The development of the canines and felids (Cat family) have been similar in so many ways. The most significant difference is the special dietary requirement of the cat family. As obligate carnivores, meat is a necessity for their survival. A vegetarian diet is sufficient for a dog diet. In contrast, cats need lower amounts of vegetable and carbohydrates. So we learn what exactly is the Natural Cat Diet.
Fats and large quantities of proteins is a key part of their diet. Another importance of meat is the supply of amino acid taurine. This is the only natural source of this substance. Cooking the meat will destroy this substance which is why raw meat is best. Animal fats also provide arachidonic acid, another essential fatty acid. In this article, we shall be taking a look at every aspect of Natural Nutrition for cats. Do read on to learn more.
Through evolution, cats have become excellent hunters. This is to match their dietary needs for animal fats and fresh meat. The digestive tracts, claws, teeth, and structure of cats have also evolved. The result makes it easy to hunt, catch, and then process their prey. Baits and poisons are also ineffective against cats since they love fresh meat. They can be very fussy when it comes to food.
This is why mixing medications in food is often an ineffective trick against cats. Cats have a very effective water conservation system. This is thanks to the evolution of the urinary system. The daily water requirement of a cat is very low. The urine they produce is of very high concentration. This is followed by a strong odor which cat owners are familiar with. With the live prey providing about 80% of the water requirements through absorption, there is little need to drink water during the day. This is what makes dry food a very bad option. This can cause renal failures and urinary tract disorders.
If the cats are unable to adapt to these foods by taking in more water, there will be serious consequences. Some of these consequences are:
- PH imbalance
- Renal overload
- Crystal formation
The use of vegetable protein, carbohydrates, and other cheaper alternatives are also very unhealthy. Commercial cat foods are the main culprits in this case. The effects of modern cats include:
Giving a cat a dry food diet for too long will affect health. It doesn’t matter the price or quality of the product.
So what should a modern cat eat?
Fresh raw meat in large quantities makes up most of the diet. Vegetable matter and carbohydrate should also be available to balance the diet. Supplements are also necessary for this diet. This is to account for nutrients which are available from eating a whole prey.
The supplements contain nutrients which come from eating the following parts:
- Digestive tracts
The supplements should include nutrients such as:
- Vitamin C
- Other trace elements
Feeding on a natural prey provides all these nutrients which is why it needs to be included. The addition of wheatgrass and vegetables is also important. These are substitutes for the green matter and grass which a cat will intake when feeding naturally.
You can get a cat mix on the market. These usually follow a feeding chart. In most cases, raw meats have a larger portion of the feeding chart. It also contains the right amounts of other elements which the cat needs. Getting a cat to change its food can be quite difficult. For users who want their cats to grow healthy, you need to keep trying.
Using chicken stock to soak the mix is very helpful. The entire meal can be mixed with sardines. This works well for cats that prove to be very picky about foods. It pays to take the process gradually. Use raw meats first and then add the mix after a while.
Why is Raw Food Crucial?
As humans, we know how much better-cooked food tastes in comparison to raw meals. This doesn’t apply to your cats and canine friends. We all know about the impact of evolution on cats and dogs.
Unfortunately, these animals do not have the body system for digestion and absorption of cooked foods regardless of evolution. Throughout the evolution of cats and dogs, raw foods have remained their main diet. Through evolution, digestion, breakdown, absorption, and mastication of raw foods are possible for cats.
There are lots of illnesses which are attributed to the intake of cooked foods by cats. This is according to scientific data which have been compiled over the years. Various illnesses include:
- Ear infections
- Renal failure
- Skin disease
- Reproductive failure
- Anal gland blockage
Improper nutrition is the leading cause of these illnesses.
What Do Cats Need to Eat?
There are certain nutrients which cats need in large quantities. Others can be available in small quantities or not at all. Small quantities of corn and rice provide carbohydrate is allowed.
The essential needs of a cat include:
- Fatty acids
- Amino acids like arginine and taurine
- Protein from animal sources like fish and meat
The American Association of Feed Control Officials also provides nutrition guidelines for cats. As a cat owner, it would be helpful to get your hands on these guidelines.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid which occurs in nature. Seafood, liver, muscles, kidney, and heart, are some of the sources of taurine. Depending on how hard a muscle is working, it forms dark meat.
Taurine in dark meat is more than in light meat. The leg is an example of dark meat while the breast is light meat. The taurine content in meat varies. Fresh meat has higher taurine content. Environment, breed, and diet, also affect the quantity produced. Clams and shellfish have high taurine concentrations.
Getting the calcium/phosphorus ratio
Phosphorus and calcium are both very important in cats. Calcium is important in:
- Ion balance
- Muscle control
- Bone building
Phosphorus combines with calcium to produce calcium phosphate. Teeth and bones get their strength from this compound.
