Ask Smalls: Are Prescription Diets Necessary?

Prescription cat foods are supposed to be formulated for addressing issues like obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, urinary problems, and other medical conditions. However, a recent lawsuit against major pet food companies brought to light that these prescription foods “contain no drug or ingredients that are not found in conventional foods.” It’s ridiculous that cat foods can be labeled as prescription without any real justification — this must be changed!

Apart from containing no substances, drugs, or medicines that is medically necessary, has been FDA evaluated, and legally needs a prescription, prescription cat foods can actually be detrimental to your cat’s health. They are often composed of poor quality ingredients with low moisture content, like kibble food. Many alleged formulas also contain high amounts of carbohydrates like wheat, corn, soy and other by-products, which should not be part of a cat’s diet.

Specially formulated foods like those prescribed for kidney problems rely on reducing the protein content of the food to reduce the “workload” of the kidneys. While the prescription food seems to be solving the problem, it stops the symptoms from occurring without addressing the underlying cause. If the prescription cat food neglects other essential dietary needs like containing adequate protein or moisture, it may be worsen your cat’s overall health.

Though some vets might still recommend prescription foods for your cat, you should opt for a healthier, more species-appropriate solution for your cat. Since nutrition isn’t considered as a key part of disease management, most veterinarians start their practice without receiving thorough nutritional training. Some of the instruction that veterinarians receive in school actually comes from the largest pet food manufacturers. Instead of relying on a label, let your cat’s health rely on high quality food with proper nutrients.

TLDR: Labeling cat foods as “prescription” is nothing more than a marketing trick — they necessarily contain a drug or ingredient not found in regular food! Prescription cat foods are also formulated to reduce the symptoms of your cat’s condition without actually treating the problem that’s causing it. If a prescription cat food is made of dry kibble, the carbohydrates (or starches) used could also harm your cat’s health.