Although cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, their nutritional needs have not changed at all. Cats are obligate carnivores. They are meant to only eat meat. In their natural environment, cats will get most of their moisture from their food source. Since they are descended from desert dwellers, they do not have the instinct to drink. They will never drink enough water to satisfy their hydration needs. If they do not get adequate moisture in their food they will live out their lives partially dehydrated. This eventually leads to the common health problems we see in cats such as urinary tract disease and kidney disease. Since they are true obligate carnivores, cats will not voluntarily eat carbohydrates. When they catch prey, they eat all but the intestinal system of that prey. This would be the only source of carbohydrates the cat would be presented with. A mouse in a can would be the ideal diet for a cat! Think of the lions and tigers you see in Africa. They are not sitting around a huge bowl of dry kibble! They are hunting and eating prey animals. These prey animals offer all the nutrition the cat needs.
Meat for protein, bones for calcium, organs for fat, blood for micronutrients and 78-80% moisture content! The cat that prowls around your living room needs the same type of diet! Knowing now what the ideal diet for a cat really is, try to buy the closest to this diet that you can find.
Raw frozen diets are now available. Just thaw it and feed your cat twice a day. The next best alternative is grain free dehydrated food. Just add water and feed twice a day. The third choice is canned food. Also feed twice a day. Grain free dry food is the last alternative as it doesn’t contain enough moisture for the cat to thrive, but it is a better alternative than a carbohydrate based kibbled food. There is now a starch free kibble food available that would be the ideal choice if choosing a kibble. Even though most cat owners like to leave food out all day for their cats, this is not the best choice. Cats should not be fed free choice. They are not meant to graze. They benefit from the fasting period between meals. In the wild, they only ate if they had a successful hunt. If they didn’t, they would fast, sometimes for days. This allows the cats body to use its energy in areas other than digestion.
For male cats, this is especially important. One study has shown that just in the presence of food, alkaline is directly released into the urinary system of the cat. In male cats this makes them more susceptible to urinary tract disease. By feeding the cat and then removing the bowl this risk is eliminated. The cat foods available in the supermarket are usually high carbohydrate based foods. Grain is much cheaper than meat. The manufacturers add flavor enhancer’s to them to make them palatable to the cat. Remember, cats won’t voluntarily eat carbohydrates. Read the ingredient label. If the product has wheat, corn or soy in it, don’t buy it. If it has by-products in it, don’t buy it. These ingredients are very poor quality and very hard for the cats body to digest and process. This puts unnecessary strain on the organs of the cat which eventually will cause health problems.
The same rules apply when picking out treats for your cat. Better choices for treats include freeze dried meat or freeze dried fish. By feeding a more species appropriate diet to your cat you will be assured that you will keep your cat happy & healthy for years to come!