As veganism becomes more popular, people are starting to wonder if it’s possible to feed their cats with a vegan diet. While you’re no doubt aware of the health and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet, did you know that feeding your cat on a vegan diet is possible?
Some might think this idea would be cruel because cats are obligate carnivores, requiring animal protein to survive. However, many plant-based proteins can provide your cat with the necessary nutrients.
In this article, We’ll explore the feasibility of feeding your cat a vegan diet and if it’s a good idea. Keep reading!
Why Cats Eat Meat
As obligate carnivores, cats eat meat to survive. Cats have evolved for thousands of years into true carnivores and are therefore unsuited for a plant-based diet. While cats live by feeding on small animals like insects, reptiles, birds, and rodents in the wild, they can eat plant-based food to strengthen their fit when there aren’t other animals to hunt.
Most pet owners often wonder why dogs can survive on vegan dog food and cats can’t. The answer is that cats are pretty much different from dogs, and their metabolism and digestive system hardly cope without meat.
The following are some of the vital nutrients cats gain from eating meat:
Before turning into domestic pets and companion animals, cats ate birds and small rodents for survival. These foods contain high protein, and their bodies have adapted to and thrive on the diet. Therefore, any vegan cat food products you feed them must also be high in protein.
While most vegan cat foods contain a moderate amount of protein, ensure you go for a nutritionally balanced vegan cat food. Cats require lots of protein for energy, and animal products have a concentrated protein amount compared to plant-based ingredients.
Also, cats struggle to meet their nutritional requirements from plant diets because their gastrointestinal systems have evolved to digest meat-based food.
As a building block for protein, amino acids like taurine are crucial in maintaining cats’ health. Taurine is found only in animal products. While it might be amongst the synthetically based ingredients in dog foods or human diets, cats can’t eat synthetically produced taurine.
They have to obtain it directly from animal products. A taurine deficiency in cats can lead to severe health conditions, including a fatal heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy.
The cat might experience other conditions like blindness, visual impairment, pregnancy problems, compromised immune system, and retina degradation due to taurine deficiency. With lots of vegan cat foods available at the store, it might be possible to come across one with added taurine.
Cats ordinarily get this vital acid from meat since they can’t manufacture it themselves. However, cat owners planning on having vegan cats must ensure the vegan food they feed them contains arachidonic acid.
Besides protecting your cat from inflammation, arachidonic acid aids clotting and regulates skin growth. It also helps maintain the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems function.
Your cat needs a daily high dose of Vitamin A in its diet to remain healthy. Cats with Vitamin A deficiency have an unhealthy coat leaving their skin in poor condition. Also, they might appear weak and at risk of night blindness.
Therefore, cat owners with vegan cats will do well to supplement their cat’s vegan diets. However, feeding cats too much Vitamin A or D is also disastrous to cat’s health, with symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite
- Rough hair coat
- Weight loss
- Skin allergy on front limb and neck
- Abnormal sitting posture
Although cats mostly derive Vitamin D and A from meat-based diets, they can learn to get them from plant-based foods.
Cats and Plant-based Food
Although cats thrive on meat-based diets, they don’t have to feed exclusively on animal protein. While they need more fat and meat in their food than dogs or humans, they can survive on a 40% protein diet. Senior cats need less than the amount, while kittens need more than adult cats.
Many cats’ diets include grains and vegetables to add extra fiber; however, they’re often wholly safe for kitties. But, some cats are grain intolerant and can develop health problems from eating food that contains grains. Therefore, monitoring your furry friend while cereals and grains are in their food is best.
Cats can also eat grass as it helps with their digestive system to relieve upset tummies and blockages.
Does Vegan Cat Food Exist?
With more cat owners transitioning their pets to vegan cat food, there has been an increase in plant-based cat foods in pet shops.
These pet food for cats often contain a vegan taurine source, plant protein, and digestive aids to enable them to process their meal. However, there’s limited research on whether a plant-based cat’s diet can sustain your cat for a long time. Further research is needed to establish that cats can survive exclusively on plant-based ingredients, as Andrew Knight, a UK professor and animal welfare expert, has maintained.
Many cat experts, animal welfare charities, and vets, often strongly recommend against plant-based diets for your kitty. In some countries like Britain, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the British Veterinary Association are strongly against cat and dog vegan diets.
Even if you decide to feed your furry friend plant-derived diets, your cat will need constant vet checkups and supervision to ensure they’re thriving.
Any complication from the pet food could lead to discomfort, illness, or even death, depending on its severity.
Top 5 Vegan Cat Food Brands for 2022
While looking for the best vegan cat food for your furry friend, you might come across many pet food brands like Wild Earth. But what are the best vegan cat food brands out there? The following are the top five:
AMI Plant-based Cat Food
This award-winning vegan cat food brand produces vegan food that ensures your kitty gets most of the nutrients they need daily. However, consider supplementing the diet with wet food.
