Why You Should Not Feed Your Cat A Vegetable Diet
Whilst it is perfectly acceptable for an individual to decide, for whatever reason, to be a vegan or a vegetarian, it is definitely not acceptable, to force these personal dietary choices onto other animal species.
Pet owners who feed their feline companions, meat free diets, are placing their personal beliefs ahead of their pet’s requirement for a meat-based diet. A Cat is an obligate carnivore, which means it must eat a high protein, meat based diet, to sustain its physical and psychological well-being.
All felines, be it large predators, such as lions and tigers, or smaller, more domesticated cats, have the teeth, jaws, palate and digestive system of a carnivore. The dentition of an animal is specifically designed for the food they are born to eat. Cats teeth are designed to tear and shred meat and crush bone. Likewise, the acids and flora of their gut, cope specifically with eating the prey they would catch in the wild.
A cat’s gut is short and also very acidic. It is meant to move food quickly through, and to deal with the pathogens found in fresh whole prey, which is not clean meat.
Plant matter and vegetables need more time to break down in the GI tract. This requires a different, more complex digestive design than a cat’s body possesses. This is why vegetarian animals tend to chew their food over and over before swallowing.
Carnivores tend to tear chunks of meat off prey and don’t engage in much chewing at all.
If a cat eats veggies, grains, and seeds, they tend to come out in the faeces looking just like they did before they were eaten. The cat’s stomach isn’t equipped with the correct gut bacteria, to break down the cellulose and starch in plant matter, so they simply travel through the GI tract intact and pass out the other end as undigested waste. In any event, a carnivore’s ability to use plant matter as an energy source is very limited.
Any small amount of plant matter that cats do eat, is usually merely for the fibrous content and not because they gain any energy or nutritional value from it.
Cats don’t make the necessary enzymes in their saliva to begin the breakdown of carbs and starches in the diet. Omnivores and herbivores make those enzymes in abundance, but carnivores do not.
You would never feed meat to an animal such as a sheep, or cow. Their teeth and jaw movement are developed to chew fibrous grass and their digestive tract contains the relevant enzymes to break it down.
Despite becoming more domesticated over time, a cat’s digestive system has not evolved over thousands of years. Its diet today, should be the same as it was centuries ago. In fact, it was only about 50 years ago, when companies started making processed wet & dry cat foods as a quick and convenient way to feed our felines.
More recently, some pet food manufacturers have even started to produce more ‘vegan’ & ‘vegetarian’ type diets for cats, as this has grown in popularity with humans. However, research has shown that many of these diets lack the necessary taurine and other essential vitamins and minerals that cats need on a daily basis. These Commercial vegetarian and vegan cat foods use highly processed and synthesised ingredients and are not easy to digest.
As Cats and other felines are carnivores, they must eat meat to sustain their daily requirement on vitamins, amino acids and minerals, whilst humans are omnivores. This means humans can digest both animal and plant matter and can even survive solely on a plant-based diet, but your cat cannot.
As obligate carnivores with teeth designed to tear meat of the bone, both domestic and wild felines need animal protein. A cat’s complex nutritional needs simply cannot be met by a diet that does not contain animal protein and offal. Felines have a much higher protein requirement compared to most other carnivores, due to not being able to synthesise vital amino acids, especially Taurine. Taurine is essential for the correct function of the brain, nerves, eyes and heart health.
Cats have a minimal ability to convert plant matter into the nutrients that their body requires.
Cats eating a raw meat-based diet, naturally have a low acidic urinary PH of about 5 to 6. Vegetable matter causes the urine PH to become more alkaline, which may allow urinary crystals and stones to form and can be very live threatening to cats.
Therefore, imposing our personal choices and lifestyle of vegetarianism or veganism on our pets, who are designed to eat a meat-based diet, is not only unethical but also cruel. A cat fed a predominantly plant based diet may not fall ill straight away but over time, the food will take its toll and serious health issues will develop.