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Nutrition Nuggets
 
 
Your cat's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your cat, how much food to feed, and the differences in cat foods, so your cat gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Cat Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of cat nutrition.

How Organ Meats Can Be Beneficial for Cats

October 11, 2013 / (1) comments

In response to a post about the importance of reading ingredient lists on cat food labels, Westcoastsyrinx said, “Personally I find that the organ meat is not an appropriate regular source of protein as the amino acids are not the same balance as muscle meat, and such parts as kidneys will contain all the toxic residue from the source of the meat.” Westcoastsyrinx makes some important points that I thought were worthy of further discussion.

When you think about it, organ meats, including the kidneys, liver, heart, etc., are a normal part of the feline diet. When cats kill mice or other prey items, they eat most, if not all, of the body, including the internal organs. In fact, many predators show a preference for these parts of the body over skeletal muscle, probably due to the fact that they are excellent sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

The following chart compares one ounce (28 g) of raw liver from cattle, raw kidney from cattle, and raw, grass fed beef (Source: nutritiondata.self.com):

organ meats, cat nutrition, cat food

As you can see, skeletal muscle is relatively higher in calories and fat per ounce, but is good source of omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. On the other hand, liver excels at providing vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and phosphorus, and kidneys can provide high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and sodium. My point is not that organ meats are superior to skeletal muscle; simply that they are a natural way to provide cats with many essential nutrients that might otherwise have to be added as supplements to a balanced feline diet.

Westcoastsyrinx is right that organ meats like the liver and kidney can concentrate toxic residues within their tissues because of their role as filters within the body, but when livestock is raised in a healthy manner this does not have to be the case. In my opinion, this is simply an argument in support of buying foods from companies that have a reputation for using wholesome ingredients, not for avoiding organ meats entirely since they can be such good sources of important nutrients for cats.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Thinkstock

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Comments  1

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  • Mix It Up
    10/11/2013 04:42pm

    It appears that the best diet will consist of a variety of foods and sources, not omitting anything unless it's just downright bad for our critters. And, of course, everything in moderation.

 



ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

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