AMI cat food products don’t include animal by-products, food dyes, artificial preservatives, and GMOs. They’re only made from natural high-protein ingredients from brown rice, pea, whole pea, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast.
AMI’s taurine-added vegan food is rich in micronutrients, minerals, and nutrients to ensure a healthy cat. However, it contains maize as the base ingredient, making it non-gluten-free.
Wysong Dog and Cat Food
As an elimination protocols diet that helps you remove your cat’s basic food and add your preferred ingredients and proteins, Wysong’s vegan pet food produces dry kibble coated with probiotic enzymes for your cat’s welfare.
The cat food is supplemented with extra antioxidants, omega-3, probiotics, and prebiotics. It also contains added taurine in trace amounts because it’s only a base food.
Holistic Blend Cat Food
If you’re a pet owner who doesn’t want to feed your furry friend cat grains, your best bet is Holistic Blend cat foods. This unique formula only contains vegetables and fruits, including carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, apples, and blueberries.
The Holistic Blend formula is perfect for cats with grain sensitivities as it’s completely grain-free. However, it isn’t a complete cat meal; you’ll need to supplement with vegan dry food to ensure your pet gets all the nutrients they need.
Evolution Gourmet Cat Food
This dry, plant-based cat kibble is a complete cat food containing vital nutrients, vitamins, protein, and taurine for your cat’s general well-being.
You wouldn’t need to include other ingredients and supplements to ensure your pet gets a balanced, healthy diet. Seeing as it’s dry kibble, you’ll need to add water to make it more appealing and palatable for your feline companion.
While Evolution Gourmet cat food is expensive, the ingredients and nutritional value make up for the cost.
Benevo Vegan Adult Cat Food
As a natural vegan cat food brand, Benevo formula doesn’t have any artificial additives. Benevo cat’s diet comprised added taurine, yucca to reduce its odor, and spirulina.
The vegan food contains a good mix of fiber, fat, and protein, plus other vital nutrients and vitamins necessary for ensuring a healthy cat without depending on the meat industry for animal protein.
Benevo is also costly due to the quality of the ingredients used for the formula. Besides the high price, your adult cat will be happier eating Benevo wet food.
How to Know That Your Cat Is on a Healthy Vegan Diet
Keeping an eye on your cat’s overall health as a pet owner is necessary after transitioning your furry friend to a vegan diet. You’ll need to watch out for:
- Trouble urinating
- Signs of weakness
- High urine PH
- Unhealthy fur
- Signs of blindness
- Signs of heart issues
- Unhealthy skin
Also, ensure you have a vet check your cat’s urine to find out if it’s abnormally high in alkaline. A high urine PH leads to bladder stones and might result in a dangerous urinary tract infection that can be fatal for male cats.
Is Vegan Cat Food Healthy?
Buying high-quality vegan cat food made with natural ingredients, essential minerals, and vitamins while being rich in protein ensures your cats stay healthy. Hence you need to pay attention to the packet to be sure the vegan products you buy contain all your cat’s needs.
Why Are Cats Obligate Carnivores?
Due to the cat’s unique metabolism, they can’t synthesize most nutrients from a vegetarian diet like dogs and humans. Most adult cats must get these essential nutrients, amino acids, and complete protein levels from animal sources.
Cats have higher protein requirements than dogs, which they might be unable to meet if they depend only on plant-based nutrients like potato protein. Besides being lower in protein, plant proteins are more challenging to digest for cats than meat-sourced proteins.
Am I Vegan If My Cat Still Eats Meat?
You’re still vegan whether you feed your cats meat or not. Cats are true carnivores and mostly live off meat-based diets. As a cat owner, you need to understand that your furry friend’s life depends on you, and you have to make the right decision for it, even if it means keeping aside your vegan lifestyle to feed your cat meat.
What Are the Top Vegan Cat Food Brands?
Many vegan cat food brands are available in pet food stores, but Ami Cat and Benevo are the most popular. The brands produce nutritionally complete vegan products for both dogs and cats.
Although cats can transition to a vegan diet, it’s not as easy as one might think. Cats are naturally carnivorous and have evolved to depend on meat-based protein. While some pet owners might choose to take this route with their cats, most specialists and animal welfare advocates disapprove of it due to health problems like weight loss, blindness, and loss of strength that come with a vegan diet for dogs and cats.
If you decide to make the switch, pay close attention to your cat, especially in the first two weeks after making the change. Also, run regular checkups with your veterinarian to ensure they get all the essential nutrients they need from the vegan pet food.
The decision to make your pet go vegan rests with you. Thankfully, the Vegan Justice League is here to help you navigate the veganism journey.
We offer valuable tips and tricks to help you maintain a vegan lifestyle for yourself and your pet. Browse through our blog posts to find informational articles like this to help you live a healthy and happy vegan lifestyle.