Do Cats Need Fiber In Their Diet?
Over the years, people have believed that for a cat to lead a healthy life, a high fiber intake was not essential and that they only require fats and protein – this is partially correct. However,, including fiber as part of a kitty’s diet has given rise to many questions from cat parents who would love to know the dietary benefits of fiber in their kitties. According to experts, the answer can come either way. On the one hand, cats need fiber and on the other, it is not that type of fiber humans require because the feline population is known to be strict carnivores which negate the claim that centuries of evolutionary advancement has brought about several changes to a kitty’s eating habit. But then, the digestive system of a cat remains that of an obligate carnivore, and thus no quantifiable benefits are likely to come from feeding them with plant-based fibers. There are a number of factors that come to play in a feline’s requirement for dietary fiber which will be discussed in this piece.
What Are The Different Types Of Fiber?
You must have heard about fiber and probably discussed it a lot; it is an elemental part of a human’s diet which they need in large quantity. Fiber is classed under carbohydrates, and most times, they are referred to as bulk or roughages. Though it is seen as a carbohydrate, it is different from others as it does not break down or digest in the same manner. While other carbs are known to give rise to sugar molecules after the breaking down process, fibers remain almost completely intact whilst it passes through the digestive tract.
Usually, it comes in the form of plant-based nutrient, which is vital for digestion. In addition to enhancing nutrition, managing blood sugars, controlling weight, and preserving cholesterol, recent findings have linked fiber to the possible reduction of the risk of some types of cancers as well as engendering longer life span.
- Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber is the type that is capable of dissolving in water, but when it is inside the body, it turns into a gel-like substance upon contact with water, and this aids in slowing down the process of digestion. This is good for weight loss, and soluble fiber is high in foods like oats, consumable plant skin as well as nuts. Additionally, soluble fiber is known to lessen the incidences of such conditions like diarrhea and constipation as well as absorb moisture
- Insoluble Fiber: Insoluble fiber is the type that does not dissolve in water; in fact, it acts as a water repellant. It only functions to add some bulk to our stool, which in turn, aids movement via the digestive tract. Foods like veggies, fruits, wheat, seeds, and bran are rich in insoluble fiber.
The human requirement for fiber can be divided into 25% for soluble fiber and 75% for insoluble fiber. Fiber is vital for the enhancement of gastrointestinal health, and it also helps in maintaining a healthy heart. It is an important part of our nutrition which adds many benefits to overall health.
Importance Of Fiber In A Cat’s Diet
Because cats are obligate carnivores, their body comes with a shorter digestive tract, even shorter than that of the canine population and permits speedy digestion of meat. There is no established dietary requirement for fiber in a kitty’s nutrition. However, it is common knowledge that the whole prey meals which cats are used to eating will have ingredients like bones and fur which are not digestible. Thus, these things work in the same way as fiber in the cat’s digestive system, which aids in proper functioning of the system. Cats that don’t have access to whole prey meals with these indigestible ingredients must have some fiber included in their diet in a bid to enhance their digestive health.
Because indoor felines are not as active as outdoor kitties, they are prone to excessive weight, in this situation, you can reduce the amount of food an overweight kitty consumes by increasing the fiber content of its meal which helps in weight control. A feline’s weight is best managed with a diet rich in fat and protein, high in dietary fiber and lesser in digestible carbohydrates. Conversely, you can also reduce toxins and increase the fatty acids in your cat’s nutrition when their diet is rich in animal-based fibers.
Another major problem that indoor kitties have is hairballs; your pet cat is likely to spend as much as four hours daily grooming itself. While on the process, a feline may swallow some hair which can turn to hairballs in the digestive system, resulting into digestive upset. When you increase the fiber content of a cat’s meal, it aids in facilitating the movement the troublesome hairballs and pushes them down the digestive tract, thereby reducing the possibility of a cat having digestive upset that may result in the vomiting of hairballs.
The Best High Fiber Food Sources For Cats
Fiber can either be plant-based or animal-based. Fiber from animal can come from; cartilage, ligaments, bones, tendons and furs from whole prey meals. These kinds of fiber can only be partially digested and the residue functions as intestinal fiber. Even the hairball ingested by grooming cats can also constitute animal fiber.
Plant-based fibers majorly come from fruits and vegetables, but you need to seek the approval of the vet before introducing it to your pet cat. Many kitties enjoy consuming cooked or canned pumpkin, which is one of the natural sources of fiber. One teaspoon on a daily basis is sufficient, as recommended by the vet; however, you can divide this over a couple of meals. Avoid pumpkin pie fillings as they have a high sugar content, which is not good for your furry companion, rather, opt for pure canned pumpkin. The same quantity may also be recommended for ingredients like mashed boiled carrots, strained prunes as well as mashed peas depending on your kitty’s preference. Powdered fiber supplements are also good, but you have to seek your vet’s advice before giving them to your cat.