Cats are carnivores, so they should eat like one
Posted March 22, 2018
Diet can have a big impact on health. Just like humans, cats
have special dietary needs to help them stay healthy.
However, feline diets are a lot different than human diets. Cats
are obligate carnivores, meaning they require meat in their diet
and need little carbohydrates.
In the wild, cats usually prey on small animals, such as mice
and birds. But as a pet, a cat might only be preying on a can of
cat food. Because pet cats often don’t get the opportunity to hunt
for their own food, it’s important for cat owners to mimic the
high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet their cat would naturally eat
in the wild.
Dr. Deb Zoran, a professor at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said the best way to
mimic a cat’s natural diet is to feed them canned food that has a
protein content of 40 percent or higher and a carbohydrate content
of 10 percent or lower.
Eating canned food will also help your kitty meet their daily
“Cats are used to getting a large percentage of their daily
water needs from their diet,” Zoran said, adding that if a cat is
primarily eating dry food, it may have a harder time staying
hydrated. “All dry foods are low moisture, so cats that eat only
dry foods consume less water and are more prone to
Dry food diets can also present other health challenges because
they are typically high in fat, carbohydrates, and calories. In
fact, a high-carb diet can lead to obesity and diabetes, Zoran
In addition, a dry food diet may also upset your cat’s stomach,
since cats are not "built" for carbohydrate digestion and
So what should you feed your cat? Zoran said it is best to
choose a canned-food diet that says on the label "complete and
balanced.” If you want to feed a homemade diet or other type of
whole-food diet, Zoran said that’s OK, too. Just make sure to
consult a nutritional expert to ensure the diet meets all of your
Additionally, it’s OK if you want to give your cat a treat every
now and then. Zoran recommended plain, cooked meats that are
not seasoned and do not contain onions and garlic, which can be
Other foods that can be poisonous for pets include fruits such
as grapes and raisins. In fact, Zoran said to avoid giving your cat
fruits and vegetables unless your vet has given you permission.
There are also many plants that are toxic to cats, such as
“They are extremely deadly to cats,” Zoran said. “Chewing on a
single leaf can cause kidney failure. It is best to know what
plants you have before you put them in the house.”
As a cat owner, it is your responsibility to keep your pet safe
from potentially harmful foods and to take your cat’s dietary needs
seriously. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat!
Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be
viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for
future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
↑ Back to Top
« Back to Pet Talk