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Nutritional Needs for Cats

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by FEWill, May 14, 2010.


  1. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

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    Nutritional needs for cats are much different than dogs, and it extends much further than just their unique need for Taurine. Most of these special needs are the result of the uniqueness in the liver and digestive enzymes in your cat, and the worst possible thing you could ever do for your cat is to give them food that does not contain their special needs. It also goes without saying that you should never feed your cat any type of dog food regardless of the situation.

    Protein:

    Nutritional needs for cats start with their special needs for protein. Protein is one of the major sources of nitrogen for your cat, and they cannot regulate it very well in most cases. Cats have a very difficult time in regulating the rate in which their liver enzymes break down protein, and contrary to some misconception, they need more protein and not less. If the protein levels in their diet becomes too low, or worse yet, not available, their body reacts in the only way it knows how, which can be very dangerous.

    Once your cats body identifies low levels of protein, it does the only thing it knows to do, and that is to start breaking down the protein in their muscles. But it is here that the much discussed protein debate becomes somewhat confusing. Cats do not actually need protein, but they need the building blocks that make up protein. There are 22 amino acids that cats needs and they can synthesize 12 of them, but the rest must come from protein that is in their diet. The next obvious question is can your feed your cat too much protein.

    The answer is also somewhat confusing as it is both yes as well as no. In the basic theory of metabolism, if your cat is fed too much protein they will simply excrete most of it in their urine and the rest is converted into calories or fat, and it does very little harm. But there is another side that suggests that too much protein places a burden on your cats kidneys. It is also widely held that for this to occur, it would take a chronic form of excessive protein before this actually happens.

    Taurine:

    Nutritional needs for cats continue with Taurine, and many would argue it is more important than protein. It is an amino acid and is absolutely necessary for the proper formulation of bile in your cat. It is also critical for your cats overall eye health, as well as proper functioning of their heart muscles. Your cat needs high levels of taurine for their body functions, but they cannot produce it properly.

    Taurine is a beta-amino acid that is synthesized in your cats liver, usually from sulfur in their diet that contains these amino acids. Most all animals can easily manufacture taurine from other forms of amino acids, but this is where your can is different than most other animals; they cannot manufacture it.

    Arginine:

    Arginine is another one of the critical nutritional needs for cats, and is a very close second to both protein and taurine. Arginine is also an amino acid, and again most animals manufacture ornithine, also an amino acid, through a series of processes, most of which require arginine. However, with cats the only way they can they can produce ornithine is to convert it from arginine. The amino acid ornithine is critical in your cat as it binds the ammonia that is broken down from protein. A deficiency of arginine will leave your cat without enough ornithine to complete this process.

    Once this occurs, it can cause your cat to salivate excessively, as well opening the door to several other health issues. If the ammonia levels in your cat become too high, it can eventually take your cats life. Most all of these symptoms will appear several hours after your cat has eaten, which is when most of the ammonia is produced.

    Arachidonic acid:

    Nutritional needs for cats also include Arachidonic acid, which is not as well known, and is an essential fatty acid instead of an amino acid. This is another acid that most animals can easily manufacture from other acids, but your cat cannot. This fatty acid is absolutely critical for a cats immune system to produce an inflammatory response when it is needed. In some instances, such as with allergies and other like inflammatory agents, Arachidonic acid helps to suppress the inflammatory system; while in other instances it activates the system.

    While inflammatory agents are often thought to be an enemy in your cat, they are also a critical means of protecting the immune system and as such must be at full operating power for either to operate properly.

    This fatty acid is also required to help regulate skin growth as well as assisting in the proper blood clotting process in your cat. It also assists taurine with several reproductive functions as well as gastrointestinal functions. This fatty acid is found primarily in animal fats which is what makes it a critical part of your cats diet.

    Vitamin A:

    The active form of Vitamin A is yet another of the special nutritional needs for cats. Your cat lacks the enzymes that help to convert beta-carotene to retinol, which is the actual active form of the vitamin. Because of this, your cat must be fed the form of this vitamin that is already in the liver storage known as retinyl palmitate. The most common way to insure your cat is getting enough of the active form of Vitamin A is through supplementation.

    But there is one thing that most owners often do wrong with this critical nutrient; they are too concerned with the amount instead of the quality.

    The key to this is to remember that this is already in a lesser form in the liver storage, and because of this you should always select a high quality brand instead of an off price brand to ensure it matches properly. Because it is a fat soluble vitamin, it also has the potential to become toxic in your cat. This is extremely rare, but you should only give your cat the dosage that is recommended and nothing more.

    Niacin:

    Niacin is also critical for your cat as they cannot manufacture it in sufficient forms. It plays a very important role in helping all of your cats enzymes to function properly, and a deficiency can quickly lead to a weight loss as well as black tongue disease. This disease can cause inflammation of their gums, lips, as well as their inner lips. If it is severe enough, it can also cause bloody diarrhea as well as death.

    Starch:

    This is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the nutritional needs for cats. Starch is extremely difficult for cats to digest. Dogs must have starch, but cats can very easily live with very small quantities. Be extremely careful in feeding your cat too much starch in their diet.

    Summary:

    Nutritional needs for cats at any age are much different than most any animal. All owners understand that cats are truly unique and different, but understanding their special needs to regulate these differences.

    Liquid Vitamins for Humans Cats and Dogs
     
    billyboysmammy likes this.
  2. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    Excellent post!


    Agree with every one of them.

    Woud like to point out that the quality of protein is essential too, high quality protein will be animal based! Low quality protein will be plant based. Cats do not have the right enzymes in their digestive tract to break down alot of plant protein and this is also thought to be one of the problems with kidney disorders. Plant proteins are also usually incomplete (missing many essential amino acids). Many cat foods are still plant protein based with grains making up a large part of the diet.

    Also, supplementation can be easily achieved naturally rather than as a pill or powder.
     
  3. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

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    As per usual, I second BillyboysMammy congrats on the post.

    I was wondering whether the post could be extended/edited to outline a few food sources that contain each of those listed. :D
     
  4. Dally Banjo

    Dally Banjo PetForums VIP

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    :thumbup: great post should be a sticky would save alot of people asking the same things :)
     
  5. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

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    Hi everyone--thanks for the feedback. I am working on some details about food for each group. However, it might be a few days as we work around Issac and his final days with us

    Thanks,

    Frank
     
  6. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    oh no frank!

    I'm so so sorry to heat that Issac has taken a turn for the worse :(, you take all the time in the world hun and give issac a gentle cyber cuddle from me.

    BIG HUGS

    sal x
     
  7. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    FEWill, my thoughts are with you, Isaac and your family.
     
  8. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

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    Hi everyone.

    Another bit of a tough day. You know, our last Dalamation died at the age of 5. We found out very late he was not a purebred and in fact had very bad breeding and his entire digestive system basically gave out at the same time.

    But this is so different as you watch a magnificant creation of God waste away. Life is about death and when it happens but it is still very sad.

    This has nothing to do with Cats or dogs but something real interesting none the less. We brought my mother in law to live with us about 9 months ago--she was on Hospice which is a US agency that provides for terminal ill patients. She is 83 years old and was given 6 months to live. She was on 34 pills a day--yes that is correct--and 3 very powerful pain pills. My wife had to inventory pills every day just to make sure it was all correct. She was also being abused while living with another daughter.

    In the last 30 days she was removed from Hospice and we have her down to 3 pills a day and no pain pills. Removing from Hospice means she is no longer dying. She was basically being forced to die with all of the pills--very long story-- but she is now reading 3 books a week--going on walks--and she actually wants to proof my articles before I send them--and yes she is now correcting me on some stuff. She loves cats and has forgotten more than I will ever know. But she also know likes dogs as well.

    Amazing story. Love and care not only does wonders for our pets, but giving back to our parents in their final days has been amazing for us

    Thanks,
    Frank
     
  9. Milly22

    Milly22 PetForums VIP

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    So very sad Frank, thinking of you and your family.
     
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