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.. Why cats must eat meat...

 

The ancestors of modern day domastic cats were desert dwelling wild felids.

 

The filidae have throughout their history remained obligate carnivores, with physical characteristics evolved to their way of life.

They must obtain their nutrition from animal tissue to survive. Meat contains little carbohydrate & the filidae have evolved to use proteins & fat for energy. Cats require about 20 different amino acids, as well as vitamins & nutrients found in body tissue. Cats do not need carbohydrates as found in vegetable matter, but they do benefit from fibre. Carbohydrate fibre, such as can be found in feather & bone, helps to provide form for feaces. (Additives in commercial cat foods, such as a little rice, replicates this)


Some of a cats hydration also comes from the water present within its food. The food sources available to them & these developing requirements, through time, have shaped the felids into efficient hunting machines.
Cats are almost entirely solitary hunters, driven by instinct rather than hunger. Although a well-fed animal may be more lethargic, it will still instinctively hunt (as seen in play). For a small cat, the usual prey animals do not contain enough nutrients for the necessary intake. If the burden of a full belly prevented a cat from finding its next meal until it was empty, its wellbeing could suffer. Small cats have evolved physically, to hunt regularly & consume regular small meals. Lions at the other end of the felid spectrum, have adapted to gorge themselves on the large prey available to them & will hunt less frequently. They have also unusually evolved to hunt & live in social groups due to the scale of their prey & environment.
Teeth have evolved for hunting & consuming animal prey.
The tongue is equipped with papillae, these barbs can be used to rasp meat from bones & groom fur. Taste buds are sensitive to amino acids in meat, ensuring felids enjoy eating that which is appropriate for them.
Cats have efficient weaponry, retractable claws designed by evolution for them to navigate terrain, hunt, kill & consume their prey. Reflexes help a cat to almost automatically seize an opportune catch.

Modern, Domestic pet cats no longer need to hunt for their food, but they retain all the physical requirements, instincts & behaviour of their ancestors. This does not mean that they can survive well if they become stray. They will have received no vital survival skills for taking advantage of and using their equipment, from their domesticated parents.

Instead, a mutually beneficial relationship has developed between Domestic cats & humans. They provide company & humour amongst many other things. While they have learned to encourage food from us by flirting & entertaining us.

What does the vegetarian society say?

Big cat photography taken by Robin Worboyes at www.whf.org.uk
Wild cats enjoy catnip too

Wild cats enjoy catnip too

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