Whilst I can say with reasonable confidence our feline friends were not the intended audience, Hippocrates had it right when he said, ‘let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food’. A nutritious, well-balanced, meat centric diet is critical to the health and wellbeing of cats, with several of the most common chronic feline diseases seen by vets directly related to diet.
Cats are ‘obligate carnivores’. Their anatomy is uniquely designed to harvest energy from protein & fats and therefore require a meat based diet in order to truly thrive. From this perspective, there is no such thing as a vegetarian or vegan cat…. well not one that lives very long anyway! And this makes sense when we think about the little squeaking ‘presents’ your proud kitty presents as a badge of honor after an evening out on the prowl. Cats are predators, designed to eat other animals and have perfectly adapted dentition that is functionally designed to shred flesh from bone. Whilst this might not be a very nice image to conjure, it is pretty amazing to think of how nature physiologically designed our friendly feline, and is an essential component in understanding the true instinctive diet of the cat.
Similar to us humans, two of the biggest diet related afflictions we see in domesticated cats are obesity and diabetes. Further, these two diseases are inextricably linked as obesity is a major risk factor for the development of diabetes. It is estimated that around 40% of Australian cats are overweight or obese and whilst sourcing accurate prevalence rates is difficult, I would say this number is a good reflection of what I see in my clinic. Whilst the causes are multidimensional, a major confounding factor is the carbohydrate concentration of many commercial dry foods on the market. Cats do not metabolise carbohydrates in the same way we do for energy, instead storing them as fat. Further, the way we feed our cats (and ourselves for that matter) with poor portion control is a recipe for rapid weight gain.
Another common diet related disease unique to cats is lower urinary tract disease. One of the major causes of this is a chronic state of dehydration leading to consistently concentrated urine. Cats are notoriously poor drinkers and as such rely on getting most of their water intake from food. For those fed exclusively dry food, this puts them at a higher risk for urinary issues some of which can be life threatening.
So what can I feed my cat to stave off disease and keep them healthy you ask? Ideally, you should be feeding your puss a diet high in human grade animal protein and good fats such as the omega-3s found in green-lipped mussels and flaxseeds. The food should have little to no carbohydrate content, be completely balanced with all the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids and have a high water content or be rehydratable. Whilst this may sound complicated, the team at Feline Natural have you sorted with an AAFCO approved complete and balanced range available in both a freeze-dried and canned format. Most importantly, cats LOVE the food – which for all the fastidious feline owners out there – is a great relief. In fact, just the other day a client’s cat was stuck under the house and wouldn’t come out so I gave her a can of Feline Natural’s Lamb Green Tripe Hydration Booster and hey presto… out came the cat. Healthy, nutritious and delicious, what more could your kitty ask for?!
Including moisture; By feeding your feline a diet rich in healthy animal proteins and fat, not only are they receiving their daily nutritional requirements, but also a natural source of moisture, as raw meat naturally contains upwards of 60% moisture content. All Feline Natural diets include water in their feeding requirements, and they are a strong advocate – as I am – for the availability of water to your cat 24 hours of the day. Pro tip: I also hear water fountains are taking the feline world by storm.
By Dr. Josie Gollan