Replacing Nutro's Max Cat Led to a Feline Nutrition Education
Updated: Feb 1
It's hard to believe it's been 3 years since Nutro's Max Cat canned food was discontinued, to the dismay of many cat owners, myself included. It was my cat's favorite food at that time, and I had been ordering each of their protein options by the case. I've been writing about our experience with finding Max Cat replacements since early 2020.
So much has changed in feeding our cats over the past 3 years. It started with replacing Nutro's Max Cat which consisted of roughly 40% of their diet. We tried a lot of foods with varying success. Nutro's replacement product, Perfect Portions, offered limited variety and much more fish, compared to their Max Cat product. And let's not forgot the other downsides of their new product: it's ridiculous plastic container with the tricky peel off lid, the "perfect" size which is really too small (both sections did not add up to one can of Max Cat), and with this new product, they increased the price by 75%. I did include Perfect Portions as part of the diet even though I resisted initially.
In the summer of 2021, my cat Josh developed a urinary issue. There were a small amount of crystals in his urine. Urinary issues can be complicated. It's thought to stem from a combination of nutrition and stress. The week that Josh developed crystals, my mother was dying in hospice. It had been a very difficult time in my life. Since Josh is emotionally attached to me, it made sense that he developed crystals this particular week. However, I began to question whether the diet change was a factor. I became more keenly aware that not all cat food was equal even if it claimed to be "complete and balanced." Some were going to provide better nutrition than others, and hopefully help prevent disease.
Our journey became not only finding new foods that the cats like, but finding nourishment that is biologically appropriate for cats and not linked with urinary issues: high in animal proteins, low in carbs, ash and fish. I knew I needed assistance. I met with a feline nutrition specialist, Terri Grow, who is not only very experienced but quite lovely to work with. I knew about Terri because I had seen her webinar, What in the Name of Foods are Cats Swallowing? and I was really impressed with her knowledge and expertise. Luckily, she does consultations. She helped me with a diet plan for Josh that helped us steer clear from further urinary issues. And, the experience working with her sparked an interest for me in learning more about feline nutrition. As per Terri's recommendation, I signed up for a comprehensive nutrition course, Natural Animal Nutrition, with the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies. Shortly after that intensive course, I got certified as a Pet Nutrition Coach and began offering Feeding Advice consultations as part of my behavior practice.
So, what are my cats eating? A completely different diet than they were 3 years ago when we began our search for Max Cat replacements. I still do a rotation of brands and proteins, which is good for nutrition, enrichment and preventing finickiness.
Currently, our cats are eating Vital Essentials freeze dried raw food (both the dinner patties and mini nibs). They like the pork, chicken and rabbit. They'll try duck next. For canned food, we use Tiki Cat after Dark, Weruva Classic, Merrick Backcountry, Lotus Just Juicy, Rawz, and sometimes a bit of Fancy Feast Classic for extra variety. Josh had been prescribed Royal Canin's SO canned urinary food which he likes so we keep that in the mix too. For my cats, I continue to expand on the variety, following their lead with what they enjoy eating.
I've always been interested in feline nutrition, but I didn't expect to learn this much during our quest to find Max Cat replacements. Three years ago, I felt frustrated and angry with Nutro. Today, I'm grateful for how it led to an increased knowledge in feline nutrition which not only benefits my cats, but my clients too.
Jennifer Van de Kieft is an Advanced Feline Training and Behavior Professional located in Brooklyn, NY but providing virtual consultations throughout the United States.