Can Cats Be Vegan?

Are Felines Able to Adapt to Different Dietary Lifestyles Like Humans?

It’s no secret that cat lovers want to share everything with their favorite felines, so why not share in the choices they make in the way that they live their lives as well? On top of that, you just want the best for your cats, and if you’re a vegan, you know how the benefits of veganism are positive to your life, won’t they be just as positive for your cat as well? If you’re wondering if cats can be vegan, we’ll explore that and more in this article.

People choose to be vegan for many reasons. Some decide to make the change with ethical motives of protecting the earth and the animals that inhabit it, others make the switch to improve their health. The results for humans are clear, but for cats — the short answer is that they can’t handle it.

The key thing that you need to know is that cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they physically need meat in their diets to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, cats are unable to sustain a vegan diet because they lose several of the important nutrients that they receive from eating animal products. Feeding a cat a vegan diet is basically like feeding a cow a carnivore diet. Cats have evolved over centuries to specifically digest meat, so their digestive systems aren’t able to manage a vegan diet.

The Dietary Requirements for Felines Helps Determine if Cats Can Be Vegan

There are also several vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that cats need from animal products, that they aren’t able to receive in sufficient quantities from plant-based foods. Let’s dive into what they are.

Taurine
This is the big one. Taurine is an amino acid that is essential for healthy cats. It occurs naturally in animal products such as meat and milk. Humans and dogs are able to create it naturally within their bodies, but cats aren’t, so they have to get it from an outside source. Without taurine, cats can become taurine-deficient, which can cause dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and blindness. DCM is the more serious of the two because if it’s not caught early it has a high mortality rate.

Vitamins A, B12, and D
Each of these vitamins are found in animal products and are required to keep your cat healthy. Cats aren’t able to create any of these within their body, so it’s essential that they exist in their diet. Without them, they can also cause a slew of health issues if your cat becomes deficient.

Protein
While this is one that a lot of vegans argue is easy to find in their diets anyway, cats need a diet that’s heavy and rich in protein, and they’re unable to get enough from plants.

There are supplements available that you can add to your cat’s vegan diet, but they make it easier for your cat to receive too much, and toxicity in one of these nutrients is just as bad as being deficient. The easiest way for a cat to hit the balance of what they need for a healthy lifestyle is to eat what they were designed to eat — meat.

The other big problem with feeding your cat a vegan diet is that typically the vegan diet is rich in carbohydrates. This is bad for cats because their bodies literally aren’t equipped to digest them. As cats evolved their bodies cut out for the need for carbohydrates, and today’s housecat requires calorie-dense options rather than carbs to receive energy.

On top of all the science behind what your cat should and shouldn’t eat, there’s also the fact that many cats won’t be keen on eating a vegan diet. Cats are finicky creatures, and the last thing any cat owner wants is for their cat to simply refuse to eat altogether.

What Can Vegans Do?

If you’re a vegan, unfortunately including your cat in your dietary lifestyle probably isn’t the best idea. It can be done, but cats that eat a vegan diet need to be regularly monitored by their vet to make sure they aren’t falling susceptible to any health issues or other complications. Not only is this time consuming, but it’s also expensive to have tests constantly performed.

If you’re not willing to do those things, you’re putting your cat at serious risk. So what can vegans do? It’s understandable that you wouldn’t be comfortable feeding your cat meat or animal products, but it’s important to remember that this is your personal decision, not your cat’s. What you can do is purchase cat foods that are locally-sourced, or look for companies that are doing their part to care about the environment and the food that they put out, they do exist! Care for all animals includes making sure they live their best lives, and for cats, that’s a diet that’s rich in animal products.

Is Vegan Cat Food Safe for Your Pet?

Having Your Cat Eat the Same Diet as You Might Not Be as Good as You Think

Many cat owners who have chosen to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet wonder if feeding their cats the vegan cat food is a safe choice. It’s completely understandable that you’d want to share your values with your pet — you think of them as part of your family! It might also be uncomfortable for someone who follows veganism or vegetarianism to purchase animal products for their cats. However, it’s important to be fully educated about the feline diet and what your cat needs to be healthy before you choose to make such a dramatic shift in their diet.

Here’s something you’ll want to think about. Is a cat able to eat a vegan diet in the first place? Unfortunately, many vets say no. Cats are genetically designed to be carnivores or meat-eaters. While dogs might not have as difficult a time adjusting to a different style of diet, cats are obligate carnivores. Which means that they literally need meat in their diet to receive the nutrients and vitamins required to keep their bodies functioning the way they’re supposed to.

So, if you want to feed your cat vegan cat food — is it safe? Let’s take a look at the differences between food options and the essential nutrients that your cat needs.

Does Vegan Cat Food Have Everything Cats Need to Be Healthy?

Everyone has heard of cats who bring their owners dead animals like birds or mice. You might have even had it happen to you! This isn’t just our cats trying to mess with us, it’s part of a cat’s natural instincts to hunt, kill, and eat animals. Cats are skilled hunters. However, in the event that a cat is unable to eat meat, they are able to adjust to a plant-based diet. The catch is that it’s not meant to be long term.

If you have an outdoor cat, you’ve probably noticed these hunting skills. Think about the things that she’s gone after. There’s a key reason why your cat isn’t going after vegetables and grains. You may have noticed that your cat enjoyed munching on grass or other plants, but this is more for a form of dietary aid than a sufficient meal.

