That’s right, there’s no such thing as a vegan cat – says our guest columnist Sylvia from Raw Cut UAE
When people refer to cats as obligate carnivores, they are attempting to emphasise how distinct cats are from many other meat-eating predators. Let’s try and understand that statement better. What is an obligate carnivore, and how does it differ from a regular carnivore?
Obligate means “by necessity.” And here’s the dictionary definition: Restricted to one particularly characteristic mode of life. Biologically essential for survival.
It’s easy to see how obligate and carnivore go together. Cats must consume meat; it is a biological requirement. This may come as a shock to some of you, but really there’s no such thing as a vegan cat.
The next obvious question might be – other than cats, are there any other obligate carnivores?
Yes, there are! To name a few commonly known mammals classed as obligate carnivores include dolphins, seals, sea lions and walruses. Some non-mammals classed as obligate carnivores include salmon, hawks, eagles, crocodiles, lizards and most amphibians.
As a result of their ancestral diets, these animals evolved into obligate carnivores. Because a meat-only diet provides some vitamins and fatty acids in their pre-formed form, cats and many other obligate carnivores have lost the ability to produce these amino acids and vitamins in their own bodies in the same way that herbivores and omnivores do. Cats meet their blood glucose requirements from gluconeogenesis, using protein, rather than from the breakdown of carbohydrates in their diet.
Hence, a raw meat diet should consist of foods that have not been cooked or processed in any way. Typically, a complete and balanced raw diet, is formulated to mirror a cat’s ancestral diet (species appropriate diet). These diets are high in protein and nutrients, which promote optimum health. Raw diets are also high in moisture, which helps keep your cats well hydrated.
Benefits of a raw food diet for cats
Some of the benefits of a raw food diet for cats are as follows:
- Improves digestive health
- Supports healthier skin and coat
- Builds muscle mass
- Facilitates losing excess weight
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves overall energy and vitality
- Promotes dental health
How to transition a cat to a raw or raw freeze-dried diet?
Humans of cats are aware of the unique joys and challenges that come with having a cat. We always want what is best for our cat but determining what these notoriously fickle creatures want and need can feel like dancing on the tip of a pin!
Cats are creatures of habit and even small changes to their environment or routine can be quite upsetting to them and this applies to food too. They despise it when we try to make any changes to their ongoing diet. Despite their desire to be in charge, their lives are completely dependent on outside influences. When something changes, a cat has no way of knowing how it will affect them in the long run. This is one of the reasons for hesitation when they are introduced to new food.
So, try and maintain as much consistency as possible in your cat’s environment and routine, and when making changes to their diet, do it gradually so your cat has time to adapt without feeling threatened or put off. We recommend adding a raw or freeze-dried raw to your cat’s current favourite food over a course of 5-7 days or more starting with very small amounts. Gradually increase the quantity each day while decreasing the amount of their current favourite food. Alternatively, you could also choose to switch cold turkey if your cat loves the first taste of raw or freeze-dried raw.
Feeding tips to deal with picky eaters
Some cats become so fussy about their food that their humans have to feed them by hand or prepare special meals for them. While this may work, the cat will almost likely demand it again in the future, making it difficult for their devoted pet parent to leave on vacation for fear of the cat going hungry.
Consider where the cat is fed: This could be one of the reasons your cat is uncomfortable. There could be other reasons such as pets in the neighbourhood, loud noises or a lot of activity. So, simply transferring the food to a different spot may help. Choose a spot your cat recognises as a safe spot.
Cats would never eat and drink from the same spot in the wild: However, we frequently place their food and water dishes next to each other in our homes. Cats, unlike humans, do not drink and eat at the same time. They prefer to do it at different times. Cats also have an instinctual fear that their food would pollute their water, making them less interested in it. As a result, we recommend that their food and water bowls be placed in different areas.
Cats enjoy a warm meal: In the wild cats catch and devour tiny prey such as mice. As a result, their meals are typically served slightly warm. If you’re feeding wet food to your cat, be sure it’s not chilly. A shallow dish, rather than a large or narrow bowl, is typically a preferable choice for a cat because when those whiskers come into contact with something, such as the edge of a dish, a slew of feelings are elicited.
If your cat is still not eating properly after you’ve checked all the above, it’s worth double-checking that there isn’t something more serious going on. Stress, dental issues, gastrointestinal distress or kidney disease, for example, could all be contributors. Never hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you see anything unusual, especially if it involves a change in behaviour.