Ideally, a feline diet should contain calcium to phosphorus ratios 1.1:1 approximately. It is important that the right quantities of these substances are available. Some of the effects of the low amount of calcium in the body are:
Excess calcium also causes issues like:
- Higher bone density
- Growth problems
Phosphorus in excess may not cause any problem. This is unless it is in a cat with kidney issues. Low amounts of phosphorus have certain effects such as:
- Acid-base imbalance
- Hemolytic anemia
Can you clean your cat’s teeth using dry foods?
There are various cat diseases which may be a result of poor dental care. Some people believe that feeding a cat with dry foods offers an advantage in this area. This is not the case. It often causes more problems. It is common for dry foods to promote bacterial growth in the mouth. They also provide carbohydrates from which sugar is obtained by the bacterial growth as nutrients.
Are commercial products with “balanced & complete” labeling a great option?
Some products provide most of the daily requirements. It is difficult to get all in one meal. This is similar to why humans eat different meals during the week. Considering that one meal will not provide all the nutrients, there are other meals where the nutrients will be available. This also applies to cat meals. While the commercial products do their best, adding supplements, fresh vegetables, raw meat, and others will fill any gap left my these products.
Giving your cat a dog’s food
This may be safe depending on the type of product. In other cases, you may be causing damage to the health of your cat with the use of dog food. It can lead to a gain of excess weight in cats. It is common for such cats to become deficient in the amino acid taurine the risk of pancreatitis.
Risk of E. Coli and Salmonella
Cats have a much more efficient digestive system than humans. This digestive system is also shorter and more acidic. The combination of these two features makes it excellent in killing bacteria on food. There are also safety standards which commercial products must meet. This is to avoid E. Coli, salmonella, and other organisms. Cleanliness when feeding the cat is also very important.
Using life stage as a diet schedule
Following a diet plan which is suitable for a cat’s age is important. The feeding schedule of an adult cat should differ from that of a kitten. This does not mean that they cannot use the same commercial product. The quantity may differ regardless. Young kittens eat more often. Their daily feeding can be up to three times. In the adult cat, the number of feeding time reduces. While feeding the cats do not let them get obese. Adult cats require nutrition which can supply all the essential nutrients. This keeps their bones and immune systems in the optimum conditions.
Do you get the best foods for your cat at the veterinarian?
We all know that the veterinary is where we get the proper treatment for our animals. This includes our cats. They also provide animal foods from large brands. These foods often come with a premium marketing. A lot of these foods are not as healthy as you think. The protein in most of these foods come from grain sources. It is difficult to find foods using meat sources for protein.
The natural source of proteins which cats consume is from meat. Feeding them protein from any other source, like grain, is a leading cause of obesity. If you are looking to correct a deficiency in your cat, using supplements can help. You should also use a pure natural meat source in this process.
What is the effect of a high protein diet?
The effect of a high protein diet on your cat may vary depending on the origin of the protein. High protein from plant sources has a negative impact on the cat. On the other hand, animal proteins are highly nutritional. The structure of the cat does not suit the consumption of plant protein. This is the form of protein common in most commercial products. Lamb meal or chicken meal are some of the meat meals you should look out for when buying a commercial product.
Is a natural cat diet really much better than commercial cat food?
There are lots of reasons why commercial cat food is not the best. A lot of them use inferior ingredients in production. This applies to both canned and dry cat foods. Most of these ingredients are parts which humans cannot consume. The difficulty that comes with finding a cat food with pure meat is another factor. A lot of them use by-products. Having to mix various commercial cat food for a complete diet should be an indication of its inferiority.
This is why these foods are not healthy. As obligate carnivores, cats do not get their nutritional requirements from these foods. Cooking is a human activity. Wild animals do not cook food. This is why it makes much sense to feed your cat using a raw meat diet. This is the closest to nature you domesticated cat will get.
Commercial cat food is also the main cause of diseases in cats. Cats which feed on these products become susceptible to:
- Kidney disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Dental disease
- Feline urinary tract disorder
Moving to a natural diet for your cat
If you are going to be changing your cat’s diet, you need to be careful. This is not something you do on a whim. The transition needs to be gradual. A visit to your vet can provide you with useful information. You should provide a variety of raw meat. These include:
This will make it easy to identify what your cat loves. Calcium supplements should also be included. Vegetables should also be added to the diet.
It is important to note that cats are lactose intolerant. You won’t be doing any good serving them with cow milk.
This article is not to say commercial products are not ideal for your cats. Nonetheless, a natural diet is essential for your cat if you want it to get the needed amount of protein it requires. A mix of both would be the best alternative as opposed to ignoring a natural diet entirely.