Are you wondering if your kitty can thrive on a plant-based diet?
Cats cannot be vegan because they aren’t intelligent enough to understand the immoral aspects of breeding animals to slaughter them, using their skin and fur for pleasure, testing drugs and cosmetics on them, etc.
But, is a plant-based diet a suitable choice for your furry friend?
This is one of the most controversial topics of our time. As more people are getting aware of the horrors of the food industry, they’re switching to sustainable diets and lifestyles—Veganism being one.
So, it is natural for them to look into the benefits of a vegan diet for their pet as well!
In this blog post, I will answer the question, “Can a cat be Vegan?” in as much detail as possible.
Let’s get started!
Yes or No: Can a Cat Be Vegan?
The answer to this question is maybe.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to putting a cat on a vegan diet. Some people believe that cats would do rather well when given plant-based foods. Other, think otherwise.
I’ll go through this in detail in the following section.
Cats can’t be ethically vegan, though.
You can’t turn your cat’s hunting instincts off. If left to their own devices, your cat won’t wait for you to come and feed her, she’ll hunt her prey—just like nature intended to. You can’t teach your kitty what’s ethical and what’s not.
Why Can’t Cats Be Vegan?: What Experts Have to Say
Cats are obligate carnivores.
This means that cats need a good helping of meat in their diet to thrive.
That’s just how nature intended it to be!
Like all living beings on this Earth, cats have special nutritional needs that can only be fulfilled when they eat animal meat.
Cats have natural hunting instincts.
They love to stalk and hunt their prey—such as rats, squirrels, rabbits, etc. and go for the kill from a very young age. No amount of nurture can change your kitty’s predatory nature.
It’s All About the Nutrients
As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why cats may not be able to thrive on a vegan diet is the fact that a cat’s body needs certain nutrients that only animal meat can provide. These include Taurine, Vitamin A, Arachidonic acid, and proteins.
Let’s take a look at these in detail.
Kitties and Taurine
Taurine is an essential amino acid found only in animal-based foods and is crucial for your kitty’s optimal health. This is also one of the main reasons why vets feel that feeding your cat a vegan diet may not be the best choice.
If your cat doesn’t get enough Taurine in her diet, she’ll have to face dire health consequences. These include:
- Digestive disturbances
- A weakened heart
- Severe eye problems
Humans and dogs can synthesize Taurine in their bodies. However, this is not the case for cats. Sources of Taurine include meat, milk, etc.
According to Jennifer Larsen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist:
“We did see a case of a cat that almost died as a result of [a] Taurine deficiency. The owners were feeding a vegan cat kibble, so a commercially available vegan diet and they were mixing that diet with cooked chicken breast, for some reason, but it was not enough Taurine for the cat, obviously, and it resulted in a near-death experience for this animal.”
You can also buy synthetic Taurine supplements on the market.
But, keep in mind that they’re synthetic, which means that they aren’t as good as the real thing. In fact, some might also be harmful to your kitty’s health in the long term.
Vitamin A is Important, too!
Cats need a good helping of Vitamin A in their food to remain healthy and at their peak. Meat and other animal products are excellent sources of Vitamin A. So, naturally, the lack of the vitamin won’t be good for your kitty’s health.
Cats developing the early stages of a Vitamin A show signs of skin troubles and start developing an unhealthy coat, general weakness and night blindness soon follow.
So, most vegan cat owners supplement their kitty’s plant-based diet with Vitamin A. But, feeding your cat too much Vitamin A can cause her to overdose; the symptoms of which include:
- Skin allergy on the neck or front limbs
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal sitting posture
- Rough hair coat
- Weight loss
If you observe any of these signs in your cat, contact a vet as soon as you can.
Cats Need Arachidonic Acid
Arachidonic acid is an essential acid that cats can’t manufacture by themselves. They get this from a meat-baseddiet. Your cat’s body needs this nutrient as it is crucial for her body’s inflammatory response which is something that has an important role to play in her bodily protection mechanisms.
In addition to that, Arachidonic acid also helps in maintaining the proper functions of your cat’s gastrointestinal and reproductive systems, helps with clotting, and aids in regulating her skin’s growth.
So, you need to ensure that you get an Arachidonic acid supplement for your kitty if you put her on a vegan diet.
