Do you want to know the 7 nutrients cats need and how to feed your cat a raw diet? Great! Let’s first talk about cat’s nutritional needs and why not knowing how to feed your cat a raw diet could be detrimental to your cats health.
Most important to understand is that all cats are obligate carnivores. This main fact is why they are very different from people and dogs in their nutritional needs. So, what does this actually mean? It means that all cats are strict carnivores and they rely on nutrients in animal tissue ie., muscle, tendon, offal (organs) etc., to meet specific requirements for the types of nutrients they consume.
Cats also require more than a dozen nutrients which include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
These nutrients are the building blocks of various structural body tissues. They are essential for chemical reactions (metabolism, catabolism); transport substances into, around, and out of the body; supply energy for growth and maintenance; and provide palatability.
Although most cats are fine eating a single food type, some cats become very picky eating habits while becoming very selective about what foods they will eat.
It may be beneficial to feed your cat many different types of food, two or three, so that there is some variety in flavor, which may prevent your cat from developing exclusive preferences for a single type of food. If your cat comes down with a specific medical condition that would dictate a change in their diet, he would have an easier time adjusting to this new food type.
Also remember that not eating can lead to serious medical problems in cats. This is true for sick cats that lack an appetite, for cats on a diet, and for the finicky cat that refuses to eat. A veterinarian should examine any cat that refuses to eat and is losing weight.
If you would like to learn about what your pet’s body needs, and why, here are the seven essential classes of nutrients fundamental for healthy living:
1. Water is the most important nutrient. Essential to life, water accounts for between 60 to 70 percent of an adult pet’s body weight. While food may help meet some of your pet’s water needs (dry food has up to 10 percent moisture, while canned food has up to 78 percent moisture), pets need to have fresh clean water available to them at all times.
2. Proteins are the basic building blocks for cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones and antibodies, and are essential for growth, maintenance, reproduction and repair. Proteins can be obtained from a number of sources. Animal-based proteins such as chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish and egg have complete amino acid profiles.
3. Fats are the most concentrated form of food energy, providing your pet with more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates. Fats are essential in the structure of cells and are needed for the production of some hormones.
4. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in healing inflammation. Replacing some omega-6 with omega-3 fatty acids can lessen an inflammatory reaction—whether it is in the skin (due to allergies), the joints (from arthritis), the intestines (from inflammatory bowel disease) or even in the kidneys (from progressive renal failure).
5. Carbohydrates provide energy for the body’s tissues, play a vital role in the health of the intestine, and are likely to be important for reproduction. While there is no minimum carbohydrate requirement, there is a minimum glucose requirement necessary to supply energy to critical organs (i.e. the brain).
6. Vitamins are catalysts for enzyme reactions. Tiny amounts of vitamins are essential to cats for normal metabolic functioning. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, and therefore are essential in the diet.
Excess vitamin A may result in bone and joint pain, brittle bones and dry skin. Excess vitamin D may result in very dense bones, soft tissue calcification and joint calcification.
7. Minerals are inorganic compounds that are not metabolized and yield no energy. These nutrients cannot be synthesized by animals and must be provided in the diet. In general, minerals are most important as structural constituents of bones and teeth, for maintaining fluid balance and for their involvement in many metabolic reactions.
Diet is the brick and mortar of health. This article lays out some often-ignored principles of feline nutrition and explains why cats have a better chance at optimal health if they are fed canned food (or a balanced homemade diet) instead of dry kibble.
An increasing number of nutrition-savvy veterinarians, including board-certified veterinary internists, are now strongly recommending the feeding of canned food instead of dry kibble.
1) water content is too low
2) carbohydrate load is too high
3) type of protein – too high in plant-based versus animal-based proteins
In addition, dry food is very heavily processed which includes being subjected to high temperatures for a long time resulting in alteration and destruction of nutrients.
Dry food is also often contaminated with bacteria, fungal mycotoxins, storage mites/cockroaches and their feces, etc.
Most people who are concerned about their own nutrition have heard nutritionists say “shop the perimeter of the grocery store.” This statement refers to the push to get humans to focus on fresh food – not overly processed food found in boxes and cans.
Also keep in mind that dry foods are not refrigerated and they sit in warm warehouses, on pet store shelves, and in your cupboards for weeks or months before your pets consume them. Fats can easily become rancid, and bacteria will proliferate, in this type of environment.
There is no doubt that dry food is responsible for far more intestinal problems, and other diseases, than most veterinarians and cat owners realize.
Common medical problems associated with DRY food:
- Kidney disease
- Cystitis/Urethral blockage/Urinary tract infection/Crystals
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
- Dental health
Here are some of the most common ingredients:
Meat: Cleaned flesh from chicken, lamb, turkey, cattle, and related animals that have been slaughtered specifically for animal feed purposes. However, flesh means more than skin. It may include muscle, (including the diaphragm), fat, nerves, blood vessels from the skin, the heart, esophagus, and the tongue.
Meat by-product: Clean, nonflesh parts from the same animals mentioned above. This can include the blood, bone, brain, liver, lungs, liver, kidneys, and emptied stomach and intestines. There are no hooves, hair, horns, or teeth in meat byproducts. Chicken by-products are feather-free.
- Beef tallow: A fat made from beef.
- Meal: Finely ground tissue.
- Bone meal: Finely ground bone from slaughtered feed animals.
- Fish meal: Clean, ground undecomposed whole fish or fish pieces. The fish may or may not still contain fish oil.
- Ground corn: Chopped or ground corn kernels. (Dangerous GMO product) if not organic.
- Corn gluten meal: A product that forms after corn syrup or starch is made. Genetically modified organism is what it is!
Ok, now that we know what nutrition is good for our feline friend and NOT what to feed them, let’s talk about how to feed your cat a raw diet for optimum health.