A better under- standing of how cats use the various nutrients in food and how much of them they need can help you choose a healthy diet for your pet. PROTEINS
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Storage and ProcessingThe stomach acts as a temporary storage and processing facility before emptying its contents into the small intes- tine. Early stages of digestion take place in the stomach, where pepsin and lipase aid in digesting protein and fat.THE DIGESTIVE TRACT COMMITTEE ON NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS OF DOGS AND CATS DONALD C. BEITZ, Chair, Iowa State University JOHN E. BAUER, Texas A&M University KEITH C. BEHNKE, Kansas State University DAVID A. DZANIS, Dzanis Consulting & Collaborations GEORGE C. FAHEY, University Of Illinois RICHARD C. HILL, University Of Florida FRANCIS A. KALLFELZ, Cornell University ELLEN KIENZLE, Zentrum Lebensmittel Und Tierern−hrung, Oberschleissheim, Germany JAMES G. MORRIS, University Of California, Davis QUINTON R. ROGERS, University Of California, DavisSupport for the development of this pamphlet was provided by the PresidentÕs Circle CommunicationsInitiative of the National Academies. The pamphlet was written by Dale Feuer based on a report by theCommittee on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Illustration and design by Van Nguyen.Copies of Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Catsare available from the National Academies Press,500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001; 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington area);http://www.nap.edu .Copyright 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.Point of DepartureThe mechanical breakdown of food begins in the mouth, where food is ingested, chewed, and swal- lowed. Chemical breakdown starts here as well, with the secretion of enzyme-laden saliva.Automatic Transport The esophagus is a short, muscular tube in which involuntary, wavelike contractions and relaxations propel food from the mouth to the stomach.Treatment FacilitiesIn the small intestine, enzymes break down large, complex food mole- cules into simpler units that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The pancreas is an organ that does double duty secreting digestive enzymes into the gut and hormones, including insulin and glucogon, into the blood. Important for fat metabolism, the liver produces bile and partially stores it in the gall bladder between meals.End of the LineThe primary function of the large intestine is to absorb electrolytes and water. Also, this is where microbes ferment nutrients that have so far escaped digestion and absorption.liveresophagusspleencolonsmallintestinestomach37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 2

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1CONTENTSIntroduction1 Proteins and Amino Acids2 Fats and Fatty Acids3 Energy Needs4 Vitamins6 Minerals8 Feeding Practices10 Food Choices12 INTRODUCTION How much should I feed my cat? Does the food IÕm providing meet my catÕs nutritional needs? As our knowledge of the relationship between diet and health continues to advance and as the range of foods available for cats con- tinues to expand, itÕs more important than ever to base feeding choices on good information. The information in this pamphlet is based on Nutrient Requirements of Dogsand Cats, a technical report issued by the National Research Council as partof its Animal Nutrition Series. The Food and Drug Administration relies on information in the report to regulate and ensure the safety of pet foods. Other reports in the series address the nutritional needs of horses, dairy cattle, beef cattle, nonhuman primates, swine, poultry, fish, and small ruminants. Scientists who study the nutritional needs of animals use the Animal Nutrition Series to guide future research. The series is also used by animal owners, caretakers, and veterinarians to develop specialized diets for individual ani- mals. Links to reports in the series can be found at http://dels.nas.edu/banr. 37491_Cat_P01_16x1 07/26/06 5:27 PM Page 1

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2Cats need several different kinds of nutrients to survive:amino acidsfrom protein, fatty acids and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The tables in this pamphlet provide recommended dailyallowances for nutrients based on the amount required to maintain good health in normal cats. Your catÕs unique nutritional requirements will depend on its size and its stage in life, among other factors. A better under- standing of how cats use the various nutrients in food and how much of them they need can help you choose a healthy diet for your pet.PROTEINS AND AMINO ACIDS As carnivorous animals, cats derive most of their protein from meat, fish,and other animal products. Some animal-based protein is easier to digest than plant-based protein and is better suited to the catÕs digestive system. Dietary protein contains 10 specific amino acids that neither cats nor dogs can make on their own.Known as essential amino acids, they provide thebuilding blocks for many important biologicallyactive compounds and proteins. In addition, they provide the carbon chains needed tomake glucose for energy. High-quality pro- teins have a good balance of all of theessential amino acids.Deficiencies of single essential aminoacids can lead to serious health problems.Arginine, for example, is critical to theremoval of ammonia from the bodythrough urine. Without sufficient arginine in the diet, cats may suffer from a toxicbuildup of ammonia in the bloodstream.Although not the case for dogs, the aminoacid taurine is a dietary essential for cats.Taurine deficiency in cats causes a host of meta- bolic and clinical problems, including feline centralretinal degeneration and blindness, deafness, car-diomyopathy and heart failure, inadequate immune response, poor neonatal growth, reproductive failure, andcongenital defects. Found abundantly in many fish, birds, and small rodents, taurine is either absent or present only in traceamounts in plants. Strict vegetarian diets are not appropriate for cats unless supplemented with nutrients essential for cats that are not found in plants.37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 2

