What is the difference between a B.A.R.F Diet for Dog and for Cats?
A biologically appropriate diet for a dog (being an omnivore — that is something that eats both animal and plant foods indiscriminately) is one that consists of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs' wild ancestors. The food fed must contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other "foods" that will mimic what those wild ancestors ate (even those that may be found in the gut of the carcass.)
The cat, which is an obligate (to remove all traces of) carnivore and a hunter, the biologically appropriate diet is based largely upon animal derived foodstuffs like flesh, bones and organs. Basically, whatever nutrition can be derived from a whole fresh raw carcass — in its entirety — constitutes a biologically appropriate diet for cats. The range of foods cats will and should eat is much narrower than for humans or dogs. Cats must eat food mainly of animal origin while dogs and humans can happily eat food of both plant and animal origin.
Cats require lots of protein and fat and very little vegetable material in their diet, whereas dogs and humans require less fat and protein, and more vegetables.
Cats require that their diet supplies a range of nutrients, which may not be essential in the diets of dogs or humans. For example… Cats must be supplied with `Pre-formed' Vitamin A. Where humans and dogs can get away with no vitamin A in the diet so long as they are eating plenty of green and yellow vegetables — which are full of Beta Carotene the precursor of vitamin A — cats must eat actual vitamin A itself.
Other example involves protein and fat quality… Cats have specific requirements for essential amino and fatty acids. When it comes to the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids, cats have very specific requirements which do not apply to dogs or humans.
Cats also have a Special Need for Two Amino Acids: Arginine and Taurine. Both of these amino acids are found in abundance in animal tissue but are almost non existent in food derived from plant sources.
Arginine is vital for the health of all mammals; however, in the case of the cat, arginine must be supplied in the diet. The cat cannot manufacture arginine from other amino acids, as can other species. Once again, this is because of the cat's evolutionary history. An animal based diet his high in arginine, whereas a plant based diet is deficient in arginine. Without arginine in the diet - the cat will die. Arginine is required for the normal manufacture of protein and also for the detoxification of ammonia in the body where it has an essential role to play in a process called the urea cycle. Yet again this is a result of the evolutionary process. This situation has developed because over millions of years of evolution, the cat did not have to keep or develop its arginine synthesising mechanisms because its natural diet is high in animal protein which contains plenty of arginine.
The good news is however, while ever a cat is fed a diet based on animal tissue, it cannot develop an arginine deficiency; it cannot develop the problems caused by an excess of ammonia in the system. Arginine has other essential roles to play. It is vital for normal hormone production, for the maintenance and retention of protein in the body, for nitric oxide production, for collagen deposition in wounds as part of the normal repair process and for the proper functioning of the immune system by enhancing T cell function and the growth of lymphocytes.
The other amino acid that simply must be supplied in your cat's diet is taurine. The cat cannot synthesise sufficient amounts of this amino acid to meet its needs which include continual loss via the intestines. Taurine is lost from the intestines because of the loss of bile salts. The cat uses only Taurine to produce bile salts, unlike the dog which can also use glycine. A chronic taurine deficiency can produce blindness, heart disease and reproductive failure. Once again, plants are a poor source of taurine, while animal tissue is an excellent source of taurine.
Loss of Taurine through Processing
Cooking reduces the availability of active taurine, hence another reason to feed R.A.W. food. There has been some research work suggesting that freezing may also partially destroy taurine. This has been difficult to confirm. It is suggested that when feeding raw food (that has been frozen) to cats, it is prudent to supplement with raw food that has not been frozen (for example fresh chicken neck of other raw bone).
The Bottom Line on Protein
Having understood the above unique features of the cat with regard to its protein and amino acid requirements, you should now appreciate, why it is that we should not attempt to supply our cats' protein requirements through the use of vegetable proteins. It is absolutely vital that cats receive their proteins in the way that God, Mother-nature or Evolution demands, through the consumption of animal tissue.
Why are Cats so different from Dogs — Nutritionally Speaking?
The principal reason that cats have dietary needs that differ from dogs is because they are obligate carnivores. They have been eating mainly animal tissue for a very long time, some 30 million years at least! Over that enormously long period of time, cats have evolved in such a way that they absolutely must dine on other animals as the major part of their diet. This requirement is so strongly built in to cats that there is no possibility that we can in any practical sense, turn our cats into vegetarians. The cat has lost the ability to utilise or cannot convert a range of nutrients (found in vegetable material) into a number of essential nutrients found only in animal tissue.
Ingredients: Kangaroo meat, finely ground kangaroo bone, offal (a mixture of equal parts of heart and liver derived from beef and lamb), whole raw egg (no shell), fresh yogurt, carrots, apples, dried alfalfa leaf powder and dried kelp powder.
Ingredients: Turkey meat and bone, derived from turkey necks, wings and frames, finely ground; offal (a mixture of equal parts of heart and liver derived from beef and lamb), whole raw egg (no shell), fresh yogurt, carrots, apples, dried alfalfa leaf powder and dried kelp powder.
BARF for Dog is also available