Cats need protein to survive
All cats—domestic, and wild—are obligate carnivores. Through their ancestral diet, cats have become meat-eating masters, efficiently able to get most of the essential nutrients they need from protein itself.
Why is protein important
Protein is an essential macronutrient for cats. Protein is found throughout your cats body, physically in their muscles, bones, skin, and fur, while also fueling reactions at the chemical level. Protein itself is made up of of over twenty amino acids, and cats need specific amino acids from animal proteins to survive.
But, is there such thing as too much protein for cats? And while animals are one of the most popular protein-types, are there other protein-rich foods that cats should or should not have?
Cats need protein from meat protein
Human-grade quality meats are ideal for cats, however we shouldn't be giving cats bites of our chicken wings or sharing our sashimi. Cats love meat because they need meat, but not all animal protein sources are equal in quality and nutritional value. There are a few sub-categories of meat that are unique to pet food because they are only available in feed-grade quality. It's also important to consider the preparation of meat we share with our feline friends—from the method of cooking, to the additional spices and seasoning found in human food that could be toxic to cats.
Raw meat for cats
Raw meat alone is not safe nor nutritionally sound for cats. For cats, raw meat can cause salmonella poisoning—and even harm humans in the household.
Cats need protein, and eggs are packed with it. However, eggs aren't an ideal or complete source of protein. While they can supplement other proteins in your cats diet, eggs could also create unnecessary discomfort or health concerns for you cat. The egg yolk has a higher fat content, so an egg white would be a better protein choice, less likely to interfere with the rest of your cat's diet.
Chicken for cats
Chicken is a feline-favorite, and the most popular Smalls protein choice. Chicken is a great source of lean protein, and low in sodium and fat. Chicken also has vitamins and minerals like B6 and phosphorus, which help cats maintain bone health.
It's important that the chicken shared with your cat is properly prepared for them. Chicken should be thoroughly cooked to kill bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Once the chicken is cooked, it's important to remove any bone, cartilage, and extra fat trimmings, as these could be hazardous. Do not feed your cat chicken if it's been cooked with onion or garlic, as these are toxic to cats.
Beef for cats
The desert and plain-dwelling wildcats that our domesticated cats descended from were never beef eaters—or fish eaters for that matter. And while cats along coastlines or in villages probably did nab a fish, or cut of beef from a passing pedestrian, these protein types were never a core piece of the ancestral feline diet.
Regardless, beef is protein, and a solid protein option at that. Beef is great go-to for cats who have developed poultry allergies.
Turkey for cats
Cats can eat turkey meat, but it's important to not give your cat scraps from the Thanksgiving table. Smalls Other Bird is made with 100% human-grade turkey, but also other stuff that your cat actually needs. The turkey on your table or in your fridge could contain bones, added sodium, flavorings, and preservatives that can upset your cat's stomach.
Fish for cats
Cats crave fish—in fact, over 40% of cats prefer fish to other protein types. Fish is loaded with natural fatty acids, which will give your cat’s coat added shine, and help with their heart health too.
Plant proteins for cats
Not all protein types are ideal, or even appropriate for our little obligate carnivores. Plant proteins, while enjoyable for humans, do not meet cat's dietary requirements. Plant proteins do not contain the naturally-occurring essential vitamins and minerals that animal proteins provide for cats. Cats cannot be vegan. No, they can't.
[#BeginTLDR#]Cats are obligate carnivores. Obligate, meaning necessary, carnivore, meaning meat-eating. [#SplitTLDR#]Cats need fresh, high quality animal protein to survive[#SplitTLDR#]Learn more about the benefits of particular proteins for cats[#EndTLDR#]