You don’t have to be a raw feeder to give your cat the best diet, but it’s worth taking time to look at what your cat food and what your feline friend needs nutritionally so you can make an informed choice.
The first, and most important, fact to understand is that cats are obligate carnivores: a carnivore is a meat-eater, but obligate means that it is absolutely necessary for survival. As cats categorically must have meat, you might be surprised to learn that most commercial cat food contains less than 10% meat. (And it’s usually not the good stuff either, typically meat derivatives which is a polite way of saying the nasty leftovers.)
As obligate carnivores, cats have evolved over the years to stop producing various amino acids and vitamins, because they were getting them through their food. One such amino acid they are unable to produce is taurine, yet it is an essential nutrient for a cat – taurine deficiency will cause a long list of health problems including blindness, neurological issues, heart problems, and even death if untreated.
Cats get sufficient quantities of taurine from eating a whole prey diet, which is roughly 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal. If you’re a raw feeder, the complete meals will have the correct levels of taurine, but if you prefer to design your cat’s menu yourself, it is essential to include items high in taurine such as heart, dark red meat and liver. If you don’t feed raw, you can opt for high meat content wet food such as Applaws, Nature’s Menu and Forthglade, or kibble such as Orijen and Acana which follow these natural dietary percentages.
As many popular cat food brands contain the smallest amount of meat, they are then packed with a list of additives as long as your arm to provide the right vitamins, amino acids and proteins. Taurine in particular is destroyed by heat, so processed cat food has to have it added back in. Needless to say, natural nutrients are far better than these artificially synthesised versions.
While cats are obligate carnivores, they have not evolved to process cereals and grains which most manufacturers use to bulk up the cat food – this leads to fat lethargic cats and endless health issues as these products are equivalent to humans solely eating junk food.
One final thing to note about cats is that they do not have a high thirst drive: they do not naturally drink enough water as they are designed to get all their moisture through their food. For this reason, a raw diet or wet food is far more preferable than kibble. A cat which doesn’t drink enough will have smelly concentrated urine, overloaded kidneys and be susceptible to urinary tract infections.
We stock complete raw cat food by Natural Instinct, Nutriment and Nature’s Menu, as well as high quality wet and dry cat foods. Come in store for more information and start your pussycat on a healthier diet today.
Written by: Lucy Ellis
Photo credits: Sardine predators by Feliciano Guimarães http://bit.ly/1unJTL4; Tinker by Lucy Ellis