As a cat owner, you have always known that cats are special. Read on to learn about the special dietary needs of your furry friend, it includes using meat based holistic cat food!

Although cats and dogs are both mammals of the Order Carnivora, they are not created equally. You need only to watch them for a few minutes to detect behavioral differences: the regal way that cats observe their environment and keep a watchful eye over all, versus a dog who romps playfully and wags his tail without a care in the world! The differences don't stop there. Beneath their beautiful coats, their biologic behavior is just as different. Dogs are considered omnivores and can be sustained on plant material alone (although this is not recommended), whereas cats are true carnivores and must eat meat to survive.

Unlike dogs, there are several essential nutrients that cats’ bodies do not make and can only be found in meat. Cats have very specific requirements for these nutrients and deficiencies can occur in cats fed homemade cat food, vegetable- or grain-based foods, or foods designed for dogs. The best cat food is high-quality, meat-based foods which allow cats to achieve their best possible health. Following is a list of essential nutrients and the unique dietary requirements of cats.

Carbohydrates and Protein

In the course of evolution, cats adapted to a small-prey diet and have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates. As such, their livers are unable to break down large amounts of carbohydrates to produce glucose, which is the energy source of the body. Feeding foods with greater than 40% carbohydrate levels can result in maldigestion which causes diarrhea, gas, bloating and changes in metabolism to a pre-diabetic or diabetic state.

Cats require twice as much protein as dogs because they rely on the breakdown of proteins to produce glucose for energy. There are four specific amino acids (building blocks of protein) found in meat that cats must have—taurine, arginine, methionine and cysteine. These amino acids are critical for heart, eye and reproductive health, removing waste products from the body, basic growth and skin health, respectively.


Cats have the ability to digest high levels of dietary fat for energy. They require a source of Arachidonic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) as they are unable to make it like most species, and deficiencies result in dry lusterless coats, scaly skin and impaired ability to heal wounds.


Cats cannot make Niacin or Vitamin A and they are unable to convert Vitamin D into an active form like dogs. Vitamin A is essential for normal vision, bone and muscle growth, reproduction and maintenance of healthy body tissues. Niacin is important for gastrointestinal health, skin health and neurologic function. Adequate Vitamin D is imperative to prevent osteoporosis.

Research shows for best health, cats, as carnivores, should consume a diet composed of 35-50% protein, 10-30% fat, and 20-25% carbohydrates. The agency that establishes pet food guidelines (the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO) requires cat food contain only 26% protein and 9% fat. While these amounts provide the minimum daily requirement to survive, I believe they are only half the ideal amount to allow your cat to thrive with healthy digestion, strong bones, and a beautiful, full coat.

In addition, AAFCO makes no recommendations regarding carbohydrate levels in cat foods. As a result, many pet food companies use grains as the base of their cat food products. While grains are an inexpensive way to meet AAFCO standards for protein and fat, they contribute a large amount of carbohydrate to the food. This often creates cat food with twice or three times the ideal amount of carbohydrates for cats. As previously discussed, feeding excess carbohydrates to cats leads to symptoms of maldigestion and contributes to other medical conditions such as obesity, feline diabetes, intestinal disease and skin disorders.

All Halo® natural cat food is meat-based and provides ideal amounts of all necessary nutrients to allow your cat to reach his or her maximum health potential.

Cats, bon appetit!

Halo, Purely for Pets® is a holistic pet care company. We use premium quality ingredients to develop wholesome, natural products for pets. Our healthy dog and cat food, nutritional supplements, herbal grooming supplies and nutritious treats help pets to live longer, happier, healthier lives.

Author's Bio: 

Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM, is a board-certified veterinary internist who has practiced at several leading institutions, including the Animal Medical Center in New York City and the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Spector completed her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. A member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Dr. Spector has written and lectured extensively on topics including nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney failure and respiratory disease.

Dr. Spector served as head of internal medicine at Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists, a specialty hospital in New York City. Today, she continues to work in New York, doing independent, clinical, internal medicine consultations.

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