Cats and Carbohydrates

Cats and Carbohydrates

In their natural habitat, cats—whose unique biology makes them true carnivores–will not consume the high level of carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, peas, etc.) that are in the dry foods (and some canned foods) that we constantly feed them. You would never see a wild cat huntingf biscuits running across the plains of Africa or dehydrating that skillfully caught  mouse and topping it off with corn meal souffle. 

In the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture, meat/organ-based diet, with a reasonable level of fat and with only  approximately 1-2 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates. The average dry food contains 35-50 percent carbohydrate calories.  Some of the cheaper dry foods contain even more. 

This is NOT the diet that Mother Nature planned for your cat to munch on. 

Many canned foods, on the other hand, contain approximately less than 10 percent carbohydrates.

Please note that not all canned foods are suitably low in carbohydrates.  For instance, most of the Hill’s Science Diet (over-the-counter) and the Hill’s ‘prescription diets’ are very high in carbohydrates and are not foods that  would recommend  ever choose to feed.

Cats have a physiological decrease in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic pathways that are present in other mammals, and they lack a salivary enzyme called amylase.

Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates and, more worrying is the fact that a diet that is high in carbohydrates can be bad for health.

With this in mind, it is as illogical to feed a carnivore a steady diet of meat-flavored cereals as it would be to feed meat to a vegetarian like a horse or a cow, right?  So why are we continuing to feed our carnivores like herbivores? Why are we feeding such a species-inappropriate diet?  The answers are simple.  Cost and Convenience.  Grains/potatoes are cheap.  Dry food is convenient.  Affordability and convenience sells. 

However, is a carbohydrate-laden, plant-based, water-depleted dry food the best diet for our cats?  Absolutely not. 

Obligate carnivores are designed to eat meat/organs – not grains/vegetables – and they need to consume water with their food so remember to always have fresh water available for your cat.

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