Many people adopt veganism in their diet for two reasons; some are concerned with animal welfare, while others want to improve their overall health. Since living a vegan life is easier, many pet owners want to make their pets adopt this lifestyle too. But the major part of the question is whether the plant-based veggie diet is safe for cats or not.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it is possible yet challenging to keep pet dogs healthy with a plant-based diet; however, the same diet is not appropriate for cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they only need meat to survive their life. There are plenty of reasons that tell us why cats can’t survive on the veggie diet, but all the reasons collectively come down to the fact that they are not adapted to eat plant-based food. Feeding cats plant-based food is simply like feeding cows meat. Digestive systems of both the animals are not geared to the opposite diet; in addition, they will not thrive on it.
Their obligatory carnivore’s nature makes cats eat only meat-based food. Their evolution back in thousand-year has made them unabated to eat the plant diet. They have to eat meat to survive; otherwise, their health can worsen.
In a world of wild cats, they can live on a diet of small animals such as birds, reptiles, rodents, and even insects. If they can’t find any creature to hunt, they start switching to plant food to boost their living diet. However, with the constant plant-based diet, they cannot survive in the long run because it doesn’t contain the amino acids and nutrients to keep them strong and healthy.
Many pet owners wonder how dogs could survive by a vegetarian diet despite being omnivores, but cats cannot. The short answer is that cats are different creatures than dogs, and their metabolism and digestive system cannot accept meat, and below is the reason behind it.
Cats require lots of protein diet to get energy, and many animal products have a concentrated amount of protein that cats are more likely to struggle to get from a plant-based diet. The gastrointestinal system of cats has evolved them only to digest meat-based food rather than to struggle to get the nutrients from plants.
Cats’ digestive system and metabolism do not work well with carbohydrate-based food, and they can’t even get energy from those diets. Your feline friends have to get energy from only animal sources, not plants.
The amino acid is crucial in making blocks for protein as it keeps our cats healthy and energized. Taurine is only found in animal products, and some animals like dogs and humans can synthesize taurine, but this doesn’t go for cats. Cats only need to eat animals to get this nutrient. If cats can’t find taurine in their diet, they are more likely prone to diseases such as cardiomyopathy and a fatal heart condition, visual impairment, degradation of retinas, taurine deficiency, blindness, and even problems in pregnancy.
Humans can’t survive without vitamins. Similarly, cats also need vitamin A and D from animal diets as they cannot effectively absorb them from plant sources.
One of the problems with feeding cats a vegetarian diet is that humans can synthesize taurine from sources other than animal protein, but cats do not. Thus, it will cause an inadequate supply of taurine and other essential nutrients found only in animal proteins. Without it, cats can lead to poor health as different parts of their body will struggle to function, and taurine deficiency has serious consequences.
The first and foremost area that is more likely to be affected is their eyesight, the photoreceptors in the retina. In the back of the eye, it needs taurine to work correctly, so blindness is the early symptom that happens due to taurine deficiency.
Cat’s heart muscles also depend on taurine, so the lack of a taurine diet will reduce the ability of the heart to pump blood, which over time can cause major heart disease or even death. This taurine deficiency can also lead to kitten development problems. It can suppress the immune system and increase the chances of blood clotting development.
Some pet owners require cats to have a vegan diet, which means that plant-based cat food is available in some stores. These foods usually have plant-based proteins, vegan taurine sources, and digestive benefits that help cats process their diet. However, there is not much research on whether these foods can nourish your fur baby for a long time.
Most vets, experts, and cat charities strongly recommend against the veggie diet for cats. Even if the food meets the cat’s requirement, your pet cat will still require supervision and vet visits to ensure they are thriving and surviving. This is because any problem could happen to cats; they can get severe health problems or even die. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has warned cat owners not to force their pet cats to eat plant-based cat food because it is considered cruelty that can lead to a conviction against animal welfare.
Because taurine deficiency can be fatal, it is recommended to feed your cat complete meat or fish-based cat diet. All cat food producers that are members of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association should ensure that their complete diets contain enough taurine.
Vegetarian cat owners need not be discouraged because cats require a meat-based diet. You should not feel as if you are betraying your values or your goal to not harm animals or the environment by feeding your cat in this manner. Instead, if you are feeding your cat meat food, then it means that you are providing them with what they require to remain healthy and happy, which is the ultimate goal and responsibility of a pet owner.
In conclusion, as you are aware of why a meat diet is essential for your little cat, then being a vegan person, you should not try to feed her a veggie diet. Firstly, she will not like that food. Secondly, if you want to feed her, don’t forget the above information about the cat’s health after eating plant-based food. Take care of your cats!