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What You Should Know About Changing Your Cat’s Diet

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Proteins For Kittens

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Every kitten food has protein, but here are some important facts about the different types of protein to help you choose the right food for your kitten. It is impor¬tant to remember that the source of protein is vitally important to kittens because one of the principle nutritional philosophies is that kittens are best fed as carnivores.
 

Some pertinent facts when listening to the claims and advertising of various manufacturers:


1. Recommended kitten food protein levels are established by nutrition experts from around the world and published as NRCs (Nutrient Reference Charts). These protein requirement levels are determined by meeting the animal’s need for essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein; and by monitoring/calculating the nitrogen balance (a comparison between the intake of nitrogen in the diet and the losses through urine, feces, and evaporation from the skin and mouth). Nitrogen balance has been the recognized method of determining protein requirements for many decades. Variations in levels from what has been established for many years should be validated by convincing research. If the change in level isn’t backed by sup¬porting evidence of a tangible benefit, then there may be hazards. Studies in several species have found a link between diets with high protein levels (greater than 40% protein), bone loss, and urinary tract stones.


2. Protein from plant sources may elevate the amount of protein, but may not be as beneficial as animal-based sources of protein in kitten food because of lower digestibility, effects on muscle-to-fat body composi¬tion ratio, and the range of amino acids they provide.


3. There are only three sources of energy in any kitten food diet–fat, protein, and carbohydrate (starch). If the amount of one element is raised, the amount of one or two of the others must be lowered to maintain a proper energy level in the food for your kitten’s life stage and life¬style. A balance of nutrients is important to your kitten because each of the nutrient groups supplies something very specific for the kitten’s body. Excess protein above your kitten’s actual needs cannot be stored for future use and will be converted into fat.

  • Why Nutrition in Cat Food Is Key for Shiny Coats
    Why Nutrition in Cat Food Is Key for Shiny Coats

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    Why Nutrition in Cat Food Is Key for Shiny Coats

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    Why Is Nutrition Important to Skin and Coat Health?

    Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals are important players in the skin and coat health of dogs and cats. To understand their role, it is necessary to first understand skin and hair.
     

    The purpose of skin and hair is to block things (such as water or heat) from leaving, or things (such as viruses and bacteria) from entering the body.
     

    The hair coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If an animal's diet doesn't contain adequate protein quantity and quality, hair may fall out, or become dry, weak, and brittle.
     

    Skin is made up of squamous cells, which are flat cells tightly packed together. These cells have tough membranes that are composed of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, cell membranes weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.

     

    Essential Amino Acids and Fatty Acids in Cat Food

    Proteins are found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids cats need, whereas plant-based proteins may contain only some essential amino acids. Cats need animal-based proteins to achieve optimal health.
     

    Fats also can be found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients, and they are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There are two essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Linoleic acid maintains skin and coat condition in dogs and cats. Without enough linoleic acid cats may experience dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased susceptibility to skin inflammation. Cats also require arachidonic acid for normal skin and coat health.
     

    Both of these essential fatty acids are omega-6 fatty acids and are found in animal tissues such as chicken fat. Linoleic acid is also found in some vegetable oils, such as corn and soybean oils. Most commercial cat diets contain more than adequate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
     

    Because these fatty acids can be converted to compounds that increase susceptibility to skin inflammation, it is important to balance the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which do not reduce susceptibility to inflammation.
     

    Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from fish and some plants (canola and flax).
     

    IAMS™ research has found that combining fat sources in the diet at a ratio of five to 10 omega-6 fatty acids to one omega-3 fatty acid results in excellent skin and coat health.

     

    Vitamins and Minerals

    Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and hair coat. The best way to provide these nutrients is through a complete and balanced diet containing appropriate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals rather than through supplements.

    Vitamin or Mineral Important for Skin and Coat Health
    Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
    Vitamin E Protects skin cells from oxidant damage
    Biotin Aids in the utilization of protein
    Riboflavin (B2) Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
    Zinc Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
    Copper Involved in tissue, pigment, and protein synthesis

     

    Changes in Coat Condition

    Diet is often believed to be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition are noticed. The most common causes of these changes, however, are season and life stage.
     

    As cold weather approaches, most dogs and cats grow a thick coat to help keep heat in and cold air out. As the weather begins to warm up, they shed the thick, heavy coat.
     

    Most kittens are born with soft, fuzzy hair, but as they age, a coarser coat grows. Pregnant or lactating cats also may experience a change in coat condition or hair loss.