Cats Need Meat to Survive
When I was young, I’d never heard of a vegetarian or a vegan diet. Now I know a lot of humans who have joined this trend, and the majority of them are animal lovers.
It makes sense. If you love animals it can be difficult to think about animals being killed for our dinner plate. There are also a ton of videos circulating the internet showing the horrific living conditions and treatment of some of these animals.
Of course not all of the farms that raise our food treat the animals badly but it’s powerful to watch those videos. It makes sense to decide you aren’t going to give your money to that industry and consume meat.
Although I am not vegan, I did choose to cut red meat down drastically in my diet for health reasons. We all know red meat is not the best choice for our bodies! Many who have chosen the meat-free life have done so for health reasons.
That makes purrr-fect sense to me!
Veganism is a Valid Choice – For HUMANS not Cats
I have absolutely no problem with those who have made this choice for whatever reason. Our human bodies need a variety of things to get proper nutrition like fruits, veggies, carbs and protein. We can make the choice to stop eating meat and we can still get our protein needs met with other protein sources. No problem.
I DO have a problem with those who have chosen this path for their animals. Every time I see a message that starts with, “My vegan cat…” I cringe. If you are one who is absolutely sickened by the idea of eating an animal, it can be hard to turn around and feed them to your cat. I understand that.
However, if we have chosen to become caretakers to our fabulous felines, we owe it to them to consider their needs and their health! That could mean going against our very strong feelings. Simply put, cats need meat!
Consider a rabbit. Rabbits love their veggies. It’s what their bodies need and it’s how they were made. If you feed meat to a rabbit, he probably won’t eat it. Perhaps if he’s hungry enough, the rabbit might take a nibble, but will probably spit it out. If he does swallow some, that bunny is headed for significant tummy upset. They don’t have what is required to digest meat.
That makes sense … right? No one would try to change the rabbit and make it eat a chicken leg.
Why Cats Need Meat
For the same reason, we need to feed our cats meat. Cats are what is called “obligate carnivores.” The definition of obligate is, “restricted to a particular function or mode of life.” Cats are restricted to meat. Their bodies need meat to survive and to meet their nutritional needs. Animals know instinctually what they need. Just as a bunny won’t kill and eat a mouse, a cat will never invade Farmer Brown’s garden and eat his lettuce. He will hunt and find some meat, because knows what he needs.
The ASPCA released their thoughts on vegan lifestyles for animals. (Read their article here). They found that a dog can survive on a plant based diet, although it isn’t easy. Dog lovers will need to be very careful to make sure Fido is getting all of the nutrition he needs but if you are careful, a dog can be healthy as a vegan. However, a cat can not! It bears repeating: Cats need meat.
What Makes Cats Different
Let’s discuss some of the reasons why a cat cannot survive and be healthy on a vegan diet.
- A cat needs a diet that is high in digestible protein. While some plants have protein, they aren’t high enough in protein, the proteins aren’t as easily digestible and they aren’t the high quality protein that is needed.
- The proteins vegans eat, such as beans and legumes are also carbs. Cats can’t digest carbs well and they don’t get the needed energy from them.
- Taurine! Taurine is essential for cats. It is an amino acid that humans and dogs can synthesize, but cats cannot. They absolutely require a diet with taurine, which is found in meat! A lack of taurine can cause problems in kitty’s heart, making it weak and it can be deadly. Lack of taurine can also cause eye problems and result in blindness.
- A cat’s digestion works best with meat. Plants are much harder for them to digest because of their short digestive tracks, and can result in a lot of stomach pain and digestive issues, like gas and diarrhea. They just can’t extract the correct nutrients from a plant based diet.
Cats Cannot Eat Not Like Humans
I had a friend once who explained why he went vegan and it was powerful. He was sickened at the thought of eating animal protein. I can only imagine how hard it would be to have this conviction and have to feed my kitty meat… the very meat I am so against eating myself.
However, I am absolutely in love with my cats and would do anything for them. That includes making sure they have all their nutritional needs met. I want the happiest, healthiest kitties in the world! I don’t want my kitties to have upset tummies, nor do I want them to go blind or develop heart disease: I want them to be as healthy as possible and for cats… that means meat.
If you are committed to a vegan life, I applaud you. It takes hard work and a lot of self control. You are doing great work.
However, please remember that your choice and convictions can not be extended to your cat. You will end up with a very unhappy and unhealthy cat whose life may be at risk. And as cat lovers, we have to do what is necessary to prevent that.
When it’s time for dinner, make yourself a healthy, vegan entree but grab some chicken pate for your kitty, knowing that what is best for you is not always best for someone else.