Should cats be vegans?
Going vegan is an amazing choice. It’s probably the best gift you can give yourself and the world. This is because, not only does it entail a healthier way of living, but it also contributes to animal welfare. However, this is not such a good idea, especially if you have a cat. Because, while dogs seem to benefit from the plant-based diet if it is carefully put together, a vegan diet for cats, on the other hand, is known to make our feline friends extremely sick.
Why vegan dogs and not vegan cats?
Some pet owners assume that, if dogs can adapt to the vegan way of life and benefit from it, then even cats will be able to do so. However, it is quite the opposite actually because cats and dogs both have very different digestive tracts and metabolisms. Dogs are like us, they can eat both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods and their bodies will synthesize what they need. Cats on other hand are strictly carnivores. They’ve depended on a meat-based diet for so many years of evolution that they need meat to survive. They cannot synthesize the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet and need some elements that can only be directly provided by meat.
Taurine is one of these nutrients!
This is an amino acid that’s essential for cats that can only be obtained from animal sources such as meat, milk, etc. Humans and dogs can synthesize this element from a plant-based diet but cats can’t and therefore require a direct animal source. Having said that, any cats that are fed with purely vegan foods will slowly but surely develop a Taurine deficiency – the effects of which can be fatal for your feline family member.
Without enough Taurine, your cat could suffer from a disease known as DCM which is short for Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is a condition where your cat’s heart muscles start to thin and become weak. This in turn leads to difficulty in pumping blood and moving oxygen to your cat’s body parts. If this condition is not diagnosed and corrected in its early stages, it can be fatal. A shortage of Taurine is also known to cause blindness in cats.
Proteins and carbs.
Your cat needs tons of protein and milk, meat, etc. are a great source. Protein can be derived from plant-based diets too but they are very hard to digest & synthesize for cats. Moreover, vegan diets are known to have their fair-share of carbohydrates. This is not a bad thing as proved by numerous scientific studies; however, cats find it difficult to breakdown carbs. Moreover, cat bodies get very little out of carbs and need calories for their energy – something meat-based diets provide in abundance.
So, a vegan diet for cats is definitely off the table. If animal welfare is your concern, you can look for foods that have the ‘meaningful welfare’ label. And if better health for your cat is what you were aiming at with a vegan diet, know that your cat will be at their best on their usual foods.
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