Given their great ability to adapt and survive, cats are often thought of as animals that are easy to feed. Unfortunately, this belief is often proved wrong.
Cats, which have a very complex digestive system, have preserved the same, strict eating limitations over time, even after thousands of years living with human beings.
This is due to two very important factors. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Cats lack the natural instinct to drink.
This innate feature comes from the fact that cats were originally animals of the desert, where they had to save as much fluid in their bodies as possible. The right fluid intake was ensured by eating small animals, the only possible source of hydration.
A cat’s body is able to absorb most fluids introduced with food by minimizing their loss. Urine is concentrated and only small quantities are eliminated.
A kitten that approaches a bowl of water for the first time would do all sorts of things with it but drink the water. The act of drinking water is learned by watching their mother’s or other cats actions.
There are many different products available on the market that encourage cats to drink water. They either stimulate a higher intake of fluids, or try to attract cats to water. These are all important and often very helpful to cat’s systems, however they are not always enough.
A dry food only diet, even if accompanied by large sources of water, is often not the most effective way to ensure hydration. Over time, a cat’s sedentary lifestyle – due to the lack of need to hunt for food and run from predators, combined with other predisposing factors – may cause health problems such as kidney stones, kidney gravel and cystitis.
Secondly, and just as importantly, cats are strict carnivores.
The small animals hunted by cats are full of protein which has created an extremely strict diet. For cats, the intake of animal proteins is essential, as they have a limited ability to synthesise amino acids (protein components) from other sources. This is why animal proteins are essential to a cat’s survival as they aid in the prevention of serious diseases.
A diet lacking animal proteins and mainly based on cereals, vegetables and supplements to make up for the missing nutrients is not always a good solution.
How can we help our cats?
It is important to introduce your cat to a dry and wet food diet from a young age to ensure they eat a correct diet throughout the year.
Increasing the amount of wet food helps to reduce the calorie intake, increase the hydration of our cats and feed them high value animal proteins with all essential amino acids.
Rotating between white meat and fish recipes is not only a good practice, but an important habit to ensure that all nutrients are supplied, with no excess.
How should this food be given?
The right portion of wet food should be given in the morning and evening, so that it is not left in the bowl for more than half an hour. Kibble (dry food) instead, can be left in the bowl throughout the day and at night.
Dr. Benedetta Giannini
Veterinary and Nutritional Expert