In order to live a long, fruitful life – your cat needs proper nutrition. In a world where all the pet food on the shelf claims to be the most optimal and nourishing for your pet, how can you know that your cat is meeting all their nutrient requirements?
The answer to that is to educate yourself on what are the nutritional requirements for cats in order for them to be healthy and what is nutritionally complete cat food.
FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines For Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs (September 2020)
FEDIAF is the trade body representing the European pet food industry.
I will be referencing a lot from the FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines For Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs (September 2020), particularly the “Recommended nutrient levels for cats – Unit per 100 g dry matter” table on page 18.
It is important to note that FEDIAF makes nutritional guidelines without ingredient guidelines. What this means is they do not restrict that a certain nutrient must come from a particular ingredient.
This is why vegan pet food can be nutritionally complete pet food from non-animal ingredients as long as all the nutritional guidelines are met.
Complete Pet Food
Complete pet food means pet food which, by reason of its composition, is sufficient for a daily ration (Regulation EU No. 767/2009 adapted). When a complete pet food is fed for an extended period (i.e. covering the whole period of the life stage) as the only source of nutrients, it will provide all the nutritional needs of the particular animals of the given species and physiological state for which it is intended.
One of the most integral nutrient requirements for a non-vegan or vegan cat diet is protein.
Much like us, protein provides your cat with the energy that it requires every day and is fundamental for its physical development. In fact, cats need more protein than almost any other pet – they require at least 2 grams of protein per pound (4.41 grams of protein per kilogram) of healthy body weight in order to be in a good state of health.
Dietary protein for cats contains essential amino acids that they cannot produce on their own and are needed to assist in the production of hormones, enzymes, antibodies and proper PH balance.
These specific amino acids are as follows.
When cat owners implement a plant-based diet for their cat, it is common for taurine to become a point of concern as it is difficult to find from a vegan source.
Taurine can be supplemented synthetically, in fact, most of the taurine found in carnivorous cat food is already synthetic as to supplement for the loss of taurine which occurs in the cooking and heating process. One brand of vegan cat food that contains the required minimum of 0.13 grams of taurine per kilogram, along with these other important amino acids is Benevo, which can be found on our website.
Often carbohydrates are not seen as an essential nutrient requirement in a cat’s diet, though they can play a fundamental role in providing your pet with an easily digestible, readily available energy source and thus should most certainly be considered.
According to FEDIAF, there are two different types of carbohydrates – starches and sugar. Scratches provide energy and indigestible carbohydrates which are important for stool quality and gut motility.
Fibres can help in weight management because they are low in calories and help provide the feeling of satiety. Highly palatable carbohydrates such as barley, peas, seaweed, potatoes rice, asparagus and carrot provide your feline with a great source of energy to ensure they’ll be satisfied all day. If you feed your cat vegan pet food, then those ingredients are the ones to look out for.
Minerals are an essential part of every cat’s nutrient requirements and assist in various, important bodily functions. There are several minerals that are known to be essential for cats; calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, zinc and iodine.
Calcium and phosphorus are fundamental to maintaining strong bones and teeth and are especially important if your pet is lactating to ensure the quality of milk. Magnesium is a powerful mineral found in various ingredients such as whole grains and soybeans. It assists in the overall balance of your cat’s diet and health and will also help with muscle and nerve stability. Sodium accommodates the removal of waste products and transfer of nutrients to cells, however, in some non-vegan and vegan cat food excess sodium can be present – which will result in increased thirst and dehydration.
Iron is often found in lean meat, though if you feed your cat a vegan diet, do not stress as legumes and whole grains are a great source of iron as well. Iron is certainly one of the most important minerals to guarantee that your feline is not low in energy. Iodine will assist in keeping your feline’s thyroid function in check and zinc ensures that your pet is effectively metabolising proteins and carbohydrates.
Vitamins are organic compounds that take part in a large range of metabolic functions. It is crucial to choose a vegan cat food that is balanced and complete in vitamins, as keeping to the right portions of vitamins is extremely important.
The most integral vitamins in your cat’s diet are; Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6.
Vitamin A assists in keeping your pet’s immune system strong and nurturing their eyesight and Vitamin D assists in retaining the minerals calcium and phosphorus whilst also aiding the functioning of bones, muscles and nerves. Vitamin B1 & B2 are essential for a healthy metabolism and quality of your pet’s skin, whilst Vitamin B3 and B6 are great for your cat’s nervous system and immune function. Using a supplement such as Vegecat to prepare your cat food can also ensure that your cat is meeting their vitamin and mineral requirements.
Dietary fats are often derived from animal fats, however, if you have implemented a vegan diet for your cat, plant oils also contain a highly concentrated form of energy for your pet. Fats are very important within a cat’s diet as they provide about 2.5 times the level of energy that proteins or carbohydrates can provide. Dietary fats supply essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by your pet alone and play an integral role in cell function. Additionally, these fatty acids can make your feline’s coat look gorgeous.