For those who live a Vegan Lifestyle, this topic can be a hard one when it comes to our furry loved ones and it's certainly not a decision to be taken lightly. If you wish for your pet to make the same lifestyle choice then maybe you should consider other pets such as a rabbit or guineapig who thrive as a herbivore. However, if your furry companion is a cat or dog you should definitely read on to see how changing their food source will change their home life.
Can Cats 'Go Vegan'?
Cats on the other hand (or should I say paw!) are carnivores, this means they need meat to survive. Have you ever noticed that sometimes a cat eats their kill? This is an instinct telling them they need more of the meat's natural 'goodness' in their system. So you may also want to consider if your cat wants to be an indoor house-cat or not, because they may go looking for food elsewhere if they aren't satisfied.
How does a Vegan Diet Effect a Cat's Digestive System?
Cat's digest food very quickly, this allows them to eat raw meat and get it in and out of their bodies without getting ill but still digesting all its nutrients. However this means that they cannot digest plant matter properly as this plant material needs time to ferment in the gut - time which it wont have. This can be observed when a cat feels ill and they eat grass or leaves. When it has evacuated their system it is practically in one piece, this is because their stomach cannot digest the matter completely. If we were to put cats just on a plant or nut based diet they would become underweight and malnourished very quickly.
Now that isn't to say that there aren't pet owners who have put their cat's on vegan diets, there are, and this can cause serious and life-threatening issues for the cat. Vet's certainly advising against a vegan diet for cats as they have seen the painful side effects that a cat can go through such as:
- enlarged hearts
- bladder crystals
- vitamin deficiency
- eye problems
- growth problems
- reproductive issues
- blood clots
This is because cats need certain vitamins and nutritions such as taurine; that can only be found in meat for their bodies to break down and use efficiently.
A lack of this can cause a painful and short life expectancy for the cat.
Is there an Alternative to Vegan Cat Food?
There are synthetic vitamins and proteins that you can include into a vegan diet for your cat to ingest but this merely keeps the health issues at bay and will not get rid of the problem altogether because they are not the same as the ones found in meat.
Even with the added nutritional 'extras' included into a vegan diet, it is difficult and dangerous to look after a cat's diet without the inclusion of meat; reduce it down a little if you wish, but they need meat to live a happy long life.
It is understandable to not want to feed your pet meat for ethical reasons but it should be noted that in reducing or taking away meat entirely from a Cat's diet, this puts added responsibility in the care you give for your furry loved one.
If you do wish to put your pet on a vegan or vegetarian based diet you need to increase your trips to the vet and making sure it is put on their medical record that they are now on this diet. And make sure your belief does not affect the wellbeing of a pet under your care.