What you eat is what you are. When it comes to cats, it is imperative to understand that they are carnivorous, and as such, removing the meat from their meal isn’t a good idea.
Is a vegan diet healthy for cats?
So, is a vegan diet healthy for cats? It might be if you provide them with the additional supplements that can’t be found in vegan diets, but it may not be enough.
A cats diet
Though cats can survive on a vegan diet, you need to take extra care that they get the additional nutrients, never feed your cat vegetables in the form of human food(1).
Instead, you can opt to buy fortified vegan cat food. Though you shouldn’t feed your cat a vegan diet, here are some of the additional nutrients which a cat doesn’t get from the respective diet:
Taurine – It is essential for optimal health and survival(2). It is a vital amino acid of which its absence can lead to dire medical situations.
Taurine deficiency develops between five months to two years. The lack of this amino acid leads to blindness, weakened heart, and digestive disturbances.
This supplement can be purchased through your vet or by buying special cat foods and treats.
Vitamin A – This vitamin should be induced daily for your cat’s overall health. If it isn’t present in your cat’s diet, you will first observe the following – an unhealthy coat and skin.
Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness, or overall your cat will seem very weak. Be careful not to feed them too much of it because cats can overdose on vitamin A and it also leads to several adverse reactions(3).
Arachidonic Acid – Cats themselves cannot manufacture this. This is an essential acid retrieved by the consumption of meat. Arachidonic acid helps in inflammatory responses, skin growth, aids clotting, and helps maintain the proper function of the reproductive and gastrointestinal systems(4).
Proteins – Cats had always had a substantial protein-based diet even before we domesticated them. If you indeed continue to opt for a vegan-based diet, you should make sure it is nutritionally balanced.
Though dogs can more easily adjust to a vegan-based diet, cats are different since they are obligate carnivores. They can’t survive without meat, and we shouldn’t impose on them such a diet(5).
They lack the enzyme needed to split carotene, which is usually obtained from plants – into vitamin A. Cats gain this vitamin from the liver of their prey, or meat their owners feed them.
They are hunters, always have been and always will be. Even domesticated cats still retain some of their killer instincts. It’s just the way it is since they are obligate carnivores.
In conclusion, you may opt for a vegan diet for your cat, but take into consideration the many things that such a diet lacks, which is essential for your cat’s overall health. Never completely remove meat from your cat’s diet.
Did you know?
– Another essential vitamin, B12, is also absent in a vegan-based diet.
– Dogs do better on a vegan-based diet since they are omnivorous.
– Veganism has risen by about 600% in the US alone between the years 2014 to 2017.