Cats are obligate carnivores and, when in the wild, will eat raw meat without a problem. This is because their bodies are equipped to break down raw meat and derive all of the nutrients from it, but it is also because raw foods contain viable digestive enzymes that assist in the process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. The problem is that commercial dry and canned cat foods doo not contain the same level of live enzymes as a natural raw meat diet.
Supplementing your cat’s diet with digestive enzymes, in particular, will help her body properly break down the foods that she eats and get all of the necessary nutrients to remain healthy, happy and strong. Read on to find out which digestive enzymes to add to your cat’s food.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes are found throughout every cell in your cat’s body, and they help with a variety of functions that maintain the right balance to remain healthy. Digestive enzymes assist the digestive tract and the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting the body’s own digestive enzymes, to process the food your feline fur baby ingests.
Why Digestive Enzymes Should Be Added to Your Cat’s Diet
When there are naturally occurring live enzymes in food, also referred to as food enzymes, your cat’s body does not have to work as hard at secreting enzymes to break down food and absorb nutrients. However, if you are feeding your cat a cooked diet, your pet’s body will have to work harder because high cooking temperature destroys and inactivates delicate enzymes.
Without the right amount of digestive enzymes, your cat’s digestive system will not be able to break down food into simpler, soluble substances that can be readily absorbed and utilized. This can lead to malnutrition, along with a host of digestive problems, such as diarrhea, gas and bloating as well as other conditions, such as a weakened immune system, lethargy, body odor and bad breath, allergies, poor skin and coat quality, premature aging, arthritis, skin conditions and cancer.
What Enzymes Should You Add?
There are many feline-specific digestive enzyme supplements that you can find online and in pet stores. These are typically in powder form and can be added easily to your cat’s current foods at every meal.
Look for products that contain the following enzymes for the best results:
- Protease will help your cat’s body properly break down proteins into amino acids for optimal absorption. As one of the most important nutrients for cats, protein needs to be readily absorbed for health and wellness.
- Amylase enzymes break down carbohydrates and starches so that they, too, can be readily absorbed for energy.
- Lipase works on breaking down fats so that they can be properly digested and absorbed for use throughout the body.
- Cellulase is necessary for breaking down and using fiber to keep the digestive tract strong and healthy.
You may also find digestive enzymes for cats that contain the following additional ingredients for added effectiveness:
- Bromelain, which is derived from pineapple, is considered one of the strongest and safest enzymes that works on breaking down and digesting protein. This, along with Papain, can also alleviate allergy symptoms for your cat.
- Papain, which is derived from papaya, is a plant-based enzyme that can work with Bromelain to break proteins down.
- Betaine HCl can also help with breaking proteins down into amino acids and peptides, as well as with breaking down fats into triglycerides.
- Pancreatin is a pancreatic enzyme that is animal-based and provides all of the three major digestive enzymes: protease, amylase, and lipase.
Digestive enzymes are important to a cat’s digestive health, especially if you are feeding your pet a cooked diet. Talk to your vet about the enzymes that you should be supplementing to your particular pet’s diet for the best results.
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