Natural Nutrition for Cats
The Cat family (felids) has evolved closely alongside their canine counterparts, but has developed their own unique dietary requirements as a result of their own unique dietary intake. Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, which means they must have meat in their diet to live (dogs can live on a vegetarian diet). Cats require significantly larger amounts of protein in their diet, as well as fats, and less carbohydrate and vegetable matter. Cats must have a dietary source of the amino acid taurine, which is only naturally found in meat (but easily destroyed by cooking), and the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid, also found in animal fats.
Cats have evolved as a fine tuned hunting machine, which parallels their need for fresh meat and animal fats in their diet. The structure of their bodies, teeth, claws, and digestive tracts are finely tuned to catch and process live prey. Cats, unlike dogs, will rarely touch carrion (old dead meat/carcass), and will not scavenge like dogs. They always prefer fresh meat/prey, and as such, are rarely poisoned or take baits. This is also why they can be fussy eaters, and will rarely be tricked into taking medication mixed in their food. They have evolved to exist in the most arid environments, which is why they thrive in the Australian bush. Their urinary system has evolved to enable them to conserve water very effectively, producing highly concentrated urine (the strong smell we all know well) and requiring only minute amounts of water each day. They do this by absorbing up to 80% of their water requirements from their live prey, and hence they need to drink very rarely. This is why I believe that the practice of feeding dry food rations to cats is totally wrong, and results in the high levels of urinary tract disorders and renal failure we see in cats today. Unless cats adapt quickly, and dramatically increase their water intake to compensate for the lack of moisture in the food, their urinary system is forced to produce more and more concentrated urine, which results in crystal formation, PH imbalance, and renal overload. Substitution of meat protein with cheaper carbohydrates and vegetable protein, as occurs in nearly all commercial cat foods is another prime reason why we see a decline in health, and an increase in obesity, and diabetes in modern cats. Cats are unable to properly cope with long term dry food intake, and will not live to their full potential on this type of ration, no matter how good or expensive the product.
So what should a modern cat eat?
A diet based on high levels of fresh raw meats (high in protein and fat), with a correct balance of carbohydrate and vegetable matter. Because raw meat does not equal an entire carcass, complete with organs, digestive tract, bones and fur or feathers, additional supplements are required to “top up” the basic diet. Additional yeast, kelp, lecithin, calcium, and vitamin C can provide all the extra natural elements (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements) found in a natural live prey diet. It is important to remember that cats do ingest grass and other green matter as part of their natural diet, so this must be accounted for also, in the form of vegetables and wheat grass. All these elements and necessary supplements are provided for in Vets All Natural Complete Mix for cats, an ingredient also in Healthrolls and RAW76.
The feeding chart is calculated on the higher need for raw meats and fat, and the mix itself is balanced to provide all the additional elements in the correct amounts. Naturally, many cats may put up a fuss if their regular food is changed, but if you are serious about good health and long life for your cats, persevere with the new diet and you will eventually convince your feline companions that fresh is best. Note. For really fussy cats, try soaking the mix in chicken stock, and mix a few sardines in with the whole meal. Get them used to eating raw meat first, and add the mix gradually, over a week or so.
Why is Raw Food Important?
The fundamental principle behind Vets All Natural is the principle of raw food. It starts with one of the most simple and commonsense statements I can think of “dogs and cats can’t cook!” Dogs and cats have not evolved eating cooked food, and are not yet adequately designed or equipped to fully digest and absorb cooked food products. Cats and dogs have been evolving on this planet for millions of years (more than 2000 times the entire history of human evolution) eating raw food. Their mouths, teeth, stomach, intestines, organs and enzymes are all evolved to masticate, process, digest and absorb the breakdown products of raw food. There is a growing stockpile of scientific evidence that links the long term consumption of cooked foods, especially cooked meat, to the development of common illnesses and degenerative diseases, including cancer. Skin disease and dermatitis, allergies, teeth and gum disease, arthritis, renal failure, ear infections, obesity, reproductive failure, anal gland blockage can all be linked to improper nutrition, and can all lead to poor quality of life for both pet and owner, and often an early retirement.
This article was written and authorised by:
Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons)
Founder of Vets All Natural
For more information visit www.vetsallnatural.com.au
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Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and animal lover who founded Vets All Natural in 1996 with a simple mission, to “Improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats”. Dr Bruce is an expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.
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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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