Cats need meat.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that their bodies evolved as primarily meat eaters. Meat needs to be the majority of their diet. Unlike dogs and humans who are omnivores (meat and vegetation), felines are designed to digest primarily meat proteins and cannot survive without it.
In the wild cats eat small mammals and birds. This prey is high in protein and amino acids, exactly what the cat needs to remain healthy. The only carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) they consume are in the stomachs of these creatures, already partially digested. Wild cats are not found in corn fields eating the corn, they are hunting the small mammals who eat the corn.
Most cat owners give their cats dry food, usually free fed, so that the cat always has access to food and the cats’ owner only has to refill the container a couple times each week. There are many reasons why this is very dangerous to cats.
First, dry cat food may have a high protein content on the label, but that protein is mostly from vegetables and animal by-product, not from meat-based proteins. Cats cannot easily digest carbohydrates due to their short intestine.
Secondly, dry food does not have much moisture content; usually only 8-10%. Cats need moisture from their food. In the wild a cat rarely actually drinks water as they obtain most of the moisture they need from their prey. Felines do not readily change their moisture intake when environmental conditions change, as do dogs. For example, dogs tend to drink more water when they are hot. Cats don’t.
Without much needed moisture to help digest their food and to operate their entire system, cats get dehydrated.
Third, dry food has more preservatives than canned food. Raw food has no preservatives at all. Many of these preservatives are toxic to cats. For example ethoxyquin, commonly used to keep fats from going rancid. While the label may state it is free of ethoxyquin, the manufacturer does not have to list anything that was not added in their plant. Ethoxyquin can be added to an ingredient before reaching the plant. This is what occurred several years ago with the big pet food recall. Melamine was added to a pet food ingredient before being shipped to the United States. This made many animals very sick.
The combination of being unable to properly digest the carbohydrates and keratin encased by-products (beaks, feet, hooves, partially formed eggs), feline urine becomes heavy and forms crystals. This is especially dangerous for male cats as they have a very narrow urethra, capturing the crystals and creating kidney and bladder infections. The next effect is a blockage, which if not caught in time can be fatal.
Even if the male cat does not have recurrent urinary tract problems through his lifetime this diet will ultimately cause diabetes and kidney failure at an early age.
Cats should eat only raw or canned food as these contain more moisture content and higher levels of meat based protein. Felines need this for energy, muscle health, digestion, bone mass and to keep their skin and coats soft. The amino acids in meat proteins are the building blocks of the body’s DNA, much needed to maintain a healthy life.
With the increasing statistics of feline obesity, urinary tract infections and allergic reactions, the majority of the problems can be linked to free feeding a dry diet.