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Why cats need meat

Cats are carnivores; this means they eat meat. Your cat needs animal proteins to stay healthy. We will explain why cats need meat.

Meat; yes or no

We roughly distinguish between carnivores and herbivores: meat eaters and plant eaters. Humans, bears and pigs are omnivores which means they eat everything. Even though cats and dogs are both carnivores, many people mistakenly believe these animals require roughly the same food. Though dogs can handle a plant-based diet and some can even be allergic to animal proteins, this is not the case for cats. Cats are obligatory carnivores, which means they need meat and are a true meat-eating species.

How to recognise a carnivore

Cats have typical carnivorous characteristics. The forward-facing position of their eyes for example, helps localise their prey. Their bodies are built for the hunt and they have characteristic fangs and carnassial teeth that help kill and consume their prey.

Why does a cat need meat?

You might wonder why cats needs meat while dogs can do without it. This is due to the fact that cats need more proteins and amino acids as their bodies break them down more quickly than dogs do. Taurine in an important amino acid for cats. It is mainly found in protein-rich animal-based food, such as meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, brewer’s yeast, eggs and dairy products. Dogs are able to produce it on their own but cats cannot which means they need to ingest it with their food. A taurine deficit can have severe consequences such as blindness and heart failure. Vitamins A and B12, also found in animal-based products, are very important to cats as well. Dogs can produce it on their own, but cats barely have this ability or not at all. Some suggest that cat owners should give their pets supplements of these vitamins, but that is not a good idea. Supplements introduce the risk of vitamin surplus which may have a negative health impact of its own.

Vegetarian cat food

Several pet food brands offer vegetarian cat food containing all the nutrients that cats need including added taurine and vitamins. There are cats that seem to be doing just fine on this type of diet, but the long-term benefits of vegetarian cat food have not yet been scientifically proven. This is why Yarrah offers vegetarian food for dogs, but not yet for cats. Research is underway however, because there are now many cats that eat vegetarian or vegan cat food on a daily basis, are being tested annually (very important) and seem very healthy.

What to feed your cat?

It is important that you choose the right cat food based on the age of your cat. Each stage of life comes with its own set of dietary needs. Adjust your cat’s diet to the right stage of life. A kitten for example, will drink mother’s milk for the first few weeks. After that, you can slowly begin to introduce solid food. Kittens need a lot of proteins and fats. Yarrah Grain-Free contains a high percentage of proteins and fats which makes it extremely suitable for kittens. Various types of food are available for adult cats. Check out the cat food assortment to compare different varieties. Senior cats don’t necessarily need different food; the most important thing is to address their needs. Older cats may become less active, their metabolism tends to slow down and they may begin to experience dental problems which will make wet food more appealing since it is softer and easier to chew than kibble.

To find out how much food to give your cat, use our food calculator. This will ensure you never give it too much or too little.

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