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Your Cat Can't Be Vegan: How a Plant-Based Diet Can Harm Pets

Considering raising a vegan cat? Think again. Read on to learn why a plant-based diet isn't a healthy choice for your feline friend.

Written by
Lindsey Anderson

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a vegan human may be in want of a vegan cat. But if you're considering a plant-based diet for your fancy feline friend, think again. Though the idea may sound appealing (and even a little posh) for your pet, the truth remains: Your cat cannot be vegan.

Although veganism is adopted by humans for a myriad of beneficial reasons—sustainability being one of them—those same benefits do not apply to your cat. In fact, research has shown that plant-based dieting may actually be harmful to your cat's health. Read on to discover why raising a vegan cat is doing your animal a disservice.

What Makes a Vegan Diet Unhealthy for Cats?

Your cat's digestive system is not adapted to digest a vegan diet. Unlike us, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their digestive systems were built to metabolize meat. As such, cats require a diet high in proteins and amino acids to survive.

When it comes to the minute details, a vegan cat will be deprived of the amino acid known as taurine. Taurine is an essential nutrient that your cat can only get from animal products like meat, fish, and dairy. A vegan cat can become taurine-deficient sans ingestion of meat, leading to serious (even fatal) health-related issues.

Plant-based diets also lack the dense calories and rich proteins that meat-based meals provide. Your growing feline finds strength and energy in protein, as their digestive systems aren't entirely suited for breaking down carbohydrates. In short, a lively and happy cat requires a high-protein, low-carb diet—plant-based eating is insufficient.

Vegan Cats vs. Vegan Dogs

Both humans and dogs are able to produce certain vital proteins on their own—one of these being taurine. Conversely (and as noted above) cats do not have the ability to produce taurine themselves and must then absorb it through their food.

Your dog's digestive system has also adapted over time to account for less meat and more plant starches. The presence of amylase genes in dogs makes it possible for them to digest plant starches efficiently. Thus, your dog is able to thrive on a vegan diet, giving them an eco advantage over cats.

Healthy Diet Options for Your Cat

Although plant-based living may not be the superior option for your feline, there are several other all-natural and environmentally sound ways to ensure your cat is getting the nutrition that it needs.

The first step is ensuring that your cat's diet is rich in protein. Chicken, fish, lamb, and other animal-based pet foods are high in both protein and fat, two essentials for raising a healthy cat. When mixed, meats, legumes, and vegetables create a well-rounded, antioxidant-rich diet for your cat.

Kibble tends to be high in carbs and low in moisture, making it the less optimal option for your cat. Mixing both dry food and wet food can curb this issue, providing your cat with a diet balanced in moisture levels and key ingredients. If you're looking to keep things simple, stick to wet canned food. It is both the healthier and more preferred option for your feline.

While raising a vegan cat is not an option, you can rest assured knowing that healthy and all-natural cat food options still remain. Plus, purchasing cat food with sustainably-sourced ingredients provides an additional moral bonus, enhancing your feline's eco-friendliness without making her go vegan. Here, three eco- and cat-friendly brands to choose from.

3 Eco-Friendly Cat Food Options

Lily's Kitchen uses sustainably sourced, all-natural, whole food ingredients to benefit your pet and the planet. Formulated with meats and vegetables, Lily's Kitchen offers nutritious recipes in both wet and dry form, providing you and your cat with plentiful options for healthy dieting.

Open Farm holds sustainability to a new standard, purchasing only the most ethical and eco-friendly ingredients. They offer both meat-based and fish-based products, providing cat owners with several high-protein options that are sold in both wet and dry forms.

Tender & True formulates their pet food with best-in-class organic and all-natural ingredients for a healthier, more eco-friendly pet. Offering several different kinds of cat food, the company prepares each recipe with protein-rich meats and antioxidant-rich vegetables, ensuring a healthy, happy cat.