The Cat family (felids) have evolved closely along side their canine counterparts, but have developed their own unique dietary requirements as a result of their own unique dietary intake. Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, which means they must have meat in their diet to live (dogs can live on a vegetarian diet). Cats require significantly larger amounts of protein in their diet, as well as fats, and less carbohydrate and vegetable matter. Cats must have a dietary source of the amino acid taurine, which is only naturally found in meat (but easily destroyed by cooking), and the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid, also found in animal fats.
Cats have evolved as a fine tuned hunting machine, which parallels their need for fresh meat and animal fats in their diet. The structure of their bodies, teeth, claws, and digestive tracts are finely tuned to catch and process live prey. Cats, unlike dogs, will rarely touch carrion (old dead meat/carcass), and will not scavenge like dogs. They always prefer fresh meat/prey, and as such, are rarely poisoned or take baits. This is also why they can be fussy eaters, and will rarely be tricked into taking medication mixed in their food.
They have evolved to exist in the most arid environments, which is why they thrive in the Australian bush. Their urinary system has evolved to enable them to conserve water very effectively, producing a highly concentrated urine (the strong smell we all know well) and requiring only minute amounts of water each day. They do this by absorbing up to 80% of their water requirements from their live prey, and hence they need to drink very rarely. This is why I believe that the practice of feeding dry food rations to cats is totally wrong, and results in the high levels of urinary tract disorders and renal failure we see in cats today. Unless cats adapt quickly, and dramatically increase their water intake to compensate for the lack of moisture in the food, their urinary system is forced to produce more and more concentrated urine, which results in crystal formation, PH imbalance, and renal overload.
Cats are unable to properly cope with long term dry food intake, and will not live to their full potential on this type of ration, no matter how good or expensive the product.
So what should a modern cat eat ? A diet based on high levels of fresh raw meats (high in protein and fat), with a correct balance of carbohydrate and vegetable matter. Because raw meat does not equal an entire carcass, complete with organs, digestive tract, bones and fur or feathers, additional supplements are required to “top up” the basic diet. Additional yeast, kelp, lecithin, calcium, and vitamin C can provide all the extra natural elements (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements) found in a natural live prey diet. It is important to remember that cats do ingest grass and other green matter as part of their natural diet, so this must be accounted for also, in the form of vegetables and wheat grass.
All these elements and necessary supplements are provided for in Complete Mix for cats. The feeding chart is calculated on the higher need for raw meats and fat, and the mix itself is balanced to provide all the additional elements in the correct amounts. Naturally, many cats may put up a fuss if their regular food is changed, but if you are serious about good health and long life for your cats, persevere with the new diet and you will eventually convince your feline companions that fresh is best.
Note : for really fussy cats, try soaking the mix in chicken stock, and mix a few sardines in with the whole meal. Get them used to eating raw meat first, and add the mix gradually, over a week or so. You can always come and have a chat with our healthy pets team for more information.