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Keeping cats healthy and active requires us to provide them with a balanced diet that includes all the nutrients they require in the right amounts, in order to maintain a healthy weight, grow properly, and recover quickly from illness or injury.
Here's a rundown of everything you need to know about cat nutrition, including what goes into nutritional cat food.
Nutrients are dietary components necessary for life. Cats can receive these nutrients from a variety of food sources. For instance, calcium can be gained from egg shells, bone, organ tissues, and mineral supplements.
Here are six types of nutrients for your cat;
Even though energy isn't listed as a nutrient, a cat's diet would be incomplete without it. The amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate in a serving of food is measured in Kcal.
AAFCO is known as the Association of American Feed Control Officials. They are a non-profit membership organisation comprised of municipal, state, and federal government agencies.
According to the FDA, to have "complete and balanced" in the nutritional adequacy statement, a dog or cat food must either:
‘Complete’ defines as the food containing all of the needed nutrients. Whereas, balanced means that the nutrients are present in the right quantities.
AAFCO has two categories of nutrient standard for cats (on which the Complete and Balanced claim is based).
Apart from that, the standard AAFCO feeding trial establishes basic guidelines for determining the nutritional safety of food. These physiological indicators are evaluated to verify that all animals in the study remain healthy and in good condition.
The following are the baseline parameters that are measured during the trial:
Specific nutritional needs for cats are specified by the AAFCO based on their life stage, which is divided into growth and reproduction and adult maintenance.
For the growth and reproduction stage, cats need at least 30% protein. Where else, for Adult Maintenance they need at least 26% protein. For both life stages, the quantity of nutrients required is broken down into specific amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, as well as at least 9 % fat.
The best diet for your cat is determined primarily by its age, health, and personal preferences. The type of food are divided into 3 categories;
This diet includes all essential nutrients in correct amounts. As stated above, AAFCO has established two nutritional profiles for cats based on age.
The AAFCO nutritional requirements for each of those profiles must be met by "complete and balanced" cat foods that do one of three things:
Since supplements are not meant to be consumed on a long-term basis, they do not meet the standards for complete and balanced nutrition. You can use them if your cat is showing signs of deficiency in a particular area.
Treats aren't supposed to be a complete and balanced diet for your pet. AAFCO rules do not require pet treats to meet conventional nutritional adequacy criteria if the terms "snack" or "treat" are clearly labelled.
Vitamins are chemical substances that contain carbon and are required in small amounts in the diet. Many enzymes (substances that facilitate chemical reactions) required for regular feline metabolism could not function without vitamins. According to AAFCO, cat foods should contain the following vitamins:
Check for more details on the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.
Apart from vitamins, minerals are necessary for a cat's survival and are involved in practically all physiological processes. They are stored in bone and muscle tissue and contribute to enzyme creation, pH regulation, nutrition use, and oxygen transfer.
However, if your cat is experiencing nutritional deficiency, you may add cat supplements to their diet, which will help to replenish the missing nutrients, but before that please consult with your veterinarian first.
The crude fat level in cat food is indicated in the guaranteed analysis part of the product and is calculated by extracting the fat contained using ether.
While protein is a significant source of energy for cats, fat is the most energy-dense food in the diet. Fats also function as transport molecules and aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Skin and coat health, wound healing, and inflammation are all aided by essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Fat and necessary fatty acids are found in items such as salmon, poultry, liver, and cattle found in cat diets. When extra fat is added to a diet, the fat source is expressly indicated in the ingredient list. For example, cow fat, fish oil, or soybean oil.
Label reading is very essential here because by doing so you can identify each ingredient and determine if it’s in the correct quantity.
Here are some pointers to help you understand and to make the best decision possible:
To ensure your cat gets the nutrients it needs, always choose an AAFCO-approved product. Check out PetCubes Gently Cooked Cat food for a well-balanced meal for your cat. It is professionally crafted and meets the nutritional profile criteria established by AAFCO.
*Click here for additional information on the AAFCO guidelines.*
Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.
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