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
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.