Unlike dogs, cats are unequivocally carnivorous animals. This makes the topic of vegan food for cats a controversial one.
Here we discuss the health benefits and risks of a vegan diet for cats but if you’re already keen to transition your cat onto a vegan diet, see our page on vegan cat food reviews.
The carnivorous nature of cats signifies that they naturally thrive on a diet based on animal products. If not properly monitored, a cat’s health may be impaired as a result of an improper vegan diet. However, there are options for vegan cats, which are not only nutritionally sufficient but may even be more health promoting than typical cat foods.
There are strong recommendations to research the ingredients of cat food you provide for your cats, regardless of whether it happens to be vegan or not, in order to ensure it is nutritionally adequate in all sectors.
Potential health benefits of vegan food for cats
As with humans, cats can experience a variety of benefits from transitioning from a typical meat-based diet to a diet centered on plant foods. These benefits range from a healthy change in body weight, especially in the cases of obesity, prevention of diabetes and healthier skin and coats.
Many of the benefits that humans stand to gain from a vegan diet are also available for cats to enjoy as well, given that the diet is nutritionally adequate. This includes:
- lowering body weight to healthy levels,
- reducing risk of diabetes and obesity,
- helping to combat the development of cancer, and
- a general longevity boost.
Furthermore, whilst there is currently limited documented research comparing vegan cats to carnivorous cats, Dr. Andrew Knight, a cat and dog veterinarian, suggests that vegan cats are less prone to skin allergies and experience improved vitality.
Despite the fact that cats are carnivorous, this doesn’t mean that they necessarily must consume animal products in order to live healthily. One interesting observation, that debunks the nature fallacy, is that foods such as cow’s milk, tuna, and pig that are commonly fed to cats, would be outside of what a cat could physically manage to acquire in nature.
Imagine your domesticated cat fighting a large tuna fish in the ocean, or obtaining milk from a cow. These foods are not naturally available to cats, yet they can still subsist on them, just as cats can also subsist on an adequate vegan diet.
Vegan food for cats can be just as satiating and nutritionally sufficient as a meat-based diet, given the correct preparations and monitoring. It’s important to choose a quality brand that has been tested to meet all a cats needs.
See our page on vegan cat food to learn more what to look for in vegan cat food products and read our reviews.
Potential risks of vegan food for cats
Biologically speaking cats are carnivorous predators and as such, they have a tendency to subsist and thrive on animal products. This is unlike humans who are often prone to disease and diet-related illnesses as a result of doing so.
Many warn of the potential complications that may arise from making your cat transition to vegan pet food, such as crystallized formations developing in their urine, resulting from the urine’s pH becoming more alkaline. These crystallizations can eventually form into stones that can block the urinary tract and lead to major problems if unchecked. This seems to be more pronounced in male cats, but it is a concern for both sexes.
There is, however, a solution to this issue namely by checking the pH level of your cat’s urine before and whilst you transition them to a vegan diet. This can be achieved in a few ways, although, more recently certain brands of cat litter have included additives that change color based on the pH level of the urine.
A simpler, less messy option, is to use these urine testing strips to check your cats urine has a healthy pH. This way, you can monitor how your cat is responding to the change and make an educated decision from there.
Additionally, scheduling a few visits to the vet whilst your cat is undergoing the transition, may help to get guidance for where your vegan cat’s diet is lacking and how to prevent further complications from arising.
Another risk of vegan food for cats is that without proper research into brands or research into how to home cook, the diet may not be nutritionally sufficient.
In much the same way that a human may experience vitamin B12 deficiencies if their diet isn’t correctly supplemented. Thankfully, with the breadth of the information available on the internet, it doesn’t take long to research the main requirements of a diet for vegan cats but also discover where common deficiencies lie and how to circumvent them.
There are those who will push the notion that cats can only thrive exclusively on meat-based diets. There is no denying that placing a cat on a vegan diet is somewhat higher maintenance than a dog and certainly poses some risks if done incorrectly. Though, that doesn’t mean that you can’t safely transition your cat onto a vegan diet, so long as the correct measures and precautions are taken.
Vegan food for cats also poses numerous benefits, which may increase your cat’s longevity and prevent certain illnesses from arising, indicating that it may be worth the extra effort and investment. The biggest benefit, is to all those animals who are not ending up in your cats pet food!