In my last update about my partially adopted cat, which I named Proxy, I wrote about how he loves to be fed meals containing an excess of palm oil. That particular act looked a bit strange for a cat. As if that was not enough, a few days after making the said post, I caught Proxy predating on a flying insect right there in the mosque where we usually meet. Yesterday, he ran after a grasshopper, caught it, and feasted on it to compound my surprise. This led me into thinking, what kind of animals are cats when it comes to nutrition?
Generally, living organisms are divided into producers, consumers, or decomposers depending on their feeding habits. Producers are green plants that are capable of harnessing the solar energy from the sun in addition to inorganic materials such as carbon dioxide and water to make their foods; a process known as photosynthesis. Consumers have no natural ability to make their own foods unlike producers, hence, they depend on external sources (including feeding on producers) for their own foods. Decomposers get their own nutrition by externally digesting dead producers and or consumers and then feeding on the digested materials.
From the above analysis, one can see that cats fall into the consumer category. Animal consumers can be plant eaters, flesh-eaters, or a combination of the two otherwise known as herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores respectively. Scientific classification also sees that cats belong to the carnivorous animal category that feeds largely on flesh. If cats are meant to be flesh-eater, how come many cat owners feed them with foods that are not flesh-based? Maybe not everyone, but growing up, what I am used to is seeing cat owners feeding their cats with foods that have nothing to do with their cats being carnivorous.
Even carnivores have categories. Some are obligate flesh-eaters that will only survive on meat because they have got no digestive system to digest plant-based diets properly. Obligate carnivores are also known to be hypercanivores. They are so named so because more than 70 percent of their diets have to be meat-based in order for them to function optimally. Other carnivores are either mesocarnivores or hypocarnivores with each group depending 50 percent and less than 30 percent on meat diets for their overall health.
If cats are carnivores, so why does Proxy hunt insects?
So many phenomena exist that just cannot be explained by science. I remember vividly while growing up, of a goat eating away furiously at the shell of a snail and dogs eating nylons. Even though cats are known to be natural flesh-eaters, preying on insects is not totally out of place because arthropods are still considered to be animals. One thing that I have noticed, however, is that Proxy does not just prey on all insects, a but selected few.
So, what do you feed your cat with?
Domesticated cats belong to the hypercarnivore category. In other words, they are obligately carnivorous and would need, at least, 70 percent of their diets to be animal-based. If you are the type that feeds your cat with commercial cat foods, chances are that your cat is getting the required amount of each nutrient in the right quantity because tons of efforts go into researching about the animals before the foods are produced - I would like to believe. However, if you are the type that just feeds your cat with scraps of food that you prepared at home, chances are that your cat is not getting adequate nutrients.
In the case of Proxy, even though I feed him with plant-based diets mostly, he is a free-roaming cat that has the capability to hunt for himself - cats are natural hunters/predators. Those that are not deliberate about feeding their cats with the right amount of animal-based nutrients and still do not allow them to roam freely are running a risk of malnourishing their cats.
I hope you all have learned a few things.
Thank you all for reading.