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Is It Possible For A Cat To Be Vegetarian?

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Is It Possible For A Cat To Be Vegetarian?

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This post was updated on January 1, 2024

WANT TO KNOW IF YOUR CAT CAN BE A VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN?

You’ve pounced in the right article because I wanted to know too! Being a cat parent with three kitty cats, two who were FIV positive, I needed to know the best diet for them. I now have an adult cat I have raised since he was a baby kitten, and he is well over 10 years old now. ANOTHER clean bill of health from his vet last month! I have done all the homework for you (and me) on this controversial topic; can cats be vegan or vegetarian and I am sharing it all with you.

Many people have gone to vegetable-only diets and even vegan lifestyles. But, is it okay for cats to be veggie cats? This post unpacks the question, is it possible for a cat to be vegetarian.

In this post, you’ll learn these topics –so that you can know for sure.

  • Is it possible for a cat to be vegetarian
  • Do cats need meat to survive?
  • What are obligate carnivores?
  • The need for taurine in a cat’s diet
  • Vitamins cat need
  • FAQ

Kritter Kommunity recommends these moist foods for cats:

Wellness Pate

Weruva

Wellness CORE Grain-Free

🐱Let’s pounce in and unpack this interesting, but very important topic!🐱

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A CAT TO BE A VEGETARIAN?

Attempting to feed a cat a vegetarian or vegan diet can lead to malnutrition, digestive problems, and even blindness or heart disease. Therefore, it is not recommended to try to make cats vegetarians.

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 ‘veggie 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. On the other hand, it is 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.

DO CATS NEED MEAT TO SURVIVE?

Yes, cats need meat (mostly meat) to survive and thrive. The cannot successfully be vegans.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their bodies are designed to thrive on a diet consisting primarily of meat. While humans and some other animals can obtain all the necessary nutrients from a vegetarian or vegan diet, cats require certain nutrients that can only be found in animal-based protein sources.

RELATED: SHOULD I FEED MY CAT WET OR DRY FOOD?

Attempting to feed a cat a vegetarian or vegan diet can result in serious health problems, including malnutrition, digestive issues, and even death.

Not all carnivores are obligate carnivores, but a cat sure is. This implies that domestic cats, as their distant cousins in the wild, must eat meat to survive.

Even a cat’s digestive system makes it clear to us that cats are carnivores and should be left that way. A cat’s digestive system indicates what it should consume and what it shouldn’t – the gastrointestinal tracts and metabolism of cats are built for processing meat.

The design of a cat can’t digest plant materials well. Unlike most other mammals, cats have a shorter intestine length and are built to function best on diets made up of easily digestible food materials such as protein.

RELEVANT: Feline Physiology: Understanding Cat Body Components and Bone Structure

The stomach acid within cats is highly concentrated and contains high levels of enzymes that break down protein perfectly and low amounts of enzymes that dissolve carbohydrates. So feeding cats with carbohydrate-based meals does them no good. Food crops such as soy and corn do have protein, but not better quality protein as is to be found in meat. The body of cats requires a high amount of protein to thrive, so cats must feed on flesh. Cats depend mainly on the protein meats provide for synthetic and structural purposes and acquiring all the energy their body needs to function correctly.

Taurine in a Cat’s Diet

One of the most important nutrients that cats need is taurine, an amino acid that is essential for maintaining healthy heart function and vision.

Taurine is found naturally in animal-based protein sources, such as meat, fish, and eggs, but is not present in plant-based protein sources. Without sufficient taurine in their diet, cats can develop a range of health problems, including blindness, heart disease, and reproductive issues.

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, another reason cats must feed on flesh daily. As a result of the essentiality of taurine within the body of cats, a deficiency affects almost every organ of their body system. Some dangers associated with 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 every day due to 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, they must feed on the taurine-rich body tissues of other mammals. Cats subjected to a vegan diet will eventually develop a deficiency in taurine because plants lack this essential amino acid.

Vitamins for Cats

Cats also require certain vitamins and minerals that are typically only found in animal-based protein sources, including vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium.

