Nina Nandy

Gastroenterologist at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

The Dangers of Feeding Your Cat a Vegan Diet

The Dangers of Feeding Your Cat a Vegan Diet

One concerning trend that is rising in the pet community is turning your carnivore cat vegan. While you can make the decision to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, do not make the same choice for your cat. Even if you have good intentions behind feeding your cat a vegan diet, it will do more harm than good for your cat’s health.

If we look back at history, our cats’ ancestors primarily survived by hunting small animals, like rodents and birds, resulting in a meat-rich diet. Cats are considered an obligate carnivore, meaning they eat meat out of biological necessity. Similar to cats, other obligate carnivores include, dolphins, hawks, seals, lizards, snakes, and most amphibians

Since meat was the only source for sustenance, cats’ metabolism soon adapted. On the upside, these adaptions allowed cats’ bodies  harvest water from the kidneys of their prey, but on the downside, cats are often unable to breakdown human pharmaceuticals.

Two of the biggest differences in cats’ metabolism is that they require high quality of protein and a supply of Taurine to be healthy.

In a vegan diet you won’t find an animal or animal-derived ingredients, like eggs or milk. All bodies, animal and human, need protein to function. In a vegan diet you will find grains, pulses, beans and legumes, act as a protein substitute. However, these foods have low biological value when compared to the protein found in meat. These plant-based proteins, don’t contain all of the necessary amino acids. For humans, this isn’t a big deal.

As omnivores, human bodies use the plant-based proteins as building blocks and the create the missing amino acids. The same can’t be same for cats. They need protein that contains “high biological value”, in order to keep body functions like tissue growth, healing and repairing functionally properly.

If you feed your cat a vegan diet, they will most definitely become taurine deficient. Taurine is essential in maintaining your cats health.Taurine is responsible for platelet function, growing healthy bones, hair growth, healthy heart muscle and proper eyesight.

If a cat has a deficiency in Taurine it can lead to retinal disorders, blindness, dilated cardiomyopathy, skeletal deformities in kittens, and the inability to clot blood.

If you want the best for your cat, don’t feed them a vegan diet. Without a steady diet of high quality protein and Taurine, your cat’s health and wellbeing can be dramatically affected.

The Best (and the Worst) Places to Pet Your Cat

The Best (and the Worst) Places to Pet Your Cat

Cats are known for being particular when it comes to their likes and dislikes. As a cat owner, you may have already noticed their favorite spot to take a nap, if they prefer wet or dry food and most of all where they like to be pet. By now, you probably know what spots on your cat will make them purr over the spots that bring out the claws. Although all cats are different, there are a few places that all cats love to be scratched and rubbed.

A cat’s favorite place to be touched is where their scent glands are concentrated. You may have witnessed your cat rub their face against you or objects in your house. When you see a cat do this, they are leaving their scent to make their environment more familiar which in turn makes them feel safer and happier. With this in mind, the following places are four of the best spots that you can pet.

Base of the Chin 

Underneath your cat’s chin, gently rub your finger along the jawbone to where it connect to the skull. In this small area, you will find the majority of your cat’s scent glands, making it one of the purrr-fect places to be stroked.

Base of the Ears and Cheeks 

Similar to the base of the chin, the base of the ears and the cheeks contain many scent glands. While you pet this part of your cat, your cat may rub his head on you, this is called “bunting”.

Base of the Tail 

If you run your hand down your cat’s back, apply light pressure to the base of their tail. Scratching your cat in this spot will make them purr right away.

One spot that you should avoid petting, that all dogs love, but cats hate, is the belly. 

Unlike dogs, cats are not as secure as a predator. Cats are considered both predator and prey, and because of this, they are protective over their belly that contains all of their vital organs. Although you may think your belly rubs are harmless, to your cat they may trigger defensive mechanism involving their sharp claws.

Although these are the most popular “sweet spots” for cats, you will want to pay careful attention to how your cat is reacting. If you are petting a new cat for the first time, watch your cat’s reaction to decide whether or not you are in a good spot or not.

Introducing Your Cat to a New Cat

Introducing Your Cat to a New Cat

If you love being a cat owner, you will likely consider adopting another cat. Whether you want to give another cat a loving home or want to give your cat a friend, there are plenty of reasons why getting another cat is a good idea. Cats are sociable creatures and can enjoy the company of others, but sometimes it can be hard to acclimate a new cat into your home.

Depending on the personalities of you cats, they may get along after only a few hours or you may have to facilitate their interactions to avoid any fights. Don’t be surprised if your two kitties don’t get along right away. Your introduction should be gradual, it can take anywhere from 8 to 12 months for a cat to form a friendship with another cat. That being said, use the following tips to make the first interaction between your cats a step in the right direction.

Step One: Selecting a Cat 

If you do decide to get a second (or third) cat, there are some factors you may want to take into consideration. Although there is no way of accurately predicting whether or not your new and old cats will get along, there are a few general rules of thumb. If you are thinking about getting a kitten with an older cat in the house, think about getting two. The two kittens will be able to play with one another, while the older cat warms up to the new additions.

In addition, do your best to match personalities. If your long-term cat resident is more laid back, avoid bringing a new cat home that is aggressive and full of energy. Having similar personalities will help your cats create a bond faster.

Step Two: Keep Them Separate 

Instead of letting your new cat roam your house freely, set up a separate room filled with food, water, a litter box, toys a bed, etc. Having your cats in separate rooms will allow your cats to smell and hear each other. You may experience some hissing through the closed door, but that is a normal occurrence, especially as they begin to acknowledge each other’s existence.

During this time you may also want to introduce your cats’ scents to one another. You can do this by gently rubbing your cats’ faces with a towel and letting each cat spend some time smelling the towel.

Step Three: The First Introduction 

After your new and old cats have smelled and heard one another, it is time for them to see each other. I recommend using a baby gate or screen that can keep them from getting into a fight.

Step Four: Allow Supervised Interaction 

When you think you cats are ready, allow them to interact while you supervise. Keep a spray bottle on hand in case an altercation takes place. The best time for your cats to interact with one another is when they are calm, like after a meal or after playtime. As your cats become more and more acquainted, allow them to spend longer periods of time together. Over the course of a couple weeks, your cats will begin to tolerate each other and soon form a bond.

A Word From Nina Nandy’s Cat

Hi, my name is Lionel and I am a long haired tuxedo likely Maine Coon mix with giant kitten mittens and a big fluffy tail. I was a stray roaming the mean streets of Albuquerque until the age of one and a half when I was picked up by Animal Humane and neutered. My Nina Nandy Photohuman mommy, Nina Nandy, came in to meet me and though she was very sweet I was scared. Nina took me home and I was nervous because I had never lived inside before. She gave me lots of love and treats and toys but I would hide and one day I saw a way out and I ran away! I know she was very worried about me and put up flyers all over town and even went door to door looking for me. It took a few months and animal control picked me up and put me in the west side shelter and because I was microchipped Nina was able to find me again. Now I know to never run away again because I have the best life ever! I have all the cuddles, snuggles and treats a kitty could ever have and all the best toys! I particularly enjoy my giant black and white cat tree because it matches my colors, my window seat where I can catch all the sun I want, getting hair all over everything particularly clean laundry and generally being naughty. =^.^= Check out pictures, videos  and the latest antics of me, Lionel the snugglisest, most mischievous kitty in the world !