Many thousands of years ago the cat first made contact with humans and started its process of becoming domesticated and being kept as a pet.
Much has changed over those thousands of years, but what may surprise you is cats dietary needs have largely stayed the same.
In the wild, cats were strict carnivores. Hunting for their food, their diet consisted of mainly meats and little fibre or carbohydrates therefore their diet was rich in protein.
Why does my cat need meat?
Why is meat so important for my cat you may be asking? As humans we hear all the time too much meat is bad for us, however this isn’t the case for felines.
Meat provides cats with essential protein. They need a diet high in meat, therefore high in protein to meet their energy requirements and to also support their growth and development. Protein also provides essential amino acids that create enzymes, antibodies, hormones and tissue.
There is one amino acid in particular that cats are likely to develop a deficiency in if not fed enough protein, this is Arginine. This is essential for metabolism, cats use it quickly and aren’t able to create their own. If a cat doesn’t get enough Arginine it will lead to sickness, lethargy and drooling and possibly even convulsions.
Cats & Carbohydrates
That answers the protein question, so why do cats need so little carbohydrates? Cats are unable to utilise carbohydrates properly, therefore carbohydrates that they can’t process will likely transfer to fats which increases the risk of obesity and even diabetes.
And of course, cats need Taurine. Dogs can create Taurine themselves but cats aren’t so fortunate. Taurine is the most essential amino acid a cat needs as it supports normal vision, digestion, heart muscle function and keeps immune systems healthy. A Taurine deficiency can lead to more serious health problems for your cat in later
What should I feed my cat?
So what should you be feeding your cat? Always read the ingredients label carefully.
Do you have your cat’s food to hand? Have a look at the ingredients list on the back.
On any good quality cat food you should expect to see the meat ingredient listed first – and it should also be a high percentage to meet those high protein levels we looked at earlier. Even better if it gives you a percentage of how much of the meat used is “fresh meat”.
Then the ingredients should follow in quantity order, with the next ingredient listed being the second highest quantity in the food. Obviously if feeding a high meat percentage food the list of ingredients following this should be just a small handful.
Basically you’re looking for an ingredients list with high meat content, little or no cereals or grains and of course the obligatory amino acid – Taurine.
Always note, a cat’s food is only complete when Taurine has been added to the recipe. Any foods that don’t list Taurine in the main ingredients or Nutritional additives are just a complimentary meal for your cat and will need to be supplemented with another food that does contain Taurine.