Vegetarian Cats?

People choose not to eat meat for various ethical, environmental, and health reasons. Some omnivores, like humans and dogs, can live longer, happier lives this way with a little thought put into their diets. For people, it’s not hard to be a healthy vegan if you don’t live on fries and cola and eat a bean once in awhile. Many dogs must eat a vegetarian diet due to inflammatory bowel disease or severe allergies, and can still thrive. But, what about cats? Some cats develop these same allergies and bowel inflammatory issues, but for Obligate Carnivores like cats, this is tricky. The term Obligate Carnivore means that cats require meat to stay healthy. They can only get certain amino acids like taurine, niacin, arachidonic acid, and Vitamins A, B1, and B12 from eating meat. There are many pet foods marketed to cats that are vegetarian and vegan that add these nutrients as additives and claim to be a complete nutrition source. I, however, feel a whole food diet complete with meat is healthier for my feline patients. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) compared the nutritional adequacy of a few vegan cat foods in 2004 and found them to be deficient in many nutrients. I hope today in 2012 there are many better options in the vegan/vegetarian cat isle, but be careful out there. Pet foods in general are processed and often imperfect. We recommend letting your carnivore kitty remain true to her DNA.