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Catology: Pet Nutrition Products and Protein for Your Cats

Updated on February 22, 2011

Quality Pet Nutrition Products

Pet nutrition products are on the mind of just about every pet owner. About a third of households in the United States have cats. That translates to a lot of people buying a lot of cat food. It is important to understand what is in the food we feed our fluffy friends. Some people are brand loyal. Some cats are too. But some brands may be selling you their image more than their quality. Be an aware and educated purchaser about pet nutrition products. Whatever food you choose, it is important to consider what your needs and your kitty’s needs are. Price is a big factor, but it is important to look at what goes into the food because a better quality food might be cheaper in the long run, especially for the health of your pet.

Quality can’t just be taken for, by the manufacturers word. You need to be educated about what the ingredients mean, so that you are feeding your pet what you are intending them to consume, and that the pet nutrition products are appropriate for your cat’s needs. That is how you can get the best bargain for your buck. Make sure the food you buy meets the standards you want your cat to eat.

Educate Yourself About Pet Nutrition Products

Cats Need the Right Protein in Their Diet

Basically cat food is made of a mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water. Proteins are an important aspect of pet nutrition products because quality ingredients help build cells for healthy organs and tissues. Proteins come from either animal or plants. Both types can be in cat food. If the ingredients say the food is made from vegetables, cereals and soy, it is plant based. Animal proteins come from ingredients like chicken, lamb, fish, and turkey.

Cats are carnivores. They need protein because they are meat eaters. They need about 2-3 times the amount of protein that dogs and humans do because we are omnivores. Cats need high protein foods, minimal carbohydrates and a moderate amount of fat. Good quality pet nutrition products will have the proper amount of essential ingredients for your cat. Cats are innately designed to metabolize animal proteins and the fats in food they consume. Animal based proteins have amino acids that are important for felines in order to combine and utilize in the right amount. Cats do not metabolize carbohydrates efficiently and so carbs are not a good source of energy for cats. Cats need vitamins and minerals also.

Understand What the Labels are Telling You

When you read the labels of your cat food, you are reading ingredients that may not all be readily digested by your cat. It is important to understand the nutrients that your cat really needs, and to make sure these nutrients are absorbed to the best extent they can be. There are different formulations that manufacturers have developed that will affect the way these nutrients are absorbed and you can’t tell what the formulation is by the label.  The label lists the ingredients in descending order of the quantity used in producing the pet food.  Additionally, formulation recipes are trade secrets that belong to the manufacturer of the pet food. Vegetable and fruit ingredients like peas and carrots and apples and berries are not essential for the quality of the pet food. Even though they are added to these pet nutrition products,they are not harmful either to your cat.  

In deciphering the labels of the cat food, it is important to not take everything literally.  For example, when you read the label and it talks about protein percentages, you need to know where the protein is coming from. Crude protein percentages is not an indication of the quality of the food your cat is consuming. You want to make sure the protein comes from excellent sources like fish, beef, lamb and chicken. This is the protein that is best metabolized by your cat. So if you are comparing labels, educate yourself about what the ingredients really mean. What you want for your cat is digestible protein. Protein from animals  are the most digestible.  Look for these near the beginning of the ingredients. These are most likely the better quality pet nutrition products you can purchase for your cat.

Cat Food Label

Learn to understand what the ingredients listed on cat food means
Learn to understand what the ingredients listed on cat food means

What is Taurine

Cats need a lot of protein to help their entire system develop properly and to assist in a good immune system. Cats need more protein than dogs do in their diets. The way a cat’s system is designed has a lot to do with how they break down the proteins in food. They don’t regulate the way their liver enzymes break down the protein as well as dogs and so they are more prone to having a deficiency.   The lack of protein can cause internal harm to their organs.  For this reason, it is important to make sure your cat eats everyday.  If they have lost their appetite and you can’t start it by giving them their own food, or a piece of boiled chicken, take your cat to the vet without hesitation.  Cats need multiple types of amino acids which are in protein to keep themselves healthy.

Often on labels you will see the word taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that is vital for a cats health ranging from heart function to bile formation to the health of their eyes.  It is important that the pet nutrition products you consider feeding your pet, have a diet high in taurine for cats and kittens. Another amino acid is arginine to help  reduce ammonia levels that are produced from the breakdown of proteins. Different types of proteins have different levels of amino acids.

Ingredients to Avoid

Consuming excess protein is not a problem for you cat unless they are having kidney problems. Damaged or malfunctioning kidneys may not be able to handle the protein and can cause harm to other tissues in the body. Your veterinarian will know if your cat has any kidney problems and be able to guide you towards the best pet nutrition products for your feline friend. Otherwise it is very important to help your cat eat foods high in protein.

Vegetable proteins are not a good source of protein for cats. Vegetable protein doesn’t offer cats the needed amino acids and the benefits that animal proteins can offer them. The majority of dry cat foods are where you will see a lot of the cereal grain or vegetable protein. The manufacturers put these products in the food to increase the protein percentages as a cheap way to make it appear that there is more protein in the food. But corn gluten and other vegetable proteins are of little use to your cat’s need for protein, and are usually the lesser quality pet nutrition products.  It is best to avoid these ingredients and to read your labels!

True Bargains are the Best Food at the Right Price

Price is not the sole determining decision of what makes a food high quality or representative of good pet nutrition products.  Remember, you want digestible protein from animals, and added amino acids for maximum health benefits for your cat. Educating yourself is what is important to your cat’s diet and health. You will gravitate towards the quality pet nutrition products when you know what your are looking for. This is the best way to determine which foods to buy.  Look for these foods when they go on sale and and you can feel like you are saving money but not at the expense of the pet nutrition products that are good for your cat. Now you are wiser about what your cat’s nutritional needs are, and what truly ranks as a bargain food. Love your cat, for they surely love you and whatever you do for them, do so with the knowledge that is good for you and your cat.


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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi toknowinfo, thank you for sharing all this good information !

    • Living-n-Grace profile image

      Living-n-Grace 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

      Thank you! Great info ...

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Good information and important for cat owners to know! I have two myself and I always make sure animal protein is the first ingredient.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for a great summary of cat nutrition requirements. I especially like the fact that you mentioned that cats need high quality protein and taurine to stay healthy. I’m also glad that you mentioned that a cat needs a low protein diet if a vet diagnoses kidney problems. I’ve been in this situation, and the low protein diet did help my cat. Thanks for the good advice.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you this important information. It will come in handy.