Is High-Protein Cat Food the Answer?

Cut the carbs and pack on the protein — it’s the new craze in both human and feline nutrition. High protein diets are showing up everywhere! Protein is a well known important building block of feline nutrition, but does more protein for your cat mean better health? Should every cat be getting a high protein diet? Can your cat get too much protein?

Put down that protein shake, take a break from pumping iron and let’s get to the bottom of this protein craze.

Breaking Protein Diets Down By CATegory (get it?)

Kittens (0-1yr): Kittens are mean, lean growing machines, and because of their high energy output they have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Kittens should be getting 30-40% of their energy from protein and the best way to handle this is feed formulated kitten food for the first year.

Adults (1-6yr): Most adult cats need 35-40% protein. In general wet food has a higher protein content than dry food, but regardless of what your kitty eats there’s a quick trick to see if your cat’s food is meeting the protein requirement. Sub par food is going to come up short at 20-35%, while most well balanced diets will end up in the 35-45% range. High protein diets usually calculate out to 50-58%. Ok time to calculate your kitty’s protein! Get out a pencil and paper, there’s going to be some math!

Now is it possible for your cat to get too much protein? General Rule: “If the food your cat is eating leads to a shiny soft coat, an alert comfortable cat, normal body weight, normal stool and skin, then the food is probably fine.” A healthy adult cat can handle excessive protein, which will be excreted in the urine or converted into fuel or fat. At your kitty’s next wellness check up talk with the doctor about your kitty’s eating habits and weight. If your cat is always hungry a high protein diet may help curb his or her appetite. High protein diets can help cats loose weight, although keep in mind, high-protein does not mean low-calorie and weight loss is all about the portion control.

Seniors (7+ years): This is when things can get tricky. Senior cats are at risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease, which is extremely common in older cats. For cats with kidney disease high protein diets can damage the kidneys further. On the other hand, too low of protein can cause muscle mass loss. So what’s the best things to do?

  1. Get senior diagnostics done bi-annually to see how your senior cat’s kidneys are functioning. This is very important! Once the kidneys are damaged there’s no going back. Even if your kitty is in the very beginning stages of kidney disease it’s a good idea to start finding a low protein diet he or she will eat. Most cats hate change so if you’re having difficulty switching them over let us know, we’ve got all sorts of tricks up our sleeves!
  2. Focus on quality of protein instead of quantity. This means looking on the ingredient list. The ingredient list is ordered by weight so if the first ingredient is chicken, lamb or another protein we can assume it’s good quality protein.