This is in addition to commonly occurring deficiencies of taurine, arach idonic acid, sodium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 as well as trace minerals.
The reason for these dietary essential nutrient scan be found in the physiology section of the Cat page.
Protein and fat content in a vegan cat diet can be balanced by the inclusion of tofu and yeast.
Over the counter supplementation of vitamins and minerals in some cases may not meet nutrient requirements, as they come in varying amounts.
As vegan diets are mainly derived from plant sources, some vitamins and minerals may be deficient, as plant sources do not provide adequate quantities.
For instance, plant materials do not provide the preformed vitamin A which cats cannot synthesize, therefore supplementation is needed.
As mentioned previously,arginine is a dietary requirement of cats, as it plays a critical role in bodily functions(refer to the physiology section in the Cat page). https://kittyneeds.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-indoor-cat-food-vs-regular
Some ingredients of vegan cat diets that provide arginine, are pumpkin seed, almond, soya flour, lentil seeds and oat flakes (see table one).
 The arach idonic acid added to cat foods typically comes from animal-based sources.
In vegan cat diets, arach idonic acid can be added by including algal biomass orseaweed; but too much seaweed can be detrimental, as it may contain enough selenium to be toxic.
A vitamin D3 source, lanolin, a constituent of sheep’s wool, is often used to provide that vitamin.
However, due to its animal origin this would not be appropriate for supplement aluse in a vegan cat diet so a synthetic form of vitamin D3 is required.
Vegan vitamin D3can be synthesized by combining lichen, chicory extract and chamomile extract.
Some vegan sources with high niacin content are Brewer’s yeast, oats, wheat flours, sunflower seed sand sesame seeds.
AAFCO requires cat food to have 60 mg of niacin per kg of cat food on a dry matter basis.
Taurine can be bio synthesized or can be obtained in the diet by eating animal sources for food or algae.
For cats, taurine is an essential amino acid as they cannot bio synthesize it from the amino acids methionine or cysteine; so they must obtain it endogenously.
Enough synthetic taurine must be added to a vegan cat diet, as plant sources do nothave taurine.(refer to the physiology section on the Cat page).
=== Low protein diets ===Protein content between cat foods can vary anywhere from a low protein content of 26%to a content as high as 50% or above. The National Research Council (NRC) recommends protein content for cat diets is to be around 20% for adult maintenance and 21.
3% for growt hand reproduction The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommendations however suggest a higher protein level of 26% for adult maintenance and 30% for growt hand reproduction.
Cats are obligate carnivores and require protein in their diet as an importantcomponent in energy metabolism and maintenance of lean body muscle.
Cats are greatly adaptedto a high protein diet since they utilize protein as their main energy source, keeping carbohydrate utilization very minimal.
In addition, cats will continue to metabolize protein even through protein deficiency by catabolizing lean body muscle.
More specifically cats like most mammals, require the appropriate dietary amino acid balance to supply the essential amino acids, which are used for a multitude of body functions.
It is crucial for low protein diets to meet AAFCO recommendations to ensure nutrient requirements are met.
In general, lower protein diets tend to consist of a greater carbohydrate content, which means a potentially higher glycemic response in cats.
Glycemic response refers to the response of glucose concentrations in the blood after a meal.
Hexo kinase is the enzyme cats use for metabolizing glucose because they do not possess the more efficient enzyme glucokinase.
Cats are susceptible to high prolonged postprandial glucose and insulin periods with high glucose peaks, resulting from the carbohydrate content of the diet.
The degree of glucose peaks and the duration of the elevated glucose levels ultimately depends on the glycemic index of the carbohydrates used in the diet.
Typically a diet of low protein is replaced with added carbohydrate content.
In some cases, fat can be added to lower protein diets in order to increase the energy density of the food product.
A nutritional balance of amino acids is important in low protein cat diets as cats are highly sensitive to deficiencies in arginine, taurine,methionine, and cysteine.
