While it’s true that cats require a lot of protein in order to be healthy, consuming large amounts of this essential nutrient can translate to stomach issues, especially in cats that already have food sensitivity problems. Of course, the fact that most of the proteins that brands include in their products aren’t exactly the best quality doesn’t make things better either.
Generally speaking, the cheaper the brand, the cheaper the
quality of ingredients. That’s why most experts recommend
purchasing the highest quality brand that you can afford. Your
cat’s overall health and quality of life are both largely
dependent on the food that you feed it. Why settle for anything
less than the best? If you feed your cat low-quality food,
chances are that your lovable little furball will develop some
problematic health issues further on down the road.
In order to make sure that your cat is as healthy as possible,
it’s recommended to feed them cat food that contains high-quality
protein (e.g. Fancy Feast shredded far
collection). Foods that contain only one source of protein
(that’s been naturally sourced) are a lot more digestible for
your kitty than foods that contain multiple protein sources (that
originate from low-quality sources).
Protein sources that come from “byproducts,” “meals,” and similar
types of “filler ingredients” have a much lower quality level
than protein sourced from high-quality animal sources (e.g.
shredded white meat chicken). The important thing to focus on
here is that amino acids (which are an essential nutrient for
your cat) aren’t broken down as much in whole food ingredients
(directly opposite of what happens in “byproduct” ingredients -
where the amino acids are broken down so much they essentially
Making sure that your cat is fed high-quality, digestible protein
sources is very important for its GI health (and health in
general). Below we cover some of the details behind
digestibility, as well as provide some examples of what exactly
“high-quality protein” means (in regards to your cat’s diet).
The Importance of Easily Digestible Protein
The main thing to keep in mind regarding your cat’s diet is that
it’s only as good as its absorption rate. That is if you feed
your cat “high-quality” nutrients, but they don’t get absorbed,
you might as well not feed them at all. Most healthy cats don’t
have any issues with absorption, it’s only with terminally-ill
felines that absorption becomes an issue.
With that being said, low-quality proteins are typically absorbed
at a much lower rate than those that originate from high-quality
sources. Finding out the exact level of absorption for specific
cat food is a lot easier said than done. Most brands don’t
include this information directly on the label (because they
aren’t required to do so). However, the following list provides
an overview of some of the more digestible proteins sold in
commercial cat food products:
Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Cat Food
Feeding your cat high-quality protein (contained within a
high-quality cat food product) is very important in terms of
making sure that your cat is able to absorb and digest its
required level of nutrients. But what exactly does “high-quality”
The easiest way to determine whether or not a product is
high-quality is to take a look at its ingredients list. If you
see that the protein mainly comes from something labeled as
“meal” or “byproduct” - you’re looking at the subpar cat food.
High-quality cat foods will list their protein sources as:
Those are just some examples, but you’ll notice that they don’t
contain “meal” or “byproduct.” Avoiding those two types of
protein sources will solve a lot of your problems right away. If
you’re wondering what exactly “meal” means (in regards to
protein), you’re not alone.
If you see something labeled as “meal” (e.g. chicken meal), that
means that this specific ingredient was processed to such a point
that it can’t be considered a whole protein source anymore (such
as “chicken breast”). These types of ingredients are far less
nutrient-dense and digestible than their whole counterparts,
which is exactly why you should avoid them at all costs.
To summarize, always go with the most natural ingredients list
that you can find. Avoid by-products, meals, and other filler
products. Feeding your cat high-quality food that contains
naturally-sourced protein should be one of your main priorities
as a pet owner.
Why Cats Have Higher Protein Needs
Anybody who’s studied science in school knows how important
protein is to the human body. Well, protein is important is
necessary for most other animals as well, especially cats. In
fact, cats require way more protein than their natural-born
enemies, dogs. In this blog, we’re going to look at why protein
is necessary for your cat and what kind of diet would be ideal
for him/her. But, before that, let’s recollect a few things about
Proteins are nutrients basically required to rebuild tissues and
organs. In fact, they are commonly referred to as the building
blocks of the human/animal body. Everything from hair to your
blood is basically built on proteins. Other than that, proteins
also serve as hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. On the whole,
protein is necessary for nutrition, but, too much or too little
can be very bad. In the case of cats, protein functions are no
different. The cat’s body absorbs the amino acids that makeup
proteins and use them to aid other processes and also synthesize
newer proteins. However, all this gets disturbed if there aren’t
enough amino acids for the cat’s body to work with. In fact, one
particular type of amino acid called taurine is very important
for cats. A deficiency of taurine can lead to serious medical
issues. So, as a cat owner, you need to make sure your cat is
getting all the essential amino acids via a protein-rich diet.
Another thing is that cats come from the feline species that also
includes lions and tigers. Therefore, they are genetically
predisposed to needing more protein than dogs, which come from
the canine family, which are relatively smaller and heavily
domesticated. Cats’ bodies have also specifically evolved to
consume more protein due to their carnivorous heritage. They even
lack certain enzymes found in other omnivores.
Sources of Protein
It so happens that most of the commercially manufactured cat
foods out there source proteins from vegetables and grains.
Unfortunately, cats cannot process such proteins and therefore,
require animal proteins almost exclusively. So, canned meats for
cats would be a good option instead of anything that is dry.
However, there are options out there that add animal proteins as
supplements. So, some research might be required before you go
shopping. Another thing is that dry cat foods are stored in damp
or moist locations for months together which makes them
vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infestations. So, stick to
canned food as they are far less susceptible to such
infestations. Canned foods also have more protein content than
their dry counterparts. To know more about protein requirements
for your cat, talk to your veterinarian.