Vegan Cat Food
Over the years, vegan diets have become increasingly popular among humans. Asides from the moral impact of such a lifestyle, health experts have listed a plant-based diet as healthy food that reduces the risks of chronic diseases. For humans, completely ditching animal products can be difficult. Imagine how much worse it is when you’re trying to wean a carnivorous animal off meat.
If you have a cat or any other carnivorous pet, you must be curious about the possibilities of you feeding them only plant-based food. Can your cat survive on only vegan food? We’ll answer that and even more in the course of this article.
What Do Cats Eat?
Biologically, cats are carnivores and get their essential nutrients from eating other animals. This means that that they require the consumption of animal-derived products to survive. Most cat food products include chicken, fish, beef, or pork, and they can be consumed in either wet or dry form. While it might be difficult for domesticated animals to hunt down such large animals if they were in the wild, they can easily feast on prey such as small rodents, birds, and insects. We stated that cats are carnivores, so you must be wondering why they enjoy drinking milk. In the real sense, milk is not processed correctly in the digestive system of cats. In fact, excess dairy products consumption can cause cats to have diarrhea and constipation since they are lactose intolerant.
Can Cats Be Vegan?
Although cats are carnivorous by nature, many experts believe that they can survive on a plant-based diet even if it is not their first nature. Unlike humans that can digest different kinds of plant-based foods, your cat cannot be fed just any random vegetable.
These pets require certain vital nutrients to remain healthy, and they can’t be food in most plant foods. As a cat owner, your priority should be to ensure that your pet gets all the required nutrients for its survival, and these can easily be obtained in animal products. However, if you’re determined to make the switch to a vegan diet, ensure that you take some time to research your cat's nutritional needs. Also, ensure that you are on the lookout for the possible symptoms if the animal fails to adapt to its new diet.
Important Nutrients For Cat Vegan Diet
As we stated earlier, some nutrients are absolutely paramount for the survival of your cat. Without them, your pet may begin to display unhealthy symptoms, which may be fatal. Below are some of the important nutrients you should look out for when creating a plant-based diet for your cat.
To remain healthy, your cat requires a high dose of Vitamin A daily. Failure to receive this vitamin can cause their coats to look unhealthy, and their skin may also appear to be in poor condition. Also, Vitamin A deficiency in cats can cause them to suffer from night blindness and fatigue. While most omnivores and herbivores can get their Vitamin A from plants by biosynthesizing, cats require this nutrient in a preformed manner from animal flesh. If they can’t get the vitamin from animal sources, you will have to introduce it in a synthetic form to their diet.
If you’re determined to convert your cat to a vegan diet, ensure that you supplement their meals with vitamins. One constraint in the use of Vitamin A supplements for cats is the risk of overdose. Cats can overdose when they consume too much of this vitamin, leading to symptoms like weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, constipation, and skin allergies.
Taurine is another essential nutrient for your cat's survival, and it is exclusively found in animal-based products. The exclusivity of this mineral forms part of the argument against a completely vegan diet for cats. Taurine is an essential amino acid, and its absence can result in fatal consequences for your pet. It is often challenging to spot taurine deficiency in animals because it takes between 5 months and 2 years to manifest. Lack of taurine can cause these carnivores to suffer from blindness, weakened heart, or severe digestive problems. Cats with deficiency of this amino acid often live miserable lives, and in extreme cases, death occurs. If you’re putting your cat on a vegan diet, ensure that it gets enough taurine, which can be supplied in the synthetic form. Your vet can provide taurine supplements, or you can purchase any food or treat that has the essential nutrient.
Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid that cats require in high amounts for their survival. Unfortunately, this fatty acid can only be found in animal fat, causing deficiency in cats on vegan diets. Arachidonic acid supports the immune system of your carnivore pets, as well as their skin, digestion, and reproductive health. Cats cannot manufacture this fatty acid or synthesize it from plants because it does not occur naturally. If your cat is going to be restricted to a vegan diet, you must ensure that whatever food it is offered contains arachidonic acid. Several supplements can be purchased online that contain this vital fatty acid.
Before the evolution of cats into domesticated pets, these carnivores hunted and fed on small animals like birds and rodents. This shows that their diet was rich in protein, and their digestive system has also evolved to thrive on it. Therefore, if you are going to convert your cat's meals into a vegan diet, you ensure that every food you offer is rich in protein. While this is not so difficult to do since most vegan foods contain a reasonable amount of protein, ensure that the nutrients are balanced.
EPA and DHA
Other vital nutrients that you should watch out for in your vegan cat diet are EPA and DHA. These are omega-3 fatty acids that are contained in both plant and animal-based diets. They are helpful in the improvement of joint health. They also reduce inflammation and aid brain development. Even though these nutrients are contained in plant diets, they come in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which cats cannot utilize. Because their digestive system cannot convert ALA to EPA and DHA, ensure that these fatty acids are offered to your pet in their preformed state.
What You Should Know About Cat Vegan Diet?
Putting your cat on a vegan diet is not as easy as it is for homo sapiens. You should also seriously consider the health implications before going ahead. We advise that you speak to your vet before going ahead with the plan. It is worth noting that cats are obligate carnivores, and nature did not intend them to live on plant food alone.
However, advancement in the nutrition industry means that your cat can live a healthy life while consuming only vegan food. You’ll need to make sure that such food is high in protein and supplemented with other essential nutrients.
Another problem with maintaining a vegan diet for cats is that while you might limit their food to only plants, you cannot take away lust for animals from their nature. It is in the nature of your furry friends to go after small animals around the house. Cats will naturally hunt rodents, insects, and other small animals.
How To Know If Your Cat is Healthy On a Vegan Diet?
While transitioning your cat into a vegan diet, it is essential to stay on top of their health and general well-being. Even if you’re providing all the required nutrients and supplements in the appropriate quantities, you still need to watch out for signs of poor health and adaptation to the new meals. This can be done by having your cat's urine checked to ensure that the alkaline level is not high, which often leads to urinary tract infection. Other signs to watch out for are trouble urinating, weakness, unhealthy skin, and blindness. If you can fully transition without any of these symptoms, then you’re good to go.
If you intend to switch to vegan food for cats, ensure that the animal's health takes priority. Various studies have shown that sticking to vegetarian cat food is possible provided you’re willing to put in the work. This starts by ensuring that your pet gets the best vegan cat food and the required supplements. If you found this article helpful, you’re welcome to check out our best pet product reviews. Here, you’ll find everything that suits your budget and taste.
Is Vegan Cat Food Healthy?
Although cats are carnivorous and better suited to an animal-based diet, various researches have shown that these pets can survive on plant-based products. Vegan food is healthy as long as the cat is getting the nutrients required for its survival.
Is Vegan Cat Food Safe?
Most people who have transitioned their cats to vegan diets with proper support and planning have met success. Although their digestive system is better suited to animal-based foods, most plant products do not cause serious damage to cats if their nutritional requirement is met.
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