Numerous guides and tools are available to teach us about human nutrition, but nothing similar existed for cats. Our hope is that by using the MyBowl tool, cat owners will learn how specific amounts and types of proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, oils, vitamins and minerals all combine to promote good health.
MyBowl is interactive. As you roll your mouse over the various sections of the cat food bowl, important information about feline nutrition is highlighted on the panel to the right.
Cats use animal-based sources of protein to provide them with the 11 essential amino acids they cannot make themselves but need to stay healthy. These proteins provide the building blocks for strong muscles and are essential for your cat's growth, maintenance, and energy. If a cat has kidney disease too much protein in the diet can worsen the condition. Protein should make up about one-third of a cat’s diet.
Carbohydrates give cats energy to play and pounce. Healthy carbohydrates, including whole grains and potatoes, also contain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, phytonutrients and fiber to maintain digestive health and help regulate weight.
The most concentrated sources of energy in a cat’s food are the fats and oils. Too much can lead to obesity, but appropriate amounts and a balanced ratio of different types provide important benefits like immune system support, control of inflammation, proper brain and eye development, and a healthy skin and coat.
The sections of the bowl that represent vitamins and minerals are quite small, but these ingredients are critical nonetheless. Vitamins and minerals play vital roles in tissue growth and maintenance; the immune system cannot function normally without them. Fruits, vegetables, grains and meats are all natural food sources of vitamins and minerals and provide the precise balance that is necessary for good health.
The importance of this often neglected nutrient cannot be overstated. Dehydrated cats are at risk for urinary tract disease, so keep a bowl of fresh, clean water available at all times.
Now that you know the important role that each nutrient category plays in promoting good feline health, you can use this information to decode and compare cat food labels. A food made from high-quality ingredients combined in just the right proportions is an ideal choice for helping your cat lead a long and healthy life.