Cats need a high protein content in their diet. They use proteins as a source of energy, but also to build up the body and maintain the glucose level in the blood. In contrast to humans, cats are unable to adjust their consumption of little protein in their food, which means that they break down their own protein (muscle mass) if not enough protein is supplied with the food. Therefore, cats‘ protein needs are significantly higher than those of dogs or humans. They are dependent on animal components such as meat, because only these contain proteins in sufficient quantities and in a form that is highly digestible for the cat, as well as all the amino acids, including taurine and arginine, that they need for life.
Original in German version: Nährstoffe
Fats are important sources of energy and improve the taste of the feed. Fat is necessary to ensure the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It supplies essential fatty acids, some of which are only found in animal fats, so these are always preferable to vegetable oils.
Vegetable oils lack essential fatty acids for cats, while depending on the variety, e.g. For example, olive oil contains significant amounts of oleic acid, which is not essential for cats. Usually vegetable oils have a less favorable fatty acid pattern and more unsaturated fatty acids than animal fats, which are therefore more suitable for cats. Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil and safflower oil in particular contain high amounts of linoleic acid, which can lead to an oversupply, which in turn can lead to insufficient absorption of other important fatty acids. For this reason, however, high amounts of chicken fat are not suitable, as they also contain a lot of linoleic acid. In contrast to humans, cats are unable to produce arachidonic acid from linoleic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from linolenic acid themselves, so these must be ingested with food.
The fatty acids must be present in the food in the correct ratio to one another, whereby the ratio of omega 6: omega 3 should be mentioned in particular. Wild animals, including the cats prey in nature, have an omega ratio of 4: 1 to 5: 1, which is considered optimal. Fat from animals such as B. Poultry or beef, which are raised conventionally and therefore fed on grain, contain little omega-3 fatty acids, so the ratio can be 20: 1 or more. It is conceivable that this also applies to bred food animals such as mice and rats from the trade, which are fed with ready-made grain mixtures. Grazing animals that eat grass have a better ratio. Therefore it is better for cats if they get lamb, beef etc. from pasture rather than conventionally. In general, meat from free-range animals is more suitable. Meat from wild animals such as deer, hare or wild fowl as well as rabbits also have a favorable ratio of these fatty acids.
Cats lack some enzymes to adequately break down carbohydrates because their natural diet is very low in carbohydrates. The cat does not need any carbohydrates, as it normally gets its energy exclusively from proteins and fats, which are available in sufficient quantities when feeding on natural prey. This is also reflected in the lack of amylase, as well as the low activity of glucokinase and the inability to adapt it to high amounts of carbohydrates in the diet. Nevertheless, it makes sense to feed some vegetables, seeds or sprouts, as the cat will find a small amount of about 3 to 5% plant material in the stomach and intestines of the prey and apparently benefit from it. In addition, with the fibers it contains, comparable to the dietary fiber for us humans, you can also replace the missing fur of the prey animal in the food. We do not use grain in our feed preparations as it is not found in the stomach of the prey, or only in tiny amounts. For many cats, grain is intolerant and also provides unwanted “empty” calories in the form of starch.
Vitamins are essential for the maintenance of all body functions. They are involved in different processes and perform many tasks, including a. they ensure the formation of bones, good eyesight and a functioning metabolism. They also play an important role in a good immune system. Vitamins are sensitive and are partially destroyed by processing, storage or freezing. An undersupply leads to deficiency symptoms, but an oversupply of individual vitamins can also lead to physical problems and diseases. Some vitamins can be synthesized by a healthy cat in the intestines. However, all vitamins, except for vitamin C, which is not essential for cats, must be regularly consumed with food. When a cat eats its prey fresh, it receives all the vitamins it needs.
The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K are stored in the body and must not be overdosed as they can accumulate. The cat depends on getting vitamin A from animal sources. It is unable to convert beta-carotene, which occurs in plants as a vitamin A precursor, into the active form retinol. Vitamin A is mainly stored in the liver. Cats can only use vitamin D3, which is only found in animal materials. It is largely stored in adipose tissue; fish is rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D2, which occurs in plants, cannot be used by cats.
Water-soluble vitamins are the vitamin B complex, vitamin C and biotin. They are not stored, so with the exception of vitamin C, a deficiency quickly develops if they are not taken regularly.
Minerals are inorganic substances and consist of bulk elements such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and trace elements such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, to name a few. Minerals are important for the bones, nerves, protein metabolism, the activity of enzymes and hormones and the maintenance of the osmotic balance in the body. They are very stable and are not destroyed by freezing or heating, but can escape into the cooking water during the cooking process.
Calcium and phosphorus play an important role in building bones. The calcium-phosphorus balance can be between 0.9: 1 and 1.4: 1, with 1.1: 1 to 1.2: 1 being optimal. However, it is not only a question of the correct ratio, but also of the amount of minerals, since all quantity and trace elements, not just calcium and phosphorus, are interdependent and should be present in the correct proportion. Too much or too little of a substance can impair the absorption of another, as the interactions, including with some vitamins, are very complex. Raw bones are a natural source of important minerals including calcium.
Together with chlorine and potassium, sodium regulates the water balance, the osmotic pressure of the body fluids, is important for the nerves and is involved in the transport of nutrients in the body. It is also indispensable for the formation of stomach acid. It is important to have a good balance between sodium and potassium, which is sufficient in pure meat. In contrast, sodium is only marginally present in meat and is found in large quantities in blood, bones and kidneys. To restore this balance, sodium chloride (salt) must be supplemented when feeding without bones and blood.
Water is one of the foundations of life and is important for the proper functioning of the heart, circulation and kidneys, heat regulation and the transport of oxygen and nutrients. The cat is a desert animal and gets by with little additional water if the food contains 70% moisture, as is the case with natural prey animals. Since cats have specialized in the course of evolution to meet most of their water requirements through food, they do not develop a pronounced feeling of thirst. If the food contains little liquid, the cat is at risk of dehydration, as it almost always drinks too little water to make up for the liquid deficit. To avoid dehydration and the resulting illnesses, cats should be given a diet that has a natural moisture content, such as is the case with raw food.