Plantinga EA, Bosch G, Hendriks WH. Estimation of the dietary nutrient profile of free-roaming feral cats: possible implications for nutrition of domestic cats. Br J Nutr 2011;106 Suppl 1:S35-48.
Cats in the wild rely solely on animal tissues to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements. This has led to unique digestive and metabolic adaptations. In order to better understand how the domestic cat has adapted to its physiologic needs, the diet of feral cats was assessed. The researchers reviewed 27 published studies reporting the feeding habits of feral cats and obtained data on the nutrient composition of the cats’ prey. The results showed that feral cats are obligatory carnivores with a diet high in protein (52% of daily energy) and fat (46% of daily energy) content, but low in carbohydrates (2% of daily energy). Minerals and trace elements appeared to be consumed in higher concentrations than current recommended allowances. The authors conclude that future research should focus on the value of feeding a natural diet of whole prey as an enhancement of feline health and longevity. [MK]