What are the components of the feline digestive system?

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Cats have a food tract, or digestive tract, designed to process little to no plant material. They have special mechanisms to deal with their high fat, high protein diet. The feline digestive tract works best when the cat eats small amounts of food on a regular basis. Cats’ livers do not store carbohydrates. If they stop eating for more than a few days, they may develop a condition called feline hepatic lipidosis, where the liver begins to store fat. This eventually results in liver failure. Cats which were already obese are more likely to develop this disease.

Understanding the digestive system will help you make the best nutritional decisions for your cat since the system processes food, absorbs nutrients and eliminates solid waste from the body.

The cat’s digestive system is made up of the mouth and teeth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, pancreas and liver. Cats have a pretty small stomach and small intestine for processing concentrated foods. Their bodies are made to handle small amounts of food, which they digest quickly.
Wild cats ate mostly small prey animals such as mice and birds so their digestive systems have evolved to best process fats and proteins. In fact, a food with a nutrient profile similar to the mouse is ideal. Cats are not built to process large amounts of carbohydrates and get their metabolic glucose requirements from amino acids and glycerol found in proteins and fat, instead of processing glucose from carbohydrates.
They have evolved to get their required water almost entirely from their food, rather than by drinking. Commercial canned diets provide around 75 percent moisture, and cats eating them may not need to drink. Dry food averages around eight percent moisture, and cats eating this food must have more drinking water available.
Waste spends very little time inside the cat’s body because their digestive tract is so short, and digestion is so quick. In fact, cats must excrete solid waste several times per day.

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