Therefore, supplementation of these essential amino acids is important and commonly found in cat foods.
The supplementation of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids is common in products with lower protein as it plays a positive role in protecting the kidneys which is an issue for many cats on a low protein diet.
Similarly, mineral composition is important and low protein diets result in a low phosphorus content that benefits the renal care and prevention of kidney disease.
==== Benefits to low protein diets ====Feeding a lower protein content can help lower the amount of calcium being excreted in thefeces and urine.
It has been observed that urinary calcium concentrations and fecal calcium excretion is related to increasing protein concentration in the diet.
Increasing calcium in the urine and feces can indicate increased calcium mobilization (for example of bone)within a cat instead of increased intestinal calcium absorption.
Lower protein fed to cats can also decrease renal oxalate excretion, and therefore, decrease renal oxalate and calcium concentrations to support the decrease in urinary calcium concentrations, which contributes to the decrease in urinary relative saturations with calcium oxalate and can decrease the probability of a cat developing calcium oxalate stones.
A lower amount of harmful bacteriais accumulated with a lower protein diet which helps to increase the amount of positive bacteria present in the gut.
==== Consequences of low protein diets ====In low protein diets, unless the protein source is a high quality protein such as an animal-based protein, cats (and especially kittens) have been shown to develop retinal degeneration due to a deficiency in taurine, an essential amino acid for cats that is derived from animal protein.
Since cats have such a high protein requirement, lower protein content, and thuslower amino acid concentrations, in the diet has been linked to health defects such as lack of growth, decreased food intake, muscle atrophy, hypoalbuminemia, skin alterations,and more.
Cats on lower protein diets are more likely to lose weight, and to lose lean body mass.
Low protein diets that are high in carbohydrates have been found to decrease glucose tolerance in cats.
With a decreased glucose tolerance, clinical observations have confirmed that cats consuming large proportions of metabolizable energy, in the form of carbohydrates rather than protein, are more likely to develop hyperglycemia, hyper insulinemia, insulin resistance,and obesity.
Cats have a high priority for gluconeogenes is to provide energy for tissues like the brain.
The rate at which it operates does not change despite having a low protein diet.
Despite now being able to down-regulate gluconeo genesis, cats are able to regulate their amino acid catabolism in response to a low protein diet, probably by increasing the synthesis of enzyme proteins without altering the catalytic rate.
This collectively can make a cat “wasteful” of amino acids supplied in a low protein diet.
Low protein diets have been shown to lower the levels of eosinophilic granulocytes in cats, which impacts the overall function of the immune system.
=== Gastrointestinal health diets ===The gastrointestinal tract is the source of nutrient absorption, making it integral to overall health.
Therefore, feeding your cat for optimal digestive health is key for a healthy cat.
Research shows fiber, pre biotics, pro biotics, antioxidants and fatty acids are important in maintaining gastrointestinal health.
==== Fiber ====The addition of fiber at optimal levels in a diet is essential for the normal function and health of the gastrointestinal tract.
Dietary fibers are plant carbohydrates which can not be digested by mammalian enzymes.
These structural plant carbohydrates include pectin, lignin,cellulose, hemicellulose, muclin age, and gums.
Different types of fibers have varying levels of solubility and fermentation; this ranges from pectin which is highly ferment able, to beet pulp which is moderately ferment able, to cellulose which is non-ferment able.
Non-fermentable fibers helps with satiety, maintenance of a normal intestinal transit time and gastro intestinal motility as well as increasing diet bulk.
Ferment able fibers, on the other hand, are fermented to short-chain fatty acids by bacteria in the colon and have variable effects on gastric emptying.
Moderately soluble fibers have been linked to increased colon weight as well as an increased mucosal surface area for absorption of nutrients.
Fiber, though it is not an essential nutrient, is important for a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
The microbes found in the cat’s large intestine have the ability to ferment dietary fibers to short-chain fatty acids.
