Is Vegan Cat Food Okay?


Given the proven fact that cats are obligate carnivores, creatures that feed primarily or exclusively on animal matter for his or her health and well-being, is becoming a vegetarian an excellent idea? Is vegan cat food okay?

Is vegan cat food okay? A vet weighs in.

Is vegan cat food okay? Photography ©serg78 | Getty Images.

“For cats, it’s really inappropriate,” says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

The risks of vegan cat food

The risks of feeding cats a vegetarian or vegan food plan include inadequate total protein intake, imbalance of amino acids reminiscent of taurine or essential fatty acids like arachidonic acid, and deficiency in vitamins and minerals which can be obtained ideally, or only, through meat or other animal products.

Health risks related to vegan cat food and vegetarian cat food

These dietary problems can result in serious and sometimes irreversible medical conditions, in line with Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, board-certified veterinary nutritionist and professor of clinical nutrition on the University of California, Davis veterinary school. The one issue veterinarians mention most frequently is taurine-related dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart with weak contractions and poor pumping ability), but low taurine also can result in reproductive failures, growth failures and eye problems, she adds.

“We did see a case of a cat that nearly died because of this of taurine deficiency,” Dr. Larsen says. “The owners were feeding a vegan cat kibble, so a commercially available vegan food plan, they usually were mixing that food plan with cooked chicken breast, for some reason, but it surely was not enough taurine for the cat, obviously, and it resulted in a near-death experience for this animal.”

Thumbnail: Photography ©Gabriele Grassl | Getty Images. 

In regards to the writer

Ellyce Rothrock spent half her life with Flea, a Maine Coon who lived to be 21 and is missed each day. She’s currently searching for a feline friend to administer Fritz and Mina, her German Shepherd rescues. She’s lucky enough to live her passion for pets as a 25-year member of the pet media industry.

Editor’s note: This text originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you ever seen the brand new Catster print magazine in stores? Or within the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your private home. 

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