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My Lion Cat and My Wolf Dog.

perro-y-tigre


Are you under the impression that pets living in the home shouldn't be eating anything other than kibble? If so, we need you to think about the actual digestive system of your cat or dog and to do that, we need to start right back at the beginning. 

On the first day God created…only kidding! We're actually going to start with looking at our wild wolf and feline friends. Why are we starting with these, when all you want to know is what should my furry friend eat? Well in order to understand their real dietary needs, we need to look at what nature intended and by doing that you'll see the importance of really looking at your pet's diet.

With the help of the incredible Dr Isla Fishburn we're going to explain the fundamentals of why fido and the wolf and your kitty cat and the lion king are still directly linked and how when it comes to our pet's health, we need to take guidance from these wild animals and feed our pets a species appropriate diet – which means to stay as close to mother nature as possible. 

Don't fear we're not expecting you to go live in a tent with your furry friend, great idea that it is! But diet can have a huge influence on behaviour as well as how a pet uses its food to communicate to other buddies of its kind.


A wild canine/feline diet, does it apply to dogs & cats?

 
The classification of domestic dogs fall under the same Genus and Species as wolves, with the latter been known as Canis lupus and dogs categorised as the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris. Anatomically, wolves and dogs have the same teeth and digestive system, which is suited to that of a carnivore. Although skull shape has changed considerably in some dogs, the external features of the jaw itself in both dogs and wolves provides us with clues for a canine diet.

Cats are classified as belonging to the family of Felidae. Within this family are two subfamilies–Felinae, which still means "cats", and Pantherinae which means "cats that roar". The latter includes most big cats, such as lions, tigers, and jaguars, whereas the first term refers to all the other cats–the ones that don't roar, including our pets(1) 

Domestic cats developed from the tiger and to this day still share 95.6% of the same DNA. In fact, a study led by the Bronx Zoo and researchers at the University of Edinburgh, concluded that domestic cats are like miniature lions in terms of their overarching personality.

The continued high level of similarity for both dogs and cats to their wild cousins gives us a great clue into what our pets should be eating. However, there is much debate about the dietary requirements and needs of a canine/feline and what is the best diet.

Studying the health implications of a pet diet is complex. Not only does it require longevity but the data available on diet is both biased and limited so some basic questions that come up are, do we actually know enough about a canine and feline diet? What do we know to be true? And, what questions continue to be answered?

Where our knowledge is plentiful is in understanding the supplements that can be found in food and what is needed for a body to be fully functioning for a whole organism and or what may be lacking.

The dietary choices available to dogs is wide and extreme and, from a scientific point of view, it can be said that dogs have a wide diet breadth; they appear to be able to consume a variety of food sources. Cats, diet breadth is more limited but what we do know is that they are obligatory carnivores, meaning they need a source of animal protein to survive. Dogs, on the other hand are said to be either facultative carnivores or even omnivores, where by they can and do forage of vegetation to make up part of their diet.

In order to expand on our current knowledge on diet in domestic canines and felines, questions can be asked and explored by observing and examining the diet of wild canines/felines in the hope to improve the understanding of a domestic pet diet. However, the bigger and more important question is, in order to maximise a dog's or cat's overall health, wellbeing and longevity of life what should they be fed?


What is a wild canine/feline diet?

 
There are some things we already know about diet in general. It is widely acknowledged that any individual needs food that provides it with the correct vitamins, minerals, nutrients and neurotransmitters. This allows for the correct functioning of the individual, including processing of food into energy, stored fats and waste. It allows for the individual to be healthy and balanced. 

The diet of a wild canine is strikingly more restrictive (i.e. smaller diet breadth) than what we provide for our domestic dogs and there are a few questions that arise from this itself. 

First, there are individual group differences in the choice of prey that a wolf will eat, yet each group has a preferred prey choice. For instance, one group may prey on red deer whilst another may prey on wild boar. Group differences on prey selection are important here, such as group size, because typically the larger the wolf group the larger the prey animal they will predate upon. 

