Special Nutrition Care For Cats
ASPCA Pet Nutrition and Science Advisory Service
Both dogs and cats evolved as carnivores, but the cat
s somewhat unique in that it is an obligate carnivore.
That is, it requires certain nutrients that are available
only from animal sources. The feline intestine is adapted
for a high fat, high protein diet
Some people tend to treat the cat like a small dog, but
the cat has very specific nutritional requirements. This
is because, unlike dogs, the cat is unable to synthesize
certain essential nutrients from other food components
and, therefore, requires these nutrients to be pre-formed
in their diet.
Protein: Cats have the highest requirement for protein of all domesticated species. When cats
were evolving, a high protein and fat diet was always available so cats never found it necessary
to conserve proteins. Cats always "waste" some of the dietary protein by breaking it down for
Taurine: Cats require taurine because they cannot convert other amino acids into taurine.
Taurine is important to prevent visual, cardiac and reproductive problems and is found only in
meat and fish.
Fats: Cats also require both linoleic and arachidonic acids to prevent skin and coat problems and
poor reproduction. Arachidonic acid is found only in animal sources of fat.
Vitamins: Pre-formed vitamin A must also be present in the cat's diet. Dogs can break
b-carotene into two molecules of vitamin A; cats cannot. Pre-formed vitamin A is also found
only in animal tissues.
Cats are also somewhat peculiar in their eating behavior. Cats will tend to eat and drink limited
quantities on numerous occasions, consuming up to 16 small meals during a 24-hour period
when fed on an ad lib basis.
© 2004 ASPCA
ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers