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What Is A Balanced Diet For A Cat?

They purr, meow, play, and cuddle. Believe it or not, though, your furry feline is a carnivore with particular dietary needs. Cats are hunters. As a hunting predator from day’s past, your cat requires high amounts of protein, a decent serving of fat, and a few carbohydrates to stay happy, healthy, and active. While our cats today are domesticated, they still need these three critical nutrients to remain in optimum condition. So, this begs the question: what is a balanced diet for a cat? 

To start, we’ll look at the most important nutrient your cat needs: protein. 

Why Does My Cat Need Protein? 

Protein is the most essential nutrient in a balanced cat diet. When we compare cats and dogs, cats have higher protein requirements than dogs due to their carnivorous nature. Dogs are omnivores which means they can obtain everything they need from plant and animal sources. On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores which means they can only obtain their nutrients from animal-based sources. Cats need protein for many reasons. Among the most important reasons are to fuel the body, nervous system, and promote healthy hair growth. 

When choosing cat food, take a close look at the ingredients. Avoid protein sources listed as simply “meat products,” and aim for chicken, beef, salmon, or other types of specific meat. These whole-food meat sources will provide your cat with the necessary amino acids to live a healthy life. 

Why Does The Protein Need To Be Animal-Based? 

The two essential amino acids, taurine and arginine, are found only in animal protein. Taurine is essential for ocular and cardiovascular health. A taurine deficiency leads to an increased risk of blindness and cardiovascular issues. An arginine deficiency leads to an accumulation of ammonia in the body, which may cause seizures and neurological complications.

Why Does My Cat Need Fat? 

Cats need a well-rounded diet. Fat is a crucial part of that diet. Fat provides more energy than both protein and carbohydrates for your cat, so it is critical for a balanced diet. Additionally, your kitty’s cell membranes contain fat which helps with the exchange of nutrients between membranes. When purchasing cat food, like protein, look for a fat source in the ingredients list that says something like “chicken fat,” etc. The key here is to avoid by-products. 

Why Does My Cat Need Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for cats. Carbohydrates break down into glucose which provides critical energy for the brain of your cat. 

Have More Questions About Your Cat’s Diet?

A good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in your cat’s diet helps provide them with a happy, healthy life. At Care First Animal Hospital, we are proud to provide exceptional care and service to the Triangle area. If you’re still trying to figure out what’s best for your cat’s diet, give us a call, or set up an appointment today! We look forward to hearing from you!

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