However, this is not true for all wolf groups and, within a group, prey selection can also vary. For instance, young animals may feed on small prey such as hare or rodents. Females have been seen to eat one prey source whilst the males another. Regardless, there is much evidence to suggest that wolf groups have individual differences in what they consume.

What is also interesting, is that analysis of stomach content has found that most wolves have only a single prey animal present, with some having two at a maximum. In addition, wolves can and do eat livestock and this has been suggested to happen when the preferred wild prey population is low or when the livestock is rather accessible. 

Cats on the other hand are true predators that evolved to eat a diet of raw meat. In the wild, cats eat the carcases of the prey animals they catch which consist of raw meat, raw bones, organs, other tissue and digested vegetable matter. While cats are carnivores they do consume a small amount of the vegetable matter contained in the stomach and intestines of their prey but they don't eat or select plants as wolves do. Cats have adapted over thousands of years to eat this type of diet. (2)  Again similarly to wolves, prey selection is varied depending on availability, seasonal changes, skills and preferences of an individual cats, social structure in which cats live and even the sex of a cat. (3)

What we do know is that they are highly opportunistic hunters that can catch and eat anything from insects, to mice, to elephants and everything in between. They have a varied protein source, but primarily they eat animals that are about their own size or bigger. Lions are also efficient scavengers who watch for vultures to find dead animals and listen for hyena whoops in order to steal their kills. (4)


What implications does this have for a cat or dog?

 
How far a diet of a wild canine and feline we wish to apply to a domestic pet is of huge importance and of much debate. Not only should we be considering the types of food our pets consume, the question of the quantity and frequency food should be given to a dog/cat is important if it's going to have an influence to their overall wellbeing.

As a domestic animal, it is advised that a dog or cat be fed once to twice a day when a fully-grown adult. A wild canine however, has a different feeding pattern, where it will typically consume 25% of its body weight in one feed and then not feed for three to five days. Tigers for example typically eat around 15 pounds of meat daily or more if needed but what both wild felines and canines have in common is the ability to go for some time without eating. This allows time for complete digestion, rest for the stomach and full use of the food consumed.

Comparing what we know about wild canines and felines, this raises a number of questions about the diet of a domestic pet. Firstly, should we be feeding a more limited prey source to dogs (and what implications does this have for nutriment variety and availability?). Secondly, should we be feeding dogs a food source that is from wild stock rather than livestock? Thirdly, what are their capabilities of processing a wide diet breadth? With respect to cats, should we be feeding a much wider variety of protein sources? Should we eliminate all grains, vegetables and fruit from their diet? 

For purposes of survival, what is the optimum dietary requirement of a canine/feline and how much scope is there to have food sources that allow the animal to stay alive (and satiated) even if it is not a food source that is appropriate for that animal? This is a question about longevity.


Does nutrition really have an impact on a cat or dog?

 

Questions about what to feed a domestic pet spread further than the nutritional and dietary requirements. From a wellbeing perspective and how best to help our pets we also need to consider the implications of diet from a behavioural viewpoint. The behaviour of a dog or cat can be influenced by several causes and diet can be one of them, and hugely so. 

Domestic dogs continue to be social group animals and communication between individuals is paramount to function within particular group structures. Diet can influence the way social canines communicate via natural chemicals and this can be a cause of changes in behaviour between dogs. In addition, the womb environment of a developing canine including the diet of its mother whilst developing, can cause a dog to suffer with stress related behaviours for life. Similarly, issues arise with cats.

A wild canine diet, shows evidence of wolves feeding on prey, wild berries, fruit, grasses, sedges and seeds. Whilst wolves are suggested to be carnivores, this evidence also shows that some wolves select sources of food other than prey in their diet. This will not only provide nutritional requirements but also possible medicinal requirements for the canine in question and this needs to be explored further in order to improve and provide a suitable dog diet.

Furthermore, wild canines appear to consume a food source that arguably can provide nurturing qualities and can also be applied to dogs to help them overcome or reduce their levels of mild anxiety and support. It is important for these food sources to be understood and how diet can influence behaviour in dogs as a social animal. We also need to consider how a poor diet may exacerbate anxious and nervous behaviours in a dog as a result of the poor nutrition to support the nervous system.

