Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Here's Why Cats Cannot Be Vegan!

Many pet parents have adopted a vegan or vegetarian lifestyles for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Naturally, some cat parents wonder if they should also be buying vegan cat food for their furry family member. So, can cats be vegan? The answer is no! Here's why your cat requires meat in his or her diet.

Your Cat is an Obligate Carnivore

A vegan or vegetarian diet simply cannot provide all of the nutrients that your cat needs. In fact, these specific nutrients can only be supplied through the ingestion of animal meat. Why? 

Cats Don't Produce Enough Taurine

Unlike many species (including humans and dogs), cats can’t synthesize the essential amino acid taurine. Without enough taurine in their diet, cats are likely to develop a heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, experience vision problems, contract UTIs and have other health issues. Cats must ingest taurine through their diet, which can only be found in animal sources ~ hence the term obligate carnivore. Plant sources simply do not provide this amino acid. 

Not All Proteins Are Created Equal

Cats also require a high-protein diet. While human vegetarians are able to substitute protein sources such as beans and lentils for animal meat, this isn’t possible for felines. It again comes back to those amino acids, which differ depending on the type of protein. Besides taurine, other essential nutrients for cats include vitamin D, vitamin A, and arachidonic acid ~ all readily found in high-protein animal sources.

What About Vegan Cat Food?

Now that we know how important animal protein is for your cat’s diet, you may be wondering what ingredients are substituted in vegan cat food. The truth is, most vegan or vegetarian cat food has not passed feeding trials by AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials. AAFCO works with the FDA (Center of Veterinary Medicine) and state governments to recognize the state laws that regulate commerce in animal feed and pet food. 

Vegan cat food that is AAFCO-compliant primarily contains ingredients such as oats and plant proteins (often corn and peas), as well as synthetic versions of essential nutrients (taurine, vitamin D, etc.).

It’s important to note that because your cat is an obligate carnivore, he can’t digest plant material very well. His gastrointestinal tract and metabolism have adapted to eating meat.

The addition of synthetic ingredients may strike you as problematic, as it does many veterinarians. Another problematic aspect of vegetarian and vegan cat food? It’s often high in carbohydrates, which are generally unnecessary for cats and may cause digestive issues.

Work With Your Veterinarian

If you are dead set on buying vegan cat food, work with your vet to make sure your cat stays healthy. Dr. Armaiti May, DVM, CVA suggests having your vet track your cat’s overall health through blood work and urine content, as well as cardiac ultrasounds and retinal evaluations. 

Can Dogs Be Vegan?

Dogs are naturally omnivores, meaning they can get nutrients from both plants and meat. And unlike cats, dogs can synthesize their own taurine, which makes them a candidate for vegan or vegetarian diets. Although challenging, it is possible to transition your canine to a plant-based diet. Make sure you purchase AAFCO-compliant dog food and work with your vet to track your dog’s health. 

As a longtime vegan myself, I agonized over what to feed my cats and dogs for many years. There were many sleepless nights and tortured days, feelings of immense guilt and shame, as well as a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and the expense (and wastefulness) of trying to find an appropriate vegan cat food that wouldn't jeopardize their health AND that they would actually eat! Dogs are much easier since they are omnivores but cats . . . much trickier for those of us dedicated to living a vegan lifestyle and wrestling with the scientific facts of what cats require nutritionally. 

I realized that I had to find a way to make peace with my decision so I went with a smaller company whose holistic vet formulator cared enough to address my concerns personally and discussed the health impacts of trying to force my cats to also be vegan. It wasn't an easy process, however, it was necessary. 

I truly hope that all pet parents, vegan or not, will consider feeding your pets our award-winning, never recalled, holistically formulated pet food, treats, and supplements from Life's Abundance. 

For more information or to make a purchase, be sure to visit:

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her online specialty pet boutiques (www.TheGiftedPet.com & www.PamperedPetEssentials.com), and premium pet food business (www.PremiumPetFoodStore.com)
She is an enthusiastic advocate for animal rights, including wildlife & nature and likes to dabble in creative projects such as photography, digital art, custom greeting cards and more!
Raven is also dedicated to helping pet parents and other humans stay happy, healthy, and balanced with her 100% therapeutic-grade essential oils, oil-infused nutritional supplements, and oil-related lifestyle enhancements via Holistic Oils For Pets & Peeps! (www.HolisticOilsForPetsAndPeeps.com)
For more information, please use the Contact Me! page on this blog or visit her Facebook page to PM her www.facebook.com/HolisticPetsNPeeps

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