Cat Food Nutrition

Cat food nutrition is made up several components that are necessary to a pet's growth and well being. Cats require nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Although these are the basic components that form a balanced diet, the dietary requirements differ in individual cats due to pet illnesses, deficiencies, cat age and size.


Cats are carnivorous animals and cat food should contain a good source of animal protein. Animal proteins are generally easier to digest than those derived from plant sources. Proteins also contain amino acids that cats cannot synthesize on their own. Amino acids are necessary to meet biological needs and provide energy in the form of glucose. Animal proteins generally consist of 10 essential amino acids that prevent illnesses. Argine and taurine are two amino acids in particular that are vital to a cat's diet. Argine deficiency leads to a toxic buildup of ammonia in the bloodstream and taurine deficiency causes feline central retinal degeneration and congenital defects.


Although carbohydrates are used by several pet food manufacturers, they're not as essential as proteins to the cat diet. Carbohydrates such as corn and rice are used in both dry and canned cat food. Pets that are being fed diets rich in carbohydrates should be gradually introduced to more protein rich cat food as a sudden change in the diet is known to cause indigestion and gastrointestinal disorders. There is a significant change in the insulin levels of diabetic cats that are fed diets lower in carbohydrates.

Dietary Fat and Fatty Acids

The best sources of dietary fats are those that are derived from animal fats and oils extracted from plant seeds. Dietary fats are carriers of vitamins in the body. In addition, they maintain healthy cell function. Since essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the cat's body, cat food should contain omega3 fatty acids and omega6 fatty acids to protect pets from nervous system abnormalities and physiological defects.

Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium and phosphorous are two minerals that are essential for optimal cat health. Although other vitamins and minerals should be included in the diet, the requirement varies due to age and illness. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may also be necessary for certain pets that suffer from feline arthritis.

Recommended Daily Energy Needs for Cats

  • Kittens weighing 5 lbs require an average of 200 calories per day.
  • Cats weighing 10 lbs require 280 calories while those weighing 20lbs need 440 calories.
  • Nursing cats require 3 times the amount of food they normally consume.
  • Overweight cats may also have an increased intake of cat food which ranges from 180 to 310 calories depending on the body weight.

Overweight and Underweight Pets

Cats that are overweight have increased susceptibility to arthritis and diabetes. Pet owners should discuss an ideal diet plan with the vet and exercise pets to reduce excess weight. Cats that are lean or underweight should be checked for underlying illnesses and then fed good quality food rich in vitamins and minerals.

Good nutrition is important to prevent disease and expensive medical procedures. Along with good food, cats should also be given plenty of fresh water and fiber for easy digestion.