What is a balanced cat food diet?
- March 4th 2019
Ah, cats. So regal and self-possessed, it is easy to imagine that they know it all. If you feed your cat something they do not like, they would tell you, wouldn’t they? They make their preferences very clear. So how is it possible to get your cat’s diet wrong?
But possible it is. Your cat needs a very careful balance of ingredients, more so than a dog. In this article, we explore what you think to keep in mind when feeding your cat.
Your cat is an obligate carnivore
A cat’s diet is different from a dogs. For one, cats are obligate carnivores. This means they are a little different from other meat-based eaters—for them, meat is biologically necessary. Unlike dogs, cats do not produce specific nutrients in their body that they need to survive. These nutrients can only be found in animal tissues. Dogs are scavenging carnivores: they need meat to thrive but can survive on a plant-based diet if forced to. But if you try and turn your cat into a vegetarian, they will find it impossible to survive on the nutrients they consume.
So, meat is essential to a cat diet. It should be primary ingredient in any cat food list you make for your pet, and should form a large proportion of each meal.
This is a type of amino acid found in animal-based protein, and is very important for your cat. Dogs produce their own taurine.
Taurine is crucial for good vision, good digestion and a functioning reproductive system. Cats cannot manufacture taurine from other amino acids, so need high levels of taurine in their food to consume the right amount. A cat who is suffering from a taurine deficiency will suffer from poor vision, rotting teeth and reproductive issues.
Several brands of cat food online and cat food in India have a balance of taurine in them. Taurine is mostly commonly found in muscles and in organs such as the liver and heart. Dark meat has more taurine than light meat, and shellfish is especially high in taurine. It’s important to remember that taurine is highly soluble in water—so if you throw out the water in which the food is cooked, you could be throwing out the taurine too.
Looking beyond meat
But is meat enough for your cat? Most cat owners assume that a meat-based diet means that servings of boiled chicken are enough for their cat. But there is a lot more to cat’s physiology than that.
When cats would hunt in the wild, they would consume their entire prey. That means organs, feathers, tendons, bones, cartilage—essentially, a lot more than just the meat. These ingredients were necessary for the cat to truly receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
Here are the other elements you should be paying attention to in your cat food list:
Fats – It’s essential for your cat to get their appropriate helpings of omega-3 and omega-6. These fats are responsible for high energy levels and for your cat’s thick and glossy coat. They also help cognitive ability and keep your cat’s skin in best health. Fatty acids can be found in fish and fish oils.
Minerals and vitamins – Cats require several necessary minerals and vitamins. Minerals like calcium are necessary for strong bones and teeth, while vitamins such as preformed vitamin A are important for a cat, as your cat’s system cannot create active vitamin A. Balance is very important here, as too much of one mineral or vitamin can be harmful for your cat. Most cat food online comes with a carefully selected array of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are also available as supplements and can be given to your cat separately.
Carbohydrates – This isn’t essential for a cat’s diet, but it is always good to have in small quantities. It helps increase energy levels and can also stimulate good gut bacteria, which is good for digestion.
Make sure your cat drinks enough
So why are cats so fussy about drinking water? Mostly because they have very sensitive tongues and noses, which means they are hyper sensitive to any chemicals in what they drink. Many cats tend to prefer drinking from puddles than from their water bowls. But always make sure that you keep their water bowl filled with clean water. That way, they can drink when thirst strikes.
Also try and retain any natural water in the cat food you give them. Many cats hydrate themselves with what they eat, so this is important. And no, cow’s milk is not a good substitute for water. Most cats stop processing milk once they grow up from the kitten stage. You can give them lactose-free pet milk as a treat, but certainly not as an everyday staple.
Cat food versus raw food
Several cat owners feed their cats raw food or home-made cat food. These preparations usually involve meat and fish, and with added supplements for any minerals or vitamins that the cat may be lacking.
You should always talk to your vet before putting your cat on a raw food diet. While the principals of such a diet are sound, there are dangers to it. For one, you could be miscalculating the balance of food that your cat needs. As this article has explored, a cat’s physiology is delicate and an absence of any essential mineral can impact their health (There is now raw cat food online that you can buy.)
Secondly, there are risks of the food being left out too long and going bad. Cats can also be fussy about a change in diet and may not take to home-made food if they have eaten commercial cat food. Always consult your vet when formulating your cat fooddiet to make sure your beloved pet is as hail and hearty as can be.