Body composition and amino acid concentrations of select birds and mammals consumed by cats in northern and central California

N. A. Kremen, C. C. Calvert, Jennifer A Larsen, R. A. Baldwin, T. P. Hahn, Andrea J Fascetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The diet of the feral domestic cat consists of primarily birds and small mammals, but the nutritional composition is relatively unknown. Because of the increasing popularity of natural diets for cats and other wild captive carnivores, the purpose of this study was to describe the body composition and AA concentrations of select birds and small mammals in northern and central California: wild-caught mice (n = 7), Norway rats (n = 2), roof rats (n = 2), voles (n = 4), moles (n = 2), gophers (n = 3), and birds (n = 4). Body water, crude fat (CFa), CP, ash, and AA composition for each specimen were determined. Results are reported as mean ± SD. All results are reported on a DM basis except body water (as-is basis) and AA (g/16 g N). Combined, carcasses had this mean composition: 67.35 ± 3.19% water, 11.72 ± 6.17% CFa, 62.19 ± 7.28% CP, and 14.83 ± 2.66% ash. Concentrations of Arg, Tau, Cys, and Met were 5.63 ± 0.46, 0.92 ± 0.33, 1.91 ± 0.89, and 1.82 ± 0.19 g/16 g N, respectively. Using NRC physiologic fuel values for CP, CFa, and carbohydrate by difference, the combined average energy content of the carcasses was 3,929 kcal/kg DM, but the fiber content was not determined. With the exception of mice and rats, little historical data exist regarding the body and AA composition of many of the species analyzed in this study. Wild-caught mice and rats were composed of less fat but more ash compared with previously reported data in their purpose-bred counterparts. The CP content of mice in this study was similar to previous reports in purpose-bred mice. The CP content of rats was similar or slightly greater compared with historical findings in purpose-bred rats. The N content of rats and AA concentrations on a per-N basis for both rats and mice were similar to previously published data on purposebred rodents. The discrepancies in nutrient composition, especially fat concentration, indicate that using purposebred animals to represent the diet of the feral domestic cat may not be valid in many instances. When consumed to meet energy needs, the nutrient content of the species reported in the present study exceed the NRC (2006) recommended allowances (RA) for total fat, CP, and essential AA for felines at all life stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1270-1276
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Amino acid
  • Ash
  • Body composition
  • Diet
  • Fat
  • Feline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science
  • Genetics


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