Importance of Protein in Cat Food
You probably already know that protein is important for your own good health, but your cat needs protein, too. The right amount and quality of protein is essential, and not all cat foods are created equal. Choosing the right cat food can ensure your pet gets a sufficient boost of protein power. Unlike crude protein content in dog food, cat foods should have more protein. (What is crude protein in dog or cat food? Crude protein is just the name of the labratory method used to chemically analyze and determine the amount of the protein nutrient. It does not refer to the quality of that nutrient: e.g. crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber. Look at the "Guaranteed Analysis" on your pet food bag for more).
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 and of course muscles and the heart. They can also function as enzymes, hormones and antibodies. It's important to remember that eating more protein doesn't necessarily mean better health. Protein is a powerful part of good nutrition, but the quality of the protein, along with the balance of other essential nutrients is what is need for optimal health.
How they are used: A cat needs food with protein everyday. The protein in cat food is broken down into the key components called amino acids. Your cat's body absorbs amino acids 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 is why it is so crucial to maintain proper protein levels in your cat's food.
The taurine factor: Taurine is a required component of proteins in cats and deficiency can contribute to a variety of serious health problems. Taurine is especially important for kittens and young cats because it plays an important role in essential development. Cat foods must contain added taurine because cats have a limited ability to make taurine in their body, and it is easily lost in digestive waste.
Your cat's special needs: Cats have a unique physiology and nutritional needs much like lions, tigers and other members of their extended family. Cats have a higher protein requirement than most other domestic animals, like dogs, pigs, and chickens and even people. High-quality, highly digestible protein are especially important for growing kittens and adults cats that are nursing.
More protein than dog's need. Cats require significantly more protein than dogs, who are omnivores. That's because cats use protein for energy when possible and need more of certain amino acids for building blocks of muscles and fuel bodily processes.
Carnivore cravings: Unlike an omnivore, a cat's body is specifically made for consuming and digesting protein, a trademark of a carnivore. But that does not mean cats can't eat or digest carbohydrates or other nutrients. Cats need balanced nutrition that is right for them, providing the protein they need with minerals, vitamins, fats and carbs, too.
Balancing amino acids from animals and plants: Although cats, as carnivores, must obtain certain nutrientss, they can efficiently use the protein from plant proteins too. The protein in cat food needs to be high-quality animal and plant protein sources provided in the right combination to ensure a full complement of essential amino acids for your cat. Your veterinarian may recommend a novel protein cat food if your cat has been diagnosed with food allergies (novel protein cat foods are foods with protein sources that are less commonly found in cat foods). These special pet foods have been formulated with the right amount of protein for your cat.
The right food for your cat should strike a precise, healthy balance of all essential amino acids and from high-quality digestible proteins in addition to other nutrition that helps acheive and maintain overall wellness. Talk to your veterinarian about your specific cat's special needs, or if you have questions about the protein in cat food.