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3FATS AND FATTY ACIDS Dietary fats, mainly derived from animal fats and the seed oils of various plants, provide the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. Fats contain more than twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates per gram. Dietary fats supply essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the body and serve as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins. Fatty acids play an important role in cell struc- ture and function. Additionally, food fats tend to enhance the taste and texture of a catÕs food. The maximum amount of fat in the catÕs diet can be reasonably high without any known adverse effects. In many cat foods, 50% or more of the energy comes from fat. Studies indicate that cat foods containing even higher amounts of fat are safe. At a minimum, cat foods should have a fat content of about 9% of dry matter. Essential fatty acids are necessary to keep your catÕs skin and coat healthy. Deficiencies in the so-called omega-3 family of essential fatty acids can lead to a host abnor- malities of the nervous system, ranging from vision problems to impaired learning ability. Another family of essential fatty acids, known as omega-6, has been shown to have important physiological effects in the body. Tissues that perform such func- tions as storage (fat), metabolism (liver), mechanical work (muscle), and excretion (kidney) tend to have cell membranes in which omega-6 fatty acids predominate.DAILYRECOMMENDED ALLOW ANCESFOR PROTEIN ANDFATS KITTENSADULT CATNURSING CATS Weighing1.8 lbWeighing 9 lb,Weighing9 lb with 4 kittens consuming 250 CaloriesCrude Protein10 g12.5 g41 g Total Fat4 g5.5 g12 g Determining Grams of Essential Nutrients from Petfood Labels Petfood labels do not generally list amounts of essential nutrients in grams. However, all pet food labels must state guarantees for the minimum percentages of crude* protein and crude fat, and the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. To convert these percentages to grams, simply multiply the crude per- centages times the weight of your catÕs daily portion. For example, if you feed your cat one 6-oz (170-gram) can of food per day, and the food contains 8% crude pro- tein, the grams of protein would be 0.08 x 170 =13.6 grams.*ÓCrudeÓ refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself. 37491_Cat_P01_16x1 07/26/06 5:28 PM Page 3

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4ENERGY NEEDS Cats need a certain amount of energy to sustain the normal activities of their daily lives. Growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise all increase these normal ener- gy requirements. Generally measured in terms of calories, energy comes from three major dietary components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.While not essential in the diet, carbohydrates provide an abundant source of ener- gy. The major sources of carbohydrates in commercial cat foods are cereals, legumes, and other plant foodstuffs. Because cats are carnivores, the short length of their long intestines limits their ability to ferment fibers that are found in many carbohydrates.TIDBIT Severe illness or trauma may increase a catÕs energy needs. Whenever your cat becomes ill, please consult with your veterinarian or cat nutritionist about your catÕs changed nutritional needs. 37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 4

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6UNDERWEIGHT IDEAL OVERWEIGHT Your cat is not getting enough to eat if it feels ÒbonyÓ to the touch, has little or no fat on the ribs, and appears to Òcave inÓ just behind the ribs. If chroni- cally underfed, adult cats may experience damage to internal organs, impaired ability to nurse young, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections and parasites; kittens may be stunted in their growth; adult cats may develop osteoporosis. Your cat is at an ideal weight if it appears well- proportioned, shows a moderate waistline behind the ribs, and has a thin covering of fat over the ribs and abdomen. Your cat is overweight if it has heavy fat deposits over the lumbar area, face, and limbs and if there is an obvious rounding or distension of the abdomen. Obesity occurs in one out of four cats in western- ized societies and is more common in older and neutered animals. Health risks include diabetes and osteoarthritis.UNDERWEIGHT OR OVERWEIGHT? VITAMINS Vitamins are organic compounds that take part in a wide range of metabolic activities. Vitamin deficiencies can cause a variety of health problems. Cats can- not synthesize some vitamins from precursors (pre-vitamin structures) in the diet. For example, they must get all of the vitamin A and niacin they need directly from the food they eat. Deficiencies in vitamin A can adversely affect the health of the eyes. Adult cats deprived of niacin in the diet will lose weight and may die as a result. The diets fed to many cats, especially canned food containing fat-laden fish products, make them more susceptible to deficiencies of certain vitamins, such as vitamin E. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, provides protection against oxidative damage. Some vitamins are not only essential in small doses, but are also toxic in excess amounts. Too much vitamin A, a natural consequence of feeding large amounts of liver to growing kittens, can cause hypervitaminosis A, a condition characterized by a variety of skeletal lesions.37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 6

