Gracie eating

One important way of looking at the quality and appropriateness of a particular diet is to analyze the percentages of macronutrients. The term “macronutrient” refers to the main components of any diet and includes protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Looking at the macronutrient content of a pet food is invaluable but does not tell the whole story. For example, such an analysis does not tell you about the quality of those ingredients or the amounts of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Having acknowledged the shortcomings, let’s take a crack at pet food macronutrients.

The most helpful way of looking at macronutrients is to calculate what percentage of the calories in the food each macronutrient provides. In the literature this is referred to as the percentage of metabolizable energy or % ME. For the sake of your sanity, I am going to skip the mathematical calculations required to determine these numbers.

Suffice it to say that if you were feeding a pet food that consisted of 30% ME protein, 30% ME fat, and 40% ME carbohydrates then for every 100 calories your pet eats, 30 calories would come from protein, 30 calories would come from fat and 40 calories would come from carbohydrates.

According to a meta-analysis of 27 studies that analyzed the food (mostly birds and rodents) eaten by feral, domestic cats, their diets consist of 52% ME protein, 46% ME fat and 2% ME carbohydrates. The authors further state, “The calculated nutrient profile may be considered the nutrient intake to which the cat’s metabolic system has adapted.”

Millions of years of evolution have intelligently designed cats to eat low-carbohydrate diets. Their metabolism is geared to be fueled by protein and fat. You should never mess with Mother Nature!

Meanwhile, the AAFCO nutrient profile for adult cat food consists of 25% ME protein, 21% ME fat and a whopping 54% ME carbohydrates. This is nowhere near the percentages that the cat’s metabolic system has adapted to.

If you love your cat, do not feed her conventional cat food. Get her off the dry food crack. For the sake of her health, be like me and go RAW!

What kind of food does your cat eat?

3 replies
  1. Karen Luce
    Karen Luce says:

    What kind of food does my cats eat?

    Blue Buffalo for indoor adult cats (dry and canned food), Hills Science Diet for indoor kittens. I try to buy the best food for all of my pets. I’ve tried giving my adult cats raw chicken, they weren’t interested.

    • Dr. Doug
      Dr. Doug says:

      Sounds like you are buying good processed foods. Cats can be difficult to switch to a truly healthy diet. The pet food companies do a great job with palatability. There are balanced raw diets made with meats other than chicken. Sometimes you need to want to make it happen more than your cats do. Here’s a blog about how to help cats make the switch

  2. Jeanie Barrett
    Jeanie Barrett says:

    Someone raised my adopted cat on dog food! By the time she came to live with me she was obese and only wanted to eat the worst foods. I finally have her eating dehydrated Raw by Primal or Stella & Chewy’s. I add a little warm water and some salmon oil & she eats it all!


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