Cats and dogs, the two most popular pets are both carnivores…both pets need to have meat in their diets. People that have both these animals as pets would notice the significant differences in the diet and in the eating habits of the pets. Dogs are indiscriminate eaters…these pets would eat just about anything. Cats, on the other hand are noted for being finicky eaters. This is because cats have sensitive scenting abilities and very specific tastes. Ideally, a cat’s diet should mainly contain animal-based protein. This does not mean though that cats cannot and would not eat vegetables…cats do! A well fed companion cat may never give a veggie a second glance but stray cats that always go hungry would eat vegetables.
“Eat your veggie…that’s good for you.” Sounds familiar? This is a common litany parents give to their children. Health conscious people would have a kind of diet that is rich in vegetable nutrition. Greens are very beneficial in keeping one’s body fit and healthy. Vegetables are low in fat but rich in minerals and vitamins. Greens contain high levels of antioxidants that boost the immune system’s capability of warding off and fighting diseases. People with generous amounts of vegetables in their diet have reduced risks of chronic diseases, some types of cancer and heart diseases. The dietary fiber obtained from vegetables prevents chronic constipation. Vegetables are full packed with nutritional benefits. It’s no wonder why humans consider vegetables as super foods. Are vegetables super foods for cats too?
Cats are strict carnivores. All the nutritional requirements – proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water can be found from a diet of meat and fish. Cats need a diet of animal based protein to survive and thrive. Cats would gain very little nutritional benefits from a diet of grains and vegetables because these animals do not produce the salivary enzyme amylase which is necessary in processing plant based proteins. Cats cannot efficiently digest and utilize plant materials unlike herbivore animals that have specialized stomachs.
Nature intended cats to be meat eaters. Cats in the wild have survived by hunting and eating prey. Cats’ preys are fast moving small animals like rodents and other herbivores therefore cats have eaten the partially digested plant materials in the prey’s stomach. Cats in the wild would have no other choice but to eat anything they can find if prey is scarce. Cats cannot go on for more than 24 hours without eating as they have a unique metabolism. A hungry cat would eat vegetables and other plant matter. Some cats eat vegetables…others don’t. Cat owners that have shared their veggies with the pet have noted that these feline companions enjoy munching fresh cucumber and carrots. You would think the pet is a short eared rabbit. However, not all cats would eat veggies. Well fed ones would walk away from a platter of veggies.
Eating vegetable would do the cat no harm. Veggies would even promote the regular bowel movement of a cat that has entered its senior years. As mentioned, cats should have a diet that is high in animal-based protein. Some cat owners though have taken to including fruits and veggies to the pet’s diet. Fresh vegetables would be a beneficial addition to the cat’s diet as long as the veggies should not be more than 25% of the diet. The larger percentage of the diet should still be meat, fish and other sources of animal-based protein. This is very necessary as cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats have to consume large amounts of animal tissue in order to gain complete amino acid profile. Taurine is an amino acid that cannot be found in plants. Taurine deficiency in cats can cause blindness and heart problems.