Characteristics of Nutrition and Metabolism in Dogs and Cats


Adv Exp Med Biol. 2024;1446:55-98. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-54192-6_4.


Domestic dogs and cats have evolved differentially in some aspects of nutrition, metabolism, chemical sensing, and feeding behavior. The dogs have adapted to omnivorous diets containing taurine-abundant meat and starch-rich plant ingredients. By contrast, domestic cats must consume animal-sourced foods for survival, growth, and development. Both dogs and cats synthesize vitamin C and many amino acids (AAs, such as alanine, asparagine, aspartate, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, and serine), but have a limited ability to form de novo arginine and vitamin D3. Compared with dogs, cats have greater endogenous nitrogen losses and higher dietary requirements for AAs (particularly arginine, taurine, and tyrosine), B-complex vitamins (niacin, thiamin, folate, and biotin), and choline; exhibit greater rates of gluconeogenesis; are less sensitive to AA imbalances and antagonism; are more capable of concentrating urine through renal reabsorption of water; and cannot tolerate high levels of dietary starch due to limited pancreatic α-amylase activity. In addition, dogs can form sufficient taurine from cysteine (for most breeds); arachidonic acid from linoleic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from α-linolenic acid; all-trans-retinol from β-carotene; and niacin from tryptophan. These synthetic pathways, however, are either absent or limited in all cats due to (a) no or low activities of key enzymes (including pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase, cysteine dioxygenase, ∆6-desaturase, β-carotene dioxygenase, and quinolinate phosphoribosyltransferase) and (b) diversion of intermediates to other metabolic pathways. Dogs can thrive on one large meal daily, select high-fat over low-fat diets, and consume sweet substances. By contrast, cats eat more frequently during light and dark periods, select high-protein over low-protein diets, refuse dry food, enjoy a consistent diet, and cannot taste sweetness. This knowledge guides the feeding and care of dogs and cats, as well as the manufacturing of their foods. As abundant sources of essential nutrients, animal-derived foodstuffs play important roles in optimizing the growth, development, and health of the companion animals.

PMID:38625525 | DOI:10.1007/978-3-031-54192-6_4