Is gluten safe to feed my cat?

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Gluten is the substance that’s left when wheat is washed. It is digestible and about 80 percent protein, so it’s often used as a binder and filler in pet foods. It’s probably okay to give your cat small amounts, but gluten should never be used as the sole source of protein.

Nutritionally speaking, cats are obligate carnivores. This means they need very high levels of protein to survive and don’t have a very good ability for utilizing carbohydrates, like grains. Cats also need some nutrients that can only be obtained from animal tissue. By ancestry, cats are descendents of desert cats who hunted birds and rodents for food.

Cats lack the enzymes in their liver or saliva necessary to process carbohydrates. Their mouths, teeth, digestive tracts, pancreas, and liver are specifically designed for a high protein diet. When reading the ingredient label on food, a meat source is usually listed first but this doesn’t mean the diet is high protein, especially if the next several ingredients are a form of grain– a high carbohydrate food. Plants do contain protein, but for an obligate carnivore like cats, this is a lower quality protein. Animal based proteins have a usability of 100 percent (egg) to 78 oercent (beef), while plant proteins range from 67 percent (soybean) to 45 percent (corn).

You also need to understand that taurine is absolutely critical to the health of your cat. Taurine is an essential amino acid, but cats cannot manufacture it in their bodies so they need to rely on diet to provide it. A lack of taurine can lead to eye and heart problems. Taurine is found in meat and fish, not wheat or any other carbohydrate.

Also know that wheat gluten is a common allergen and can aggravate the digestive system. Avoid it completely if yours has allergies or any digestive problems.

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