How Much Protein do Cats Need?
The SlimDoggy family doesn’t have any cats, so we’ve been spending time learning as much as we can about cat nutrition. One thing that was interesting for us to learn was that cats need an even higher level of protein in their diets than dogs. Cats are still carnivores where dogs, the opportunists have evolved to omnivores.
The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) publish standards for cat food and require that cat food contain a minimum of 26% crude protein by weight in the guaranteed analysis. Kitten food must contain 30% or more crude protein by weight in the guaranteed analysis. For dogs, the level is much lower – only 18% for adult dogs. Note that these are minimums and most cats (and dogs) thrive on much higher levels than AAFCO requires.
Many vets recommend even higher levels for cats since it is essential for so many things:
- Healthy immune system
- Reproductive health
Cats are what is called ‘obligate’ carnivores which means they must eat protein in order to get all of the essential amino acids their bodies need.
There are 22 amino acids found in protein. While cats can synthesize most of them, Taurine, which is critical for cat’s normal heart, eye, and reproductive function must be consumed. These are: The other essential amino acids are: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Part 2: Protein Needs of Senior Cats