Cells of the gastrointestinal tract are constantly dying and being replaced by new cells, which requires a lot of energy.
The fatty acids produced are used as energy sources for these epithelial cells which line the gastrointestinal tract.
As a result ofthe presence of energy from the fatty acids, colonic cell proliferation is increases.
Short-chainfatty acids production from dietary fibers have many other advantageous effects on the gastro intestinal tract.
They increase motility by stimulating rhythmic contractions of the distal portion of the small intestine, which potentially decreases fermentation in thesmall intestine while increasing it in the large intestine for further fatty acid absorption.
Blood flow to the colon also increases with the presence of short-chain fatty acids.
These fatty acids also increase sodium absorption which helps maintain normal electrolyte and fluid balance in the intestine, reducing the risk for diarrhea.
These homeostatic conditions of the intestinal tract promote the growth of beneficial bacteria while inhibiting the proliferation of pathogenic ones.
A healthy and balanced gut micro bio me is important formaintaining a healthy digestive tract.
Fibers promote bacterial growth and activity in the large intestine.
It is essential for a healthy gastrointestinal tract to have a healthy and stable gut micro biota.
The microorganisms present in the colon are responsible for the fermentation of the fiber into short-chain fatty acids and for the production of some vitamins.
===== Pre biotics =====Prebiotics are short-chain carbohydrates classified as fibers with an added aspect as they selectively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
By promoting the health and proliferation of beneficial bacteria, they suppress the growth of pathogenic ones by outcompeting them.
Insulin, galactooligo saccharides, lactulose, fructooligo saccharides (FOS) and mannanoligo saccharides(MOS) are all examples of prebiotics.
==== Probiotics ====Probiotics are becoming increasingly popular in the diets of felines.
They are included in the diet to increase the number of bacteria and microbes that are normally present in a healthy gut.
Probiotics are considered a supplement rather than part of nutrition.
Therefore, there are no strict regulations to the amount of probiotics that should be included in foods.
The function of probiotics goes beyond basic nutrition and has many benefitsto the health of the organism.
The use of probiotics can help in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases or disorders of felines.
Examples include prevention of allergies, diarrhea, symptoms relating to stress, etc.
The health of the cats is very much dependent on the fermentation that occurs through gut biota.
The gut biota has an important role in the metabolism, absorption, and protective functions of the gastro intestinal tract.
Felines have different gut bacteria than canines.
However, the most common biota that are found in both felines and canines are Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteo bacteria, and Fuso bacteria.
Although these are the most common types of gut biota found in felines, there are variances between independent cats.
Each cat has their own unique and independent number and typeof gut microbes.
==== Antioxidants ==== Nutraceuticals such as antioxidants are considered to be additives of gastrointestinal diets to prevent digestive upset.
Antioxidants havethe ability to remove free radicals from the body which can cause damage to cell membranes,and are involved in chronic degenerative diseases.
Free radicals amplify inflammation by causing release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Free radicals can be caused by many factors such as stress, disease and age.
Some oxygen-derived free radicals can produce ischemia in thes mall bowel and stomach of cats.
Combinations of antioxidants have been reported to improve serum vitamin status, suppress lipid peroxidation and distributes the effects of exercise on the immune system.
The most common antioxidants found in cat gastrointestinal diets are vitamin E and vitamin C.
===== Vitamin E ===== The addition of Vitamin E as an anti oxidantin gastrointestinal health cat food diets can have a positive effect of improving the animal’s immune function and prevent against infections.
Vitamin E is a free radical scavenger that functions as a chain-breaking antioxidant to prevent free radical damage of cell membranes.
Vitamin E aids in protecting cells from highly reactive oxygen species within the lungs,muscles, skin, brain, tissues and red blood cells.
Supplementation of vitamin E in the diet benefits the immune system and improves resistance to infections and diseases.
The National Research Council (NRC) suggested a ratio of vitamin E to polyunsaturated fatty acids be 0.
