“carnivore meaning ‘meat eater’ (Latin, caro meaning ‘meat’ or ‘flesh’ and vorare meaning ‘to devour’) is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging”.
Felines are strict carnivores. Which means that they eat meat, especially in the wild.
However, a diet that consists solely on meat is unhealthy for them and will lead to nutrient deficiencies. Cats in the wild eat all of the prey (including organs and bones) they kill which supplements their nutrition requirements. However, the house cat usually doesn’t have rodents and small animals to nibble on so they rely on their owners for their food source. Consequently, it is essential they are fed a balanced diet covering all their needs. Additionally, their needs vary depending on whether they are a kitten, a senior cat, an adult cat or have special health needs. Visiting the pet food aisle in the supermarket or pet store provides a head spinning range of products to feed the cat. Wet, dry, organic, natural, pouches, toppers, frozen, gluten free, grain free, raw, veterinarian approved. Add to this kitten, adult, senior, aging, allergies, bladder, bone, brain and breed specific foods the choices are intimidating, not to mention costly.
What is a concerned owner to do?
As good cat nutrition is essential to their health and well being some reading and research are useful in making correct choices for your pet. As with their human owners diet is the way to health and a longer life. With good nutrition cats are better able to avoid disease, stay healthily active and generally have a good life.
But what to feed your cat or kitten?
The easiest and most manageable food is canned wet food or bagged dry food. Readily available in the supermarket, drug and convenience store there is a wide range of products for the cat in your life. However, they may not be the perfect nutritional solution for your pet and a lifetime of some of these foods may in fact contribute to health problems. Cats have very specific needs and it is important for owners to ensure they are met.
A particular example is taurine. As carnivores cats need taurine, which is an amino acid that helps in heart, vision and other essential functions. Unlike dogs cats don’t produce it themselves. Cats need to have a diet that provides this and as this amino acid is only found in animal based proteins cats need meat to help them nutritionally. So, a plant based diet will not be a good choice for your cat. Similarly, it is often believed that cats love fish and many owners feed their cats tuna as cats seem to love it. However, a diet of tuna may result in kidney disease. Who knew? Unfortunately too many owners find out too late.