Protein For Cats

By Frank Will

Protein for cats is one of the most debated topics in the overall nutrition needs for cats and has been for over sixty years. Does your cat actually need protein in their diet? The correct scientific answer to this question will shock most cat owners as the answer is no, they do not need protein. However, there is also an extremely important caveat to this answer; they do not need protein per say, but it is critical that they have the amino acids that make up protein. So the real answer to the question is that they could not live without protein.

Cats are perhaps the largest single carnivorous life form, and their nutritional needs must be met by consuming large amounts of protein that is animal based, but not always in the form of meat. The most critical function of your cats body is in how it turns over protein, or the process in which their body actually redistributes the amino acids.

The amino acids are distributed by your cats skeletal system into other tissues in their body, which supports their metabolic functions. If the diet that they are eating is insufficient of the required amount of protein, their body mass is compromised and well as their weight. The major reason for this is that although the protein turnover will continue, it is much slower and is the major reason for obesity in cats.

Benefits of protein:

Protein in cats is absolutely critical as it is the major building block of your pets entire nutritional process. It may be argued that water is the most important nutrient, but if it is, protein is a very close second. It provides virtually all the aspects of your cats growth and development nutrients as well as their structural make up, especially with the skeletal and immune system. However, it also plays some other major roles in the life process of your cat.

Protein is essential for the burning of calories but it also plays another major role in metabolism, as it can be converted to fat and stored in their system until it is needed.

Why do cats and dogs need protein? Proteins are necessary for all aspects of growth and development and are very important in structural make up and the immune system. In addition, they are burned as calories and can be converted to and stored as fat. However the benefits do not end there, as it also helps to regulate the pH in your cats body. The term pH stands for potential of Hydrogen and helps to regulate acidity and alkaline in their body.

Protein is also used by your cats body to produce antibiotics in their immune system, various tissues, as well as enzymes and hormones. Protein itself is made up of 22 amino acids, and only half of them can be synthesized by your cat. The other half must come from their diet, and if it is deficient in can cause several health problems other than just obesity.

Types of protein and protein quality:

Protein for cats comes in two different forms; complete and incomplete. The classifications of each are made up according to the amounts of essential amino acids that they contain. The complete set is made up of animal origins and is by far and away the highest, and the incomplete set is made up by legumes, grains, and vegetables. Your cat can not live on any diet that is high in the incomplete set and is the major reason a cat cannot be fed a vegetarian diet or a diet that is not primarily meat. It will not only cause them to become obese, it will eventually kill them.

However, what is more important than the type of protein is the quality of the protein. Every source of protein that goes into your cats diet in the form of a raw diet or commercial food diet has different levels of amino acids. The bottom line in this equation is that all proteins are definitely not created equal, and the actual quality levels might surprise most owners. Protein quality is measured by what is referred to as biological value, and is based on your cats body and its ability to utilize the amino acids.

The purest form and thus the richest source of protein for cats are from eggs, which is the only protein source that registers at 100 percent. Milk and fish meal register on the biological scale at 92 percent, followed by beef at 78 percent. Next is soybean meal at 67 percent and surprisingly other meats as well as bone meal only measure at about fifty percent. Corn rates the lowest among the complete set of proteins and is measured at 45 percent.

Protein Requirements:

Protein for cats and the actual requirements should be based off of several factors and they can help you decide the actual amounts needed. The first of these factors is the actual psychological state of your cat. Next comes the actual activity level, followed by their age and their ability to digest certain proteins. This is very important as some very active cats that are also very healthy may not be able to properly digest eggs for example.

The recommend percentages will be higher with kittens and young cats as they are in their developmental stages. This grouping needs at least 30 percent protein in their diet and at least 20 percent fat, while adult cats only need somewhere between the 25 and 30 range of protein and 15 to 20 percent fat. But there are exceptions and it will all depend on your individual cat as this is only a basic rule of thumb.

Cats that are pregnant or lactating may need to be fed kitten food that is higher in protein or higher rates if on a raw diet. If your cat is sick or weak from a recent illness, a higher protein diet is needed as well.

Conversely, if your cat has any type of a kidney disease or problem, they will need to be on a protein restricted diet. However, this diet should be with the higher biological groups which will help to ease the effects of the kidney problems.

Too much protein?

As discussed as this overall topic is among owners, the question is always asked if you can feed your cat to much protein and will it be dangerous. The answer to this question is both yes and no. It has to be yes only in the regard that if your cat has a kidney condition, too much protein that is not at the right quality level can be harmful. But this is the only exception and to any other situation the answer is no, you cannot feed your cat to much protein.

If your cat is healthy, too much protein has no negative effects. If there is an excess, two things will happen. Some of the excess will be excreted in your cats urine and the amounts that are not will be stored naturally by their system. It will be used as calories or is converted into fat and saved for when it is needed, and this does no harm at all to your cat.

Summary:

Protein for cats and the debate has been going on for several years, but it is really very basic. Cats are unique in their physical makeup and must have protein and the amino acids it provides to live a normal life. However, it is very important to understand the difference in complete and incomplete types of protein, as well as the quality ratings.

I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.

He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.

After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.

After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.

Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.

I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.

Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website;

Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets
http://www.liquid-vitamins-minerals-humans-pets.com/

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