Cats meet their nutritional needs by getting specific key nutrients — namely vitamin A, D, B12, taurine, and arachidonic acid — from meat. Each of these nutrients, even if they are included in a vegan cat food option, are sufficiently supplied to keep your cat healthy.

So what happens if your cat doesn’t receive these key nutrients? Essentially their body is put at serious risk. Your cat can become deficient in important vitamins and minerals and if it’s continued for a long time, these deficiencies turn into serious health risks. Taurine specifically causes the most common problems. Without it, a cat could develop cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where an enlarged heart leads to markedly reduced contractions.

The main problem with vegetarian or vegan cat food is that it’s typically missing amino acids and has too many carbohydrates. Why are carbohydrates bad for cats? Their bodies have evolved over time to not need them, which means that they’re unable to digest them.

No matter what diet you eat, everyone wants the very best for their cats. It can be difficult for a vegan or vegetarian to feed their cat meat, but it’s important to remember that the choice you’re making is for yourself, not your cat. Your cat is unable to understand the ethical or health values that drove you to change your diet, and it’s not worth putting your cat at serious risk.

That being said, the cat foods like dry kibble or wet food that you commonly find at the store aren’t often made from factory-farmed animals. For vegans and vegetarians wanting to make a compassionate choice for their pet, consider looking for locally-sourced options where you can find humanely-raised meats to feed your cat. There are also refrigerated foods that mention “free-range” or “pasture-raised” to help you recognize an option that’s better for the environment. It’s also a good idea to talk to your vet to get their opinion on good options as well.

The true focus of being a vegan or even a vegetarian is that you want to cause as little suffering to animals as possible. While it’s not recommended that you feed your cat vegan cat food, there are still options that allow you to feel like you’re still making a positive impact on the planet and keeping your cat healthy at the same time.

Is Vegan Dog Food Safe for Your Pet?

While Dogs Can Process Both Plants and Animal Products, Vegan Dog Food Might Not Include All the Nutrients They Need

Should you feed your dog vegan dog food? What about a vegan diet? While dogs can technically handle a vegan diet, vegan dog food might not have all the nutrients that your dog needs to be healthy.

While veganism is a choice that many humans make for both ethical and health reasons, it’s key to remember that dogs and humans process foods differently. It’s easy for us to see and feel the benefits of a vegan diet, but they’re not necessarily the same for your dog. Dogs are omnivores, which means that their bodies are able to digest and absorb essential nutrients from most plants and animals. However, when you omit animal products completely, the main things that dogs lose are proteins and fats. Every vegan loves being asked where they get their protein from, but with dogs, the argument is a little harder to back up.

A dog’s diet needs to be about 15 to 30 percent protein, and a few of the essential ones like keratin, elastin, and collagen are pretty difficult to get from a plant-based diet. However, with the right nutrition planning a vegan diet can be done. The question is whether or not you should feed your dog a vegan diet.

For some dogs, food allergies make it difficult to eat any animal proteins. These are one of the most common allergies that dogs face, and a vegan diet can make it a little easier for your dog to eat. In some cases, a vegetarian diet might be the better option, but that’s why it’s crucial that you speak with a vet or a vet nutritionist to determine what’s best to feed your dog.

If you’re a vegan for ethical reasons, it can be difficult to justify feeding your dog animal products because it goes against what you believe in. However, this is when it’s important for you to focus on the fact that being a vegan was your choice, and your dog doesn’t have the ability to make the same choice. A vegan diet can be extremely dangerous for dogs if it’s handled incorrectly, and there’s not a lot of room for error. If your dog doesn’t receive the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, it can be deadly.

Of course, it does take a lot to get to that point, and severe health issues tend to stem from deficiencies in protein or other vitamins that your dog needs to survive. If they’re spotted early they can be corrected, but if they’re not your dog’s health can take a significant turn for the worse.

If you want to switch your dog to a vegan diet, there are vegan dog foods available that include all the essential nutrients of a dog’s diet, but make sure you check with your vet and schedule regular checkups to ensure that your dog’s levels stay normal.

Can Dogs be Vegetarian?

Whereas a vegan diet is a little trickier to manage, a vegetarian diet for dogs is a lot easier to tackle. Although some people believe that dogs should eat meat, your dog can live without meat in their life and remain healthy.

A vegetarian diet for dogs doesn’t struggle to find the right amount of proteins or fats mainly because of eggs. With eggs, your dog is able to get a strong source of protein as well as amino acids, which are another key factor of a healthy diet. There are plenty of dog foods available that are meat-free but utilize dairy and eggs to provide a well-balanced meal.

If your dog has food allergies, a vegetarian diet makes it easy for your pet to avoid foods that may irritate him so he can get the food he needs without issue. If you’re making the switch for ethical reasons, you’ll want to have a discussion with your vet to be sure that your dog is getting the right combination of nutrients. Your vet will be able to recommend good dog foods to choose from and help you identify signs that something might be wrong with your dog related to their diet.

Overall, dogs can make the switch, it’s just important that you’re cautious and paying close attention to what your dog needs. If you have cats, you might be wondering if they can switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet as well. However, for cats, it’s not the same situation.

Is There Such a Thing as Vegan Cat Food?

Just like you have to consider the difference between how dogs and humans digest foods, you have to consider cats as well. If you’re a vegan and want to share your lifestyle with your cat, it actually isn’t a good idea. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats need meat in their diet in order to receive the key nutrients to stay healthy. Most vets strongly recommend against vegan cat food and vegan diets for cats because of how much they’ll lose without meat.