Cats are weird. It takes only one internet search of “funny cats” to see just how weird they are. But there’s no doubt about it—we love them dearly. Because we love our cats so darn much, it makes sense that we would want to extend their lives for as long as possible, and one of the most effective ways to do so is through a good diet. But with so many different kinds of cats foods on the market, how do you know which is best?
Cats are Natural Hunters
Our common house-cats were domesticated as late as 3,500 years ago. That’s a heck of a long time that we humans have been living with cats, and yet commercially available cat food has only been around for the last 50-60 years or so. Also in the time period, here in the US, we have seen a rise in disease and a fall in life expectancy in our cats. So what changed? Cats went from hunting outside and eating scraps to diets that were full of grains, byproducts, and other ingredients that are difficult for cats to digest. What I’m trying to get at is that for thousands of years, cats were eating a pretty natural diet and were doing really well, so why not try to mimic that as best we can?
Cats have two major species-specific needs regarding food. First, they are true (obligate) carnivores, meaning they require an almost entirely meat-based diet. In fact, most “wild” cats would only eat plants in the form of stomach contents of smaller prey they’d eat whole. Since cats do not have an adequate amount of the enzyme in their body (amalyse) that can break down carbohydrates, they have to get nearly all of their nutrition, including the vital amino acid taurine, from meat.
Cats are NOT Natual Drinkers
Second, since cats evolved in the arid near east climate, they are somewhat adverse to drinking water and so have developed a system to gather most of their moisture needs from the foods they eat. This is why we don’t see our cats at the water bowl nearly as often as we do our dogs. Interestingly, MIT did a study on how cats drink and found that they cannot scoop up water like a dog. Basically, they dip their tongue in the water and slurp it into their mouth in very small amounts. It’s an awful lot of work for little water. It’s much easier for them to absorb moisture as they’re digesting food, which is why a diet naturally high in moisture is so very important for cats.
So what kind of food can provide everything a cat needs, naturally? Raw food! Raw foods formulated with cats in mind offer raw meat as the base, with supplemental nutrition derived from whole food sources like fruits and vegetables (ground fine to mimic what produce would be found in stomach contents of prey). The predominate meat formula provides all of that unadulterated nutrition cats need, and since raw foods are chock-full of naturally occurring moisture (called intracellular moisture), cats have their moisture needs met without having to deal with that pesky water-drinking business.
Steve’s Real Food offers five different formulas approved for feeding to cats—the Beef, Chicken, Turke, Turducken, and Pork formulas provide the meat, moisture, and nutrition that cats crave and need. With luck and proper nutrition, we can keep our cats as healthy and happy for as long as possible!