Nutrition of Cats

Pet cats (Felis catus) are obligate carnivores, which means they must eat animal protein to survive.

Muscle meat on its own is not a balanced diet for a domestic cat. Given the chance to catch wild prey such as birds and mice, they eat most parts of the animal, often starting with the head. Depending on the cat and its mood it may leave parts uneaten (often the digestive tract). If it feels like supporting the household, or isn’t hungry, it might present you with its prize, even leaving the head on for you if you are very lucky!

Many cats prefer to snack every few hours rather than eating a big meal all at once. Cats can be very fussy especially if they are not exposed to a wide range of food when young. They can also be very changeable in their food preferences. Our Wild Treat Company’s Mixed pack suits this sort of cat!

Encouraging him/her to eat diversely from a young age makes the cat easier to feed, so you won’t both suffer if a favourite food isn’t available. A varied diet also is likely to provide a good balance of nutrition and pleasure from eating different things.

Nutrition of Dogs

Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familaris) are descended from wolves, beginning their association with humans about 15,000 years ago. The main diet of the wolf is meat: medium to large animals are sought by wolves in packs, while single wolves feed on small mammals. Most parts of the prey are eaten, including skin and fur. During their time with humans, dogs have largely subsisted on waste products and vermin.

Muscle meat on its own, or fish on its own, is not a balanced diet. Feeding a variety of animal-based dog foods will help ensure your dog’s food is enjoyable and healthy, especially if raw foods are included. Cooking increases the digestibility of meat, but destroys precious nutrients. Commercial dog foods (cans, pet rolls, biscuits and kibbles) are cooked, then artificial nutrients are added. Your dog’s health and longevity are likely to benefit if you can minimise unnatural additives including flavourings, colourings and preservatives.

If presented with whole wild game, naïve domestic dogs may not recognise this as food. But if game is prepared as meat they usually find it extremely exciting to eat (e.g. trembling from nose to tail in anticipation before feeding). Domestic dogs that are allowed to hunt usually learn to enjoy this immensely and will eat whole animals such as possums and rabbits (especially the head), often leaving the digestive tract (stomach and guts), or eating this last.

Dogs can digest a wide range of human food including vegetables and starchy foods such as rice. However given the choice, animal protein (meat, bones, skin, offal, fish, eggs, milk, cheese) tends to win every time. Vegetables can help bulk out dogs’ meals to help control weight gain, and there is some evidence that green leafy and yellow-orange vegetables in a dog’s diet can lower the risk of cancer.

There are many human foods that can be toxic or harmful to dogs. These include cherries (the stalk and stone), raw fish, onions, garlic, raw egg white on its own, chocolate (especially dark chocolate), xylitol sweetener (e.g. in some chewing gum), grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, dry cooked bones, excessive bones (more than 1-2 large raw bones/week), excessive milk (more than 20 ml/kg of body weight), excessive liver (feed only 1-2 times/week).

Grass is seemingly relished by many dogs who will graze every day given the opportunity. Strands of soft, smooth, long, luscious grass found off the dog’s property are usually eaten readily. Owners need to ensure such grass has not been spayed. Dogs have a high motivation to eat grass when they are feeling sick so long clean grass should be available at home.

Grass for Pets

Do cats and dogs need grass?

Grass is a natural part of the diet of cats and dogs. For many pets it is normal for them to eat grass every day. Dogs seem unable to resist grazing a few strands if they come across the right stuff: soft, smooth, long, luscious grass found off the dog’s property. Owners need to ensure such grass has not been spayed. Grass growing close to or in fresh water seems to be the most highly desired, perhaps because of its high water content.

When they are sick, cats and dogs must have grass available because they have a very strong urge to eat it- it is part of the way they cope with sickness. Pets that have swallowed something they shouldn’t have, such as pieces of bone, eat grass and vomit the item back up. The reasons why cats and dogs eat grass are not at all well understood. They may include:

  • nutrition
  • digestion
  • cleaning teeth
  • soothing sore stomachs
  • removing internal parasites
  • inducing vomiting

Cat and dog owners should make sure they have long grass at home for their pets. Grass can be grown in an area of the garden or in a pot. You need to ensure the grassy area is not used as a toilet by pets (because long grass attracts this) or sprayed with weed killer. For these reasons, & to prevent it becoming a garden weed, pet grass is often best in a container.

A simple, immediate way to provide long grass for your pet is to find some long grass that hasn’t been sprayed, dig it up & put it in a pot with some soil (put stones & holes in the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t become waterlogged). Keep moist in a sunny spot. It is less tasty when it goes to seed so replace it if/when it does.