Veterinarian Hartford -Veterinary
As a Hartford veterinarian I know that some people have a hard time understanding why it is that cats must eat meat well the thing is that unlike most carnivores, cats (wild and feral) eat almost no vegetable matter. Whereas bears andcommonly supplement their diet of meat with a variety of green stuffs and fruits, berries etc… when they can get them, cats feed exclusively on meat, usually freshly killed. Interestingly enough cats, including the great cats, have a genetic anomaly that prevents them from tasting sweetness. Cats have highly specialized teeth and a digestive tract suitable to the digestion of meat. Even when domesticated, cats cannot be adapted to a strictly vegetarian diet because they cannot synthesize all the amino acids they need from plant material. Specifically this applies to Taurine, the absence of which causes the cat's retina to slowly degenerate, causing eye problems and (eventually) irreversible blindness. This condition is called central retinal degeneration (CRD). Cow's milk is one source of taurine but a poor one. Lactose-free milk while it is perfectly safe for adult cats, is still not a substitute for meat. Despite this, however, the majority of brand-name cat foods are primarily grain based, often containing large amounts of corn or rice and supplemented with meats and essential vitamins. Cats will sometimes eat green stuffs but this seems to have more to do with preventing hairballs than a nutritional need. Here in our Hartford veterinarian clinic we also try to teach people that cats have been known to develop a fondness for "people " (most of which are not good for the cat), such as barbecued chicken, french fries, pepperoni pizza, tomato soup, carrot juice, mexican burritos, as well as cat diet exotica such as corn kernels and diced cantaloupe.