The digestive system of cats is very different from that of humans.
It is important to understand this so that you can avoid any digestive problems with your cat and find out when problems may arise. Foods that you seem to be delicious may cause your cat to suffer from chronic stomach problems and may even be poisoned.
How is the digestion of cats different from that of humans?
Cats have only 475 taste buds, which is much less than the approximately 9,000 taste buds in humans and 1,700 in dogs. 1 In other words, cats can taste bitter, sour, salty and umami, but not sweet. However, taste is very important for cats, because the aroma and taste of food are often related. Cats can smell the odor characteristics of food through the back of the nose and throat.
The cat’s teeth are quite sharp and can cut and tear food; in addition, its chin cannot move left and right. Humans chew food for a long time, on the contrary, cats do not chew much time. They use their back teeth to chew food-this may affect their digestive function, because large pieces of food enter the stomach.
meal time and fequency
The stomach of a cat is smaller than that of a human or a dog. This is related to the history of cats as solo hunters-that is, they don't eat two or three large meals a day, on the contrary, they eat multiple meals. When eating, cats are also very sensitive to the lively environment and are easily disturbed; therefore, please be sure to provide them with a peaceful and quiet place to eat so that they will not be adversely affected when they eat.
Humans are omnivorous; according to recommendations, 60-65% of our diet should be dry carbohydrates. On the other hand, cats are carnivorous animals, even if they do not have a lot of carbohydrates, their bodies can still function. Instead, they need a diet richer in protein than humans, and may require more fat.
Frequently Asked Questions: How long does it take for cats to digest food? For cats, it takes only 12 to 24 hours for food to pass through the intestines, while human digestion time may take 5 days.
Taking a closer look at the cat’s digestive system
Like dogs and humans, every element of the cat’s digestive system has its own role, such as breaking down food and absorbing needed nutrients. The intestine also retains beneficial bacteria called microbiota to maintain intestinal health; in addition, the intestine also has a large number of immune system cells to protect its overall health.
For example, a cat’s digestive system may be particularly sensitive and may be prone to discomfort due to a sudden change in its diet. In addition, the design of its intestines will allow cats to eat less and more meals. Because of this, many cats have to eat several meals a day, only a small amount each time. In order to prevent cats from getting fat, be sure to pay attention to the daily amount of food and divide it into several small meals.
Important nutrients for cats’ digestive system
Every element in cat food can promote its fragile digestive system and play a role in overall health. If you want to get the best dietary advice for your cat, and to learn more about your cat’s specific needs or sensitive conditions, then the veterinarian is your best choice. However, we can also look at the key nutrients first and understand the important factors behind the cat’s digestive system.
Protein is essential to cat's diet. Compared with dogs or humans, their diet needs more protein; however, if the protein is not easily digested, it will cause problems. Protein also contains taurine-cats cannot make taurine, but they need this nutrient to function effectively.
Fiber is essential to help cats maintain a healthy digestive system. For example, a high-fiber diet can prevent hairballs from forming and promote regular bowel movements. Prebiotics are fibers that can help cats absorb the nutrients they need from food. Prebiotics can also promote the balance of the microbiota to coordinate the cat's digestive health while controlling any sensitive conditions.
Fat is a precious energy source for cats. They also need fat to maintain the healthy functioning of certain organs (such as skin). However, too much fat may make it difficult for cats to digest and lead to obesity.
Vitamin D and A are indispensable in cat's diet; because these two vitamins cannot be produced in the body by themselves, they are very important for health.
Carbohydrates are not as important to cats as they are to humans, but they can provide cats with energy. Moreover, intake of carbohydrate sources with high digestibility (such as rice) may be helpful for cats with digestive problems.
Understanding cats' digestive problems
Cats are particularly prone to problems due to the delicate balance of their digestive system. Factors that may make a cat's stomach upset include: dietary changes, stress/anxiety, and underlying health problems.
Common digestive problems in cats
The parasites under the microscope parasitize the cat’s intestines and cause severe diarrhea in the cat — which may cause them to become dehydrated and lose weight. Of course, they will also feel discomfort in the abdomen. If you think your cat has parasites, please consult your veterinarian, who will then prescribe medications to remove the parasites.
For indoor cats, hairballs are a common problem—because grooming is one of the cat's main daily activities. When they tidy themselves, they usually swallow the hair that has fallen out and pass it out through the stool. However, if there are too many hairs, they cannot be digested properly, resulting in the formation of hairballs, making digestion difficult. You can help your cat to comb and brush regularly to remove excess hair and ensure that his diet contains the correct fiber composition so that the swallowed hair can be excreted.
If one or more of the cat’s digestive organs becomes inflamed, it may cause discomfort or trigger other problems. These effects include: chronic vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss, and loss of appetite. When they try to get the nutrients they need, their appetite may even increase greatly.
Does your cat have digestive problems? Important Signs to watch out for
If you think your cat has digestive problems, you need to pay attention to the following:
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Vomiting or regurgitating food or hairballs.
- Bad breath or frequent flatulence.
- Reluctance to eat or increase appetite.
- Weight loss.
- The hair is dry, dull, and fragile.
- There are signs of pain in the abdomen.