What are examples of good carbohydrates for cats?
There are some carbohydrates that are better for your cat than others, but you first need to understand that, no matter what kind of carbohydrate, you should keep the overall level very low, around three percent. Cats are strictly meat-eaters and they don’t have a need for carbohydrates. In fact, cats are missing necessary enzymes to digest carbohydrates. They can’t taste sweet and some carbohydrates can actually hurt them, wreaking havoc on blood sugar and insulin levels.
In some premium or all-natural pet foods, you will often find whole grains such as oatmeal, barley and wheat, all providing fiber. Sometimes you will also see cat foods with some vegetables or fruits listed in the ingredients. Those are all fine.
First, you need to know the role of carbohydrates, which are characterized as complex (grains, vegetables and fruit) and simple (sugars). Carbohydrates provide energy for the body’s tissues, play a vital role in the health of the intestine, and are likely to be important for reproduction. While there is no minimum carbohydrate requirement, there is a minimum glucose requirement necessary to supply energy to critical organs.
Second, you need to understand fiber, because some is better than others for your cat. Generally, fiber modifies the mix of the bacterial population in the small intestine, which can help manage chronic diarrhea. However, for cats to obtain the most benefit from fiber, the fiber source must be moderately fermentable. Fiber sources that have low fermentability, like cellulose, result in poor development and less surface area of the intestinal mucosa. Highly fermentable fibers can produce gases and by-products that can lead to flatulence and excess mucus.
Moderately fermentable fibers—including beet pulp, which is commonly used in cat foods—are best, because they promote a healthy gut while avoiding the undesirable side effects. Other examples of moderately fermentable fibers are rice, wheat and wheat middlings Foods that are high in fiber are not good for cats with high energy requirements, or kittens who are still growing.