6:1 to ensure enough vitamin E to combat any free radicals.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are prone to oxidative destruction in cellular membranes and increases the requirement for antioxidants.
===== Vitamin C ===== Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble antioxidant and a free radical scavenger where it will donate an electron to compounds with unpaired elections or reactive but not radical compounds.
Supplements of Vitamin C reduced oxidative DNA damage in cats prone to renal insufficiency, and can be beneficial to add into diets for cats suffering from renal diseases.
Vitamin C is not essential for cats as it is not required by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), however is commonly added into pet foods as an antioxidant.
Ascorbic acid is known to not only be an antioxidant,but also to function in gene expression, as a co-substrate, and have unique biosynthetic pathways in different organisms.
==== Fatty Acids ====A fat is a type of lipid which comes in the form of many different molecules through out the body, and fatty acids are just one type of fat that can be found.
Fatty acids come in a variety of molecular shapes, sizes and chemical compositions.
Theycan also be divided into many different categories.
Fatty acids can become attached to different molecules like carbohydrates or proteins and can elicit a wide range of functions in the body.
Some of those functions include: providing long-term energy storage, insulation (prevents heat loss, protects vital organs, helps transmit nerve impulses faster), structure, transportation the body for nutrients and other biological molecules, and can also be precursors to othercom pounds in the body such as hormones (some of which are important for gut/immune/overallhealth).
The length, degree of saturation and configuration of a fatty acid affect show it is broken down, absorbed and utilized in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
===== Inflammation =====Inflammation is the process by which the body begins to heal and defend itself from viraland bacterial infections and physical damage like burns or cuts.
Typical signs of inflammation are: redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of function in the affected area.
The inflammatory response is a normal response for the body to make when injured but if the response gets out of control or becomes excessive, it can cause damage in the host with a wide range of effects from mild allergies to severe GIT diseases.
Inflammation is then an important response to focus on because it is very involved in the host’s defense mechanisms and is often involved in GIT diseases.
The inflammatory process begins with intracellular and intercellular communication around the body using chemical mediators like chemokines and cytokines, which left unregulated can get out of control and cause excessive inflammation.
Anti-inflammatories and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can influence the initiation and severity of the inflammatory response, controlling factors like intracellular signaling cascades and receptors for inflammatory molecules.
Fat (adipose tissue) is also an important and potent mediator in the inflammatory process and therefore regulation of fat stores is important in keeping the inflammatory response in the body under control.
===== Nutrition and GIT in Cats =====To achieve optimal cellular health (especially in the gut) and to maintain a healthy microbiome,proper nutrition is necessary (nutrition is multi factorial and complex).
Cats with GI diseases must consume an easily digestible diet with the appropriate by easily digestible ingredients and in the correct ratio which is recommended to be fed in small portions frequently throughout the day, so as o not overwhelm the digestive system.
It is also important for fat to be digestible because too much undigested fat that reaches the end of the digestive tract (colon) has the possibility of being fermented and can worsen the symptoms of GIT disease and induce other reactions like diarrhea.
It has also been suggested that cats should eat diets tailored to the section of the GIT that is diseases.
When certain nutrients like fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are included in the diet, the microbiome and fatty acid content are often changed for the better.
An example would be less branched-chainfatty acids (BCFAs; which are more difficult and take more time to digest) are produced and more short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs; which are easier to digest and are more readily available sources of energy which can be used for supporting cell turnover keeping cells,like those found in the GIT, healthier thereby improving GIT health and immune function)are produced.
FOS can also impact production of other fatty acids.
===== Fat Digestion =====Cats have a higher tolerance for a greater amount of fat in the diet, and although its digestion is complex and important (pertaining to its many functions and its influence onimmune and inflammatory responses), fat composition in the diet appears to have a small effecton GI disease in cats.
Taurine is an essential sulphur-containing amino acid for cats and some other mammals with many unique essential functions, oneof which is the conjugation of bile acids which are important in the metabolism of fattyacids.
