“Effects of nutrition choices and lifestyle changes
on the well-being of cats,
a Carnivore that has moved indoors”
Debra L. Zoran and C.A. Tony Buffington
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 239, No. 5,
September 1, 2011
Animal Nutrition 505, Dr. Shapiro
October 13, 2011
The domestication of cats can be perilous as their nutritional changes in dietary protein and caloric intake effects their metabolism, muscle mass, water intake, urine acidity levels, and immunity against diseases, all of which effect their overall feeding behavior, well-being, and physical health. 70% protein intake is considered adequate in a cat’s daily ...view middle of the document...
0g of protein/kg of BW/d, thus indoor cats require less calories (as they require less energy) and less protein than the typical cat (Zoran, 2011, p. 597). However, when studying the effect of protein intake on an obese cat, it was discovered that increased protein intakes of greater than 3.3g of protein/kg resulted in greater loss in fat mass versus decreased protein intakes (Zoran, 2011, p. 598).
Other studies prove that a protein dominant (verus carbohydrate dominant) diet is a necessity with benefits for felines as it promotes optimum immunity against the development of urolithiasis in the urinary tract, inflammatory bowel disease in the gastrointestinal tract, and diabetes mellitus in domestic cats. While the feline species have changed from a feral to domesticated environment, it is important that their diets remain properly balanced and protein dominant in order for cats to efficiently function and thrive.
The domesticated feline, an obligate carnivore, continues to be challenged by the genetically required diet versus owner (human) preferred diet. While cats require a diet that is higher in proteins and lower in carbohydrates, owners are feeding diets that are adversely low in protein and high in carbohydrates, thus resulting in excess calories and obesity and nutritional deficiencies (“Cats Need High Protein, Low-Carb Diet,” 2011, p. 22). Cats are adapted to eating 10-20 small meals throughout the course of a 24 hour period, and flavor, scent, temperature, and texture are all factors that stimulate and satisfy a cat’s carnivorous habits and needs (Scherk, 2010, p. 1). While felines themselves are not evolving, veering from their normal dietary habits and requirements through domestication contributes to the feline’s dietary, behavioral, and physiological well-being (Scherk, 2010, p. 1).
The balancing of nutrients and dietary intake relative to energy output is most important when determining the amount of protein, water, and caloric values required in a feline’s diet (Scherk, 2010, p. 3). Carbohydrates are actually not required as a part of their diet as cats can utilize protein to satisfy both dietary and energy requirements (Scherk, 2010, p. 3). Studies show that intact felines (require 60-80 kcal/kg/day) have 7-33% more energy to utilize than that of neutered male and female cats (require 40-50 kcal/kg/day) (Scherk, 2010, p. 3). Diets that are high in carbohydrates (dry foods) and low in protein is detrimental as it is a contributing factor to obesity as well as diabetes in cats (“Feline Nutrition,” 2011, p. 1 and Scherk, 2011, p. 3). Cats can utilize carbohydrates as energy, however they lack in carbohydrate-digesting enzymes which affects their ability to break down sugars, thus resulting in excess calories that are stored in the body as fat (“Cats Need High Protein, Low-Carb Diet,” 2011, p. 22). A balanced amount of carbohydrates in a diet should be no more than 3-5% (Pierson, 2010, p. 3).