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.