Instinctive Choice Cat Food

April 4, 2013
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Usually, I don’t like to name names when people ask, “What is the best pet food?” What works best for one pet will give another one tummy problems, and still another one won’t even touch it. As I emphasize frequently, variety is extremely important for our cats and dogs. Feeding the same food year in and year out is a good way to create food intolerances and allergies, as well as finicky behavior; and it puts pets at risk for serious deficiencies or excesses. One cat rescue that fed only Wellness canned food had many cats get sick, and several die, due to the lack of thiamine in food that was later recalled. (For more info on why variety is so important, and how to get your cat to eat different foods, see our article on Switching Foods.)

The very best diet you can feed your cat is a properly balanced, species-specific, raw homemade diet using fresh, organic foods; and secondarily, a commercially made, nutritionally complete raw diet. That said, I recognize the reality that a lot of people are just not able to do that. Canned food is the most practical and do-able way for many folks.

Now, I do publish a complete list of “Dr Jean’s approved brands” in my ebook, What Cats Should Eat: How to Keep Your Cat Healthy with Good Food, which I update frequently. But if you don’t want to buy the ebook, I will, just this once, tell you about my favorite canned cat food!

Life’s Abundance pet foods are formulated by Dr. Jane Bicks, a fellow veterinarian and long-time friend. I gave Dr. Jane no end of hassle for years, until she finally came out with a canned cat food: Instinctive Choice. I believe this is absolutely the highest quality, lowest-carb, cat-friendliest canned food available anywhere. Cats love it, and it has saved many lives when kitties wouldn’t eat anything else.

A few years ago, my youngest cat, Sundance (now 12), developed a life-threatening condition called idiopathic hypercalcemia. He would sniff at food but then not eat it; so he was losing weight fast. As it turned out, Instinctive Choice was the only food he would eat, and it helped him to get “back on his paws.” Now of course he was getting holistic treatment with homeopathy, acupressure, Reiki, etc.; but without “good groceries,” the body can’t heal!

Let me say that again, because it is such a crucial concept: No matter what remedies or supplements or therapies we give our cats, nutrition is still the foundation of it all. If that foundation is weak or crumbling, it must be repaired, and the only way to do that is with healthy, wholesome food. Instinctive Choice makes a good solid brick for that foundation.

But…as much as I love this food, and as well it can serve as the foundation of your cat’s diet; variety is still critically important, so please incorporate other wholesome, natural brands in your rotation.

For cats with kidney disease: This is a very high protein food. While older cats absolutely need more high quality protein as they age, and some research supports even very high protein diets for CRF kitties, there is opposing research that finds longer life and fewer crises with low protein food–but those studies were funded by companies that make that food. Overall, the protein issue is still controversial. The phosphorus level of the canned food is 0.29%, and in the dry food it is 0.8%. I would advise you to discuss it with your veterinarian, but the answer will almost certainly be “no” because most vets do not truly understand feline nutrition. They are educated and influenced by the pet food companies who make kidney diets–who obviously have a financial interest in convincing vets to sell those foods. This food will often tempt even sick cats to eat, but you may want to alternate it with a lower protein food. All I can tell you is that my own cat Flynn, who was recently diagnosed with CRF, still gets his raw diet and this cat food, among others, and I have no intention of changing or putting him on k/d or anything remotely like it. Maybe he won’t live as long…maybe he will…but he still enjoys eating and that’s what matters most!

Instinctive Choice can be ordered directly from Life’s Abundance; click on the order button to visit their website; or keep reading for more information about this food. Life’s Abundance products are not available in stores. For technical questions (specific nutrient levels, etc.) you can call the company directly at: 877-387-4564, 8:00 AM to 7:00PM EST.

What is not in Instinctive Choice

  • Instinctive Choice does not contain fruits (such as cranberries or apples), vegetables (such as sweets potatoes or carrots) or grains (such as wheat, barley, corn or oats). Cats are metabolically adapted to use protein and fat as energy sources and they have no metabolic need for carbohydrates. Most domestic cats, however, need a little fiber because their digestive tracts are used to getting it. Guar gum is an excellent source of fiber.
  • Instinctive Choice does NOT contain corn or corn gluten, wheat or wheat gluten, artificial colors or artificial preservatives.

What is in Instinctive Choice and why is it better?

