Cat Protein Requirements for Good Nutrition

Protein is one of the most important ingredients that a cat needs in its diet. With such a large number of cat food recipes available today, it can be difficult to know which type is best. Rather than choosing a food based on the lowest price or the best advertising, cat owners must read the labels and check the ingredients. Quality sources of protein, along with fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, should be found in the main ingredients of their cat's food.

Why Protein Matters

Protein is an essential requirement in a cat's diet in order to maintain many body functions, including

  • metabolism
  • strong immune system
  • reproductive system
  • healing

How Much Protein Is Enough?

  • Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 26% protein in dry food per serving for adult cats
  • Many vets recommend a higher level diet of 35 to 45% protein for adults
  • Growing kittens generally require more proteins in their diet than adult cats
  • Sick or injured cats often need increased protein to help build strength and heal
  • Cats with kidney problems sometimes need less protein in their diets
  • In general a cat will not be harmed by having too much protein in his diet

Quality Protein Sources

Cats are carnivores and need proteins from quality sources like:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • lamb
  • beef
  • eggs

Proteins can also come from soy and vegetables, but these don't offer the same complete nutrition as found in animal sources. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and many have to be ingested by cats through the food they eat because cats do not produce all essential amino acids in their bodies.

Taurine in particular is a required amino acid for cats and it's only found in meat or eggs. Other amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals that cats need from meat sources include arginine, vitamin B in thiamin and niacin, preformed vitamin A, arachidonic acid, calcium and phosphorus.

Proteins and Weight Loss In Cats

When it comes to nutrition for cat dieting foods, the same proteins are necessary in your cat's diet. Consult with your veterinarian about calorie amounts to feed overweight cats; don't just start a dieting regime that won't provide your cat the amount of nutrients he needs. Your vet may recommend prescription diet feline food or offer serving size suggestions. Some cats can eat low-calorie foods that are left out all day and lose weight, while others need restricted diets.

It'd be hard to find carbohydrate-free cat foods available from commercial brands, but look for low carbs and high protein and fat contents to keep your cat at a healthy weight.