With cats we know that diet plays a huge part in their overall health. They have short digestive systems specifically adapted to eating raw flesh and have lost the ability to make amino acids and vitamins in their bodies. Their entire digestive system is completely built to eat raw meat and again similarly to a dog's diet, food can have an impact not only on the behaviour of the cat but energy levels aswell. (5)


How does this apply to a pet's diet and where do we go from here?

 
Firstly, one thing we need to seriously re-consider is the general rule that one type of diet suits all dogs or cats. The question we should be focusing on is what diet is suitable for that individual dog or cat. Every individual is different and, with this, each pet has different nutritional requirements, physiological requirements and, thus, dietary requirements. 

Any animal should have the ability to seek out what they need in order to improve their health, either as and when they have access to it or as and when they need it. Given we restrict a domestic pet's range and foraging capabilities, we need to consider the wider context of what a canine/feline diet may exactly include.

A topic of much debate about diet and feeding pets is around the quality of the food, where the food has come from and what it actually includes. What we do know is that high fat diets have a direct impact on mineral deficiencies in an animal.

What to feed a cat or dog is still a question that requires much continued research. However, there are some fundamental lessons from nature that can help us to understand what we should be considering and what we shouldn't, mainly that a dog and cat should be fed a more species appropriate diet - something that is as close to nature as possible, if the pet is to have optimum health.

We also need to consider that, as wild animals, wolves and wild cats are less restricted but more limited in what they can predate on and we also need to consider the natural population dynamics of wolves/wild felines in answering questions on diet.

Nevertheless, what we should be focusing on is a diet at an individual level rather than species level. What this includes and what needs to be considered is how to provide the best diet for a dog or cat as a whole organism, which ultimately starts with a species appropriate diet or a diet for the pet that is as close to as nature as it intended.

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.


Natural lifestyle, naturally health, naturally thriving!!

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website and articles are based on the opinions of the people at Authentica. The information contained within is not intended to replace that of your qualified vets or intended as medical advice. We are sharing knowledge and information but in no way should this pertain you from seeking proper professional medical/veterinary advice. We encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions on your pet's health in conjunction with your vet. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy of information. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and those of your pet. If you become aware of any material on the website that you believe infringes your or any other person's copyright, please report this by email to info@authenticapets.com so we can immediately rectify the issue.


Resources
Dr Isla Fishburn - https://www.kachinacaninecommunication.co.uk
(1) http://www.pet-happy.com/what-are-closest-relatives-to-domestic-cats/
(2) http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-should-i-feed-my-cat_262.html
(3) http://www.pet-happy.com/what-would-a-cat-eat-in-the-wild
(4) http://www.pet-happy.com/what-would-a-cat-eat-in-the-wild
(5) http://feline-nutrition.org
Raw Round Up Conference
A study published in the journal 'Nature Communications' in 2013
https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0918/House-cats-and-tigers-share-95.6-percent-of-DNA-study-reveals.
http://mentalfloss.com/article/57746/11-ways-big-cats-are-just-domestic-cats
http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/no-your-cat-isnt-plotting-kill-youbut-it-has-lions-personality/
https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/closely-related-domestic-cat-lion-38bdfa4b7f9ddcb6#
http://www.pet-happy.com/what-are-closest-relatives-to-domestic-cats/
http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-should-i-feed-my-cat_262.html
https://www.travel4wildlife.com/what-do-lions-eat/
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/big-cats/facts/
http://www.zoobooks.com/cats-big-cats/

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website and articles are based on the opinions of the people at Authentica. The information contained within is not intended to replace that of your qualified vets or intended as medical advice. We are sharing knowledge and information but in no way should this pertain you from seeking proper professional medical/veterinary advice. We encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions on your pet's health in conjunction with your vet. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy of information. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and those of your pet. If you become aware of any material on the website that you believe infringes your or any other person's copyright, please report this by email to info@authenticapets.com so we can immediately rectify the issue.

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