How Much Protein Do Cats Require?

Cats need more protein than dogs.
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As obligate carnivores, cats require meat and higher protein than dogs. Cats need the amino acid taurine for good health. Without taurine, cats can suffer blindness, cardiovascular problems and reproductive problems.

AAFCO Profiles

To be labeled complete and balanced, commercial cat food must adhere to the Association of American Feed Control Officials guidelines for cat nutrition. That means that adult cat food must contain a minimum of 26 percent crude protein by weight in the guaranteed analysis. Kitten food must contain 30 percent or more crude protein by weight in the guaranteed analysis. Most commercial cat foods are formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition, however, many veterinarians think that the percentages aren't acceptable.

Veterinarian Recommendations

Many veterinarians believe that more protein is better for cats. Most cats will need 35 to 45 percent protein, according to many veterinarians. Dr. Lisa A. Pierson advocates feeding high animal proteins rather than plant proteins. She further advocates feed canned food instead of dry food to cats because cats don't get enough water and dry food often contains too many carbohydrates.


Kittens require 30 to 35 percent protein in their food. Ideally, a kitten should get 35 to 45 percent protein to grow and to develop strong muscles and tissues.

Senior Cats

Older cats are at risk of a condition that causes them to lose muscle mass called sarcopenia. It's caused by several things including reduced activity levels, protein deficiency, disease, neurological disorders and musculoskeletal disorders. Older cats are also at risk of developing kidney disease, so protein may put extra strain on the kidneys. Dr. Jennifer Coates recommends that a pet owner focus on feeding high quality meat protein rather than vegetable protein, which can't be digested well by the cat nor does it have the necessary amounts of required amino acids a cat needs.

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