Savannah Cat Diet

What to feed your Savannah Cat?

We suggest feeding a properly balanced pre-made or home-made raw diet. Providing a balanced raw diet is key otherwise raw is not a healthier option. Properly balanced raw is the healthiest option for your cat. Should you not feed raw we suggest canned cat food over dry food.

What do cats eat?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they rely on nutrients found only in animal products. Cats evolved as hunters that consume prey that contains high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat, and a minimal amount of carbohydrates, and their diet still requires these general proportions today. Cats also require more than a dozen other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. Their systems are set up to metabolize a natural diet high in moisture, high in protein and very low in carbohydrates.

Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates, carbs are processed and stored as fat. A carb-heavy diet will stress the cat’s digestive system and reduce the efficiency of protein absorption. If the diet does not contain enough animal protein for their daily needs, or they are unable to process an adequate amount of that protein, cats will sabotage the muscles in their own bodies to obtain their daily needs. Additionally, feline satiety is signaled by the ingestion of sufficient amounts of animal protein in their food; lacking it, they will consistently overeat, resulting in yet more carbs being converted to fat.

Cats are unable to synthesize:

  • Eleven different amino acids arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tyrptophan, valine, and, taurine.

  • Niacin. (Cats can create niacin but insufficient to their needs and they must consume it daily.

  • Vitamins A and D.

  • Fatty Acid Arachadonic.


Raw Cat Food

Feeding a properly balanced raw diet is the best species appropriate diet possible. Raw is the cheapest option per pound but requires the most planning. Kittens should be fed as much raw as they want twice a day till 1.5-2 years of age (Savannahs grow for a long time!). Adults consume 3%-6% of their body weight in raw but can eat more (Some cats simply burn more energy). If you are concerned your cat is not eating the correct amount please consult your veterinarian, a veterinarian should be able to do a physical exam to asses body condition.

Please visit the following websites for up to date information on feeding raw;

A balanced raw diet includes flesh, organs, a bone or ground bone and a small amount of vegetation. Most people try to feed meats that are close to what cats would naturally be eating, so meat such as beef, which can cause allergic reactions in some cats, lamb, and pork are used less often. Fish should be avoided except for occasional use for many reasons including heavy metal contamination, vitamin E depletion and the fact that cats get addicted to it because of its strong taste.

Raw cat food diets try to balance the meat to bone ratio to match that of a wild diet, usually mouse or rabbit. This balances the calcium to phosphorus ratio. Cats cannot live on meat alone. Their calcium source is ideally from bone, not a supplement, as bone provides other minerals such as copper and zinc, along with collagen. Raw bone is highly digestible and provides calcium, minerals and enzymes. The marrow is nutrient rich. It is only cooked bone that is dangerous.”
— Feline Nutrition Foundation

Feline Nutrition's DYI Raw Recipe

Picture credit to Feline Nutrition’s site!

https://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/making-raw-cat-food-for-do-it-yourselfers


Canned Cat Food

Seek brands that have a AAFCO-approved nutritional guarantee and adherence to WSAVA guidelines. Avoid canned foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. Limited grain content is ok this includes corn and rice.

What is the WSAVA?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association is an international group of over 200,000 veterinary professionals. Their mission is to “advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers.”

WSAVA Guidelines:

  1. Evidence of scientific formulation

  2. Extensive testing

  3. Quality control by manufacturing their own foods.

  4. Research to meet long-term nutritional needs and subject this research to a peer-review process.

AAFCO Statement

Pet foods that carry an AAFCO-approved nutritional guarantee, often referred to as the“AAFCO statement,” are considered to be nutritionally complete and balanced. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.

What to avoid in a cat foods?

Avoid a “BEG” diet (Boutique brands, Exotic ingredients, Grain replaced with pulse).

  • Boutique brands - A boutique brand is one made by a pet food manufacturer who does not employ an appropriately qualified team of experts to study and formulate their diets. These companies often rely on marketing trends rather than testing and nutritional research.

  • Exotic ingredients- These are ingredients not classically found in pet foods and consist of animal proteins such as kangaroo, buffalo/bison, ostrich, alligator, duck, lamb, salmon, venison, and rabbit.

  • Grain replaced with pulse- Traditional grains have been replaced with pulse ingredients (legume seeds such as peas, lentils, various beans and chickpeas) and it is these pulse ingredients that are currently thought to be a major contributor to the development of NM-DCM. *

Canned cat food has a moisture content of at least 75 percent, making it a good dietary source of water. Water is essential for chemical reactions in the body, temperature regulation and joint health and mobility. It makes up about 60 percent of your cat’s body, so it’s vital to maintain proper hydration through adequate water intake. Canned foods for cats are often higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate than most dry diets. Because of the water, they are also lower in calories per volume and the cans offer built-in portion control versus having a whole bag of dry food. Many of the newer canned cat foods are very high in moisture – some as high as 85%, and this can make these diets much more expensive to feed than dry diets or lower moisture diets, which may be a consideration for some cat owners.
— Cornell University, Dr. Bruce Kornreich

Dry Cat Food

What to look for in dry cat food?

We do not suggest a dry diet for the numerous reasons above. Your cat does not need dry food. Seek brands that have a AAFCO-approved nutritional guarantee and adherence to WSAVA guidelines. Avoid foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. Limited grain content is ok this includes corn and rice.

Stinky Poop

Feed raw and your cats poop will smell less, in fact often it has little to no smell. Most cats fed a commercially prepared canned or dry cat food have stronger smelling poop. When switching foods a cat can become gassy. Be careful trying out new foods as an imbalance of E-coli can occur that maybe need a round of antibiotics to resolve. Mal-digestion and mal-absorption can result in rancid smelling stools, this can be associated with undigested and unabsorbed fats and starches. Intestinal parasites can also cause diarrhea and gas. Diagnostics will probably begin with a fecal test to check for parasites.

