Can A Cat Be Vegan? The Complete Guide

Are you wondering if your kitty can thrive on a plant-based diet?

In one sense, cats cannot be vegan because they aren’t able to understand the immoral aspects of meat industries. Cats aren’t often concerned with breeding animals to slaughter them, using their skin and fur for pleasure, testing drugs and cosmetics on them, etc.

But is a plant-based diet a suitable choice for your cat?

This is one of the most controversial topics of our time. As more people are getting aware of the horrors of the food industry, they’re switching to sustainable diets and lifestyles. It is natural for them to look into the benefits of a vegan diet for their pet as well!

In this blog post, we will answer the question, “Can a cat be vegan?” in as much detail as possible.

Let’s get started!

Nutrients & The Expert Opinions

Cats are obligate carnivores. They can get their entire balanced diet just from meats. In the modern world, cats need a good helping of meat in their diet to thrive.

A cat’s body is unable to synthesize certain nutrients the way that humans can. Some nutrients are provided only through meat.. These include Taurine, Vitamin A, Arachidonic Acid, and various proteins.

Let’s take a look at these in detail.

Kitties and Taurine

Taurine is an essential amino acid found only in animal-based foods and is crucial for your kitty’s optimal health. This is also one of the main reasons why some vets feel that feeding your cat a vegan diet may not be the best choice.

If your cat doesn’t get enough Taurine in his or her diet, your kitty will have to face dire health consequences. These include:

  • Digestive disturbances
  • Blindness
  • A weakened heart
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Severe eye problems

Humans and dogs can synthesize Taurine in their bodies. However, this is not the case for cats. Sources of Taurine include meats or some dairy products (even though cats are lactose intolerant).

According to Jennifer Larsen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist:

“We did see a case of a cat that almost died as a result of [a] Taurine deficiency. The owners were feeding a vegan cat kibble, so a commercially available vegan diet and they were mixing that diet with cooked chicken breast, for some reason, but it was not enough Taurine for the cat, obviously, and it resulted in a near-death experience for this animal.”

You can buy synthetic Taurine supplements on the market.

But, keep in mind that they’re synthetic, which means that they may not be as good as the real thing. In fact, some might also be harmful to your kitty’s health in the long term.

Vitamin A Is Important, Too!

Cats need a good helping of Vitamin A in their food to remain healthy and at their peak. Meat and other animal products are excellent sources of Vitamin A. So, naturally, the lack of the vitamin won’t be good for your kitty’s health.

Cats developing the early stages of a Vitamin A deficiency show signs of skin troubles and start developing an unhealthy coat. General weakness and night blindness soon follow.

Most vegan cat owners supplement their kitty’s plant-based diet with Vitamin A. But it can be hard to get the balance right with synthetics; feeding your cat too much Vitamin A can cause him or her to overdose. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Skin allergy on the neck or front limbs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abnormal sitting posture
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Rough hair coat
  • Weight loss

If you observe any of these signs in your cat, contact a vet as soon as you can.

Cats Need Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid is an essential acid that cats can’t manufacture by themselves. They get this from a meat-based diet. Your cat’s body needs this nutrient as it is crucial for his or her body’s inflammatory response. The inflammatory response plays an important role in your cat’s bodily protection mechanisms.

In addition to that, Arachidonic Acid also helps in maintaining the proper functions of your cat’s gastrointestinal and reproductive systems, helps with clotting, and aids in regulating her skin’s growth.

So, you need to ensure that you get an Arachidonic Acid supplement for your kitty if you put him or her on a vegan diet.

Cats and Their Fill of Vitamin D

You’ve known since elementary school that people produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Well, things are a little different for your cat.

According to Dr. Lorie Huston:

“Cats lack the ability to [synthesize Vitamin D], resulting in Vitamin D (in its active form of calcitriol) being a nutrient that needs to be provided in the food. It is rare in plant sources, except those fortified with synthetic vitamin D, but is found in animals and fish.” 

So, you will have to get your kitty a Vitamin D supplement if you’re considering putting her on a Vegan diet.

Cats Need Their Fill of Protein

Protein is one macronutrient that cats need more than any other in their diet.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, cats thrive on a diet that’s high in proteins. A plant-based diet can’t provide your cat with the highly digestible, high-quality proteins that meet his or her dietary requirements.

Not just that, plant-based or vegan foods are rich in carbohydrates.

Your cat’s body is not designed to eat foods that are rich in carbs. Your cat doesn’t get the energy she needs from carbs. In fact, feeding your cat a diet that’s rich in carbohydrates can lead to several health problems in the future, the first of which may be obesity.

Here’s What Vegans Have to Say About Cats Being on a Plant-Based Diet

The main argument for people who believe that cats can be healthy on a plant-based diet is that you can make up for nutrients by using supplements.

