Choosing Your Cat's Diet - A Starting Point

Bengal cats, like all pets, require and thrive on a good diet. But what exactly makes one diet choice better than another? According to petMD, 44% of pet owners agree that they don't know how to choose the correct food for their cats. There are many different opinions out there, so without suggesting any specific brand in this post, we will go over a couple feline nutrition facts that will serve as a starting point for the owner to make their own informed decision. If we take a look at how a cat's digestive system is designed we do know for certain that cats are obligate carnivores (also called 'true' carnivores). Unlike our doggy friends, cats physically cannot digest plant matter. As obligate carnivores they are obligated to receive and process their needed nutrients from animal flesh.

Right away this presents a problem - pick up any bag of cat food from the grocery store and read through the ingredients. Corn, flour, peas, potato, and other fillers that are indigestible to the cat. Even higher end or holistic brands are similar - lots of vegetables, berries, etc. that sound like nice healthy ingredients but physically cannot be processed by the cat's body. Over the past few years, researchers have found increasing problems due to the poor diet choices of cat owners. Dr. Robert Glanville from the Animal Hospital in New York City, states that "the problem with domesticated cats is their food; the food has very little nutrition, and cat owners are not aware of it."

The other key component - hydration - is very much overlooked as well. Just like the way they process their food, hydration is also different between dogs and cats. The ancestor of most domestic cats is the African Wild Cat (Felis Silvestris Lybica), an animal that lived and thrived in the desert, surviving on very little water. Their bodies were designed to get most of their water through their food, and today our domestic cats still have very similar requirements. Cats have low thirst drive, meaning they do not naturally feel the need to drink much water even when their body needs it, and despite having unlimited access to a fresh bowl. While dry food is very popular and convenient to feed, it does not provide that much needed hydration in the diet. It’s worth noting that Bengal cats were originally bred from the Asian Leopard Cat crossed with domestic breeds, meaning they too share the African Wild Cat ancestor and thus have low thirst drive as well.

Generally you will know that the diet you chose is good for them when your cat:

  • Maintains a healthy weight

  • Coat is shiny, soft and thick with no matting

  • Their poop should be firm with no signs of diarrhea or constipation, and very little smell

  • Normal urination frequency and glistening eyes (indicating clear hydration)

  • Not lethargic; some cats are naturally lower energy - however if they are sleeping most days away it’s something to take a closer look at

The best diet for your cat depends on the individual cat, the environment that it is living in, and its age. There is no "one size fits all" answer. Each cat is an individual, just like we are as human beings. Nutrition can be a complicated subject, but by looking at the cat’s biological needs we have a solid base to start from.

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