How to Make Your Cat a Vegan (Should you do this?)
Many people are curious if vegan cat owners feed their cat meat, should they? and can this even be possible? Our main focus, as cat owners is keeping our cats happy and healthy, such as stopping them eating too fast (click here for my 3 best slow feed cat bowls to stop them doing this) and being healthy, so let’s see if veganism for cats is a good idea and how to do it.
Can you make a cat a vegan? Yes, you can but there is a hot debate if this is even ethical. To do this you need a nutritional plant-based diet with the addition of synthesized supplements. Cats need more than just protein to survive, hence the need for supplementation.
Now you know it is possible, let’s look into how this can be done, the concerns that arise around this, the ethical dilemma and more.
So, How do you switch them over to a vegan diet?
This is possible, as discussed earlier, with the right combination of a plant-based diet and synthesized supplementation. However, this is quite a complex diet and often referred to as “experimental”.
The only thing I would say is, you have to be very careful that you get this right and it is also a good idea to consult your vet to verify your intentions to make sure he agrees.
Essentially, you can replace a meat-based diet with plant-based, with the addition of supplementation (more on this later). It is possible but it just depends if you believe it is the right thing to do.
There are supplements being sold commercially, for example, James Pedan (Author of “Vegetarian Cats & Dogs” – Click here to see the book & price on Amazon) has a product line of supplements for cats.
He is a known authority regarding meatless diets for cats and dogs and according to Peta.org It is believed that a cat can meet its nutritional needs, without meat, with the correct diet and supplementation.
The real debate comes down the ethics, is it right or wrong? In the following sections of this article, we will delve a bit deeper.
So what are the concerns and arguments surrounding vegan cats?
The arguments against vegan cats is, it is unnatural. However, on the opposite side of the fence, there are counterarguments which suggest conventional cat food that is consumed by cats today in the western world is no better or any more natural than vegan food.
The reason behind this argument is, to truly match the natural environment of a wild cat, you would have to serve your cat live mice or birds.
However, feeding your domestic cat in this way is unmanageable for the average 9-5 working middle-classed cat owner. As well as the moral conundrum of it is even right to do this.
Can a cat’s nutritional needs truly be met with a vegan diet?
In this section, I’m going to explain if it is possible to meet your cat’s nutritional needs on a strictly vegan diet.
According to PetMD.com they don’t agree that it is possible to maintain a healthy cat on a vegan diet (not easily, anyway).
Their argument is based on the types of protein and nutrients that is needed by a cat that cannot be fulfilled by a strictly plant-based diet.
Protein is Protein, right?
Firstly many people believe “protein is protein”. The understanding is, as long as they give their cat enough protein then it doesn’t matter if the protein comes from meat or plant-based food.
PetMD.com explains that it is not just any old protein that is required. There are specific nutrients within the protein that your cat needs.
For example, Taurine. This amino acid is something that your cat simply has to have. Without it, there are a number of potential health-related issues that they may encounter. Including, but not limited to:
- Heart disease.
- Vision Problems.
There are other potential issues if they do not get a sufficient amount of taurine. Also, it is only in food, but not possible to get it from plant-based food. However, it is possible to have a synthesized protein supplement with it in.
This requirement for taurine is different from dogs which is why people argue that cats, in particular, are not ideal candidates for a vegan diet.
However, the argument doesn’t end here there are other nutrients to consider as well such as Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and arachidonic acid.
Cats need vitamin D to lead a healthy life. Humans can absorb vitamin D through natural sunlight. However, cats are not able to do so in the same way. Therefore they need to consume vitamin D through their food.
Unfortunately, vitamin D is not present in plant-based food. Therefore this is another argument why a vegan-based diet is not the best way to go.
Vitamin A and arachidonic Acid
Also for vitamin A and arachidonic acid, they also need to be provided through food. Again, this is not found in plant-based food. So, it backs up the argument that a vegan diet is not a good idea.
From this explanation, you may be thinking to yourself ok, but it is still possible to do this using synthesized supplementation. According to PetMD it is quite difficult and potentially dangerous (if done wrong) to fully rely on synthesized supplementation.
What is a Natural Diet for Cats?
In the wild, a cat will naturally get its protein from mice (click here to find out why cats eat mice and the risks associated with it) , birds, and other amphibians. They will also get their fat source from these food groups as well.
It is true that they are known to eat grass (click here to see why indoor cats eat grass). However, this is not a necessity for their diet like taurine, vitamin D, etc.
Commercial food is the industries best attempt to give cats what they need and for the most part, it does the job. However, there are concerns about commercial food as well.
What are the concerns with commercial cat food?
Many people believe that cat food is a great option because it is well presented and packaged. However, according to Peta.org, there are concerns what goes into these products. Such as ground-up pieces of off-cuts that are deemed to be not fit for human consumption.
Should Vegans Have Cats?
This is a subjection question depending on your personal beliefs. Some say it is not morally correct based on the fact they are “obligate carnivores”. Others argue that meat is not right and they do not feel comfortable serving this to their cats. How do you feel about it?
In this section, I’m going to cover some related questions that are specific to cats and veganism. If you feel that there are some questions answered in your head, then take this opportunity to leave a comment below.
What is an obligate carnivore? According to the dictionary, “obligate” means by necessity. An obligate carnivore basically means eating meat is a necessity.
Therefore this term, often used when we get into the discussion of veganism for cats, suggests that a cat, by default, is a carnivore and must consume meat. On this basis, it is believed that a vegan cat is not possible.
Obviously, this is where the debate unfolds. Arguments on both sides of the fence come into play.
Is a Vegan diet healthy? Although people assume it is, because it is deemed as “plant-based”, it is possible to eat unhealthy as a vegan. The problem is there are quite a lot of processed vegan-compliant foods available that have low nutritional value.
My cat ate a carrot and is sick, is it because she doesn’t like veg? It could be, but the chances are it is something else. Personally, I would contact your vet first to clarify. It could be because she is eating too fast (click here to see my 3 Best Slow Feed Cat Bowls to stop cats eating too fast).