While cats are relatively independent and able to take care of themselves, you are still responsible for their diet. You have to make sure that your best friend is getting all the nutrients they need to live their best life for as long as possible.
As is the case with most animals, cats have their own dietary requirements that need to be met. You can’t give them the same food you would yourself or a dog.
There are also many different types of cat food on the market. So we have compiled a guide on the nutrients that a cat needs so you can be assured that your cat is getting what they need from its food.
You can find out more information about what cats are able to eat such as “can cats eat bananas?” here.
Cats are carnivores, so they need a lot of protein from meat in order to be healthy. This protein can come from other sources as well like plants.
Protein is needed for your cat's muscles, fur, skin, tendons, and antibodies. Essentially, protein is needed for the whole body to function properly.
It has to be good quality protein as low quality can harm a cat’s kidneys. Some cats are also allergic to specific proteins so you may need to talk to your vet about supplements.
Different from other species (like humans), cats have evolved to get energy from fat and protein rather than carbohydrates. While they still need carbohydrates, it isn’t as much as other species.
Their main source of energy is fat, typically found in meat and fish. Specifically healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 are good for the skin, coat, and for healing wounds.
Cat food may also have straight fat included like beef fat or fish oil.
Vitamins are essential for a cat's immune system. These vitamins can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats.
- Vitamin A - Needed for healthy vision, bones, teeth, and skin.
- Vitamin B12 - Is needed for fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Vitamin D - Regulates calcium and phosphorus levels. Also, help bones.
- Vitamin E - Is an antioxidant that works with selenium.
- Vitamin K - Helps with blood clotting.
- Biotin - Is needed to help make fatty acids.
- Choline - Essential for neurotransmission.
- Folic acid - Helps to synthesize DNA.
- Niacin - Helps to process fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
- Pantothenic acid - Aids metabolism.
- Pyridoxine - Metabolizes acids and glucose.
- Riboflavin - Helps to release energy.
- Thiamin - Needed for carbohydrate metabolism.
Minerals are also imperative to a cat’s well-being with each of them providing a different function. These minerals can be found in animal and plant-based ingredients.
- Calcium - Is needed to keep bones, and teeth strong.
- Copper - Aids with iron absorption and skeletal growth.
- Iodine - Needed to make thyroid hormones.
- Iron - Helps to transport oxygen around the body.
- Magnesium - Essential for enzyme function.
- Manganese - Aids in metabolism and the immune system.
- Phosphorus - Needed for strong bones, teeth, and metabolism.
- Potassium - Helps with nerve function and heart rhythm.
- Selenium - Is a powerful antioxidant that works with vitamin E.
- Sodium and chloride - Both are electrolytes that are needed for hydration and muscle contraction.
- Zinc - Helps with carbohydrate, protein, and nucleic acid metabolism.
Water is the most obvious but important nutrient for your cat. It is essential for their metabolic functions and overall well-being. Your cat requires water in order to regulate its temperature and distribute all the previously mentioned nutrients evenly throughout its body.
Cats have actually evolved to get water from their food more than their water bowl. This is because they adapted from drier environments with less access to clean water.
Due to this evolution, wet cat food is better for cats as it has more water in it. Dry cat food does have water in it for emulsification, but most of it is removed to help preservation.
All these nutrients are needed for your cat to live a long and happy life, so make sure you select cat food with all of them in it. Only add supplements to your cat's diet if the vet recommends it.
Try to avoid exposing your cat to free radicals to ensure they are healthy. Free radicals are pollutants in the air that can harm your cat like cigarette smoke and pollution. If you live in the city it is almost impossible to avoid these so you need to get an air purifier to ensure your cat is not exposed to any harmful chemicals.