Pets are part of our family, but that doesn’t mean they can live large on the same calorie-rich foods humans do.

A cat’s diet should be especially well balanced because cats are obligate carnivores, which means their nutritional needs are best met by animal proteins. The best way to ensure your cat gets enough protein is to feed her a diet that contains at least 60 percent animal-based proteins. Protein requirements for dogs are less rigid, but most dog foods contain between 10 and 30 percent protein.

“In general, the diet of a cat should be about 60 percent animal-based proteins and 40 percent fats from vegetables,” says Dr. Oscar E Chavez, a board-certified veterinary nutrition specialist at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “Cats need a large amount of energy in their diets in order to be in good condition. Otherwise, they will become not only malnourished but also overweight.”

Many cats can’t digest grains well, which causes a loss of nutrients in the body that prevents your pet from remaining energetic. Cats’ natural diet does not consist of carbohydrates or fiber, which means they don’t process these foods efficiently.

As a result, the majority of carbohydrates in cat food should come from vegetables and not grains. Cats can’t digest fiber as humans do, so they shouldn’t eat many fruits because these foods contain high amounts of fiber and sugar.

“Feeding your pet anything other than meat may cause nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism,” says Dr. Chavez. “This is a condition that occurs when the body tries to compensate for the lack of calcium by taking it from bones.”

Cats can’t make vitamin C on their own, so pet owners need to ensure they get enough of this nutrient in their diet. The best way to do so is with meat and fish, which are high in ascorbic acid. If you don’t provide a diet with enough ascorbic acid, your pet might develop scurvy and be more prone to infections.

Your cat’s teeth should show some scuffing and staining on them, at the very least. This is normal and happens when pets eat dry food, which is more natural for them. In fact, dry food is the only type that doesn’t stick on a cat’s teeth and cause plaque accumulation.

Cats can’t digest certain fats well, either, so too much of this substance may lead to obesity and heart conditions. Animal-based fats are better for your pet than plant-based fats because the latter promotes inflammation.

Most cat owners know they need to give their pets a balanced diet, but cats’ nutritional needs are much different from dogs’, and you might not be providing them with what they need.

Cats require a lot of energy and protein in their diet, and this isn’t easy to achieve if you feed them only dry food because they need water to dissolve this type of kibble.