Creating a Balanced Diet for Cats

Cats are carnivores in the wild, so common sense dictates that a healthy diet for cats should be made up of mostly meat. However, many cat foods are filled with carbohydrates and other cheap fillers, which cats don't need and can't digest. A healthy diet can improve your cat's health, reduce veterinary visits and add years to his life, so pay attention to what your cat eats and make improvements if necessary.


Protein is the staple of a healthy cat diet. Cats do not need many vegetables or carbohydrates. In the wild, cats obtain the protein they need from the muscles of their prey and the vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients from the bones, intestines and other organs. Because of this, cats often thrive on raw meat diets created with those health needs in mind.

There are also high quality commercial cat foods that meet these recommendations. Check your cat food label. The majority of ingredients should be high-quality protein, not meat byproducts, and should not include carbohydrates, preservatives or other fillers. The food should contain 30 to 45 percent protein and 10 to 30 percent fat on a dry matter basis. Food should not contain sugar as cats do not have a sweet tooth.


Do not supplement cat food without consulting with a veterinarian. Cats do not respond to human vitamins the way dogs do. They need very specific amounts of these vitamins, most of which are contained in a healthy diet. Some vitamins that are good for dogs and humans are very harmful to cats, especially if not given the appropriate dosage.

Cats require fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, but these can be found in animal fat and probaby do not need to be supplemented. They also require minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium chloride and magnesium, but these, too, can usually be found in a high-quality cat food or raw meat diet. Contrary to popular belief, cats can do quite well on a low-calcium diet and do not have a taste for milk, which can give them diarrhea.

Cats do require two essential amino acids, taurine and arginine, which are naturally found in protein-rich foods. Taurine deficiency can cause reproductive problems, blindness and heart disease. Arginine deficiency can prevent a cat from turning its waste product, ammonia, into urea that can be expelled through the urinary tract, which can lead to toxicosis.

Types of Diets

Cats generally prefer wet food, which usually contains more proteins and less filler than dry food. However, it's important to leave dry food for your cat to graze upon as it helps clean their teeth.

If you decide to switch to a raw or homecooked diet, first do your research. If you leave out a crucial ingredient, your cat's health may suffer more than if you had left him on a high-quality commercial diet. If you feed raw, be sure to include bones occasionally to clean teeth.

Just as with humans, the staple of good health is a complete, balanced diet. Ensure your cat is receiving this by checking your cat food label or researching homemade diets.