The argument whether a cat should be made vegan or not is a heated one. Cat owners who are vegans can’t stand the sight of their feline friend eating meat, and so they force their cats to accept a vegetarian diet just as they have. But is this ethical or even healthy for the cat?
When humans go vegan it’s usually for one of the following good reasons: for animal welfare concerns; their religion demands it; or to improve their health condition. And it works well for them as humans are omnivores – meaning they’re able to live on both plants and meat-based sources of protein. But is there a good reason for cats to be made vegetarians too? The answer is no! A vegan diet is unhealthy and even dangerous for a cat. Cat owners should never convert their feline friend into a “vegan carnivore.”
The mistake most vegetarian cat owners make is to liken their cat to a dog or human. This is a bad comparison because while dogs and humans are omnivores, cats on the other hand aren’t just carnivores, they are hyper-carnivores and must eat meat to survive. What a cat eats isn’t based on a choice they make, it is on the other hand a biological imperative, and can’t be brushed aside. It’s a known fact that when most cats are deprived of a meat-based diet by their owners, they resort to hunting and killing local native fauna because their life depends on consuming meat.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) have made it clear that while it is possible—though difficult—to keep dogs healthy and alive on just a plant-based diet, a vegan diet is far from being appropriate for felines. If you own a cat, and have subjected her to a vegetarian diet up until now, we hope this article convinces you to consider her health and feed her with meat as nature originally intended.
Here are 3 important reasons why your cat should never be made vegetarian:
Not all carnivores are obligate carnivores, but a cat sure is. What this implies is, domestic cats as their distant cousins in the wild must eat meat to survive. Even the digestive system of a cat makes it clear to us that cats are carnivores and should be left that way. The digestive system of a cat indicates what it should consume and what it shouldn’t – the gastrointestinal tracts and metabolism of cats are built for processing meat. In fact, the system of a cat can’t digest plant materials well. Cats unlike most other mammals have a shorter intestine length and are built to function best on diets made up of easily digestible food materials as protein.
The stomach acid within cats are highly concentrated and contain high levels of enzymes that break down protein perfectly, and low amount of enzymes that dissolve carbohydrates. So feeding cats with carbohydrate based meals does them no good. Food crops as soy and corn do have protein, but not better quality protein as is to be found in meat. The body of cats require a high amount of protein to thrive which is why cats must feed on meat. Cats depend largely on the protein meats provide not just synthetic and structural purposes, but also for sake of acquiring all the energy their body needs to function properly.
- Cats Needs Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid that is important for cats. Your cat needs to feed on meals that are rich in taurine if it’s to stay healthy, there are no two ways to it. Sadly, taurine can only be found in animal muscle meat which is another reason why cats must feed on meat on a daily basis. As a result of the essentiality of taurine within the body of cats, a deficiency affects almost every organ of their body system. Some of the dangers associated with a taurine deficiency in cats include: heart disease/heart failure (cardiomyopathy), stunted growth in kittens, blindness, immune system malfunction, decreased reproductive performance, and even death.
Taurine can be processed in other mammals as humans and dogs, but not in cats. Studies have shown that taurine is lost in the gastrointestinal tract of cats everyday as a result of being conjugated with bile. So for felines to make up for the lost taurine, and get the right amount of amino acid their body needs, it is important that they feed on the taurine-rich body tissues of other mammals. Cats that are subjected to a vegan diet will eventually develop a deficiency in taurine because plants lack this essential amino acid.
- Cats Needs Certain Vitamins
Plants are rich in vitamins, but not the sort of vitamins your cat requires. Felines need Vitamin A and it can only be found in the fatty tissue of other animals. Vitamin A is essential in the body of cats for bone and muscle growth, maintenance of vision, healthy epithelial tissues and reproduction. Cats in general are known to lack the intestinal enzymes responsible for converting the beta-carotene in plants to the active form of vitamin A, which is why they need to feed on meat.
Vitamin D is another important vitamin felines can’t do without. Cats are required to have vitamin D in their diet as their body isn’t able to synthesize it through the skin. Vitamin D is essential in cats for calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. The only way cats can make up for their inability to synthesize this essential vitamin is by feeding on the liver and fatty tissues of other animals.
In conclusion, being vegan is great for humans but not cats. Cats are naturally made to live on meat. While in the wild and before they were domesticated, cats fed on the flesh of mice, squirrels and birds – this is who they are and one’s aversion for meat as a vegetarian shouldn’t make the individual turn his/her kitty into something she’s not. As much as we want our dietary choices to be respected, we should also learn to respect the natural dietary choices of our dear feline friends. Truth is, anyone who has a strong aversion for meat and needs a vegetarian pet should consider acquiring such animals as a guinea pig or rabbit. Cats are not vegetarians and shouldn’t be forcefully turned into one!
Kritter Kommunity Contributor
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