Protein in cat food – an essential component of a carnivore’s diet
Our feline friends are natural carnivores – their diet requires an appropriately high content of animal protein. When you compare their protein needs with other animals, such as dogs, you can see that their protein requirements are higher. For this reason, the food we give to our cats should be rich in meat ingredients. What is the importance of protein in cat food and how is the cat’s body adapted to a carnivorous diet? How does animal protein and plant protein work in his diet?
Read more and learn how to take care of your carnivore cat with a proper diet.
Protein needs in a cat
The role of protein in the body is enormous – it is the basic building block of cells, and also plays a role in the functioning of the immune, digestive and nervous systems, in metabolism, and in the transport of substances in the body. Moreover, proteins are also the main source of energy in cats. It is reported that energy from proteins should constitute at least 20-30% of EM in adult cats.
Protein contains amino acids and nitrogen – deficiency of even one essential amino acid can lead to deficiency. Endogenous amino acids are those that cats’ bodies can produce themselves, while exogenous are those that cats’ bodies do not produce or do not produce in adequate amounts. The latter must be provided by the cat’s food.
Protein demand depends on age and health – growing kittens, pregnant cats, as well as sick and convalescent cats have an increased demand for protein. In adult cats with normal physical activity, protein should constitute at least 25% of the meal.
See: Carbohydrates in a cat’s diet – are they necessary?
Why is a cat a carnivore?
The bodies of our feline friends are adapted to obtain the necessary nutrients from meat and fish. They cope perfectly with high protein content in the diet. Their metabolic pathways have become simplified – for this reason, cats are unable to synthesize certain nutritional values and must obtain them from meat raw materials.
Taurine – essential in a cat’s diet
It is one of the amino acids essential in a cat’s diet, the deficiency of which can lead to heart and vision problems, as well as problems with the reproductive system. Taurine is a perfect example proving the carnivorous nature of cats – the cat’s body cannot produce taurine itself and must absorb it through food. Its excellent source is animal tissues.
Synthesis of some fatty acids
The mentioned reduction of metabolic pathways in cats is also associated with an increased demand for fat and the inability to synthesize certain fatty acids. These include, among others, arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Cats get them from animal fats – they are absent from vegetable oils.
Check also: Fiber in a cat’s diet – does a cat need fiber?
Animal protein vs. plant protein – can a cat be vegetarian?
What protein is best for cats? It turns out that protein is not equal to protein. Our feline friends are natural carnivores, so their diet should be based on animal protein. First of all, the nutritional value is important – protein should provide the cat with essential amino acids. Cats are unable to synthesize some amino acids, which they obtain from animal tissues, as well as fatty acids, which are found only in animal fats.
Protein digestibility is also important – plant proteins are difficult to digest for cats’ short digestive tracts. For this reason, high-quality animal proteins are recommended in the cat’s diet.
Protein in cat food
Due to nutritional needs, cat food should be rich in high-quality animal protein. FEDIAF specifies that the minimum protein content in a cat’s diet should be 25-33 g per 100 g of food, which is the absolute minimum. High-quality cat food contains up to 35-45% protein.
Cat food rich in protein
A cat’s diet should be rich in high-quality animal protein. Orijen foods are an excellent choice, as they are made from high-quality natural ingredients. In foods such as ORIJEN Cat Tundra you will find as many as 85% of ingredients of animal origin, with the remaining 15% being high-quality, nutritionally rich plant ingredients. This high-protein cat food contains as much as 40% protein. Its source is a delicious composition of meats – duck, char, trout, sardine, deer, whitefish, blue whiting, herring, lamb, mutton, goat, mackerel and pork. Thanks to this, the food guarantees a wealth of intense flavors and reflects the natural diet of wild cats. The food contains taurine, essential in a cat’s diet.
Orijen’s offer also includes other high-protein foods, such as ORIJEN Original Cat with a delicious combination of meat and fish, ORIJEN Cat Regional Red with an excellent composition of red meats, and ORIJEN Cat Six Fish with fish loved by cats. Each of these foods contains as much as 85% of high-quality ingredients of animal origin – it is an ideal choice for natural carnivores.
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Protein excess and deficiency in cats
Protein is an essential component of our diet – the same goes for our feline friends. Protein is the basic building block of the body, so its deficiency is dangerous to health. Health problems that result from protein deficiency include primarily weight loss and general weakness of the body, but also decreased immunity, poor condition of the fur and skin, and digestive problems.
Can excess protein cause problems in natural carnivores such as cats? Cat owners have certainly heard terms such as over-proteining. Are the symptoms of excess protein in the cat’s diet justified? Cats’ bodies cope perfectly with a large dose of protein in their diet and are adapted to use it. Only low-quality proteins may become a problem, e.g. plant proteins or waste from the meat industry, which are difficult for cats to digest.
The exception, however, are health problems that require a low-protein diet, such as kidney failure. In their case, the amount of proteins in the cat’s diet is appropriately limited, but they are high-quality proteins. Vegetable proteins put excessive strain on your cat’s kidneys.
Read more: How to provide your cat with appropriate nutritional conditions?