Sodium Nitrite  

Originally Answered: Sodium Nitrite

After seeing this documentary recently apparently Sodium Nitrite found in many common wet cat foods as well as many common meats in carcinogenic?   

It's really disappointing now to find out that many of the canned cat foods on the market include Nitrite.  I'm definitely going to make an effort to look for No Nitrite in future consumption of meat, bacon, and cat food for my baby. After seeing the documentary I made a homemade meal of chicken, fish fillet, fish skin, with some Orijen and Canidae dry cat food included in reverse osmosis filtered this a nutritious meal for my cat or am I missing something? Is the amount of kibble included having enough essential vitamins to make a balanced meal or should I have added a premixed vitamin powder?  Other times he gets Wellness he doesn't drink water from the cat fountain so I have to include it with food. One veterinarian said cats need to drink water separately from meals to get properly hydrated is this true?

Because mine won't!  He had a UTI early on from eating just dry food but hasn't had one since adding water to meals.  Sorry for all the questions but cat stuff is just so fascinating!!

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS
Originally Answered: Sodium Nitrite

Hi Murzbo,

Interesting post!

Firstly, sodium nitrite:

To my knowledge, there is no peer-reviewed evidence of carcinogenic risk of nitrites in cats. Nitrites are naturally-occurring chemicals in vegetables and are added to foods as preservatives, as they prevent the growth of bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism. Here's an interesting paper from 2012 that suggests a growing body of evidence that shows no link between nitrite consumption and stomach cancer in humans, and even says nitrites might be beneficial for cardiovascular health. This recent study in dogs also showed a possible positive benefit of nitrites in dog food. However, another recent review in humans did suggest a possible link between highly-processed food containing nitrites and colorectal cancer, although it also admits that there's little consensus amongst all the papers currently available.

Without concrete evidence, and knowing how important bacteriologically-safe and balanced canned food is to cats, I won't be changing my feed any time soon.

Homemade meal:

Unless your homemade meal consists of 90% kibble, it's not balanced. A few pieces of kibble does not contain enough vitamins and minerals to 'balance out' the other things. If you wish to home-cook your meals, I strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified veterinary nutritionist to help you prepare meals. 'Recipes' for home prepared meals for pets are often not nutritionally complete (0/100 recipes contained all nutrients in this study, and 84% were missing 3 or more essential nutrients). The study also found that all recipes for cats and contained uranium and vanadium above recommended minimum levels!

If you still want to home-cook your food, I advice you talk to a boarded specialist. You will likely also need a feline nutritional supplement to ensure nothing is missing from the diet. 

Do cats need water separately from food?

To my knowledge, cats do not need to drink water separately from their food for physiological reasons. Cats are descended from desert-dwellers and they would have got almost all of their water from their prey, since water sources are uncommon. However, the foods we give our domestic cats may not be high enough in water to allow this. Canned food is a good choice, and you can add a little extra water to it, too. You should also provide several water bowls and consider whether 'water supplements' (special electrolytes for cat water) would help your cat drink - these are very very new but are now on the market so your vet might be able to get hold of some for you!


I hope that answered all of your questions!

Dr. Chris Vanderhoof, DVM, MPH
Originally Answered: Sodium Nitrite

Hi There, 

You truly do have a cute kitty, thanks for including a picture! Pet insurance can be a little tough to navigate, just like human insurance can be. It's definitely a smart choice to look for a plan while your kitty is young and before any more serious or recurrent diseases develop. While I can't tell you exactly what company or plan to go with, I can give you some of the same general guidance I provide to some of my own pet parents.

You have a really young kitty, so hopefully, if Yue has been really healthy, you don't have to worry about pre-existing conditions. For other folks out there, if you have an older pet, you need to carefully read what a company's policy is regarding pre-existing conditions. Some will provide coverage, while others will not.

Also, having a young pet, it can be a reasonable strategy to go for a plan with a lower monthly premium, or monthly payment, but a higher deductible, which is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket for your kitty before the plan starts to cover expenses. The hope is, for a much younger pet, you might have the odd emergency, like if Yue eats something off the counter and develops some vomiting, but you won't be seeing constant, recurrent issues like older pets face. If you're fortunate, you may not have any emergencies or illnesses to deal with at all, meaning you just have a lower monthly payment to deal with.

With older pets, where you're going to the vet far more often, it can make more sense to go with a higher premium but to keep the deductible lower, since the company will start paying sooner, and remove some of the out of pocket expense for those more frequent visits.

Most companies have flexible choices for monthly premiums anywhere from $5 up to over $100. There are also different choices for deductibles available. So the good thing is that you should be able to find a plan that fits your budget.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is the inclusion of wellness plans. Not all companies have the option to include a wellness plan. However, I also look at wellness items as expenses that can be planned for. If you know what your vet's office charges for the typical annual kitty wellness items like an office fee, rabies and fvrcp vaccines (and FelV if your kitty has exposure to the outdoors or interacts with outdoor cats), a fecal, +/- annual labwork, and flea/tick/heartworm preventatives, you can budget for those expenses. So, not having a wellness plan is not necessarily a deal-breaker in my book, but it depends on what you want and what you're prepared for.

What really gets a lot of folks is the unexpected expenses, like a sudden injury/illness, and that's really what I think insurance is good for. Most plans are based on reimbursement only, so you still need to have some money saved up and set aside for vet expenses, but many plans can reimburse you for up to 90% of expenses. Just don't wait for an emergency to happen before getting insurance--many plans also have a waiting period on emergency expenses. 

Lastly, I can share with you some of the companies/plans that I see more of my own clients/pet parents have. I can't speak as much to why they were chosen, but they pass my desk for approval more often (I also have no affiliation with any of these companies, it's all objective). These companies include Embrace, PetPlan, Nationwide, and 24PetWatch, in no particular order.

Doing a quick Google search for cat insurance plans, and skipping all of the sponsored listings, can get you to some (hopefully) unbiased comparisons of pet insurance plans for cats that can help you see what individual plans offer. 

Hopefully that's helpful to you. If anyone else out there has any input, especially other docs, I think the more perspectives the better on this topic.


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