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Caring for cats, understanding cat food

2016-12-20
Cat food is food for consumption by cats. Cats have requirements for their specific dietary nutrients. Certain nutrients, including many vitamins and amino acids, are degraded by the temperatures, pressures and chemical treatments used during manufacture, and hence must be added after manufacture to avoid nutritional deficiency. The amino acid taurine, for example, which is found within meat, is degraded during processing, so synthetic taurine is normally added afterwards. Long-term taurine deficiency may result in retinal degeneration, loss of vision, and cardiac arrest.
Caring for cats, understanding cat food 
Cats are obligate carnivores, that is they are true carnivores and depend upon the nutrients present in animal flesh for their dietary needs. Even domesticated cats will relish freshly killed meat from rodents, rabbits, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish, but cats are also opportunistic feeders and will readily take cooked food as well as dried cat food when offered, if that food is palatable. The natural diet of cats therefore does not include any vegetable matter, although cats have been known to eat certain plants and grasses occasionally, usually as an emetic.
Cats cannot synthesize some essential nutrients required for survival, including the amino acids taurine and arginine, so these nutrients must be sourced from fresh meat in the natural diet. Cats lack the specific physiology to extract nutrients efficiently from plant-based materials, and require a high protein diet, which is why high energy meats from freshly-killed prey are optimal foods.
Most store-bought cat food comes in either dry form, also known in the US as kibble, or wet canned form. Some manufacturers sell frozen raw diets and premix products to cater to owners who feed raw.
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