Cats and Their Fill of Vitamin D
You’ve known since elementary school that people produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
Well, things are a little different for your cat.
According to Dr. Lorie Huston:
“Cats lack the ability to [synthesize Vitamin D], resulting in Vitamin D (in its active form of calcitriol) being a nutrient that needs to be provided in the food. It is rare in plant sources, except those fortified with synthetic vitamin D, but is found in animals and fish.”
So, you will have to get your kitty a Vitamin D supplement if you’re considering putting her on a Vegan diet.
Cats Need Their Fill of Protein
Protein is one macronutrient that cats need more than any other in their diet.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cats thrive on a diet that’s high in proteins. A plant-based diet can’t provide your cat with the highly digestible, high-quality proteins that meet her dietary requirements.
Not just that, plant-based or vegan foods are rich in carbohydrates.
Your cat’s body is not designed to eat foods that are rich in carbs. Your cat doesn’t get the energy she needs from carbs. In fact, feeding your cat a diet that’s rich in carbohydrates can lead to several health problems in the future!
Natural Predators: That’s How Nature Intended it to Be!
What would cats be doing to survive if they weren’t domesticated by humans?
They’d be hunting!
Cats are opportunistic eaters which is why they’ve developed a taste for things that they might not hunt in the wild—like fish. However, if you leave a cat to fend for herself, she’ll survive.
Your cat has natural hunting instincts that she can’t suppress.
That’s the reason why she likes to chase that laser beam!
A meat-based diet is what your cat’s body has evolved to process. You can’t try to change that without adverse consequences.
That’s how nature intended it to be!
Here’s What Vegans Have to Say About Cats Being on a Plant-Based Diet
The main argument for people who believe that cats can be healthy on a plant-based diet is that you can make up for nutrients by using supplements.
Let’s take a look at their argument.
Commercial Cat Food Industry and Meat
PETA believes that the commercial cat foods available to buy on the market are not good for your cat’s health, to begin with.
Take a look at their argument.
4-D Meat and What it Means for Your Kitty
According to PETA,
“Every time you sit down to a meal containing meat, eggs, or dairy products, you’re dining on known carcinogens, bacteria, and other contaminants that can accumulate in your body and remain there for years.”
Mass-produced cat food contains hormones, bacteria, dioxins, antibiotics, and a whole lot of toxins as well as carcinogens!
What’s worse is that commercial cat foods are legally allowed to contain “4D” meat which is meat from dying, dead, diseased, and disabled animals. According to PETA:
“Many of these animals have died of infections and other diseases.
In all but a few states, it is legal to remove unusable parts from chickens and sell them to pet food manufacturers.”
Yikes! I guess it is best to stay away from commercial cat foods.
Here’s What You Can Do:
There’s no denying that this is absolutely true. However, you can choose to cook for your kitty at home, or look for a food brand that uses human-grade meat in their formula such as Rocketo.
Highly Processed Cat Food Causes Diseases
The kibble that you’re currently feeding your dog is extremely high in carbohydrates, contains little to no moisture, and is low in protein—which usually is plant-based.
There’s no way that your dog can sustain on this diet for a long time!
The food you buy for your kitty is cooked at a high temperature—about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than enough to destroy most of the nutrients in your cat’s food.
For foods that are cooked above 117 degrees Fahrenheit for about three minutes, the following happens:
So, there isn’t much of a point to feed your cat food that’s causing obesity, heart diseases, cancer, etc. in other cats.
So, the kibble that you’re feeding your cat is basically like junk food.
Here’s What You Can Do:
You can give your kitty some nutrient-rich raw food, or invest in raw-dehydrated food. You don’t have to give your cat highly processed kibble if you don’t want to.
Vegan Cats and Supplements
It is true that a vegan or a plant-based diet can’t provide your cat with all the nutrients that she needs.
It makes perfect sense.
However, it’s not something that should hold you back.
There are a lot of supplements available on the market which make it possible for you to make your cat a vegan. On top of that, you can find various brands that sell vegan cat and dog food!
So, your cat doesn’t necessarily need to consume meat to get all the nutrients she needs.
Why This Won’t Work:
A cat’s body is receptive of nutrients provided by nature. You really don’t know how safe something synthetic really is for your cat to consume. You shouldn’t mess with nature!
