The feline has emerged through the stages of evolution as an obligate carnivore, which means that all cats, from the domestic house cat to the Bengal tiger, are creatures whose carnivorous nature is 100 percent dependent on their species-specific diet: fresh raw prey. Everything about the cat, from its unique physiology to its behavior, demonstrates that what it needs to achieve optimum health depends on fulfilling its strict dietary requirements.
The Carnivore’s Teeth
A cat’s mouth contains four long teeth called canines at the front of the jaws. He has sharp serrated teeth at the back of the jaw, which are used to grasp and tear the meat from the bones. These teeth contain an array of pressure-sensitive nerves. When a cat grips a mouse with his canines, his teeth find the space between the mouse’s vertebrae and deliver a quick, clean, killing bite. Remember, in the wild, the cat only gets to eat and feed its young when they win the battle and manage not to have dinner whisked away by another predator. Survival of the fittest is the law of the jungle even if the jungle is your own home.
The cat, both large and small gets its nutritional needs met secondhand through the prey animal! It serves as a kind of processing plant for everything the feline needs nutritionally. The cat has myriad receptors for certain chemicals found in their meal of raw meat. Cats can taste if their meat is fresh killed, or if it comes from the meat department of your local health food store. Cats know (in their brain stem and cerebellum, which govern instinctual survival behaviors and thinking) whether the prey is a minute or a day from its end. They may even be able to detect how the prey died if they didn’t kill it themselves.
Cats, if given the choice, would prefer their mice (as it is the natural diet of our cats) to our modern store bought meat, but I am not suggesting that you turn your house cats out into the wild and allow them to fend for themselves as for sure it’s a jungle out there today. A mouse in your house may seem like a golden opportunity to test your cat’s natural instincts. But please note that many house mice have ingested rat poison, and field mice can carry infectious diseases and parasites.