Why Is Nutrition Important to Skin and Coat Health?
Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals play important roles in the skin and coat health of cats. Skin and hair are used to prevent things (such as water or heat) from leaving, or things (such as viruses and bacteria) from entering the body.
The hair coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If your cat's diet doesn't contain enough quality protein, her hair may fall out or become dry, weak, and brittle.
Skin is made up of flat cells tightly packed together. These cells have tough membranes that are composed of proteins and fats. Without proper nutrients, cell membranes weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.
Essential Amino Acids and Fatty Acids
Proteins are found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all of the essential amino acids cats need, whereas plant-based proteins may contain only some. Cats need the nutrients in animal-based proteins for the best of health.
Fats also can be found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients, and are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There are two essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Linoleic acid and arachidonic acid maintain skin and coat condition in cats. Without them, cats may experience a dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin, and increased risk of skin inflammation. Both of these are found in animal tissues such as chicken fat, whereas vegetable oils such as corn and soybean are rich in linoleic acid but do not contain arachidonic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids, another type of fats, are found in vitamin-rich fish oils. IAMS™ Company research has found that the fatty acids in fish oils help promote excellent skin and coat health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and coat. The best way to provide them is through a complete and balanced diet rather than through supplements.
Vitamin or Mineral Important for skin and coat health
Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
Vitamin E Protects skin cells from oxidant damage
Vitamin C Helps heal wounds
Biotin Aids in the utilization of protein
Riboflavin (B2) Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Zinc Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Copper Involved in tissue, pigment, and protein synthesis
Changes in Coat Condition
Diet is often believed to be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition occur. The most common causes, however, are changes in season and life stage. As cold weather approaches, most cats grow a thick coat to help keep heat in and cold air out. As the weather begins to warm up, they shed their thick, heavy coat.
Most kittens are born with soft, fuzzy hair, but as they age, a coarser coat grows. Pregnant and nursing cats may also experience a change in coat condition or hair loss.'
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High fiber cat food has become a mainstay for many cats with gastrointestinal problems. But why is fiber so crucial for cats?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that isn't digested by a cat's gastrointestinal tract. It is important for cat health because it provides bulk to move food through. Some types of fiber can be fermented (broken down by bacteria) in the system. This process creates short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are an important energy source for the cells lining the intestinal tract.
Thus, understanding the various types of fiber and when to include fiber in a cat's nutrition plan is crucial. High-fiber cat food often contains a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers that aid gastrointestinal health and improve stool quality. Some of these fiber elements are also known as prebiotics, which are nutrients (mostly fermentable fibers) that help the good bacteria in the intestines grow.
Soluble fiber for cats, such as gums and pectins, are the best at absorbing water. These fibers are typically highly fermentable and provide the required energy source. Adding such soluble fibers to your cat’s diet can help it maintain a healthy colonic mucosa and boost immune function in the lower intestine.
Insoluble fibers, such as lignin or cellulose, have a variety of therapeutic properties and can be utilised in your cat’s meal to promote its gastrointestinal health.
What's Good For You May Not Be Good For Your Cat
Today, people are more aware of fiber and its role in their diet. Studies showing the beneficial effects of higher fiber levels in humans influence the way many people think about their own food and that of their pets. Some manufacturers now apply the recommendations of human nutritionists and make high-fiber diets for cats, but cats have a much shorter digestive tract than we do. And unlike humans, cats are carnivorous, so their nutritional needs are better satisfied with meat rather than plant matter. Therefore, cats have different dietary needs than humans. For more than 60 years, companion animal nutritionists at IAMS™ have been studying diets to meet the special nutritional needs of cats.
What Is Microbiome In Cats?
- A microbiome is the microbial population (fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms) that resides in the digestive systems of cats. This biological habitat is necessary for proper digestion. The bacteria in cat intestines aid in the digestion of indigestible materials and the production of useful substances such as vitamins.
How Does The Gut Microbiome React With Fibrous Food?
- Some high-fiber cat foods aid in the nourishing of good bacteria and the maintenance of a healthy microbiome.
Furthermore, fiber-rich cat food benefit cats suffering from GI illnesses of the large intestine. Fiberous food can assist in preserving their GI motility and water balance. This is turn helps prevent constipation and diarrhea in cats.
Fiber Levels And Fermentability
IAMS Company research shows the optimal crude fiber level for healthy cat’s ranges from 1.4% to 3.5%. At these levels, nutrient breakdown is maximized. In unique situations, such as hairballs, higher fiber levels may be beneficial.
An important characteristic of fiber is its fermentability, or how well it can be broken down by bacteria in the intestine. This breakdown produces short-chain fatty acids, which provide energy to the intestines. Fiber varies in fermentability. Fiber sources used in pet foods include cellulose, which is poorly fermentable; beet pulp, which is moderately fermentable; and gums and pectin, which can be highly fermentable. Research has shown that moderate levels of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, provide the benefits of energy for the intestinal lining and bulk, without the negative effects of excessive stool or gas and, therefore, are beneficial in cat diets.
Some Advantages Of High Fibrous Food
High moisture, protein, and minimum carbohydrate matter are all key ingredients in high fiber cat diets. Here are some benefits of high-fibrous food for your cat:
- Improves gastric activities in the gut - Food containing soluble fiber for a cat helps in breaking down water and gastric juices in the gut.
- Keeps your cat satiated - Some soluble fibers dissolves in water and forms a gel that helps in storing water and makes your feline friend feel full.
- Promotes bowel consistency - Insoluble fibers helps with stool consistency and gives more volume to your cat’s ingested meal.
How Does High-Fibrous Help Cats With Diabetes Or Other Medical Conditions?
Cats with medical issues can also greatly benefit from high-fiber foods. For instance, high-fiber wet cat food might help overweight cats in reducing overeating and lowering their risk of obesity. What’s more is, adding fibrous food to your cat’s meal will also help your pet eliminate more nitrogen through their stool, thus sparing the kidneys. In fact, many dietary fibers inhibit nutrient absorption qualities, which help to lessen the rate at which the GI tract assimilates glucose, thereby keeping the blood sugar levels stable.
High Fiber And Weight Loss
High levels of poorly fermentable fiber are used in some weight-reduction pet foods to dilute the calories in a serving. IAMS Company research shows that high fiber levels can make it harder to digest other nutrients in the food and, in turn, reduce the nutritional quality of a cat's diet. Your cat making more trips to the litter box can be a result.
When Should You Give Low Fibrous Food To Your Cat?
Low fibrous food contains nutrients such as electrolytes and B-vitamins that aid recuperation in cats. This type of food is usually recommended by veterinarians for cats who are prone to having a quick onset of GI disturbance. Therefore, when choosing a meal for your cat, always visit a veterinarian. If your cat is on a high-fiber diet, their veterinarian should keep an eye on them to ensure that their fiber-responsive symptoms are under control.
Fiber And IAMS Cat Foods
When choosing a pet food, fiber is an important consideration, but remember that the needs of cats are not the same as those of humans. A moderate level of moderately fermentable fiber, such as beet pulp, provides proven nutritional benefits for cats. Cat diets containing high levels of poorly fermentable fiber dilute calories and deprive cats of the nutrients they need.
All IAMS products are made with levels of moderately fermentable fiber needed to promote intestinal health. And all IAMS foods, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Adult Original with Chicken, contain the moderately fermentable fiber system, which is the exclusive property of IAMS Company and is protected by U.S. Patent No. 5,616,569 for Pet Food Products Containing Fermentable Fibers and Process for Treating Gastrointestinal Disorders.
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