Cats have always fascinated me for their agility, ferocity, intelligence and stealth. In one of those African safari videos, I saw a seemingly disinterested pride of lions lay a brilliant trap for a large herd of unsuspecting buffalo that had converged on a watering hole.
Lions waited for the herd to settle in the slush, fragment into a disorderly mob, start enjoying a drink and then attacked them up the slope. Buffaloes for all their bulk and power and rage and horns, were soon in a shambles and one of them was brought down in shallow waters with ruthless canines tearing through her throat.
The pride enjoyed this mountain of proteinaceous flesh over next 48 hours. It left me wondering how these felines managed to extricate flesh from this mess of water, slush, vegetation and humungous amount of semi-digested alimentary content of the victim.
My readers might remember that Dubai cats have caught my fancy and on one of my evening-strolls my daughter insisted that we carry cat food. Little girls quite enjoy hungry little kittens purring after them and we decided to buy some cat-food.
Cat proteins and calories
The cat food wrapper carried an elaborate nutritional analysis and said that the contents were an equivalent of 452 Kcal per 100 gms, with a crude fat content of ten per cent, crude protein of thirty per cent and five per cent fibre to ensure cat-gut-motility and prevent constipation.
Having dealt with major constituents, the manufactures further fortified the feline diet with Vitamin A (29392 IU/ Kg), Vitamins D3, E, B1, B2, B12 in similarly precise quantities; primary minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron; and finally minor minerals like magnesium, zinc, iodine and selenium. My diet conscious daughter expressed concern that they hadn’t mentioned the carbs that are an area of great concern in these diabetogenic times.
With humans falling victims in alarming numbers, only a timely intervention could prevent a feline diabetes epidemic. However, she was reassured that they had added Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy and shiny coat, and there was sufficient Vitamin A and Taurine to enhance cats’ eyesight. The analysis concluded by advertising that all these ingredients had been sourced from real fish.
This treatise on feline nutrition was informative but left me apprehensive about the state of health of lion prides in the Ngorongoro grasslands in Africa.
Some disturbing questions
Was there a diabetes epidemic pervading the species as we limited our focus only to urban cats and was there enough Taurine in the fallen buffalo’s body to meet the visual requirements of the lead lioness of the pride? What would she do if she suffered Myopia in the prime of her hunting life? Readers will agree that it is extremely difficult to find answers to these disturbing questions.
To my relief, a recent study had shown that African lions remained in good shape numerically if the poachers and hordes of visitors were kept away. Nature has its own unique design for every species and its dietary needs.
The whole edifice of evolution by natural selection creates a structure where the grazers and predators strike a fine balance, and the creator ensures that diets are naturally balanced. How else can one explain the splendid fur of a wild Royal Bengal Tiger who has never been fed selenium and manages to stalk smallest prey without Vitamin A augmentation of his visual pigments?
Those in their fifties will remember our easy childhoods when our mothers strictly ensured three good meals with simple salads and fruits. One walked or cycled to school, played endless hours in the open, swam if one could afford and slept well.
No mother had a distinct diet “formula” for a four, a five, and a six-year-old as the kids just ate, played, studied and grew. We trusted mothers who in turn trusted nature and everything went fine. Let’s then leave it to the nature’s way, stick to our traditional diets, incorporate moderate activity and sleep in time. Mother nature will take care of the rest.
Ok folks, done with cats. Time for my Riboflavinated protein-extract to replenish my mental micronutrients that ensure my cognitive well-being.
Dr Rakesh Maggon is a specialist ophthalmologist with an interest in literature