Vegetarian or vegan cat: What you need to know

Pet owners who have chosen this type of diet are wondering if the cat can also be vegetarian or vegan. The theme deserves further study.

Can animals follow a vegetarian or vegan diet? This is the question posed by various pet owners who have decided for ethical, ecological or personal reasons to eat only food of plant origin. To understand if the cat can or cannot follow this type of diet, it is necessary to know its physical structure.

Vegetarian or vegan cat : is it a recommended diet?

The cat is defined as a strict carnivore in the sense that it is “more carnivorous” than other animals such as the dog. The definition derives from multiple physiological peculiarities of cat due to the need and use of certain nutrients and also to physiological characteristics of the digestive system.

To the first group belong:

  • the amino acid taurine, necessary for cats and not essential for most other mammals;
  • preformed vitamin A (not having the enzyme with which to convert beta-carotene into retinol, the active form of vitamin A, cats need preformed vitamin A, present in foods of animal origin and usually included in cat food);
  • arachidonic acid (non-essential fatty acid in other animals).

In addition, there is a much higher protein requirement in cats than in other mammals.

To the second group belong the teeth and the stomach which is very different from that of a herbivorous animal and therefore wider in order to favor protein digestion.

These “natural” factors are also associated with a fact of taste: the cat likes meat and does not appreciate plant foods very much. Furthermore, if cat does not like the baby food offered to him, he can stop eating with the risk of lipidosis, a pathology that develops in the presence of prolonged fasting.

As stated above, the vegetarian or vegan diet of the cat is not recommended, but can be pursued as long as it is balanced with the use of some synthetic substances (such as taurine) and in fact some companies produce balanced vegetarian foods for the cat.

In the long run, however, the risk that the cat could face is precisely the loss of the pleasure of eating which would affect its state of health.

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