Cat Food Diet Essentials
Cats are carnivores. Due to their physiological make up, cats need a high protein, high moisture content diet.
Essential Dietary Needs of a Cat
Cats are obligate carnivores and need to consume animal tissue. A cat's intestinal tract is shorter than a dogs or humans. This means they cannot digest nutrients in plants the way we do and need animal tissue to obtain needed nutrients.
In a nutshell, cats must eat meat to thrive. In the wild, they eat very little carbohydrates. It is essential for a cat's health to provide a diet that meets their physiological needs.
For example, Taurine is an essential part of a cat's diet. It is only found in animal tissue. If cats do not have enough taurine in their diet it can lead to health problems such as: blindness and heart issues.
Studies have shown, cats prefer a diet that consists of 52% protein, 36% fat and 12% carbohydrate. Click this link to read the entire study.
What are Your Food Choices?
- Dry cat food (kibble)
- Wet cat food (canned)
- Raw diet (natural)
Over the years we have offered our cats all three choices. We have found they all have their own personal preferences when it comes to food. As a general rule, we have high protein dry food available for our carbohydrate lover and we offer canned wet food. Occasionally we have fed them raw food, which our Bengal enjoys. The others have yet to show interest.
Dry Cat Food
Dry cat food is widely available and is the most cost effective cat food. It is easy to store and keep. However, dry cat food has very little moisture content and is generally high in carbohydrates. For male cats this can be especially worrisome and has been linked to urinary tract infections.
We have a cat, Kato, who loves dry food. I have never had a cat who would choose dry food over wet foot, but he does. He loves his carbs and will look at any other food in disdain. Our vet said he is a very large cat, but he is healthy. After years of offering both kinds of food, he is starting to try new things. The other day I even caught him eating wet food when there was dry food available. Here is a great link to compare different brands of dry cat food: Cat Food Reviews.
Wet Cat Food
Wet cat food is widely available as well. It is more expensive than dry food, but it offers a diet that is closer to the natural diet of cats. Canned cat food has a higher protein and moisture content when compared to dry food.
Our Bengal boy, Atticus, rarely eats dry food. He prefers canned wet food or shredded chicken. Once in awhile he will have a dry nose or what some refer to as Bengal nose. I have found that increasing the percentage of wet/raw food versus dry food consumption has cleared up that condition. While our cat Charles prefers canned food, he will eat dry kibble and if you leave the chip bag open he will help himself to that too. He isn't too finicky.
Raw Cat Food Diet
A raw cat food diet is usually found at a pet specialty store or online. It is the most expensive dietary choice. Some prefer to make their own and this can cut down on the costs. A raw diet is generally not as convenient as dry or canned food, however, it provides cats a diet most similar to their natural diet.
In the wild, cats meet the majority of their fluid needs through their moisture-rich diet. However, domesticated cats generally do not. Providing wet or raw cat food can help meet a cat's water needs.
As a pet parent, it is important to provide a fresh water source to your feline friends. Cats prefer moving water sources. Because of this, water fountains are very popular and may encourage your cat to drink more. We have had several different brands of fancy cat water fountains, which all of our cats loved. Despite offering this option, our cats still prefer to drink directly from the faucet.
The Best Diet for Your Cat
The best diet for your cat is your decision to make. However, please consult with your vet. They can recommend the best diet based on the health of your cat.
Keep in mind the physiological make up of your kitty when making diet choices. Feeding only dry food may contribute to dehydration and is not recommended by feline nutritionists or veterinarians.
To ensure a long and healthy life you will want to make sure all of your cat's essential dietary needs are being met.
Below are some links to very detailed articles regarding feline nutrition and raw diets:
Cats need to eat regularly, not only survive but to thrive as well. If a cat does not eat, they can die in a short period of time. A sudden loss of calorie intake can cause feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease. A cat's liver can shut down due to the lack of adequate calorie intake. If your cat is not eating do not waste time, see a vet ASAP.
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