We read a lot about “carbs” and how much you should have in your diet. We also see lots of fad diets promoting “low carb”, or “high carb” come and go. It’s hard to keep track of how much carbohydrates is good in your diet.
It’s even harder for our pets. But one thing that is true is that a diet high in carbohydrates can lead to feline diabetes, so keeping track of the carbs in your cat’s diet is not only important, it’s critical. Dry kibble tends to have a higher carbohydrate content than canned and cats who eat a lot of carbs may have a tenancy to become overweight, which puts them at higher risk for diabetes.
We’ve written before about cats higher protein requirements. Cats are able to metabolize carbohydrates and use it as fuel, but they are better off with low percentage of carbs compared to protein and fat. A study at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, England “kitties have a daily calorie ‘intake target’ that is equal to 52 percent protein, 36 percent fat and 12 percent carbohydrate”.
The carb content in most commercial kibble is much higher than that and while cats may do okay with a higher carb content, that is when they become at risk for diabetes and other weight related health problems.
Why does cat food contain such a high percentage of carbs – well it’s simple really, carbs are cheaper to manufacture, so cat food makers add more carbs as filler in the food. As the links between high carbs and diabetes and other diseases grow, cat food manufacturers are taking note and adding more grain free foods to their line. Eliminating the carbs found in rice, wheat, oats and other ingredients you will see in commercial kibble is a great first step.
Be sure and read your cat’s food label. It has all of the information that you need to calculate the % carbohydrates. You may also consider adding more canned food to your cat’s diet to counter-balance a carb-heavy kibble.
Steve is an advocate for healthy pet food offerings.