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What nutrients do cats need as carnivores?


Cats are pure carnivores and therefore need different nutrients than people who are omnivores. One major difference is that the velvet paws do not need carbohydrates. Find out which ingredients are part of a healthy cat diet here. In the wild, especially mice land on the menu of cats - Shutterstock / Sergey Zaykov

In nature, small vertebrates are on the menu of cats. A cat eats around 10 to 20 mice a day when it has to take care of itself. The prey usually contain almost all the nutrients the carnivores need - including fiber and water. In addition, the feeding behavior of the house tiger can be better understood by comparing it with nature. Cats eat smaller portions instead of two large meals throughout the day. They also drink very little water because they absorb most of the liquid in their food.

Macronutrients: cats need animal proteins

Cats are carnivores through and through and have completely specialized in animal food and the nutrients it contains. The cat bit is ideal for cutting meat, the digestive system can process it very well and the metabolism is also designed for animal food sources. So-called macronutrients and micronutrients can be distinguished. Macronutrients include proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Cats hardly need the latter, since their prey consists only of a small part of it, namely in the form of the pre-digested plant remains in their stomach.

What the carnivores cannot do without, however, are animal proteins. Proteins are essential for the growth of body cells and healthy muscles as well as for the skin, fur and claws. The protein components are called amino acids, which in turn can be divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Ten essential amino acids are on the list of nutrients essential for cats; they can only be found in animal, not in vegetable proteins. Muscle meat, heart, poultry and fish as well as eggs are particularly suitable protein sources; The innards, connective tissue, cartilage, tendons and skin of the prey also contain proteins, but the cat cannot use them properly. A tiger needs about four to five grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of body weight in its bowl per day.

Fats in cat nutrition

Animal fats for cats, which they break down into fatty acids and glycerol, are also important nutrients. The glycerin provides your cat with energy, the fatty acids it needs for healthy digestion and for the immune system. The essential fatty acids on the cat menu are linoleic acid, linolenic acid and archidonic acid. While people can convert linoleic acid from vegetable oils to arachidonic acid, this is not granted to the velvet paws. You have to take the arachidonic acid directly from your diet and you can only use animal fats. This fatty acid is essential for the metabolism, linoleic acid ensures healthy skin and fur. Linolenic acid can form the fur nose from linoleic acid; it keeps the cell membranes intact, ensures the proper functioning of the central nervous system and strong defenses.

Why taurine is so important for cat nutrition

A specialty of the nutrients for cats is that taurine is absolutely necessary. It is an essential beta-aminosulfonic acid, without which the cat's metabolism cannot function properly. That is why the velvet paws in the wild mainly eat mice - they are the prey animals with the highest taurine content. You can read more about this nutrient in our guide "Taurine: important in cat food".

Healthy cat nutrition in nature: prey mouse

The mouse as a typical prey of cats provides all the nutrients that the fluffy hunters need ...

What vitamins do carnivores need?

Vitamins, minerals and trace elements belong to the so-called micronutrients. This means that unlike proteins and fats, cats only need these nutrients in tiny amounts, but still cannot do without them. They are especially important for a healthy immune system. Natural vitamins are the best - artificially added vitamins are difficult to dose precisely, so it can easily lead to over-supply. The water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are vital for the house tigers.

Minerals as nutrients for cats

Minerals important for cats are calcium and phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Calcium and phosphorus influence each other and must be in a ratio of 1.1 to 1. In this way, they complement each other perfectly and strengthen bones and teeth. The trace elements iron, manganese, zinc, copper and selenium are also necessary nutrients. They all play a role in a functioning metabolism. For this reason, the carnivores are not only allowed to eat pure meat - you have to take this into account, for example, when bartending. Otherwise they lack minerals and trace elements and, for example, skeletal malformations can occur.

Water and cat grass

In addition, cats need fresh water every day because they can not only meet their fluid needs through food. For this reason, dry food is also not recommended, as house tigers usually do not drink enough water to still meet their needs. Now and then as a treat, the dry food crumbs are fine, but not as the main food. Fresh grass is also required for digestion and hair ball excretion. Freelancers usually nibble on suitable stalks outside in the garden, indoor cats you can provide a bowl with cat grass.