The basics of good cat nutrition – Part 1

Cats are predatory animals, right down to their digestive systems. Humans have two pathways; one which burns carbs for energy, and one which burns protein and fats. But cats don’t have a carb burning system! They only have the protein/fat system. Recent research indicates that cats are extremely efficient at synthesizing glucose from protein, but lack many of the enzymes to make energy from carbohydrates. Feeding them too much carbohydrate can lead to fat cats with insulin resistance, and, just like people, diabetes.

When I started reading labels. I was truly astonished at how many cat food ingredients were grain based, and how low down the list I had to go before the meat products appeared. And it’s not like the label makes it easy. Did you know that pet food regulations do not allow the word carbohydrate on the label? What the hey!

To get the carb content, pet parents have to take a calculator to that information on the label: 100- (protein+fat+moisture+ash+fibe r) = carb content. Those bags I was buying at the supermarket were not much more than enriched, meat frosted, breakfast cereal!

Just as the food industry wanted us humans to eat more convenient, processed foods, the growing number of dogs and cats in urban areas created the same potential market. Thus the pet food industry sprang into action to lecture us about not feeding people food to our pets, and instead buying their product. And, just like with people, the cheapest source of food is grains. Cats, in particular, do not see the appeal of grains. (You’ll never see a pioneer father come back in the cabin and exclaim, “That mountain lion’s gotten into the wheat field again!”)

Which is why the pet food companies make a meat flavored spray to coat the food and get the cat to eat it. It’s like Frosted Flakes, only for cats. They add vitamins and minerals, just as with people food. And just as with people food, a high carb diet makes our cats chubby, lethargic, and sick.

When I started giving my cats less grain in their diets, my Norwegian Forest Cat’s tummy problems went away. Both cats’ fur got softer and shinier. They weren’t overweight, and now I feel confident that as they age, they will stay that way.

One of the cat food industry’s strongest points is how cats are conservative eaters. They know it’s hard to get a cat to eat something new. That’s why they emphasize consistency with their product, which the cat already accepts. But if you’d like to lower the carb content in your

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