Carbohydrates for cats; are they dangerous or do they actually help your cat? To answer this question there is another question that should first be asked. Wild felines carbohydrate intake is considered to be less than 5 percent, which raises the question; why do we feed out domestic cats what is apparently a very unnatural food source. Although your cat is not a wild feline, genetically they are basically the same. However, despite this question, commercial dry cat food still contains somewhere between 30 and 70 percent carbohydrates.
Cats can consume carbohydrates, but they are also believed to be one of the major causes of several potential health problems. They are also the complete opposite of fatty acids and proteins which are absolutely essential for your cat to live, as they are considered non essential. Now, the question can be answered, and it is yes, they can be very dangerous for your cat if they are not controlled or almost entirely eliminated.
Carbohydrates function in cat food:
Carbohydrates for cats all start with the type of food that you feed your pet. Cats have the natural ability to consume very large amounts of protein, and then very easily convert it to both energy as well as muscle.
They also have the same ability to convert carbohydrates if, and that is the keyword, if, they are the type of carbohydrate that is easily digested. Cats are similar to dogs in the fact that they have the ability to utilize carbohydrates, but they need protein in the form of meat in order to satisfy their dietary requirements for energy as well as fiber.
In understanding the benefits and functions of carbohydrates in your cats food, it is helpful to understand why it is used. It has two primary benefits; it benefits the food manufactures and it is cheap for consumers. They are much less expensive are actually more readily available as an energy source for your cat and they are paramount in the actual formulation of dry cat food. For this reason, starchy carbohydrates are used, as they add structure, texture, as well as help to form the food that is cheap and easy to feed. Moist, or canned cat food, could be made without carbohydrates, but it would be impossible to make dry food without them.
The starchy form of carbohydrates is used in your cats food as it breaks down much easier in your pets system. The forms that are typically used are cereal grains and include oats, rice, wheat, corn and barley.
Once they are cooked and processed, they are very easy for your cat to digest, but despite the ease of digestion, they can still be very dangerous. It is also very important to note that if they are not cooked, they are in most cases completely resilient to digestion by your cat, and this fact by itself should tell you something.
Carbohydrates for cats may play an important role in the formulation of dry food for your pet, but they can and do cause health problems. Most owners know about the two most obvious problems, obesity and maldigestion, but this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg so to speak.
Obesity can easily be caused by carbohydrates in cats as the result of your pets energy needs being exceeded by the extra glucose that is created. Glucose is stored as fat once it is digested, but protein and fats are to. However, the difference is that carbohydrates are the most common energy source and is quickly converted to glucose by your cat, which causes the slowdown in the burning process resulting in weight gains.
Maldigestion caused by carbohydrates for cats can range from very mild to quite severe. It can include excessive gas buildup in your cat, as well as bloating and diarrhea. As the carbohydrates pass through your pets digestive system, enzymes break them down into usable forms of energy. However, if you cats enzymes have any type of deficiencies, they will not be able to break them down, which causes several problems. The most common problems is when they begin to ferment in your cat which than creates a bacterial or fungal overgrowth.
Lactose intolerance can also occur, which is technically a form of maldigestion. When your cat is young, they can very easily perform this task by their lactase enzyme, which converts the sugar in milk called lactose. However, as they begin to age, they stop producing this enzyme and the trouble begins, again, all caused by carbohydrates. But this is just the beginning of the potential health problems.
Carbohydrate for cats can also cause diabetes in some cases. The fats and proteins that your cat eats have very little affect on their blood sugar. However, carbohydrates have a huge effect as it causes the glucose formation to build which in turn can cause a rapid rise in the insulin in your cat. Although not fully documented, there have been several tests that have shown that when all carbohydrates are removed from your cats diet, diabetes II completely stops. There are several medical experts that do not believe this form of diabetes is a disease, but instead a dietary imbalance caused by carbohydrates.
High blood pressure and Congestive heart failure:
This is also growing concern that carbohydrates may also be one of the leading causes of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure in cats. The actual term hydrate means to combine with water. It is believed that each molecule of carbohydrates draws eight molecules of water into itself, which than cause s water retention. When this occurs, it can lead to both of these conditions. The first drug used to treat either condition is a diuretic, which makes your cat urinate excessively. This is done for one reason; to eliminate water retention.
Fungus and Yeast Overgrowth:
Carbohydrates for cats can also harbor deadly forms of both fungal infections as well as yeast infections.
They are basically the same form of organism, and they feed on sugar. If the enzymes in your cat are the least bit challenged, they will cause fermentation, and this now a natural breeding ground for these infections in your cat.
However, this list is still not complete, as carbohydrates for cats can also cause nutrient deficiencies. Carbohydrates require the B complex of vitamins for full utilization in your cats body; however, during the processing of the grains in commercial dry cat food, B vitamins are removed. Grains are low in B vitamins to start with but require high amounts for optimum utilization, and unless you are supplementing them, your cat will naturally develop a B complex deficiency.
This can than lead to depression, memory loss, cataracts, muscles cramps, and several types of allergies. It is also believed that carbohydrates can suppress your cats immune system as well as helping to fuel cancer cell growth.
Carbohydrates for cats do provide a very affordable source of calories for your cat and play a very important role in the processing of dry commercial food. However, ask yourself, at what cost to your cat? And then ask yourself if all of the potential health risks are worth the convenience of dry food. In fact, should you even be using dry food given all of the potential risks?