Cat nutrition requires meat…

Time and time again it seems that most people feed their cats solely on a diet of dry food, overfeed them and let them constantly free feed thinking that is ok. 

I won’t lie; during my childhood, teens, and even early adulthood, I fit into this camp. My family had owned cats throughout my entire childhood, and no one had ever bothered to educate me on proper nutrition for cats. 

Surprisingly, a lot of people think that wet cat food is a gimmick used to sell us more expensive, unnecessary foods. While it is true that wet food is more expensive, the latter part is just not true!

Cats, unlike dogs, are true carnivores; they need meat! (Dogs fit more into the omnivore camp.) Cats nutritional needs can only be found in certain meat products. One of the main nutrients cats need to function and that is found in meat, is taurine. 

Alongside a healthy diet of meat, cats require a specific macro structure. High protein, moderate to low fat, and low carb. It’s actually pretty much the same as for us humans!

So, let’s look at most dry foods on the markets. Many of them have a very low protein content, usually under 25%, and are very high in carbs. This is basically the equivalent of a human eating mainly bread in their diet. 

When we look at the average can of wet food, we find that each serving generally contains over 50% protein with the remaining 50% being split moderately between fat and carbs; bingo!

Aside from a nutrient deficient diet, one of the other big issues with feeding your cats only on dry food, is that most people tend to over feed, or even free. This is very dangerous for cats, as it usually means they are eating way too many calories. Most adult cats only need about 300 calories a day or even less. 

Kitties should not free feed throughout the day. Rather, they should eat measured portions of food at each meal (whether dry of wet.)

Overfeeding can obviously lead to an overweight cat. I can’t tell you how many times I come into contact with visibly obese kitties. Obesity in cats can lead to all sorts of health issues, some of them potentially life threatening. Basically, it is the same as with us humans. An overweight kitty is not a healthy kitty!

The next serious issue we find with dry food is little to no water content. Most domestic cats will not drink enough water on their own, so it’s super important that their food has some in it as well. You could potentially mix some water with their dry food but that still doesn’t satisfy the high protein, low carb requirement. 

If cats do not get enough water in their diets over time, it can cause some serious issues.

If you’re worried about pulling the trigger on an all wet diet due to cost, consider this cost model: with two cats who eat two times a day, at one can per meal, per cat (so a total of 4 cans/day) I spend about $60 a month on their food. Whilst that is not the cheapest option ever, it is still not outside the scope of what I am able to provide for my cats and should likely be well within the scope for most people as well!

By:  Becca Corley, Compassionate Companions Pet Care