Let’s take a look at their arguments.

salad in a bowl

Argument 1: 4-D Meat and What it Means for Your Kitty

According to PETA,

Every time you sit down to a meal containing meat, eggs, or dairy products, you’re dining on known carcinogens, bacteria, and other contaminants that can accumulate in your body and remain there for years.”

Mass-produced cat food contains hormones, bacteria, dioxins, antibiotics, and a whole lot of toxins as well as carcinogens!

Commercial cat foods are legally allowed to contain “4D” meat which is meat from dying, dead, diseased, or disabled animals. According to PETA:

“Many of these animals have died of infections and other diseases.

In all but a few states, it is legal to remove unusable parts from chickens and sell them to pet food manufacturers.”

So is it best to stay away from commercial cat foods?

Here’s What You Can Do:

You can choose to cook for your kitty at home or look for a food brand that uses human-grade meat in their formula.

Argument 2: Highly Processed Cat Food Causes Diseases

The food you buy for your kitty is cooked at a high temperature – often about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than enough to destroy most of the nutrients in your cat’s food.

For foods that are cooked above 117 degrees Fahrenheit for about three minutes, the following happens:

Here’s Why This Isn’t A Good Argument For Having Vegan Cats:

Most cat foods now are fortified against this loss of nutrients. Commercial cat food is more than sufficient for your kitty.

You can also give your kitty some nutrient-rich raw food, or invest in raw-dehydrated food. You don’t have to give your cat processed kibble if you don’t want to.

Argument 3: Vegan Cats and Supplements

It is true that a vegan or a plant-based diet can’t provide your cat with all the nutrients that he or she needs.

However, it’s not an unsolvable hurdle.

There are a lot of supplements available on the market which make it possible for you to make your cat a vegan. On top of that, you can find various brands that sell vegan cat and dog food!

Your cat doesn’t necessarily need to consume meat to get all the nutrients that he or she needs.

Vegan Kitty or Non-Vegan Kitty: What Should I Do?

Putting your cat on a vegan diet is something that you’ll need to think about seriously. We suggest talking to your vet before making your decision.

It’s worth remembering that cats are obligate carnivores. A cat can get his or her full nutritional value from meats – no plants are required. Nature doesn’t intend for your cat to live a plant based life.

However, due to advancements in the animal nutrition industry, it is possible for your cat to live a long, happy, and healthy life on a vegan diet. He or she will need supplements to pull it off, but it’s possible. You’ll have to make sure that the food you buy for your cat contains the right ingredients.

Cats and Plant-Based Foods: Frequently Asked Questions

Will My Cat be Healthy on a Vegan Diet?

Many people that have found success in feeding their cats a plant-based diet. Their cats are living happy and disease-free lives.

But, this may not be the case for all vegan kitties out there!

If you’re transitioning your kitty onto a vegan diet, there are a few things that you must look out for to ensure that your cat is safe and healthy. Following are some of the symptoms of poor health that you must watch out for:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Unhealthy skin
  • Unhealthy fur
  • Signs of weakness
  • Signs of blindness
  • Signs of heart issues (fatigue)

In addition to that, you must also get your cat’s urine tested by the vet on a regular basis to ensure that it’s not high in alkaline. High alkaline from vegan diets can cause cats to have bladder stones or urinary tract infections.

We recommend getting your cat a urine test every two weeks for the first couple of months after you’ve made the transition to a vegan diet.

Is It Illegal to Put Your Cat on a Vegan Diet?

It is in the United Kingdom.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, you need to make sure that all of your cat’s needs are met.

“This includes a healthy diet, as well as providing suitable living conditions, ability to behave normally, appropriate company and protection from pain, suffering, injury, and disease.”

This won’t be a problem if you feed your cat supplements, but it is something to know about. Failure to comply in the UK can result in a hefty fine. You could be jailed under this act if your cat undergoes serious health problems after you put him or her on a vegan  diet.

Summing it Up: Can a Cat Be Vegan?

Yes, but it will be extra work for you to make sure that your cat is healthy and has a balanced diet.

Most people become vegan because they want to get healthier or stop animal cruelty. It is a noble choice to make, and something that we respect. However, unlike humans or dogs, cats struggle to survive without meat.

If you pursue a vegan diet for your kitty, you’ll need to make sure that he or she has the right balance of supplements that we mentioned above. We recommend talking to your vet to get exact dosages since it will vary depending on your cat.

If your cat is eating vegan, here are some signs of trouble to look out for:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Unhealthy skin
  • Unhealthy fur
  • Signs of weakness
  • Signs of blindness
  • Signs of heart issues
  • Fatigue

You should call your vet as soon as possible if you come across any of these signs. They might cause serious health problems and even result in death if not addressed.

We think that some things people do to animals are horrible, but we don’t think it’s worth it to pursue a vegan diet for your kitty. His or her body doesn’t function great without nutrients found only in meats. The slightest misstep with the supplements you give your cat could has a cascading affect on his or her health.

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