Since cats are carnivores, their nutritional needs are quite different than those of their canine counterparts. With their unique liver and digestive enzymes, cats require larger amounts of protein, fatty acids and Vitamin A.
Felines are also very susceptible to obesity and potentially diabetes when consuming too many carbohydrates. In selecting cat food, check the label to confirm that it meets the standards set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). All of Evanger’s cat food dinners not only meet AAFCO minimum nutritional needs, but also exceed them.
To help you select your cat food, consider its needs and the negative impact if those elements are missing.
- High Protein – With a diet that’s low in protein, a cat’s body will soon start breaking down the protein in its own muscle.
- Taurine – While they possess limited enzymes that can produce taurine, felines require high amounts of this amino acid that’s necessary for proper bile formation, eye health and proper heart muscle function.
- Arginine – The only way cats produce the amino acid ornithine is by converting it from arginine. Arginine deficiencies can lead to salivation, vocalization, ataxia and even death when ammonia levels become too elevated. Ingredients that will provide cats with a source of arginine include beef, poultry, seafood, pork, wild game such as pheasant.
- Arachidonic Acid – While dogs can manufacture this essential fatty acid from linoleic acid or gamma-linolenic acid, cats can’t. Arachidonic acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid, regulates skin growth, aids with blood clotting, and helps with reproductive and gastrointestinal system functions. Liver, chicken, duck, and salmon are beneficial ingredients to seek in cat food that provide a good source of arachidonic acid.
- Active Form of Vitamin A – Since cats lack the enzyme that can convert beta-carotene to retinol (active form of Vitamin A), they require a preformed Vitamin A present only in foods of animal origin. It’s typically listed as retinyl palmitate on food labels. Deficiency may contribute to night blindness, retarded growth, and poor quality skin and hair coat. Sweet potato, carrots, squash, tuna, or Vitamin A supplements can contribute Vitamin A to a cat’s nutritious diet.
- Niacin – Cats can’t manufacture sufficient quantities of this B vitamin from the amino acid tryptophan. Niacin deficiencies can lead to loss of appetite, weight loss, inflamed gums and hemorrhagic diarrhea. Look for fish, chicken, pork, beef, liver, or added Niacin supplements to deliver adequate Niacin in your cat’s food.
Typical Cat Feeding Mistakes
- Overfeeding – One of the most common mistakes pet owners make when feeding cats is overfeeding. Obesity can lead to feline diabetes, arthritis and urinary tract disease. While Evanger’s cat foods are appropriate for all life stages, the serving size should be adjusted to the feline’s age, health, and activity levels. Consult your veterinarian to determine the ideal weight of your cat.
- The Dry Food Only Diet – Because cats naturally produce highly concentrated urine, it is important to be aware that a dry food only diet can often lead to urinary tract problems due to low moisture levels in the food. A cat’s thirst drive is much lower than a dog’s, and hydration is an essential building block to optimal health in pets. Evanger’s recommends combining canned foods like Grain Free Game Meats with dry food to increase a cat’s water intake, thus maintaining proper hydtration for optimum health.
- Grain-Based Diets – The starches in grain-based diets alkalize urine pH, which can lead to development of struvite crystals and stones in cats. To reduce urine pH in cats, choose a diet low in carbohydrates, grain-free, and species appropriate. Evanger’s offers a variety of canned cat foods, specially formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of cats. Evanger’s Beef it Up Dinner for Cats combines real beef and liver with butternut squash. Butternut squash is an excellent vitamin rich source of carbohydrate. Evanger’s Signature Series Slow Cooked Turkey Stew is another ideal combination of high quality turkey and liver protein with just a touch of fruit-based carbohydrates (cranberries and blueberries) in a palate pleasing gravy, which adds even more moisture to help keep cats well hydrated. Evanger’s Grain Free Game Meats are also ideal supplements to Evanger’s dry cat foods to increase moisture and protein content in a cat’s diet.