Special Protein Needs in Cats & Kittens
You probably already know that proteins are important for your own good health, and your cat needs them, too. The right combination of proteins is essential, but your cat needs help achieving the correct mix. Choosing the right cat food can ensure your pet gets a sufficient boost of protein power.
Proteins at work.
What they do.
Proteins are the building blocks of body organs and tissues, everything from cartilage and tendons to hair, skin and blood. They can also function as enzymes, hormones and antibodies. It's important to remember that more protein doesn't necessarily mean better health. Protein is a powerful part of good nutrition, but no more powerful than other essential nutrients also requires for optimal health.
How they are used.
Your cat's body absorbs amino acids — the key components of proteins — from food and puts them to use by creating new proteins or fueling other bodily processes. This "synthesis" can be limited when certain amino acids are not present in the cat's body or not available in the right amounts. That's why food is so crucial in maintaining proper levels.
The taurine factor.
Taurine is a required component of proteins in cats and deficiency can contribute to a variety of serious health problems. Maintaining healthy levels is a particular challenge because cats have a limited ability to create taurine as needed and taurine is easily lost in digestive waste.
Your cat's special needs.
Cats retain many of the same traits and nutritional needs of lions, tigers and other members of their extended family. Therefore, cats have a higher protein requirement than most other domestic animals. Healthy protein levels are especially important for growing kittens and adult cats that are nursing.
More protein than dog's need.
Cats require significantly more protein than omnivores, such as dogs. That's because cats use protein for energy when possible and need more of certain amino acids to create building blocks and fuel bodily processes.
Unlike an omnivore, a cat's body is specifically made for consuming more protein than carbohydrates — a trademark of a carnivore. Certain digestive track enzymes that are common in omnivores, for example, are absent in cats.
Balancing amino acids from animals and plants.
Although cats, as carnivores, must obtain certain essential amino acids from animal protein sources, the rest are readily available from plant proteins. The proper mix of high-quality animal and plant protein sources provides the right combination of essential amino acids for your cat.
The right food for your cat should strike a precise, healthy balance of all essential amino acids and proteins in addition to other nutrition that helps achieve and maintain overall wellness. Talk to your veterinarian about your specific cat's special needs to ensure optimal nutrition.