Did you know that cats are the second most popular pet? According to global statistics, there are more than 200 million domestic cats worldwide. On every corner of the earth, people share their homes with feline friends. In fact, cats have been kept, loved, and even worshipped since ancient Egypt.
Nowadays, pet parents want to provide the best life possible for their kitties.
One key aspect of responsible pet ownership is food. As more and more people choose the vegan lifestyle for health, environmental, animal welfare, or religious reasons, they are also beginning to wonder, “Can cats be vegan?”
So, Can Cats Actually Be Vegan?
It may surprise you to learn that…yes!
Now that nutritionally complete vegan cat food exists, cats are fully capable of adhering to a vegan diet. In the wild, cats and other big felines like lions, tigers, and cougars hunt and kill their prey – not for fun, but for survival. This is how they get the nutrients their bodies require. Yet domesticated cats are different. There is simply no longer a need to hunt birds, small mammals, fish, etc. when nutritionally complete alternatives are available.
Interestingly, the animal protein used in most mainstream commercial cat food also contains animal species that cats wouldn’t even eat on their own, given the chance. For example, assorted body parts from pigs, sheep, horses, and cows. Therefore, it is possible for domestic cats to consume an animal-free diet.
Can a cat thrive on just chopped-up veggies alone? No.
However, if their nutritional, vitamin, mineral, protein, and amino acid needs are being met with complete pet food and supplements, then yes, they can.
This is fabulous news for vegans curious about raising their cats on a vegan diet.
When is the Best Time for Cats to Start a Vegan Diet?
When introducing a cat to a vegan diet, there are a few steps to make the transition safer. First, speak with a veterinarian or feline nutritionist. Professionals who know your pet’s medical history will be a wealth of information when it comes time to consider making the switch.
Next, think about their age. A kitten will have different needs than an adult. Ideally, starting young is best. For full-grown cats, go slow. Begin by mixing vegan food in with their regular meals. Then, reduce the meat content over time, always monitoring your pet for signs of weight loss/gain, energy levels, etc.
Deficiency Concerns Vs. Nutritionally Complete Diets
Now, as vegan cats become more prominent, there are concerns and counterarguments against feeding a cat a vegan diet.
For instance, you may have heard about the word: “taurine.”
For those who are unfamiliar, taurine is an amino acid. Amino acids are essentially the building blocks of protein, and taurine itself is not found in plants. Instead, it comes from animal sources such as meat and milk. If a cat is eating only plant-based foods (which do not contain taurine) then they run the risk of developing a taurine deficiency.
Healthwise, this can present as dilated cardiomyopathy (a heart condition) where blood isn’t pumped properly due to weakened heart muscles. Blindness is another common symptom of taurine deficiency. Likewise, traditional forms of protein assist in the production of hormones, enzymes, antibodies and proper PH balance.
Then there are vitamins and minerals: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, zinc, iodine, Vitamin A, B, D, B1, B2, B3 and B6 your cat will need too.
If this sounds scary, all the better reason to take your cat’s diet seriously!
At vpets, our products consider all of the above nutrient requirements for cats. That’s why we only recommend vegan cat food which meets these targets. Lean meat contains iron, yet so do legumes and whole grains. Similarly, thanks to modern technology, amino acids like taurine can be supplemented synthetically. Vegan cat food that uses top-quality ingredients will be 100% nutritionally complete.
And unlike commercial pet food brands, you have control over what goes into your beloved kitty’s bowl.
Hopefully, this article has provided a helpful overview of vegan diets for cats. Whether you are already in the process of going vegan or just thinking about it, vpets is here with information to clarify any questions pet parents might have. Remember, you are your kitty’s best advocate when it comes to health!