The days of pet cats and dogs spending their lives outside the owner’s home are long gone. With time, the pets have moved inside the houses and enjoy a quality life with their owners.
Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that they have become four-legged family members and owners want to feed them whatever they eat.
It often leads to some exciting diet choices for pets that they would not have ever made for themselves.
You might have heard about vegan people, but have you ever heard of vegan cats? Yes, it is true. Now, pet cats and dogs are often seen eating home-cooked, kosher, and even vegetarian diets.
It all started when a Tumblr user posted a picture of their pet cat enjoying a pureed sweet potato with sprouted organic tofu. It created quite a buzz on the Internet, with many people discussing whether it is safe for a cat to eat vegan food or not.
With more and more people exploring the benefits of a vegan diet, it is quite evident why they want to extend this type of diet to their pets. Humans can survive on a plant-based diet, but the same cannot be said about pet cats.
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If you are feeding your cat a vegan diet or just considering it, read on to make a well-informed decision. After all, you don’t want to lose your precious pet just for the sake of experimenting.
Why do people choose a vegetarian diet?
Most people have moved towards a vegetarian diet because of the ethical considerations our societies have put forward to eliminate using animals for making products. However, the vegetarian diet has further different forms, which include:
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarianism includes only eggs and dairy products from animals and nothing else.
- Pescatarian doesn’t allow the consumption of any animal product except for fish products.
- Veganism eliminates the consumption of all kinds of animal products.
Vegan diets are suitable for omnivorous dogs as this plant-based diet provides all the necessary nutrients required by the dog to stay healthy. But since cats are obligate carnivores, a vegan diet isn’t considered suitable.
Why is a cat an obligate carnivore?
Cats have a metabolism different than the rest. It means their bodies can synthesize some specific nutrient requirements from plant sources like dogs and humans can do. Ergo, cats need these essential nutrients directly from fully-formed animal sources.
Vitamin A and the amino acid taurine are two common examples of the missing nutrients in plant-based sources. Moreover, cats have a higher protein requirement than dogs.
Unfortunately, plants cannot fulfill these requirements as proteins from plant-based sources are of lower quality and difficult to digest than high-quality proteins from meat sources.
So, what exactly can cats eat?
We have compiled a comprehensive list of foods best for your cat pet. These will keep your pet happy, healthy, and satiated.
1. Proteins safe for cats to consume
Since we know cats are obligate carnivores, they require meat to stay alive. So, meat is the ultimate source of proteins for your pet cat. However, one thing to be kept in mind is that too much meat fat can cause stomachaches.
So, before giving the meat, ensure that the piece has extra fat trimmed off and cooked until it’s well done. If you prefer feeding raw meat to your cat for the health benefits it provides, it’s best to consult a veterinarian first.
Name of proteins your cat will love:
- Lean beef
- Skinless chicken
- Cooked eggs
- Lean deli meats
2. Vegetables safe for cats
We have established that cats are carnivorous. So, feeding them too many green plants is a big no-no! However, some veggies can be a good snack and help relieve common digestion issues in cats.
Name of veggies for your cat’s snack time:
- Cooked or steamed carrots, broccoli, green beans, asparagus
- Pumpkin or squash
If your cat has a kidney or urinary problem, feeding spinach won’t be a safe idea.
Grains are high-carb foods. If your cat is obese, don’t feed the pet too much of these grainy foods. However, a little treat sometimes is perfectly fine for the pet to consume. Plus, your cat might not like all the grain foods. So, please give them a taste test before making it their full snack.
Name of grains for nibbling:
- Bread or breadcrumbs
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Polenta or cooked corn
- Couscous or millet
- Oatmeal (plain oats are the best)
4. Safer fruits for cats
There are lots of cats who don’t like sweet taste. But if your cat does have a sweet tooth, fruits are a safer choice. The best part? Fruits help relieve digestive issues in the cat.
Names of fruits:
- Blueberries (frozen or raw)
- Peeled apples
- Bananas (blended, mashed, or frozen)
- Honeydew without seeds
5. Dairy products safe for cats
If your cat is young and healthy, dairy products will be great. However, when cats age, they may become lactose intolerant. So, ensure that you only feed small amounts of these dairy products to your cats.
Dairy products to try:
- Yogurt (either low-fat or plain)
- Cottage cheese or any other low lactose cheese
- Cheddar, gouda, or different hard cheeses
6. Safe fish for your cat
Cats love fish treats. Feed them fish in small quantities because higher amounts can deplete the cat’s vitamin E structure.
Fish your Cat will enjoy:
- Cooked salmon
- Canned fish
- Fish oil
Fish oil is excellent to counter your cat’s dry skin in the winter season. So, you can give them this in smaller quantities.
Foods your cats can’t eat?
This list contains items you shouldn’t be feeding your cats:
- Onions or garlic
- Raw fish
- Bread dough
- Grapes or raisins
- Coconut milk
- Fat trimmings
- Cooked bones
- Candy or gum
- Human supplements or medication
- Artificial sweetener
Reasons why a vegan diet is not safe for cats
Here are a few reasons why cats cannot survive on a vegan diet:
Cats need a meat-based diet to stay healthy
Many people choose vegan diets because of the overwhelming benefits it offers to their body. However, a plant-based diet might be good for humans, but it is pretty unhealthy and dangerous for cats. Pet owners who force their cats to eat a plant-based diet put their personal beliefs ahead of their beloved pet’s body needs.
It may sound blunt, but it is a harsh reality. A cat needs a meat-based diet to keep its organs functioning properly. But, even if you give the plant-based food in larger quantities, it will still not be enough to meet the cat’s body requirements.
Therefore, avoid giving your cat plant-based food. It will not be able to survive on a vegan diet for long. It needs meat to survive and thrive.
Cats are hypercarnivores
All felines, both wild and domestic, need meat to survive. They can eat small quantities of plant-based food, but meat should be the main ingredient in their diet. They need animal meat and organs to meet their nutritional needs
Moreover, they are not designed in a way to digest a vegan diet. Your furry friend lacks the specific enzymes required to digest vegetable matter and turn plant proteins into animal proteins.
Humans are omnivores which makes them capable enough to turn plant proteins into animal proteins, but carnivores do not have that ability.
Cats need high-protein content
The protein requirement of cats is much higher than other animals. Kittens usually require one-and-a-half times more protein content than puppies, whereas adult cats need three times more protein than dogs.
Do you know why?
While other mammals use most of the protein content for growth and maintenance, cats use it for this purpose and as an energy source.
If other species don’t get enough protein content, their bodies can adjust accordingly. However, your kitty’s body is greatly dependent on protein to function correctly.
Besides protein requirements, cats also need certain amino acids that are only present in the animal tissues, such as taurine. A taurine deficiency can cause serious health issues in cats, such as blindness and cardiovascular diseases.
Cats can eat a variety of meats but avoid most fish
It would be best to offer your cat a nutritionally-balanced and meat-based fresh food diet. Like humans, cats also need variety in their food. Therefore, don’t just stick to one type of meat.
Instead, give a variety of meats like chicken, beef, rabbit, or lamb on alternate days to reduce the risk of food intolerances.
However, please don’t give your cat too much fish as it can create thiamine and Vitamin E deficiencies in your cat’s body. Therefore, give your catfish protein only once a week or month.
Cats do not ask for much in life. They need a warm, safe, and sheltered place to live and a meat-based diet to survive and thrive.
In return, they will give you unlimited love and cuddles. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to care for your cat’s nutritional needs. Giving them a vegan diet will be like throwing them out to die.
Therefore, don’t force your cat to try a vegan diet.