In all the research I performed for this paper, combined with what I learned in veterinary school regarding feline nutrition, CATS ARE CARNIVORES! Not only that, but they are obligate carnivores (they MUST eat meat). Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates.
Cats were designed to eat mice (one of nature’s perfect foods for a cat). The composition of a mouse is 50-55% protein, 22-26% fat, and 3-5% carbs on a dry matter basis.
Did you notice that corn was nowhere on the menu? So why do most commercially available cat foods have corn as an ingredient (let alone the first ingredient)?
The pet food industry is a multi-billion dollar business! Producing a convenient inexpensive processed food meshes well with todays busy consumer who themselves eat the Standard American Diet (highly processed, high fat, high calorie diet).
Health conscious individuals advise people to “shop the perimeter of the grocery store (where there are more fresh foods and fewer processed foods)”
My advice to pet owners is “feed a cat from the perimeter of the corn field (where the mice and rabbits live)”. Cats killed their prey and ate it- RAW, organs, bones, and some of the guts. The closer we feed a species the way they were biologically designed to eat, the healthier that species will be! There is no evidence cats grazed on corn or wheat. Again, why is corn the first ingredient in many cat foods? And don’t be fooled by the term “grain free”. Potatoes and rice have high carbs and contain plant proteins too, all of which contribute to the problems associated with high carb diets. And if it comes in a can or as a kibble, it is biologically speaking “dead” food. Any food heated above 105 degrees has destroyed the natural enzymes inherent in the food.
Obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), are becoming common problems in cats.
Proper nutrition is the key to avoiding these diseases.
Cats will reach their ideal weight when their metabolism matches their energy needs. This may be accomplished through feeding a diet that properly balances animal protein and fat, while limiting carbs (Corn, rice, veggies, fruits, digestible carbs ) to less than 5% (most cat food diets sold today contain 30-50% carbohydrates).
Carbs in cats (like people) digest quickly, flooding the bloodstream with glucose in excess of their metabolic needs. This glucose tide means there is more sugar released than what the body needs at that time. To cope with all the glucose, the cat produces high levels of insulin (produced by the pancreas). The excess glucose is carried by the insulin into the fat cells and stored. The remaining insulin triggers a hunger response to eat more food (just like in people). This cycle repeats itself, resulting in an obese cat.
The pancreas, which was never meant to work this hard producing excess insulin, can become fatigued and quit making insulin (how a diabetic is born), or inflamed (resulting in a potentially life threatening pancreatitis).
Cats, being originally from the desert, were designed to be good at water conservation. Studies have shown that cat’s process water more slowly than other animals. When cats are eating a higher carbohydrate diet, they metabolize the food too fast and are unable to process the water efficiently resulting in chronic dehydration. This may explain why kidney disease is the #1 killer of todays cats!
Feeding a diet with the proper protein/fat/carb balance results in the processing of water and animal protein at a rate that conserves energy and makes the cat extremely efficient at balancing water usage with nutrient intake and digestion.
High carbohydrate diets lead to over eating and result in over consumption of minerals. Excess mineral consumption (like Phosphorus) has been cited as a predisposing cause of crystal formation and urinary tract disorders in cats.
High-carb diets also tend to produce a more alkaline urine. A slightly acidic urine is desired to help maintain a healthy urinary tract.
When you buy an expensive car, you use the fuel and oils the manufacturer recommends in order to maintain peak performance. Though that fancy car will run on a cheaper gas, it may not be as efficient and won’t last as long. Consider cats as intricate machines. Feed them the diet they were best designed to operate on and they will have markedly fewer health issues. visit http://www.youngagainpetfood.com/?affId=107719“>Young Again Petfood</a> for more information.
Feeding a raw meat diet that is properly prepared is superior to any processed food. Feeding raw does not mean going to the supermarket and buying a slab of meat or a piece of chicken quarter and plopping that into a bowl. The cats ancestors ate the organs along with the meat and bones, and ate it raw. There is a commercially available diet that uses grass fed, free range, antibiotic and hormone free meats, includes the organs and bones, is 95% meat, 5% fruits and vegetables, is pasteurized at 40 degrees to kill bacteria, and flash frozen in portions. For those who want to make their own home made raw pet diets, go to mercola.com and search raw diets to get guidelines.
13 thoughts on “Cats: Carnivore or Herbivore”
Great post! I feed my cat a raw diet (a good one; well researched and approved by my vet). I started that after he had some urinary issues from eating dry food. As soon as he was transitioned, he had so much more energy and he hasn't been sick since. And it's not expensive. Not like feeding my 55 pound dog raw. 🙂
Thanks! I agree, raw is best! I am personally eating more raw and can tell the difference in my health. I will be discussing raw diets - the pros and cons - soon!
Good for you! Fortunately people want to do the best for their pets and once educated they make better choices. Have many years of misinformation to overcome. Most people don't know how to feed themselves correctly, let alone their pets!
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