Diet / Food

Cat Diet / Food

Domestic cats are very effective predators. They can ambush and dispatch prey using tactics similar to those of leopards and tigers by pouncing; they then deliver a lethal neck bite with their long canine teeth that severs the victim's spinal cord, or asphyxiate it by crushing the windpipe.

Cats have highly specialized teeth and a digestive system suitable for eating meat. The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently functions to shear meat like a pair of scissors. While this is present in canines, it is highly developed in felines. The cat's tongue has sharp spines,  papillae, useful for retaining and ripping flesh from a carcass. These papillae are small backward-facing hooks that contain keratin and assist in their grooming. Cats eat almost no vegetable matter. Whereas bears and dogs commonly supplement their diet of meat with fruits, berries, roots, and honey when they can get them, cats feed exclusively on meat, usually freshly killed. Cats, including the great cats, have a genetic anomaly that prevents them from tasting sweetness, which is probably related to their meat-only habits.

Fat Cats Video

Domestic cats can't be adapted to an unsupplemented vegetarian diet because they can't synthesize several nutrients they need and that are absent or rare in plant food. This applies mainly to taurine, vitamin A (cats cannot convert the pro-vitamin A that is abundant in plants to vitamin A proper) and to certain fatty acids. The absence of taurine causes the cat's retina to slowly degenerate, causing eye problems and eventual irreversible blindness. This condition is called central retinal degeneration. Cow's milk is a poor source of taurine and adult cats are generally lactose intolerant. Lactose-free milk is perfectly safe, but still not a substitute for meat. This contrasts with domesticated dogs, who commonly are fed a mixture of meat and vegetable products and can be adapted to non-supplemented vegetarian diets (though supplementation may be better for dogs too). However, the majority of brand-name cat food are primarily grain based, often containing large amounts of corn or rice and supplemented with meats and minerals and vitamins.

Cats have been known to munch on grass, leaves, houseplants  and shrubs as food to regurgitate whatever is upsetting their stomach.

Some house plants are harmful food to cats. The leaves of the Easter Lily can cause permanent and life-threatening kidney damage to cats. Philodendron are also poisonous to cats.

About two thirds of cats have a fondness for catnip. While they generally don't consume it, they will often roll in it, paw at it, and occasionally chew on it. The effect is usually relatively short, lasting for only a few minutes. After two hours, susceptible cats gain interest again. Several other species of plants cause this effect, to a lesser degree.

Cats being fussy eaters mostly happens when the vomeronasal, or Jacobson's, organ becomes sensitized to a specific food, at which point the cat will reject any food that doesn't fit the pattern it is expecting. Additionally, cats have been known to develop a fondness for "people food" such as chicken, French fries, pizza, bread, ice cream, carrot juice, olives, tomato soup, and carnitas burritos, as well as cat diet exotica such as corn kernels and diced cantaloupe. But many "people foods" are not good for cats; chocolate, for example, can be fatal due to the presence of theobromine.