Fat levels are important so that the animal wants to eat the diet.
So, although high levels of fat may be detrimental, too low a fat level in the diet and the animal will not eat it.
Low levels may be only beneficial if the GI disease involves mal digestion, mal absorption and/or influences the population of bacteriain the gut too much.
===== Fatty Acids and Gastrointestinal Health in Cats ===== One group of fatty acids that is particularlyimportant for gastrointestinal (GI) health is the essential fatty acid (EFA) group.
AllEFAs are polyunsaturated (they have more than one double bond in their fatty acid chain).
EFAs are important to have in the diet in adequate amounts, especially for the cat,as since they are essential (meaning the body produces little to none so it must be included in the diet) and cats have very low activity or simply lack the digestive enzymes to generate the EFAs that are important in mediating the inflammatory response.
EFAs also vary in size,have many different functions and can also be further divided into other categories,two of which are very important for GI health: the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids (the omega in the name denotes the position of the first double bond in a fatty acid counting from the methyl end).
These fatty acids are most effective when present in adequate and appropriate balanced ratios dependent upon stage of life and production of the animal.
One very important function of EFAs is the production of eicosanoids (molecules that are important in immune and inflammatory regulation).
Eicosanoids are like hormones and act in alocal fashion with short lives.
Different EFAs have different effects on the inflammatory response.
Omega-6 fatty acids at high levels can suppressthe functions of the immune system (large part of which is located in the GIT) and promote inflammation, platelet aggregation and hypersensitive reactions like allergies.
Omega-3 fatty acids act in the opposite direction of omega-6 fatty acids by: promoting anti- inflammation and depressing aggregation and immunosuppression.
Ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can be changed using diet, optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is considered to be within the range of 5:1 to 10:1.
The right ratio (different for everyone as everyone is unique) helps reduce inflammation and mediate immune responses as both omega fatty acids utilize the same enzymes in their metabolic journey.
Some sources of omega-6 fatty acids include: corn oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil.
Some sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: cold-water fish oil, flax seed, canola oil and soybean oil.
===== Areas for Improvement =====There is very little research on cats in general, especially when diving into very targeted topics like GIT health of cats and the effects of fatty acids of any length on their digestive system, especially cats with GIT disorders.
GIT diseases are common in cats and it has been suggested that in the case of long-term GI diseases, diet is extremely important in modulation and manipulating the effects.
Levels of fat included in the diet should be studied more and monitored as not only does adipose tissue play a role in the inflammatory process, but it is also used as a palatant to make food more appealing.
As fat is high in energy, overeating (which can cause an animal to become overweight or obese) is notun common in foods with high levels of fat as fats are very palatable.
Although not wellstudied, evidence from previous studies completed in animals and humans (who have similar digestive tracts to cats) suggest a proper ratio and use of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids will help mediate inflammatory diseases, especially ones present in the GIT.
=== Homemade food === Many pet owners feed cats homemade diets.
These diets generally consist of some form of cooked or raw meat, bone, vegetables, and supplements, such as taurine and Multivitamins.
Homemade diets either follow a recipe, suchas the BARF diet which provides a series of options for the pet owner to make, or relyon the constant rotation of ingredients to meet nutrient requirements.
A study was conducted that analyzed 95 homemade BARF diets and found that 60% of these were nutritionally imbalanced in either one or a combination of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, iodine, zinc, copper,or vitamin A content.
=== Bisphenol A ===A 2004 study reported that food packaged in cans coated with bisphenol A is correlated with the development of hyperthyroidism in cats.
=== Food allergy === Food allergy is a non-seasonal disease with skin and/or gastrointestinal disorders.
The main complaint is excessive scratching (pruritus)which is usually resistant to treatment by steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The exact prevalence of food allergy in cats remains unknown.
In 20 to 30% of the cases, cats have concurrent allergic diseases (atopy/flea-allergic dermatitis).