Urinary Tract Issues

Dry cat foods are carbohydrate-laden, low-moisture foods that cause alkaline urine and often chronic dehydration in cats. This can lead to urinary tract inflammation. Cats in the wild don't often have urinary tract problems because they get enough moisture in their food (Rodents are typically 65-75% moisture).


FDA DCM Report

What is the FDA DCM Report?

June 2019, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in cats and dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. hese reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. Definite causes are unclear, possibly genetic disposition, dietary or both. It is possibly a deficiency or malabsorption earlier in the amino acid pathway, where the cat/dog should be accessing the cysteine and methionine in the foods, or it's a leaching/binding of the taurine in the cat or dog's body by the fiber in legumes and pulses, or both. All companies have had low levels of DCM cases, it is the surge in DCM cases that has raised alarm. For example; Diamond is significantly smaller than Hills and Diamond has 117 cases confirmed by the FDA. Hills has 3 cases confirmed limited only to their grain-free diets. Plant protein in legumes (non-grain) is much higher than grains so, it is difficult to know amount of meat protein vs. plant protein in a food. Lower total meat protein alongside the higher FIBER content of the non-grain ingredients could be an interesting area to investigate.

Can I supplement taurine?

Note that supplementing taurine to a grain free diet will not work because something in the diet is prevent absorption. Taurine is prevalent in hard-working muscle meats like thigh and shoulder meat, tongue and especially heart as well as whole prey and sardines. All supplemented taurine is artificial and made in a laboratory. Most taurine is also sourced from China who is not only the number one exporter but also owns 40 manufacturers of taurine. Considering only 1-3% of imported items are inspected by the US and China has a history of contaminated product. We STRONGLY advise giving fresh (not frozen) raw hard working muscle meats once a week.

The apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grains in grain-free diets, such as lentils or chickpeas, but also may be due to other common ingredients commonly found in BEG diets, such as exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits. In addition, not all pet food manufacturers have the same level of nutritional expertise and quality control, and this variability could introduce potential issues with some products. In our hospital, we currently measure taurine in all dogs with DCM, but more than 90% of our patients with DCM in which taurine has been measured have normal levels (and the majority are eating BEG diets). Yet some of these dogs with DCM and normal taurine levels improve when their diets are changed. This suggests that there’s something else playing a role in most cases – either a deficiency of a different nutrient or even toxicity that may be associated with BEG diets. Giving taurine is unlikely to prevent DCM unless your dog has a taurine deficiency.
— Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN
What we suggest you do, if you are concerned, is to have your veterinarian take a blood sample to measure the methionine, cysteine and taurine levels in both whole blood and plasma, and send it to a diagnostic laboratory experienced with the appropriate reference ranges for circulating taurine. If the levels are lower than normal for dogs, please discuss the appropriate next steps with your veterinarian. As well, please send the information on your dog, including the food you are feeding, breed, health regarding CHD and retinal degradation, age and weight to the FDA no matter what the results are. You and your dog would potentially be helping millions of other dogs.

We are advocates for home-prepared food. However, we agree that the recipes used may not meet the minimum AAFCO nutrient requirements. If you do choose to go that route, please work with a veterinary or animal nutritionist who has a degree and experience in animal nutrition.

As more research is completed, AAFCO may need to adjust their minimum nutrient requirements and add more optimal requirements so that foods can be more appropriately formulated for breed type, size and age.

In our view, neither a balanced raw nor cooked diet is inherently “better” than the other. We work with many dogs that thrive on raw food diets, and others that do less well on raw foods but thrive on freshly prepared cooked foods. As we keep coming back to, every dog is an individual, and we believe that individual needs should outweigh a devotion to any one way of feeding
— W. Jean Dodds, DVM Hemopet / NutriScan 11561 Salinaz Avenue Garden Grove, CA 92843

DCM Resource Links

  • FDA Notice: Potential Link Between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

    https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy?fbclid=IwAR3uCOveCBfW5uF-uPSs16HOPLOBDxGQAblneCrMaSGsaydsitiDzA7jdxU#vet-LIRN

  • Q/A on FDA Possible Connection Between Diet and DCM

    https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fda-center-veterinary-medicines-investigation-possible-connection-between-diet-and

The 78-page report of “complaints” submitted by the FDA regarding suspected nutritional DCM is below. These “complaints” as presented have limited notes. This is not complete case information and attempting to draw conclusions is immature at best. It is our believe that this early publication may be either political or possible a attempt to collect more data by making the public aware of a potential problem.


Resources

  1. Should I Feed Canned Or Dry Food?

    https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/03/should-i-feed-canned-or-dry-food/

  2. Cornell University, Feeding Your Cat

    https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat

  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)

    https://www.aafco.org/

  4. Raw Feeding Your House-Cat

    http://catcentric.org/nutrition-and-food/raw-feeding/raw-feeding-your-house-cat-whats-all-the-fuss-about/

  5. CatNutrition.org

    http://www.catnutrition.org/recipes.html

  6. WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee: Recommendations on Selecting Pet Foods

    https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf?fbclid=IwAR03KW1eKvRFQeWTltQpbH9EIkdQ77ymH8SwxWKiLyL-soTbbajjZPr_EJA

  7. Taurine Supplements

    https://www.thenutritioncode.info/taurine-and-cats

  8. Dog Cancer Series Facebook (Very educational!)

    https://www.facebook.com/dogcancerseries

  9. Rodney Habib Youtube (Pet Food Education)

    https://www.youtube.com/RodneyHabibPlanetPaws


Savannah Cat Articles