Animal Doctor

Animal Doctor: Big Fish in a Big Pond Might Not Be Best for Cats

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Dr. Fox:

Our 3-year-old male cat is in good health, but his fur is not as glossy as it should be, because he doesn't get enough oil in his diet.

We have tried to add a few drops of salmon oil to his food, but he won't touch it. So we tried mixing in a little flax oil, but he wouldn't touch that, either. He can tell the difference right away. Then we offered him a bit of butter from a local dairy. He turned his nose up at it. I suppose he could get good oil from eating tuna-based cat food, but there's the problem of mercury and other issues associated with eating large ocean fish.


The District

First, you are correct about the health hazards of big ocean fish such as tuna. And farmed salmon (and oil) can be loaded with highly toxic PCBs and dioxins. Tempt your cat with low-in-the-food-chain small fish such as sardines in oil, twice a week.

Many cats turn up their noses at anything new in the food bowl, so start with a microscopic portion mixed in well. Increase the amount gradually to about one-half teaspoon daily.

Grass-fed beef, organic butter and eggs from free-range hens have more nutrients than those from conventionally raised animals. Cats need a range of essential fatty acids that are deficient in flax, borage and hempseed oils (which are fine for dogs and most humans).

Nordic Naturals fish oil and Old Grizzly wild salmon oil are two products I recommend for cats, but always start with one drop in the food. New Chapter also markets one of the best salmon oils.

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