A reliable diagnosis can onlybe made with dietary elimination-challenge trials.
Allergy testing is necessary for the identification of the causative food component(s).
Therapy consists of avoiding the offending food component(s).
=== Malnutrition ===Malnutrition can be a problem for cats fed non-conventional diets.
Cats fed exclusively on raw, freshwater fish can develop a thiamine deficiency.
Those fed exclusively on liver may develop vitamin A toxicity.
Also, exclusively meat-based diets may contain excessive protein and phosphorus whilst being deficient in calcium, vitamin E, and micro minerals such as copper,zinc, and potassium.
Energy density must also be maintained relative to the other nutrients.
When vegetable oil is used to maintain the energy balance cats may not find the foodas palatable.
=== Recalls === The broad pet food recalls starting in March2007 came in response to reports of renal failure in pets consuming mostly wet pet foodsmade with wheat gluten from a single Chinese company beginning in February 2007.
Overall,several major companies recalled more than 100 brands of pet foods with most of the recalled product coming from Menu Foods.
The most likely cause according to the FDA is the presence of melamine in the wheat gluten of the affected foods.
Melamine is known to falsely inflate the protein content rating of substances in laboratory tests.
The economic impact on thepet food market has been extensive, with Menu Foods alone losing roughly $30 million from the recall.
Some companies were not affected and utilized the situation to generate sales for alternative pet foods.
== Environmental impact == In a study on the impacts of the pet food industry on world fish and seafood supplies, researchers estimate that 2.
48 million metrictonnes of fish are used by the cat food industry each year.
It was suggested that there needs to be “a more objective and pragmatic approach to the use of a limited and decreasing bio logicalresource, for human benefit.
” Marine conservation activist Paul Watson argues that the reduction in forage fish such as those commonly used in cat food (sardines, herring, anchovy etc.
)negatively affects fish higher up the food chain like cod, tuna and swordfish, not tomention marine mammals and birds.
Based on 2004 numbers, cats in the US consume the caloric equivalent of what 192,000 (0.
0655187%) Americans consume.
While pet food is made predominantly using byproducts from human food productions, the increase in popularity of human -grade and byproduct-free pet food means there is increasing pressure on the overall meat supply.
=== Protein ===AAFCO recommends 26% crude protein for feline diets on a dry matter basis, however dry catfood from the top 3 cat food brands in Canada of 2010 contained 34%, 40%, and 36% protein respectively, on a dry matter basis.
High animal protein in cat food has increased in popularity due to consumer demand for natural diets, in which protein content is usually much higher than the AAFCO minimum levels.
The effects of these trends results in a higher need for animal protein, which may have detrimental effects on sustainability.
4% of the USA’s green house gas emission is estimated to come from agriculture, and over 50% of the agricultural green house gas emission comes from livestock.
The large amount of livestock and fish protein used in pet food diets has been shown to have a much larger impact on the environment whencompared to vegetable protein.
Following only human trends, by 2050 approximately 1 billion hectares of land will need to be used for agriculture to sustain the human population.
In2015, an estimated 77.
8 million dogs and 85.
6 millions cats were living in the USA.
The consumer desire to feed their pets premium foods which advertise healthy and human-grade ingredients coupled with the increasing prevalence of pet ownership is causing increased pressure on the meat industry which could result in increased land usage for raising live stockto meet the growing demand.
In a study conducted by Ok in in 2017, he suggests that if a quarter of all animal protein used in the food of American pets was human-grade, it would be equivalent to the energy needs of 5 million Americans.
Okin uses an estimate of 33% of an animal’s energy needs is derived from animal products; however, this is conservative in that many diets now have more than 33% of their diet in animal protein alone.
Lowering protein levels in feline diets may help to improve the sustainability of both the human and pet food system by decreasing pressure on livestock agriculture and ultimately improving environmental effects.
== Nutrient chart == == See also == Cat food brands Pet food Dog food Dental health diets for cats Senior cat diet.