  • Instinctive Choice premium canned cat food is nutrient dense; therefore, you can feed less of Instinctive Choice than many other brands of canned cat food.
  • Instinctive Choice contains high-quality proteins from meat and fish. The organic chicken, turkey, chicken liver and shrimp are carefully selected to provide your cat with a variety of protein sources, the best high-quality proteins we could find. This ensures that your cat will get a full array of necessary protein components that true carnivores need to live a healthy life.
  • The chicken liver in Instinctive Choice not only provides a rich protein source, it is also a warehouse of nutrition because it contains Vitamins A, E, C, folic acid, B vitamins, iron and copper just to mention a few. Some say it is the healthiest food in the world.
  • Instinctive Choice contains nutrient-rich water. This is important because modern house cats are descendents of desert animals that obtained moisture from their prey and so they do not like to drink water from a bowl. The nutritional components found in meats and chicken broth allow your cat to obtain moisture closer to the way a cat in the wild would get it.
  • Every cat owner knows that cats crave grass. That’s instinct at its best! When cats in the wild consumed their prey, the intestinal tract contained grass. Instinctive Choice contains dog grass extract.
  • Instinctive Choice contains a guaranteed amount of added omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and omega-6 fatty acids in a ratio that is beneficial for overall health.
  • Instinctive Choice contains added chelated minerals, which are closer to those found in nature so they are absorbed better.
  • Instinctive Choice contains a guaranteed amount of added vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant important to good health.
  • Instinctive Choice contains added Inulin, which supports a healthy intestine, a healthy immune system and increased nutrient absorption.
  • Instinctive Choice contains a superior blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help contribute to a healthy daily diet.
  • Instinctive Choice has a savory taste that your kitten or cat will love. The organic chicken, turkey, succulent shrimp and chicken liver are cooked in a delicious broth that is seasoned with a little bit of rosemary.

(You will be taken to the Life’s Abundance website to order. This food is not available in stores and may only be ordered online.)

* My cats also love the Life’s Abundance Wellness Food Supplement for Cats…they all come running whenever they hear me shake that jar!

SAMPLES:  Sorry, but the company does not provide samples. We tried offering samples through this website, but because the majority of people failed to follow the instructions for ordering (causing a lot of extra time to be spent dealing with each incomplete order), we have regretfully terminated the sample program.  However, the company does offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if your cat will not eat the food, you can return the remainder for a refund. 

We strongly suggest that you read our article on Switching Foods and follow the guidelines, in order to maximize your cat’s acceptance of the new food.

NOTE: Life’s Abundance is a network marketing company, so there is a business opportunity there for those who want to work it. Click the Order Now button, then on the middle button on the top that says “Opportunity” to learn more.

19 Responses to Instinctive Choice Cat Food

  1. jersharocks on November 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Does this brand not sell other flavors? You’ve said that we shouldn’t be feeding one single thing all the time but this brand only has one option.

    • Jean Hofve DVM on November 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      No, no other flavors at this time.

      I also said: “But…as much as I love this food, and as well it can serve as the foundation of your cat’s diet; variety is still critically important, so please incorporate other wholesome, natural brands in your rotation.”

  2. corwin1 on June 17, 2013 at 5:19 am

    The canned formula contains chicken meal. I believe you mentioned in one of your articles that any “meal” in the ingredient list should be avoided. You also posted a recent article about Del Monte buying out Natural Balance and that it is likely that their “meal” will now come from China where it is cheaper to produce an poorer quality. Since there is no way of telling where the meal comes from, how can you respectfully acknowledge this as food fit for cats?

    • jhofve77 on June 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

      I never said “meal” was a problem for any food. In the case of this particular food, because I personally know the company’s owner, I trust that she is not lying about her ingredient sources. With the big corporate pet foods, I don’t have that same level of trust.

    • dagny on November 3, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Hello
      In your book, you recommend By Nature canned food. Yet their line of organics has menadione

      • Jean Hofve DVM on November 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

        At the time of the last revision (only 11 months ago) it did not; I have seen it popping up in other products as well. The next revision, planned for next month, will be adjusted accordingly.

  3. DakotaCat on December 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I have two cats — a 3 y/o male with FLUTD (history of crystals), and a 14 y/o male with some arthritis. I understand that fish oil is good for arthritis, and may be beneficial for cats with FLUTD, as it helps the bladder if a flare-up occurs. However, I also know that fish is high in magnesium, something FLUTD cats should avoid.

    **Is fish oil high in magnesium (and thus, should I not give it to the FLUTD cat)?**

    Or would it be okay to give it to them both? (I could attempt to give it only to the older cat, but it is difficult and inconvenient to separate them when eating.) They eat mostly raw manufactured turkey patties, and some Royal Canin Feline wet urinary SO.

