Can You Feed Your Cat a Vegan Diet?
There is a wide range of reasons for why someone might choose to become a vegan. However, what is common to them is a strong sense of passion. As a result, some people who choose to become a vegan might be interested in seeing others become a vegan as well, with one potential example being their pet cat. Unfortunately, while interested individuals can choose to feed their cat a vegan diet, this is something that will have very negative consequences for their feline companion’s health and happiness in the long run.
Should You Feed Your Cat a Vegan Diet?
The fundamental issue is that cats are obligate carnivores. Said label means that a species must consume meat. In contrast, dogs are more versatile in that they are considered to be facultative carnivores, meaning that they eat meat for the most part but are capable of surviving on plant matter should that become necessary.
As obligate carnivores, cats don’t have the systems needed to handle a vegan diet. Simply put, plant matter is harder to digest than animal matter, which is why herbivores have much longer digestive tracts than their carnivorous counterparts. Since cats have relatively short digestive tracts, that is one of the most often-cited pieces of evidence for them being carnivores rather than some other category of animal.
In any case, the important part is that most biologists agree that cats are obligate carnivores that can’t get the nutrients that they need in order to thrive from a vegan diet. Under ideal circumstances, a cat’s diet would consist of fats and proteins from small animals such as birds, rodents, small reptiles, and small amphibians. However, this isn’t exactly what most people would consider to be a practical option, meaning that it is a no-go for most cats and most cat owners. Never mind how letting cats loose into the outdoors is just asking for an environmental disaster when they proceed to kill more animals than what they will actually consume. Instead, interested individuals can find plenty of meat-based options for their cats, which should be more than capable of satisfying their cats’ hunger while meeting their nutritional needs.
For cats that don’t get a meat-based diet, the outlook isn’t very good. Basically, there are a bunch of nutrients that they need to get from meat because they can’t get enough from plant-based sources. In the absence of these nutrients, cats can wind up with a host of health problems, with examples ranging from serious issues such as heart problems and lung problems to less serious but nonetheless inconvenient issues such as skin irritation. It should be mentioned that cats will eat grass as well as other plants from time to time. However, interested individuals shouldn’t let this deceive them into thinking that cats do so for nutritional purposes. Instead, most biologists agree that cats eat plant matter so that it can serve as a digestive aid, meaning that it provides them with either no or next to no nutritional value.
Besides this, it should be mentioned that vegan diets come with one other potential complication, which would be providing cats with excessive quantities of nutrients that they can’t handle on their own. Suffice to say that this is not a good thing from a health perspective, meaning that it is also something that interested individuals need to watch out for. In particular, vegan diets contain a lot of carbohydrates that cats just aren’t very good at digesting, with the result that they can’t get much energy out of them.
What Can You Do About This?
Feeding cats either a vegan or a vegetarian diet is a very contentious issue among certain segments of cat owners. This makes sense because people tend to feel very strongly about their dietary choices. Combined with the fact that no one wants to think that they are doing wrong by their feline companions, it is perfectly understandable for people to get a bit worked up when it comes to this particular issue.
As such, interested individuals shouldn’t hesitate to conduct further research on their own. After all, the more that they know about their cats’ nutritional needs, the more capable they should become of choosing a diet that can provide their feline companions with what they need while remaining in compliance with their own particular needs and preferences. However, interested individuals need to be very careful about where they choose to put their trust when it comes to such issues. It can be tempting for people to form opinions before looking up sources with which to validate those opinions, which is very easy in an age when interested individuals have better access to a wide range of statements from a wide range of figures than ever before. Unfortunately, reality is reality, meaning that this particular approach can lead to some very unpleasant outcomes.
Instead, interested individuals should make sure to pay the most attention to the people who should have the most authority to speak. For example, it seems reasonable to say that a biologist who specifically studies cat diets should be a very authoritative figure. In contrast, someone who specializes in something else even if they are involved with the life sciences in one way or another lack the same credibility. Ultimately, people should be very careful about who they choose to extend their trust towards because there are very real stakes involved in such matters.
In any case, it should be mentioned that there are options out there for cat owners who want to feed their cat a vegan diet. Generally speaking, these options don’t seem to be recommended by the biologists, but they are nonetheless something that exists. Moreover, there are plenty of cat owners who swear by them, which is the kind of thing that can sway some interested individuals. Regardless, the latter should make sure to look into these matters with both care and consideration, not least because the choices that they make can have an enormous impact on the health and happiness of their feline companions.