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Role of Diet in the Health of the Feline Intestinal Tract and in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Updated: May 9, 2020

DATE: 2002



Investigators: Angela G. Glasgow, DVM; Nicholas J. Cave, BVSc, MACVSc; Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, Dip. ACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), Dip. ACVN; Niels C. Pedersen, DVM, PhD, 6 Center for Companion Animal Health, UC Davis



The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis has been a leading center for feline nutrition research, with pioneers such as Dr. James Morris and Dr. Quinton Rogers. Discoveries from University of California, Davis have led to several changes in the formulation of commercial cat foods to combat such disorders as dilated cardiomyopathy and feline lower urinary tract disease. In spite of the many advances in feline nutrition, our knowledge of nutrient requirements for cats is still incomplete. Unlike other domestic species, cats are obligate carnivores. The carnivorous diet provides cats with a ready dietary source of certain nutrients not supplied by an omnivorous or vegetarian diet, thus negating the need to synthesize them. Without evolutionary pressure to maintain the relevant metabolic pathways, cats have lost their ability to synthesize those nutrients within their bodies. For instance, cats have a greatly diminished ability to synthesize retinol (Vitamin A), arachidonic acid and taurine (MacDonald et al, 1984), because these micronutrients are amply present in the tissues of their prey animals. However, most household cats no longer hunt, but rather are fed commercially prepared foods. These foods are often rich in plant-derived nutrients because to supply cats with all-animal diets is significantly more expensive. The trend, therefore, has been to make foods with greater proportions of vegetable-based products and to supplement them with the necessary nutrients.


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