Today’s guest post comes from Serena Thomson on the top of suitability of vegan diets for cats.
Can a cat remain healthy on a vegan diet?
Cats are increasingly being brought home as pets and they are quite popular as a pet option after dogs. When bringing pets at home, it is the responsibility of the pet owners to take good care of them. Nutritional requirement of the cats is the major aspect that needs to be taken care of so that your pet enjoys its time and settles well in your household. These days, many people have deliberately chosen to be die hard vegans and it may be due to several reasons. But, many cat owners wish to take it a step forward and want to know whether their cats can also be given a vegan diet, whether it will have a negative impact on their health, can the nutritional requirement of their cats be fulfilled through vegan diets and more. In this post we have tried to answer all these questions in a clear and concise manner.
What would be the perfect feline nutrition?
As pet owners, people do their best to ensure a suitable diet for their beloved pets and ensure that they get the right nutrients necessary for their excellent health and growth. Although, vegans believe that their nutritional requirements can easily be completed through a pure vegetarian diet, it is not the case with the cats. They are by nature carnivores and they are unable to get the right nutrients through a vegan diet. Despite giving them a protein rich diet, their specific nutritional requirements may not be met without consuming high quality meat. Plants cannot offer all the nutrients that are needed by them for their healthy growth and development. Thus, it becomes important to pay attention to the source from where proteins are being sourced from. We know that proteins are also referred to as the building blocks of the body and they basically comprise of amino acids. Every protein category comes with a different set of amino acids and to ensure that the cats get necessary amino acids, they must be given vegetable as well as animal proteins.
Taurine- Necessary in right levels in the diet
As discussed, proteins are made up of different types of amino acids and every component has its advantages. One of the amino acids that is very important for a cat and must be available in its diet is Taurine. If the level of Taurine is not appropriate in your cat’s diet, it may suffer from various health problems like eyesight problem, heart disease and others. Thus, it is very important that the cats are given required amount of Taurine in their day to day diet as their bodies are unable to synthesize Taurine on their own. Since, plants do not have necessary Taurine, the cats who are on a vegan diet may be seriously lacking in this necessary amino acid. Taurine is available naturally in meat and these days, various synthetic sources of these amino acids are also available. Since cats are “obligate carnivores”, meaning carnivores by necessity, it is important that they are given a meat diet to meet their nutritional requirements.
Digestive System of Cats
It is important to mention here that cats are carnivores by necessity due to their ancestral diets. They can fulfill their needs for fatty acids and specific vitamins only by consuming meat diet. Like omnivores or herbivores, cats do not have the ability to make specific vitamins and amino acids in their body and as such they have no choice but to rely on meat products to fulfill their requirements. Moreover, their digestive system has changed considerably and has adapted to consume raw meat. Their digestive tract is very short in length and since it is easy to digest raw flesh, there is no need to have a large intestinal tract and necessary bacteria that are required in plant eating animals for fermentation. This losing of various metabolic activities has made it necessary to provide cats with a meat based diet. If this demand is not fulfilled, these cats start getting suitable energy by breaking down their own organs and muscles of the body.
Amino Acids needed by the cat’s body
Cats need specific amino acids and proteins. Some of them are-
All these amino acids are needed in the right quantities to ensure that your feline friend stays healthy. If they are not given meat in their diet, they may get sick and suffer from a variety of health issues. It is important to meet and fulfill unique dietary needs of our pets and if you are giving them a purely vegan diet, you must supplement it with synthetic nutrients to ensure their perfect health.
So what are your thoughts on the topic? Let us know!
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Serena Thomson is a veterinarian and a pet expert. With 7 years of experience as a veterinarian
and having an immense interest in pet care, she is sharing her knowledge regarding pets in the
form of writing contributions.
Photo Credit for Feature image: Snixykitchen