We all realise that a cat is not a little dog and we need to
remember this when we feed them. Cats have specific nutritional
requirements which are well understood by pet food manufacturers. By
feeding complete and balanced prepared cat foods, you can be confident
that your cat will be getting all the nutrition it needs.
The cat has fewer teeth and differences in their intestinal tract compared
with the dog, reflecting the evolution of the cat as a carnivore. The dog
has evolved consuming a more varied diet, including more plant materials
along with meat. These differences are reflected in the different
nutritional needs of dogs and cats. Pet food manufacturers understand these
important requirements and use different recipes to meet the nutritional
needs and taste preferences of dogs and cats.
Cats require a higher level of protein in their diet than dogs. This
doesn't appear to reflect a need for the individual amino acids that are
the building blocks of protein, but rather the cat's need for more total
protein which they use to convert to energy.
Taurine is made by many animals from amino acids that are a component of
protein in the diet. Cats cannot make enough of their own taurine and they
must consume pre-existing taurine in their diet. Taurine is found
abundantly in many fish, birds, and mammals. It is present in algae, but is
absent or present only in trace quantities in plants.
Vitamins A and B3 (niacin)
Like us, dogs can make vitamin A from converting βcarotene, the naturally
occurring pigment in many coloured vegetables such as carrots and
capsicums. Cats are unable to make vitamin A from carotene and must consume
pre-formed vitamin A, which is found in animal fats. Cats are also less
capable than the dog in making niacin (Vitamin B3) and this means that they
require considerably higher levels to be in their food than dogs.
Fortunately, meat and animal tissues are good sources of niacin for the cat
and a major ingredient of many prepared cat foods.
Cats need animal fat
Cats need to eat some animal fat to obtain a component, a fatty acid called
arachidonic acid. Unlike the dog, cats are unable to make sufficient of
this nutrient. Arachidonic acid is found in animal fat tissue and is an
essential nutrient for cats and is particularly important during pregnancy
What does it all mean?
We don't need to worry if the cat manages to sneak the dog's meal for a day
or two, but over time, it is important that the cat is fed cat foods that
provide for their particular nutritional needs. The important point is that
the requirements and often the taste preferences of the dog and cat are
different. This is why pet food manufacturers offer both dog foods and cat
foods. By choosing to feed your cat a nutritionally complete and balanced
cat food (and water!), all the nutrition is taken care of and you can be
confident that your cat is getting everything it needs in its food for a
healthy and active life.
This article is for general information only:
This information is provided by the PFIAA as general information only. For
advice and information concerning feeding your individual pet, we recommend
that you seek the advice of your veterinarian.