Protein for cats: which foods to give based on digestibility and nutritional values

What are the best proteins for cats and what foods are they found in? Let’s go through meat, fish and all the essential nutrients for your cat, in order to find out which foods are essential in its diet.

What should your cat eat? It depends on several factors such as: age, weight, physical condition etc. But one thing is certain: being carnivores they all need proteins, albeit in different proportions. Here are the best proteins for cats, which ones are the most digestible and which ones to include in their diet to meet their nutritional needs.

Protein for cats: what are they used for?

How do you think that cat manages to try his hand at those jumps from impressive heights or to do stunts that leave us speechless?

Thanks to its muscles, bones and tendons: the best way to strengthen them is precisely constituted by proteins, which have many functions including this one.

They also activate enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and plasma through a three-dimensional structure: it can change if foods that contain proteins are heated or attack certain acids, dyes or preservatives.

It is no coincidence that dry foods, subjected to an extrusion process, are often not recommended.

In other words, proteins give cats energy both during their growth and to regain the ideal physical state during hospitalization.

But if the proteins lose their three-dimensional structure they could stimulate cat allergies and have even worse effects.

How much protein does the cat need?

It depends on the age of the cat: if it is a puppy it will need about 10g of crude protein, an adult of 12.5g and an elderly of 41g.

This does not mean that a cat does not know how to ‘adapt’ to the low protein level of food, but with serious consequences.

On the other hand, an excessive level of proteins causes an accumulation of fats, with problems of obesity and the kidney system.

Although the data provided above is in continuous experimentation, it appears that adult and senior cats still need a high level of protein to keep themselves strong.

Classification of proteins for cats

How are cat proteins classified? A number of parameters need to be considered.

In particular, to identify which are the best essential nutrients for the cat it is necessary to consider:

  • Amino acids transported by proteins;
  • Digestibility;
  • Quality.

Nutritional value and digestibility

As for the nutritional value of proteins, that of meat is high, but also for products derived from meat, dairy products and eggs.

The proteins of plant foods, containing few amino acids, also have a low nutritional value.

Among the amino acids that cats cannot synthesize there are in particular: arginine and taurine; the others, synthesized by the liver are called ‘non-essential’.

As far as digestibility is concerned, it depends both on the type of protein and on how it is treated: it is no coincidence that animal ones are certainly more expensive than vegetable ones. Cat food can therefore be classified into:

  • dry with about 80% digestibility,
  • semi-moist with 85%,
  • humid with 90% digestibility.

But why is the digestibility of proteins so important? Because if they are not digested, and therefore absorbed correctly, the cat may not receive the essential nutrients.

Digestible proteins for cats: how to choose them

To identify the most digestible proteins for cats, it is necessary to consider not only their nutritional value, but also the quality of the food and the state of health of the cat.

To understand if and to what extent a food is more or less digestible for the cat, it is necessary to know that the best food from this point of view is the egg white (98% digestible), followed by the meat in the part of the muscle. (92%), organs such as kidney, liver and heart (90%), on the same level fish and soy (75%) and finally corn (with a scarce 54%).

But you must also choose foods based on other factors that affect the meals themselves but also the state of health of the cat.

The first field therefore includes the quality of the meat and its processing, the number of varieties of meat chosen for a meal (preferably not too many types), the total protein content of the meal.

As far as the state of health of the cat is concerned, the digestibility of the intestine, age and the presence (or absence) of diseases that affect its state of health can also affect the digestibility.

High-quality cat proteins: what they are

What are the highest quality cat proteins? The immediate answer is: meat. Yes, but what kind of meat, which pieces?

Muscles, but also chicken, rabbit, pig organs etc. When you read the labels of cat food, you have to pay attention that there are no meat ‘flours’ or other derivatives of it in the first places.

Even if cats love fish, it is better not to overdo this food due to the risk of arsenic.

From recent studies it seems that lamb is also not among the favorite meats, as it is less digestible than others.

Beef, on the other hand, is very common not only for its good protein level but also for its low cost; but it is also the first type of meat to be eliminated in case of food allergies in cats.

In conclusion, we might think that the Barf diet is the most suitable for our beloved domestic feline: in reality it too contains ‘pitfalls’. It is certainly very digestible for the cat, but at the same time we could face fat deficiencies and an increased risk of bacterial infections.

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