Although the holidays may be an exciting time of the year for you, your pets may find the festivities a little overwhelming. Even normally well-behaved pets can experience a little anxiety when th ...View Article
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Cats are unique in their dietary requirements, and vary considerably from dogs.
Cats are true carnivores and require a meat based diet for their specific and unique nutritional requirements. In the wild, cats consume prey such as rodents, insects and birds. These prey are very high in protein and water content with moderate levels of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrate. This is in stark contrast to dogs, which are omnivores and can live with less protein and higher carbohydrate in their diets.
Most commercial diets are formulated with a mixture of animal and plant derived nutrients. Most dry (kibble) foods require approximately 30-40% carbohydrate for the processing and cooking process. Cats are attracted to foods with strong odor and prefer the protein and fat for palatability. Most dry foods usually spray some form of fat on the outside of the kibble for palatability, and this may result in overeating. These easy to use foods may provide an excess of calories if the cat is allowed to eat free choice. Although most cats have adjusted to dry foods, there are certain medical conditions that may preclude the use of these foods.
Cats preferentially use protein and fat for energy sources. Adult cats typically require 2-3 times more protein than omnivorous species such as the dog. In addition to the increased protein requirement, cats typically require certain amino acids (building blocks of proteins) that must be met through the diet. Many of these amino acids occur naturally in meat-based diets, and are supplemented in the dry kibble diets.
An important concern is the inherent water requirement for cats. Cats get most of their water from their prey. Cats have a less sensitive response to thirst, and are more at risk of dehydration if eating solely a dry diet. The typical cat on dry food will need to drink approximately 8 times more water than if fed a canned food. Feeding canned foods results in increased water volume, increased urine output, and decreases the risk of stone formation and dehydration commonly seen in older cats.
Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in pets in the United States. Neutered animals require 15-20% less calories than sexually intact animals. The main cause of obesity is over-consumption of foods and decreased activity. This may be due boredom, life style demands, over feeding, and inactivity. Regardless of the cause, the health risks of obesity are great and include increased risk of diabetes, lameness, skin problems, liver disease, and urinary tract disease.
Research has shown that certain cats may benefit from feeding a high protein, low carbohydrate diet (Atkins type diet). These diets provide cats with a more efficient energy source, and more closely mimic the cats’ natural diet. Canned food typically also has a similar effect, depending on the nutrient profile of the diet.
Which diet is best for your cat? That answer depends on the nutritional state of your pet, and life style. While one diet may not fit all animals, certainly nutritional conversations with our staff may guide you in a proper direction. There is no doubt that nutrition plays a role in obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and even cancer. Proper nutrition is essential for the health and well-being of your best friend.