Our Cat's Place – Living With Cats thoughts, articles, & information on cats, their behavior, and their relationships with us.
  • Don’t Treat Your Cat Like a Dog! Are You Feeding Your Cat the Wrong Food?

    May 3

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    Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, which means that they must eat animal protein in order to survive and thrive. In addition, a lot of the diseases that cats frequently suffer can be caused by mistakenly feeding cats the same way as dogs. Until recently, even veterinary science treated cats, nutritionally at least, as if they simply another type of small dog.

    The majority of cat owners feed their cats:

    – dry cat food
    – cat food with too much carbohydrate content
    – the wrong kind of protein, and/or not enough of it

    Cats are their own creatures, and deserve to be treated as the unique animals they are!

    So what exactly does it mean when we say that a cat is an “obligate carnivore”?

    Felines in their various forms and species have been around for millions of years, and as hunters of live prey, their bodies have developed specialized ways to digest and use the food they eat. Imagine what the nutritional content of the cat’s natural diet would consist of. There would be lots of animal protein, and a fair amount of fat. Also, there would be a certain amount of carbohydrate (consider the grainy contents of a mouse’s stomach!), but carbohydrate would be a relatively small part of the cat’s natural diet. Thinking about what a cat would eat in nature gives us lots of great clues to feline nutritional needs.

    Cats who are domesticated and living with humans depend upon us to feed them and to supply them with the nutritional elements they need. Many packaged cat foods are inadequate nutritionally, and in some cases even harmful. Also, until recently, most cats lived on the prey they caught. So because animal flesh is moist, cats did not drink much water. Cats who are fed only dry food must be sure to drink adequate water as well, which may not always come naturally to them.

    Many commercial pet foods contain primarily grain and fat, which do not provide many of the vitamins and minerals that a cat needs for good health. Grain filler is often used in order to lower the cost of manufacturing (animal protein is much more expensive). Also, grains help to bind the various ingredients of the food together, so it becomes easier to make the dry kibble.

    Luckily, pet food companies are becoming more familiar with the issues common to commercial cat food, and there are now a number of very high quality cat foods on the market. Be sure to check the ingredients carefully when you are buying food for your cat, or even consider making your own! You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about using a nutritional supplement formulated especially for cats.

    ’til next time,

    P.S. To learn more about feline nutritional needs, and how a cat’s diet can affect his health, be sure to download your copy of this free, complete veterinarian’s report on cat nutrition by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM.

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