Dear Christopher Cat
I feed feral cats [a well-known brand of medium quality] canned and dry food twice daily. My friend says this food causes urinary problems, so I should feed an expensive premium food. Any thoughts?
My brother Dougie was feral most of his life. He says that while he was living in the wild, he was grateful for whatever food he could find, regardless of the quality.
In general, expensive food is higher in quality than inexpensive food. However, the brand you mentioned is unlikely to cause urinary problems, as long as the cats are drinking adequate amounts of water.
Water dilutes the urine, keeping crystals and mucous from coalescing into urinary stones and plugs that can obstruct a cat’s urethra, causing urinary blockage.
Canned food is about 80 percent moisture, so it is helpful if fresh water is scarce. But canned food also promotes gum disease, which can lead to dysfunction of the kidneys and other organs.
So make certain clean water is readily available.
Food is only one factor to consider if you are feeding feral cats.
When you feed wild cats, you put yourself at risk for rabies. If a cat contracts rabies and bites you when you set out food, you will need to undergo an involved and expensive rabies treatment program.
In addition, feeding cats without also spaying and neutering them ensures that the population will expand dramatically.
If you have not done so already, please contact a Trap-Neuter-Return group in your area, so they can assist you in managing your colony of feral cats.
If you aren’t familiar with a TNR group, ask your local humane shelter for a referral.