Home » Should You Raise a Cat Vegetarian?
Making your cat vegetarian is not a good idea. Meat is the cornerstone of nutrition for all felines, from the big cats to the domestic cats. For this reason, a cat would never choose to be vegetarian.
Is a Vegetarian Diet Ideal for Your Cats?
Alongside a growing trend of veganism, more cat owners now want to share their animal-friendly values with their feline companions.
Before opting for a vegetarian diet for your cat, you need to be aware and be considering the possible risks such as malnutrition and the occurrence of digestive problems.
When a vegetarian or vegan person decides to adopt a cat, she will inevitably wonder if this nutrition and lifestyle are also beneficial to her cat.
Having said that, we would like to bring about some considerations and necessary facts if a vegetarian diet can be safely offered to cats.
Is a Meatless Diet Really Beneficial to Cats?
Humans are omnivores: they can properly appreciate and digest both animal and plant foods. Therefore, our body can adapt to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in which meat, eggs, and dairy from animals are replaceable by 100% plant-based products.
However, unlike us, our cats are strictly carnivorous animals. This means that their body and digestive system are prepared to assimilate and make the most of animals, not vegetables, proteins.
Also, we should not overlook the fact that the cat’s own morphology  leads to a preference for a carnivorous diet. For example, their taste buds predispose them to the consumption of amino acids that make up the protein composition of meat and eggs.
On the other hand, most cats generally reject sugary foods, as they are unable to taste the sweet taste that becomes uncomfortable for their taste buds.
As a result, meat is the cornerstone of nutrition for all felines, from the big cats to the domestic cats. For this reason, a cat would never be vegetarian or vegan by choice or will. That is, we would never see a vegetarian feline in the wild.
So, giving your cat a vegetarian diet is something that would not take into account your feline’s nature and the nutritional needs of their body. This decision would be guided by its owner’s philosophy of life, not by the cat’s own needs and preferences.
Is There a Vegetarian Food for Cats?
Yes, we can currently find vegetarian and also vegan food for dogs and even cats. These products are designed to meet the nutritional needs of cats without using meat or animal products in the case of a vegan diet.
As these are ‘nutritionally complete’ commercial foods, a cat should not have nutritional deficits when feeding on these foods. However, not all cats easily accept a balanced vegetarian diet because of a different taste and aroma.
Thus, many manufacturers add additives and colorings to vegetarian food to improve their flavor and scent. However, in addition to being nutritionally empty, these substances can also cause allergies in some more sensitive cats.
For these reasons, we recommend that you evaluate very well and consult your veterinarian before deciding to offer your cat a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Possible Risks of a Vegetarian Cat Diet
Our cats can benefit from the occasional moderate inclusion of beneficial fruits and vegetables in their diet. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help strengthen your immune system and improve your digestion.
However, a cat’s nutrition cannot be solely based on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and cereals. The following are the main risks of vegetarian cat food:
Nutrition Deficits and Malnutrition
When offering your cat vegetarian food, it is essential to be aware of its nutritional needs to avoid the risk of undernourishment or malnutrition.
Because they are strictly carnivores, felines need a daily high protein content to maintain good health and stamina. Taurine, calcium, vitamins, and good fats are also essential, in proper proportion, to preserve the balance of your physical and cognitive functions.
If you choose a vegetarian diet as the basis of your diet, it is essential to read the nutritional composition carefully to select a high-quality product. However, if we decide on a home-cooked vegetarian diet, we will probably have to include supplements to avoid the possible dietary deficits.
Either way, it is essential to have the guidance of a vet to choose the most appropriate and complete diet for your feline.
Possible Digestive Problems
As mentioned earlier, the cat’s digestive system is ideally suited to assimilate animal proteins. Although some vegetables and cereals are good sources of plant protein, the feline bodies often have a harder time digesting and utilizing the “energy” from them.
As a consequence, some digestive problems, such as gas or diarrhea, may occur. Also, consider that some cereals, such as soy, can cause allergies in cats and may cause an overreaction of their immune system.
The Balance the Carbohydrates
We should also remember that these diets are high in carbohydrates, so high consumption can cause your cat to become overweight, even diabetic. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the nutritional composition of vegetarian food to avoid excess carbohydrates in your cat’s diet. In medicine, morphology refers to the size, shape, and structure rather than the function of a given organ.
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