    Thanks for the help in this matter!

  4. lizp on July 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Hello, I see that one of the ingredients is shrimp, but I read elsewhere on this site that fish, including shrimp, is not good for cats to eat. So, is the amount here small enough to not cause any harm?
    Thank you!

    • jhofve77 on July 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      Excellent question, thanks! Yes…almost all cat foods contain some fish or seafood, often as a flavoring or source of particular nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids. So it’s difficult to avoid all seafood. What I recommend avoiding is foods that are *primarily* fish. That’s where you’ll run into problems. Most cats tolerate small amounts of seafood just fine. Even fish-allergic cats are unlikely to cross-react with shrimp (and other crustaceans or shellfish).

  5. Skept.Ethicist on December 14, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I was told by a very well-known, respected feline nutrition expert that cats should not eat fish (or beef) Stick with poultry (chicken and turkey) and rabbit are fish and beef are common food allergens in cats and can cause inflammatory bowel disease and skin allergies in some cats.  One of my cats has been diagnosed with IBD and has been on Nature’s Variety Instinct grain/gluten-free and is doing great. My concern with NV, however, is the poor ME profile (too low in protein, too high in fat).

    Another reason for not feeding fish is it’s more likely to contain heavy metals and PBDEs, which have a possible link to hyperthyroidism. 

    Your thoughts?

    • jhofve77 on December 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Actually, chicken, beef, and fish are the top allergens in cats. Dry food is far worse than canned; processing increases its allergenicity, and cats should not be eating dry food, period. Here are some other articles you might find interesting:
      http://www.littlebigcat.com/nutrition/why-fish-is-dangerous-for-cats/
      http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/food-allergies-in-cats/
      http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/inflammatory-bowel-disease/
      http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/hyperthyroidism/

      • Skept.Ethicist on December 22, 2011 at 5:45 am

        I actually *am* feeding a canned food (Nature’s Variety Instinct grain/gluten-free). I feed the duck and chicken/turkey flavors but would like to find a food lower in fat. All things considered NV has a good reputation and my cats seem to be doing quite well on it save for occasional bouts of constipation.

        • jhofve77 on December 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

          Great! Cats need and can tolerate quite a lot of fat; NV is a good food.

          http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/constipated-cats/

        • hobie.cat on December 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

          skept.ethicist- why do you think your cat is having the occasional bouts of constipation. That is the whole reason I am trying to learn more about foods and going to switch to all wet food. My cat has megacolon and it just breaks my heart to see him have such a rough time. If i try NV will it increase the chances of constipation?

      • janegio on March 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

        Chicken is a top allergen and yet chicken is a primary protein source in the food you recommend?
        One of my cats has feline stomatitis. My vet wondered whether food allergies might be contributing to inflammation in her mouth and suggested cutting out all poultry and beef. Then I read that seafood can also be an allergen. What’s left?

        • jhofve77 on March 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

          Animals can potentially develop an allergy to any protein. Chicken is one of the more common allergens in the very small percentage of cats who are allergic to any food. Please see our article on Food Allergies for more information.

  6. Doris Megginson on December 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Dr. Bicks states in an e-mail to mix her canned food with her dry food or feed each separately. She further states that dry food is more wholesome than canned and cats need both My concern is that my two and a half old neutered DSH male is just getting over a bladder infection. My traditional vet told me never to feed dry food again. I had been feeding him Instinct dry and six different canned holistic foods from your list of “What cats should eat” and still at only 2 1/2 years he developed a urinary track infection. What does an owner do? I have eight cats all of which are fed the above combination without problems. Is Sweet William just going to have a chronic problem. Surely there must be something else I can do for him to keep this problem at bay. Any suggestions will be welcomed.

    • jhofve77 on December 9, 2011 at 6:31 am

      I disagree with Dr. Bicks on this one. She is in the business of selling food; and dry food has a higher profit margin. I have been giving her a hard time for years about it! ;-) Her dry foods are good quality; I just don’t recommend dry food for cats. Period.

      Your vet is correct. Cats with any history of urinary tract should NEVER be given any dry food. Some cats are just more sensitive than others. Your boy is at the prime age for developing urinary problems, and yes, it is a chronic condition. Expect to see it over and over again as long as he’s eating dry food.

      I love Dr. Jane’s canned food, and I also like her vitamins, which are “kibble-ish” though much higher nutritional value; for die-hard dry food addicts.

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