While some vegetarian or vegan cat foods may be fortified with these nutrients, the bioavailability of these nutrients from plant-based sources is often lower than that of animal-based sources. This means that even if a cat is consuming a diet that is technically meeting all their nutrient needs, they may not be able to fully absorb and utilize these nutrients.

Vitamin D is another critical vitamin felines can’t do without. Cats must have vitamin D in their diet as their body can’t synthesize it through the skin.

Vitamin D is essential in cats for calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. Cats can only make up for their inability to synthesize this critical vitamin by feeding on other animals’ livers and fatty tissues.

In addition to the potential health risks of feeding a cat a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are also ethical considerations to take into account. While it is understandable that some cat owners who are themselves vegan may be uncomfortable with the idea of feeding their cats meat, it is important to remember that cats are not humans and have different nutritional needs. It is not ethical to force a cat to adhere to a diet that may be detrimental to their health.

FAQ

Is it OK to give cats wet food everyday?

YES! Feeding your cat wet cat food on a daily basis has a lot of benefits that can greatly improve your cat’s health and well-being.

Benefits of Feeding Wet Cat Food DailyExplanation
Adequate HydrationWet cat food has high moisture content, aiding in proper hydration, which is crucial for urinary tract health and overall well-being.
Nutritional BalanceOffers a balanced diet with essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals necessary for a cat’s growth, energy, and immune system support.
Digestive Health ImprovementEasier digestion due to the higher moisture content and protein structure, reducing the risk of digestive issues such as constipation or hairballs.
Weight ManagementHelps in weight control as it typically has fewer carbohydrates and fewer calories per serving compared to dry cat food, aiding in weight management.
PalatabilityOften more appealing in taste and texture, making it a preferred choice for picky eaters or cats with dental problems that find it difficult to chew hard kibble.
Urinary Health SupportIncreased water intake from wet food helps in reducing the risk of urinary tract issues like crystals or infections in cats prone to such problems.
Senior Cat CareEases the consumption for senior cats who might have dental issues or a reduced sense of smell, making it easier for them to eat and get adequate nutrition.
Allergies and Sensitivities ManagementCan be helpful for cats with food allergies or sensitivities since many formulations are grain-free or contain different protein sources than dry food options.
Feeding Routine VarietyAdding wet food to a cat’s diet provides variety, preventing mealtime boredom and encouraging a more diverse nutritional intake.
Improved Coat and Skin HealthRich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that can promote healthier skin and a shinier coat, reducing issues like dry skin or excessive shedding.

Feeding wet cat food daily can provide numerous benefits contributing to the overall health and happiness of your feline companion.

Hydrating

Firstly, wet cat food provides a significant source of hydration which is essential for cats, especially those that don’t drink enough water.

Flavorful

Secondly, wet cat food is more palatable and flavorful than dry food, which makes it more appealing to picky eaters. Additionally, wet cat food is easier to digest and can help prevent digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea.

Protein

Moreover, wet cat food typically contains high-quality protein and other essential nutrients that are necessary for your cat’s overall health and vitality. Lastly, feeding your cat wet food can help with weight management, as it tends to have fewer calories than dry food. Overall, incorporating wet cat food into your cat’s daily diet can have many benefits and is a great way to ensure your furry friend is healthy and happy.

“Fillers in dry food increase the carbohydrate content of cat food, which may make it easier for your cat to gain weight.” –LAURSEN VETERINARY SERVICE

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the debate over whether cats can be vegetarian or vegan may be a heated one, the overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that cats require a diet primarily consisting of animal-based protein sources to maintain optimal health.

Attempting to feed a cat a vegetarian or vegan diet can result in serious health problems. 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.

🐾 Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC! 🏡 She’s got a dapper tuxedo cat who’s been her sidekick since he was a tiny furball. 🐱 Before Finnegan came along, Lisa cared for two FIV-positive cats for over ten years! 🌟 Their love inspired her to create a cat enclosure and a portable catio, giving kitties the purrfect spot to bask in the sun and feel the breeze. ☀️🌿

As a kid, Lisa shared her home with a Poodle and a chirpy parakeet! 🐩🐦

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