Why Cats Are Not Meant To Be Vegetarians or Vegans

Why Cats Are Not Meant To Be Vegetarians or Vegans


Your cat needs a meat-based diet in order to stay healthy.

You may have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for ethical or health reasons but while it may be a good choice for you, it’s unhealthy and dangerous for cats.

Cats are true carnivores and need meat to survive and thrive.  Cats can die if they are fed a vegetarian diet.

In one study, 100% of people who fed cats a vegetarian diet reported eating vegetarian diets themselves.

Feeding dogs and cats a no-meat diet is controversial and can be risky. Here's what you need to know if you're considering it.

“For cats, it’s really inappropriate. It goes against their physiology and isn’t something I would recommend at all," says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.”

Cats process some nutrients different than you do.


Cats can become deficient in:

Vitamins A and D: Dogs and cats cannot make vitamin D in their skin, so it needs to be in their diet. And the vitamin D needs to be D3, which comes from animal sources, not D2, which comes from plant-based sources.

Taurine. Dogs can make taurine if provided the right building blocks through dietary protein. Cats cannot make their own taurine at all, so it is regarded as an essential amino acid in this species and must be present in adequate amounts in the diet.

Recent studies have also found that not all dogs are making enough of their own taurine and this is causing a deficiency.   Cats have a higher requirement for certain amino acids found naturally in animal tissue, including taurine.  This is why taurine is included in all cat foods.

Taurine is found in animal muscle meat, particularly in the heart and liver, and a deficiency causes serious health problems in cats, including cardiovascular disease and blindness.

Other deficiencies:  Your pet can also become deficient in B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iron.

Grains and vegetables will not give cats the nutritional needs to keep them healthy.  They are true carnivores and they aren’t designed to only eat grains and vegetables.


Cats need meat…  and lots of it:

Animal protein will give your pets a complete amino acid profile which are the building blocks of the body.  Ideally a cat food should contain at least three different protein sources to provide a wide array of amino acids.

Cats also need much more protein in their diets than other animals. Kittens require one-and-a-half times more protein than puppies, and adult cats need two to three times the amount adult dogs require.   Cats use protein for growth and body maintenance but also as a source of their energy.

The bottom line is that cats need a fresh, whole meat-based diet to stay healthy.   A diet high in protein better for your cat overall, but it can also help your cat keep off extra weight and stay more energetic!

If you are already feeding your cat a vegetarian or vegan diet or are considering the option, please do your research so you know the risks that are involved and how this type of diet can affect the health of your cat.

If you have specific questions about the food that you are feeding your pets, please reach out to me.