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7Vitamin A Vitamin D Vitamin E Vitamin K Vitamin B 1(thiamin) Riboflavin Vitamin B 6Niacin Pantothenic Acid Vitamin B 12Folic AcidVision; growth; immune function; fetal development; cellular differentiation Maintenance of mineral status; skeletal structure; phosphorous balance Defense against oxidative damage Activation of clotting factors, bone proteins, and other proteins Energy and carbohydrate metabolism Enzyme functions Glucose generation; red blood cell function; niacin synthesis; nervous system function; immune response; hormone regulation; gene activation Enzyme functions Energy metabolism Enzyme functions Amino acid and nucleotide metabolism; mitochondrial protein synthesis63 µg0.4 µg2.5 mg82µg0.33 mg 0.27 mg 0.16 mg2.5 mg 0.4 mg1.4µg47µgConjunctivitis; cataracts, retinal degeneration and other eye problems; weight loss; muscle weakness; reproductive and developmental disorders Skeletal lesions in kittens, particularly outgrowths of the cervical vertebrae; osteoporosis Rickets; abnormalities in skeletal development; progressive paralysis; ataxia; lack of grooming; reduction in body weight and food intake Anorexia; vomiting; lethargy; calcification of soft tissues Anorexia; depression; pain sensitivity in abdomen; fat tissue pathology Prolonged blood clotting times; hemorrhaging Neurological impairments including altered reflexes and convulsive seizures; heart-rate disorders; pathological changes in the central nervous system; severe learning deficits Cataracts; fatty livers; testicular atrophy Stunted growth; convulsive seizures; kidney lesions Anorexia; weight loss; elevated body temperature; fiery red tongue, with ulceration and congestion Stunted growth; fatty changes in liver; small bowel lesions Weight loss; vomiting; diarrhea; intestinal disorders Decreased growth rate; increased iron levels in bloodDAILYRECOMMENDEDALLOW ANCESFORVITAMINS DailyFunctionsRecommendedSigns of Deficiency/ ExcessAllowance**Daily needs for an adult cat weighing 9 pounds, consuming 250 Calories per day. mg = milligram µg = microgram37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 7

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8MINERALS Twelve minerals are known to be essential nutrients for cats. Calcium and phosphorus are crucial tostrong bones and teeth. Cats need other minerals, such as magne-sium, potassium, and sodium, fornerve impulse transmission, mus-cle contraction, and cell signaling.Many minerals that are presentonly in minute amounts in thebody, including selenium, copper, and molybdenum, act as helpers ina wide variety of enzymatic reac-tions. The requirements for certain minerals may change as your cat ages.Cats can get too much or too little of aspecific mineral in their diets. An excess of dietary magnesium, for instance, has beenimplicated in the formation of stones in the uri-nary tract. Foods that maintain relatively low uri- nary pH levels, however, have been shown to prevent these stones. DailyFunctionsRecommendedSigns of Deficiency/ ExcessAllowance*Calcium PhosphorusFormation of bones and teeth; blood coagulation; nerve impulse transmis- sion; muscle contraction; cell signaling Skeletal structure; DNA and RNA structure; energy metabolism; locomotion; acid-base balanceNutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism; loss of bone mineral content, which can lead to collapse and curvature of lumbar verte- brae and pelvic bones; bone pain, which can progress to pathological fractures Depressed food intake; decreased growth; increased bone mineral density; increased need for magnesium Hemolytic anemia; locomotor disturbances; metabolic acidosis 0.18 g 0.16 gDAILYRECOMMENDED ALLOWANCESFOR MINERALS 37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 8

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9Magnesium Sodium Potassium Chlorine Iron Copper Zinc Manganese Selenium IodineEnzyme functions; mus- cle and nerve-cell mem- brane stability; hormone secretion and function; mineral structure of bones and teeth Acid-base balance; reg- ulation of osmotic pres- sure; nerve impulse gen- eration and transmission Acid-base balance; nerve-impulse transmis- sion; enzymatic reac- tions; transport functions Acid-base balance; osmolarity of extracellular fluids Hemoglobin and myoglo- bin synthesis; energy metabolism Connective tissue forma- tion; iron metabolism; blood cell formation; melanin pigment forma- tion; myelin formation; defense against oxida- tive damage Enzyme reactions; cell replication; protein and carbohydrate metabo- lism; skin function; wound healing Enzyme functions; bone development; neurologi- cal function Defense against oxida- tive damage; immune response Thyroid hormone synthe- sis; cell differentiation; growth and development of puppies; regulation of metabolic ratePoor growth; overextension of the carpal joints; muscle twitching; convulsions Urinary tract stone formation in the presence of high pH Anorexia; impaired growth; excessive thirst and drinking; excessive urination Anorexia; retarded growth; neurological disorders, including ataxia and severe muscle weakness Increased sodium concentration in renal fluid; excess potassium excretion Poor growth; pale mucous membranes; lethargy; weakness; diarrhea Vomiting and diarrhea Reduced weight gain; longer time to conceive Skin lesions; growth retardation; testicular atrophy No studies of deficiency in cats No studies of deficiency in cats Enlargement of thyroid glands Excessive tearing, salivation, and nasal discharge; dandruff*Daily needs for an adult cat weighing 9 pounds at maturity, consuming 250 Calories per day. 25 mg 42 mg0.33 g60 mg5 mg0.3 mg 4.6 mg 0.3 mg19 µg88 µg37491_Cat_P01_16 07/24/06 4:53 PM Page 9

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