Dietary therapy has been considered important in the management of many feline gastrointestinal disorders. Low fat diets were for a long period of time the major recommendation for feeding cats with acute and chronic diarrhea. However, a recent double-blinded clinical trial showed that dietary fat did not affect the outcome of diarrhea in cats.
The current study, conducted by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., looked at the clinical efficacy of a new therapeutic diet for cats with diarrhea. Researchers assigned 16 cats with chronic diarrhea to be fed diet X (Hill’s Prescription i/d Feline) or diet Y (Purina Veterinary Diets EN Gastrointestinal Feline Formula) for 4 weeks while fecal scores were recorded daily for the last week on each diet. Continue reading
The Winn Feline Foundation has just released a study that showed that cats lack a glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) response to glucose. GIP is a hormone secreted from the intestine upon ingestion of glucose or nutrients to stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic cells. In other words, a hormone that helps metabolize glucose. They concluded, that this lack of GIP response makes the cat relatively glucose intolerant which might lead to inappropriate glycemic control in cats fed a diet high in carbohydrates.
This study proves, yet once again, that cats should have little to no carbs in their diets. A low carbohydrate feline diet is less likely to produce diabetes in a cat and if diabetes does occur, a low carbohydrate diet along with meds may be essential for glucose control in most cats.
Sweetness is detected by a specific receptor protein (‘taste bud’) in the tongue. Cats are known to be insensitive to sweet tastes. Researchers analyzed the genes encoding the taste buds in twelve different carnivorous species, including cats. They found that those species such as cats, whose diet is exclusively meat-based (obligate carnivores), had lost the gene encoding the taste bud for sweetness. Other affected species included dolphins, sea lions, seals, otters, and hyenas. It appears that the ability to taste sweets has been lost in most carnivorous species since a meat-based diet does not consist of sugars or carbs, there was no need to be able to detect (or enjoy!) these substances. Continue reading
Cats and dogs drink differently. Dogs use their tongues like a scoop to lift and pull water into their mouths. Cats, on the other hand, rapidly flick the tip of their tongues on the water, drawing up a column of liquid to their mouths.
Watching in slow motion reveals that cats of all sizes have a very elaborate way of drinking. First, they move the tip of their tongue onto the surface of the water to flick the water up so that a little jet of liquid flies into the air. Then, in a flash, they catch the jet in their mouth.
No one knows why cats have developed this method of drinking but it may be because they did not need to develop a fast and efficient way of drinking since they evolved in the desert and receive most if not all of their water from their prey. Continue reading
Plantinga EA, Bosch G, Hendriks WH. Estimation of the dietary nutrient profile of free-roaming feral cats: possible implications for nutrition of domestic cats. Br J Nutr 2011;106 Suppl 1:S35-48.
Cats in the wild rely solely on animal tissues to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements. This has led to unique digestive and metabolic adaptations. In order to better understand how the domestic cat has adapted to its physiologic needs, the diet of feral cats was assessed. The researchers reviewed 27 published studies reporting the feeding habits of feral cats and obtained data on the nutrient composition of the cats’ prey. The results showed that feral cats are obligatory carnivores with a diet high in protein (52% of daily energy) and fat (46% of daily energy) content, but low in carbohydrates (2% of daily energy). Minerals and trace elements appeared to be consumed in higher concentrations than current recommended allowances. The authors conclude that future research should focus on the value of feeding a natural diet of whole prey as an enhancement of feline health and longevity.
Progress report, Winn grant 09-002
Nutritional adequacy and performance of raw food diets in kittens
Investigators: Beth Hamper, Claudia Kirk, Joe Bartges University of Tennessee
This study examined the feeding of a raw diet and its effects on kittens. The feeding trials have been completed using 24 kittens and two different raw food diets (homemade and commercial). The control diet was a commercially available kitten food. Weight gain over a 10-week period was at the high end of previously determined data for all kittens. Male kittens had higher weight gain than females, but all diets performed equally well. Blood protein and amino acid levels were in the normal range. Evidence of Salmonella infection was evident in some kittens fed the raw diet, but was not clinically significant. Continue reading