advocate of feeding a grain-free diet. When my cat’s diarrhea just wouldn’t stop, my vet suggested switching to a “regular” kibble, aka a cheaper, mass-produced kibble that has fed cats for years.

As much as I didn’t want to switch, I was at my wit’s end with what to do with Toby’s diarrhea problem. The constant diarrhea meant dehydration, which led to repetitive UTIs. It was a nasty, vicious cycle. As you’ve already read, I’ve had quite a time with my vet trying to get Toby diagnosed and treated. They recently took a new veterinarian into the practice, and he showed a lot more interest in Toby’s health issues. After treating his UTI and doing an in depth urinalysis and fecal exam (aka growing things in petri dishes), he prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic and probed more into Toby’s history, including his diet prior to coming to live with us.

Toby was already over three months old when he came to live with us, and had grown up eating the cheapest canned cat food you can get at Wal-Mart and table scraps. Yep, that’s right, he ate human food. That’s quite an interesting diet, for sure. According to my vet, what a cat’s mother eats and what they eat as a kitten can have a significant impact on their digestive system and what they are capable of properly digesting as they grow into adulthood.

With this in mind, my vet suggested I switch to a brand of cat food that had been around for many years, such as Friskies or Meow Mix. Seeing the horror in my expression, he explained that lowering my standards of cat food was well worth it if it kept Toby healthy and stopped his diarrhea. I explained that I was a little hesitant to switch to a food like that because my husband’s childhood cat died of kidney failure after eating a diet that included grains. He said that, considering the cat’s age at death (between 16 to 17), a grain-free diet may have only prolonged death by a few months or years. As he said, which would be better — your cat living 20 years with diarrhea or 16 eating kibble with grains? Touch├®, Mr. Vet.

So with that in mind, I went straight to the pet store and started perusing the cat food aisle. Clearly, old habits die hard, because I found myself picking up bag after bag, reading labels and leaning more toward the foods I had always sworn by. I just couldn’t bring myself to grab just “any” bag of cat food and call it a day. After skulking around the aisles a bit longer, I finally swallowed my pride, grabbed a bag of Meow Mix, hid my face and checked out as quick as possible.

Three weeks later, Toby’s diarrhea had completed cleared up. Believe it or not, I had a mini celebration every time I scooped the box and found well-formed poop instead of the smelly slush I had grown accustomed to. I still feel a little strange when I grab the bright yellow bag off the shelves in the store, but eating my words about grain-free diets and pet health has been worth seeing Toby get better. Sometimes, we have to swallow our own pride and ideals to do what’s best for our pet’s health.

Have you ever had to switch to a lower-quality food? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!

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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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