Cats. Eating according to nature: the principle of rotation

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

Should a dog eat only dry food or wet food?

One of the most common questions I get asked is about the type of food to give a dog: only dry or only wet?

To answer, we need to understand how a dog approaches its food: by sight (as we often do)? By taste? Or by smell?

If we put ourselves in our dog’s shoes, we know we can put the food’s visual appearance in last place: a dog certainly does not pay attention to whether the food offered is presented nicely.

So, taste and smell remain therefore a good recipe will be the first thing that attracts their attention. Let’s take a look at the differences to see which sense prevails in the choice of food.

TASTE PERCEPTION 

No. of taste buds

– Human 9.000
– Dog 1.700
– Cat 470

SMELL PERCEPTION 

Square centimetres of olfactory mucosa (where the smell receptors are found)

– Human 3-4 cm²
– Dog 18-150 cm² (size will vary according to the conformation of the dog’s nose)
– Cat 20 cm²

A dog actually chooses its food first and foremost using its nose and then tastes it.

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However, we should also explore the behavioural aspect that affects nutrition. The dog is a social animal used to living in a (family) pack; its meal plays a key role in its co-existence with other dogs and, in our case, humans. Food gratification is a method often used by humans to encourage appropriate behaviour and to strengthen the relationship between them and us. To serve our dog, a rewarding meal is not only a gesture of affection but also a behaviour that will lay a solid foundation in our relationship with our four-legged friend.

Considering the choice between dry and/or wet food from a nutritional point of view, we can say, without a doubt, that if we choose a high quality dry food, the needs of the dog will be totally satisfied. The dog – unlike a cat – has no problem with fluid intake: if fed only kibble (dry food), they will drink more water to keep their hydration at optimum levels.

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On the other hand, if we serve just dry food, we could lose much of their food gratification because a biscuit will never be as aromatic as a wet food. We would also lose some of the “natural” nutritional benefits of a wet food, such as vitamins and minerals; being less processed than kibble, a wet food also retains more nutrients naturally contained in the ingredients.

If we just feed our dog wet food, we could lose the many benefits associated with chewing – our furry friend would eat the meal much faster avoiding mastication, which is the first stage of digestion. In addition, soft food does not massage the gums, which helps when dogs are teething, nor does it help with dental cleaning.

What to do? 

One tip is to feed your pup both dry and wet food to take advantage of the positive features of each option.

Mixing one tablespoon of wet food into your dog’s dry food will also help make the meal an important event between you and them, as it will not only satisfy their hunger, it will also satisfy their taste buds. Furthermore, the dry food will play its role, aiding nutrition, digestion (chewing) and teeth cleaning, and the wet food will play an equally nutritious role providing a small amount of nutrients while satisfying the senses of our faithful friend.

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Dr Benedetta Giannini, veterinarian and nutrition expert

 

Nutritional advice for dogs by Almo Nature

Almo Nature’s nutritional advice for an optimal nutritional balance is to base a dog’s diet on dry food, alternating between meat and fish recipes.

The association with a small percentage of wet food helps stimulate the dog’s sense of smell and makes a meal highly gratifying.

Wet food – when prepared with premium ingredients – is a great source of micronutrients which contribute to the general dog’s wellbeing.

To ensure the optimal nutritional balance of a healthy dog, Almo Nature recommends a varied diet, which rotates between different sources of protein: white meat, red meat and fish.

Stimulate your dog’s sense of smell!

Overweight cats: the ideal diet

Today, more and more cats are overweight: reduced physical activity and overeating are the main causes of this condition. So what should we do to remedy this situation? What is the ideal diet for an overweight cat? How can we get them back in to shape? We follow the advice of the veterinarian!

 

First, we must distinguish between an obese cat and an overweight cat

Obesity occurs when a cat’s body weight is a lot higher than their ideal weight, fat tissue accumulation is particularly visible and the cat has difficulty moving. This situation could undoubtedly be the consequence of the owner’s failure to control food intake but it could also be a sign of a primary disease such as hypothyroidism.

 

Features of an obese cat:

– Ribs – difficult to perceive under a thick layer of fat

– Base of the tail – thickened and covered by a blanket of fat

– Side view – no waistline, fat hangs from the abdomen

– Top view – the back is greatly enlarged

ObeseCat

 

 

 

 

 

Treating an obese cat

In this situation, a “do it yourself” diet comprising periods of fasting is dangerous, to the point that the cat might run into serious problems. Here’s why…

If an obese cat is suddenly deprived of its daily ration of food, the fat contained in the tissues will be mobilised in order to produce energy; the fat pours in to the blood stream and liver and can cause a blockage. This phenomenon is called hepatic lipidosis and is very dangerous.

So, when we are faced with the fact that our cat is no longer lean and agile, but more like a fur ball with legs, we must seek advice from a veterinarian, who will rule out any underlying medical conditions before creating a safe, low calorie meal plan for our pet.