Vegan Kitty or Non-Vegan Kitty: What Should I Do?
Putting your cat on a vegan diet is something that you’ll need to think about seriously. I feel that you should talk to your vet, and other pet-owners before making your decision.
Here’s what I think about it.
Cats are Obligate Carnivores
This means that a cat’s body needs meat to stay healthy.
Your cat’s body isn’t designed to eat plant-based foods. It has evolved for thousands of years to thrive on meat.
However, due to advancements in the animal nutrition industry, it is possible for your cat to live a long, happy, and healthy life on a vegan diet—thanks to supplements. You’ll have to make sure that the food you buy for your cat contains the right ingredients.
The Supplements are Synthetic
As more and more synthetic stuff is being introduced in our lives, we’re becoming sicker.
The truth is that plant-based foods can’t provide your cat with some of the essential nutrients that she needs to survive. In fact, the lack of these nutrients can cause your cat to develop serious health issues, and can even lead to death.
That, in itself, is scary!
However, supplements in a bottle aren’t the answer to this!
First of all, you’d have to buy an awful lot of supplement to be able to put your cat on a vegan diet. But, they aren’t natural! This means that they can be harmful to your cat’s health and well-being in the long term.
Not a risk that I would take.
Isn’t it better if your cat gets her nutrients from natural sources—like nature intended it to be?
Cats and Plant-Based Foods: FAQs
In this section of the blog, I will go through some of the most-asked questions about cats and veganism.
Take a look.
Will My Cat be Healthy on a Vegan Diet?
Many people that have found success in feeding their cats a plant-based diet. Their cats are living happy and disease-free lives.
But, this may not be the case for all vegan kitties out there!
If you’re transitioning your kitty onto a vegan diet, there are a few things that you must look out for to ensure that your cat is safe and healthy. Following are some of the symptoms of poor health that you must watch out for:
- Trouble urinating
- Unhealthy skin
- Unhealthy fur
- Signs of weakness
- Signs of blindness
- Signs of heart issues (fatigue)
In addition to that, you must also get your cat’s urine tested by the vet on a regular basis to ensure that it’s not high in alkaline—which causes cats to have bladder stone that results in urinary tract infections.
I recommend getting a urine test every two weeks for the first couple of months after you’ve made the transition.
Isn’t It Illegal to Put Your Cat on a Vegan Diet?
It is in the United Kingdom.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, you need to make sure that all of your cat’s needs are met.
“This includes a healthy diet, as well as providing suitable living conditions, ability to behave normally, appropriate company and protection from pain, suffering, injury, and disease.”
You can risk facing a hefty fine or be jailed if convicted under this act if your cat undergoes serious health problems after you put her on a vegan or plant-based diet.
Why Can Dogs Be Vegan But Cats Can’t?
Dogs are omnivores.
Humans are omnivores.
Cats are carnivores.
It’s just that simple. Dogs can get all the nutrients they need to survive and thrive from plant-based sources of food. Cats don’t have that luxury as they’re strict carnivores and need a diet that is rich in meat to survive.
Summing it Up: Can a Cat Be Vegan?
The answer is no.
Most people become vegan because they want to get healthier or stop animal cruelty. It is a noble choice to make, and something that I respect.
However, unlike humans or dogs, cats can’t survive without meat.
They’re obligate carnivores, which means that they need meat in their diet to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
It’s true that there are a lot of supplements available on the market that can help your cat thrive on a vegan diet. But, they aren’t naturally sourced! They’re synthetic and come from the lab.
Following are the signs of trouble in vegan cats:
- Trouble urinating
- Unhealthy skin
- Unhealthy fur
- Signs of weakness
- Signs of blindness
- Signs of heart issues
You should call your vet as soon as possible if you come across any of these signs! They might cause serious health problems, and even result in death if not addressed promptly!
It’s just not worth the risk.
And, in fact, it is illegal in the United Kingdom under the Animal Welfare Act. If convicted, you’d be looking at jail time or a hefty fine for putting your cat on a vegan diet.
I feel that you should let nature have this one and not risk getting your kitty sick. After all, her health must be your main priority!
What do you think about vegan cats? Tell me in the comments section.