Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unique Dietary Needs Of Your Cat

When it comes to eating behavior and nutritional needs, it is essential pet owners recognize cats are not "just small dogs" and have unique and interesting needs when it comes to proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, water and more.
Here are 5 tidbits you may not know about your cat's diets:
1. Protein metabolism is unique in cats, requiring a higher protein intake in comparison to dogs. Animal sources of protein such as chicken , chicken meal, fish or fish meal should always be first on the ingredient list
2. In cats, dietary taurine (a sulfur containing amino acids) is essential, and cardiac and eye problems can result if insufficient amounts are present in food. Most animal tissues contain high levels of taurine. Also, look for taurine to be listed separately in the ingredients.
3. Sulfur containing amino acids methionine and cystine are required in higher amounts by cats than most other species. A deficiency of these amino acids can lead to problems like weight loss, lethargy, eye discharge, dull coat and more. Again, these amino acids are found in animal tissue.
4. Unlike dogs, cats cannot produce arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and therefore require a source of animal fat in their diet, such as chicken meal or fat. A shortage of these fatty acids can cause problems like fatty liver, reproductive failure, poor skin condition and impaired wound healing.
5. Cats do not adjust water intake based on their diet, and have reduced total water intake when fed dry foods only. Pet owners should encourage cats to drink water and have an adequate fluid intake daily.
Cats are carnivores, they need a meat based diet, not grains!