Fortunately, most cats are not obese, but just slightly overweight. You can tell by touching them: the ribs are barely palpable, hips are the same size as the stomach but the cat jumps and moves easily.

 

Features of an overweight cat:

– Ribs – difficult to perceive under a blanket of fat

– Base of the tail – slightly thickened, you can feel the bones

– Side view – no waistline

– Top view – the waist is slightly thickened

Overweight

 

 

 

 

 

Treating an overweight cat

Again, a “do it yourself” diet i.e. weighing the cat, buying a ‘light’ food, checking the dosage on the label, and administering its ration may be a mistake.

Here is some useful advice help get an overweight cat back into shape.

If a cat weighs 6kg instead of 4kg, we must not give them the ration for a 6kg cat or the result will be to maintain the current weight. We should, instead, evaluate the dosing for a 4kg cat and that of a 6kg cat, and decrease the ration for the current weight to that of the target weight very gradually over a couple of months.

Another important tip is to use more wet food than dry: the calories in wet food is generally much lower than dry food and gives a greater sense of fullness satisfaction, while also helping keep the cat hydrated naturally.

Among the Almo Nature product lines that suit a weight-loss journey, are:

– Wet foods:  Classic – in particular the ‘Light’ line in 55g pouches and in 50g cans

– Dried foods: Orange Label kibble and Sterilised kibble

In general, the advice is not to wait for the cat to become obese, but to seek advise from your veterinarian at the first signs of a weight issue to discuss the proper food potions and combinations best suited for your cat.

 

Testing on animals: Almo Nature’s position

Almo Nature is against animal testing

We do not test our products on animals. A choice that influences the company’s entire nutritional philosophy, and in turn, the products it produces. We exclude medicated feeds i.e. those with curative purposes, from our product range.

Almo Nature is convinced that food should feed while veterinarians and medicines should heal.

Our commitment to respecting animals, starting from nutrition formulated “from their point of view”,  is so strong that in 2004, we took a firm stance against animal testing. We actively support stop Vivisection and the European petition to encourage a tangible evolution towards scientific research without animals.

 

No tests, just a taste check

All our recipes on the market have been checked for palatability by a registered group of cats and dogs that have been put forward by their owners to sample new products.

Once the R&D team together with veterinarians, who are experts in nutrition, perfect a new recipe. We then produce a small amount which is sent out to our volunteers along with the product information. So that the pets can taste it in the comfort of their own homes.

After a trial period, the results are collected and the R&D team decides if the new recipe has successfully passed palatability tests and can therefore be appreciated by all our four-legged friends.

 

Missing information?

Almo Nature is listed on PETA’s website as a cruelty-free producer, but this information does not appear on our product packaging. It’s a case of less marketing, more information for the consumer.

Absolute respect for our customers, their pets and their overall experience. Which means our time and attention is focused on providing maximum clarity and transparency about the ingredients on the labels. And we make sure our cat or dog consumers are eating the best food possible.

Complete or complementary? What is the difference?

Customers wanting to understand the difference between complete and complementary dog and cat foods is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive, so we’d like to explain in a simple and clear way.

 

Complete products are supplemented with vitamins and minerals, this enables the recipe to meet all of the cat’s or dog’s needs within each and every meal. From a nutritional point of view, a complete food could hypothetically be given every day, forever. However, this would not be advisable because feeding the same food every day would fail to provide the variety necessary to contribute to the nutritional well-being and the individual needs of the animal. It is easy enough to observe our pets’ behaviour to realise how their nutritional requirements change: for example, in winter they live a more sedentary life, while in summer their activity levels increase. As you can see, the different needs of our pets need to be matched to the their particular, nutritional requirements that a single food, even if declared as complete, cannot meet.

 

Complementary products are foods which, individually, are not sufficient to meet all the nutritional requirements of a dog or cat in a single meal because they have no supplements added. But this is exactly what happens in nature and in our (human) diet too: we do not ask if our lunch is complete, because we know that our diet provides us with balanced nutrition, with no deficiencies or excesses, if we alternate between different food sources.

So how to choose?

The ideal solution is to propose a diet that closely reproduces the same variety of food sources as found in nature, replicating the natural balance of meats, vegetables and carbohydrates.

It is from here, that the nutritional advice of Almo Nature for cats and dogs originates and is based on the practice of alternating between dry and wet food for cats, and on feeding a primarily dry food diet for dogs, varying between protein sources and types of ingredients used in the recipes.

 

Complete + Complementary = Unbalanced?

It is a pretty frequent question: does combining a complete food (for example, kibble) with a complementary food (such as a wet Classic recipe) mean the meal’s nutrition is unbalanced? Absolutely not: from a nutritional point of view, just as in human nutrition as already mentioned, the cats or dogs’ requirements will be wholly satisfied over a number of meals but not every day in every single meal.

 

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