The Bengal Diet

Well the Bengal cat is no different then any cat in regards to it diet. So you would think that would be the end of it. So why do we have a page on the subject?

A Bengal crouched to spring

Couched for the attack on a passing innocent.

The domestic cats diet is generally misunderstood. Cats are what are known as obligate carnivores, which is the purest form of carnivore. Obligate carnivores eat only meat.

So while they will eat animal byproducts like cheese, milk, or eggs these are not a required or a nutritionally significant part of their diet. They do not eat vegetables or grains ever and never evolved the ability to digest them in a nutritionally significant way. Many cats, wild and domestic, use vegetable matter specifically as anemetic, a substance that induces vomiting .

A substance that induces vomiting?

So why are vegetables and grains listed on many of the better brands of cat food? Well there are many reasons.

To begin with cats can utilize some fiber in their diets. The grains and vegetables used do not have to be suitable for human consumption meaning material that might otherwise be garbage can be used. That makes it a very cost effective filler and most cat food actually contains quite a number of fillers.

The fillers not only reduce the initial cost of manufacturing the product but also make the product easier to store for long periods of times in warehouses. The ability to warehouse a product for long periods drastically reduces costs.

There is also the manufacturers favorite tool, the psychological effect. Because vegetables and grains are good for us we tend to think they are good for our pets and in fact dogs can and do benefit from some vegetables in their diet.

Due to the low nutritional value it can cause your cat to eat more and in many cases promote obesity which in turn causes your cat to eat more which increases sales. A high quality diet is not only better for your cat, it can cost about the same as the cheap stuff. Because it is more nutritionally correct your cat does not have to eat as much to receive the same, or greater, benefits.

A Bengal looking gorgeous.

Look at the shine on XFactors coat. That is part of what a quality diet will do for your Bengal.

Premium Brands

A premium brand name is certainly no guarantee of anything. The poisoned chinese wheat scare that occurred over the last few years really illuminated that fact. One manufacturer had a problem and 100’s of brands of cat food were affected. It turned out that many of the so called premium brands came out of the same factory as the cheapest did. The fact that wheat was the problem is mildly ironic seeing as a cat can’t benefit from eating wheat in the first place.

A Bengal looking over his shoulder at the camera

He depends on us to make the right choices.

We are not suggesting that you need to feed your cats a pure meat diet although many do just that. We are just pointing out that it requires more thought then many people are aware of. Spend some time with Google (click her for a preloaded on topic search).

Dehydration, a perpetual problem in many cats

A high percentage of house cats are fed a diet of mostly dried food, or kibble as its known. There is nothing inherently wrong with a quality kibble product but if it is their main food source then there is a very good chance the cat is dehydrated.

The desire to get thirsty in response to dehydration is an evolved trait and cats had no reason to evolve such a trait. As pure carnivores they are designed to get all all of the moisture they need from their diet. Switch the raw meat for dried food and the cat will adapt but it can not suddenly evolve the desire to drink water.

Just in case you feed your companion wet food and don’t read any further I thought I should take a moment and point out that a diet of wet food is not the cure and has its own health issues associated with it.

This is often a significant contributing factor for the urinary tract issues that many cats suffer from known collectively as FUS, or Feline Urologic Syndrome. FUS is an catch all term used to describe lower urinary tract disorders, including kidney stones, bladder stones, urinary blockages, and cystitis which is an infection of the bladder.

It is commonly accepted that FUS will affect over 20% of all domestic cats in their lifetime and a little over 10% will develop recurring problems if they are not given preventative treatment.

I don’t want to give the impression that dehydration is the main cause of FUS. I just want you to understand that it is a significant, and often over looked factor. Other things that might contribute, or be the cause, include stress, urinary pH, fiber intake and the ash content in the animal’s diet. There may be others as well.

What Do We Feed Our Cats?

We feed a mix of wet and kibble although the bulk of it is dry kibble and the wet is an after supper treat. We also make sure that they drink a lot of water. We occasionally supplement their diet with raw ground turkey or chicken. It is cheap and available in most grocery stores.

Just as a side note, keep in mind that a cat’s jaw only has up and down motion. They are not capable of a side to side motion like a dog or human. This means that feeding dry food as a dental care program is of no use regardless of what the manufacturer claims. You need to take your cat to have their teeth cleaned by a vet.

How do we make sure they are getting enough water?

Well obviously we keep the water bowl filled as a first step. We have also discovered that most cats will drink much more deeply from a source of running water vs. a water bowl. This would appear to be an evolved trait based on the fact running water is generally cleaner and healthier then pools of water.

Simply turning the bathtub tap on to a slight trickle is often enough to get your cat to drink. Once the cat gets the idea they will be right there when you enter the bathroom. Once they reach that point, it is just a matter of turning on the tub to a trickle, brushing your teeth in the sink or what ever, and turning off the tap before you leave. It soon becomes second nature and the cats love the game of it all.

Many Bengals love water anyway so it is almost impossible to keep them away from sources of it. Don’t mistake that to mean that they are drinking enough. They love to play in it. Our male, X-Factor, will play in it for a half hour and other then the amount he inadvertently snorts up his nose (resulting in sneezing fits that amuse me to no end) he may not drink any of it.

The key here is to pay attention. These are not huge issues most of the time but they become an issue if we don’t keep an eye on things.