What are the eight building blocks of nutrition cats need to stay healthy?

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Nutrition is an important component of wellness for every single animal, and cats have very different nutritional requirements than dogs. Here are the eight building blocks of nutrition for cats:

  • Animal-based protein: Cats need meat. While many plant-based foods do contain protein, your cat won’t be able to metabolize them properly. Cats have a shortened GI tract, which means they can’t properly digest plant-based foods, so they won’t get all of the amino acids necessary to their diets.
  • Taurine: An essential amino acid, it helps to regulate heart rhythm, reproduction, digestion and vision in cats.

Since cats can’t manufacture taurine on their own, they must get it in their diet, and taurine is only found in animal tissue. In fact, 50 percent of the amino acids found in animal heart is taurine.

  • Fats: Fats are a concentrated energy source for cats, aiding in the transport of nutrients, assisting various body systems, including digestion, and protection against bacterial and viral invasion.
  • Linoleic acid: An essential omega-6 fatty acid, which cats need to thrive.
  • Arachidonic acid:,  An omega-6 fatty acid, is also essential for cats for the maintenance of the skin and coat, for kidney function and for reproduction.
  • Water: Dehydration is probably one of the biggest threats to any animal so there must always be fresh, clean water available. Water accounts for 60 to 70 percent of an adult pet’s body weight, so a loss of water of just 10 percent can result in serious illness, while a 15 percent loss can be fatal.
  • Carbohydrates:. Another energy source, carbohydrates, often provide fiber. While fiber can be good, it can also, in excess, create GI tract problems, including gas. Beet pulp is commonly used in cat food and promotes a healthy gut while avoiding the undesirable side effects of some other fibrous foods.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Tiny amounts of vitamins are essential to cats for normal metabolic functioning. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, and therefore are essential in the diet—but supplementation is not necessary unless suggested by a vet. In general, minerals are most important as structural constituents of bones and teeth, for maintaining fluid balance and for their involvement in many metabolic reactions. They must be provided in the diet in order for a cat to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

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