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A cat's protein requirements:

  • Cats need a lot of protein, between 25 and 30 percent of the dry content per serving must be protein.
  • A diet with less than 19 percent protein can cause a deficiency in amino acids (the structural units of protein) and sickness.
  • A diet with between 19 and 25 percent protein may cause over eating as the cat tries to obtain the necessary nutrition. This can result in unhealthy weight gain.
  • Some amino acids can be made by the body, but others must be obtained through food.
  • Arginine is one such amino acid. It is used to eliminate the by-products of protein digestion that the body does not need. It is very important in the cat's diet because of the high-protein needs of the cat.
  • An inadequate amount of arginine can lead to acute ammonia toxicity and death; it must account for 1 percent of dry content in the cat's diet.
  • Lysine is an amino acid that is important for growth.
  • Taurine is another amino acid essential for growth. Cats need more taurine than other animals.
  • A diet without enough taurine can cause a cat to develop irreverisble degeneration of the retina and eventual blindness.
  • Cats that do not receive enough taurine can also develop a form of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • Plants are poor sources of taurine; meat and fish contain high levels of taurine.
  • Dog food does not contain sufficient amounts of taurine and should not be given to cats.

Source: The Reader's Digest Illustrated Book of Cats, The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) Ltd., Montreal, 1992, pp.157-158.