Can Cats Be Vegan? The Truth About Vegan Diets for Cats
If you have ever wondered about a vegan diet for your cat, here is what you need to know.
Felines are obligate carnivores, which means that they require certain dietary components found in meat in order to obtain all of their essential nutrients. This is why they evolved as predatory animals, with their main food sources being mice, rats, rabbits, birds, lizards and insects.
In contrast to omnivores such as dogs, cats have a shorter gastrointestinal tract, fewer molars, an aversion to the taste of sugars, and a limited ability to metabolize certain key nutrients, which are found in animal flesh—these dietary adaptations evolved to define cats as true carnivores.
That said, while cats are carnivores who in the wild need to consume another animal in order to obtain all of their essential nutrients, when it comes to a commercial diet, those same nutrients can also be produced synthetically.
Cats need nutrients not ingredients and those nutrients can be added to food from synthetic sources.
For example, take a look at the ingredient list on your cat food packaging and you’ll see a long list of vitamins and minerals that have been added back to the food after being lost in the manufacturing process, including taurine, which is an essential amino acid for cats found only in meat. In fact, more than half of the world’s industrially produced taurine is sold to the pet food industry for inclusion in cat food. There is a long history in pet food of producing synthetic nutrients that are essential for pets to thrive.
Like all living beings, cats have certain nutritional requirements, all of which can be conveniently met by their consumption of meat.
For cats, those specific nutrients include:
Essential amino acids, arginine, lysine and methionine
So while vegan diets for cats have been disregarded as impossible (as well as unsafe and unhealthy), if you are able to create a properly balanced diet that includes all the nutrients a cat requires, it is entirely possible.
But here’s the catch! Cats are picky eaters. And most cats are attracted to the taste of animal fat. So the biggest challenge in giving cats a vegan diet will be getting them to eat it. Unlike dogs, cats will actually starve themselves if they think the food offered isn’t tasty enough.
If it’s healthy and tasty it can be done, but otherwise, cats do require animal flesh to thrive.
This is why we are creating cultured meat for cats. And our first cultured meat product will be a cultured mouse cat treat—the food that cats evolved eating in the wild but with no animals harmed!