The cat’s digestive system is adapted for a meat-eating hunter that may not always be successful in catching a meal, so may occasionally gorge at a large kill. His mouth construction means that a cat tears or bites at his food, then swallows it quickly, giving the salivary juices virtually no time for the preliminary breakdown of starches into blood sugars. Any starches present in the cat’s diet are, therefore, of little nutritional value.
Feline gastric juices are more powerful than those of a human; they are, in fact, strong enough to soften bone. Cats can swallow large chunks of prey creatures rodents and birds and any parts such as feathers, hair and bones that are not quickly broken down in the stomach may be regurgitated.
In the stomach, protein is broken down into simple amino acids basic constituents of proteins. These are then combined to form the building blocks necessary for replacement of cells throughout the cat’s body. From the stomach, partly digested food passes through a valve called the pylorus to the small intestine. Further digestion changes take place, aided by secretions from the pancreas and liver. Fats are broken down and extracted, sugars are changed structurally ready for storage and minerals are absorbed.
From the small intestine, the now fluid food contents pass into the large intestine, where they are acted upon by the specialized bacteria present there. Excess water is drawn off and utilized where appropriate, and the waste passes through the colon to be voided as faeces solids or as urine liquid.