Vegetarian Cat Food

Cat food can be varied and there are options even for the vegetarian and vegan pet owners. Even if cats are supposed to be carnivores, some felines can do well on a vegetarian diet, as this has many health benefits. The vegetarian diet contains supplements that compensate for the lack of nutrients in the vegetables. It is important to consider all the pros and cons of vegetarian food before you decide on a suitable diet for your pet.

Essential Nutrients

Cats require meat in their daily diet, but if you're a vegan or vegetarian and you don’t want to feed meat to your cat for personal reasons, you can opt for a vegetarian diet.

Meat contains some substances that are absent in all vegetable sources, but are essential for the cat’s health:

  • Arginine
  • Taurine
  • Vitamin A
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Consequently, vegetarian food for cats should contain synthetically produced versions of these substances. A long term administration of these synthetically produced ingredients has not yet been studied.

A vegetarian diet will contain a lot of plant sources and possibly eggs and milk (for cats that are not lactose intolerant). There is also a version of vegan diet for cats that contains only plant sources.

Vegetarian Food Pros and Cons

There is a debate on the health of vegetarian food for felines. Some researchers say that a vegetarian diet is unhealthy and does not meet the nutrient requirements for cats, even with the added synthetically produced substances. They say that cats need meat and not synthetic ingredients.

On the other hand, there are cats that live on vegetarian food and are in good health. The health benefits of an all vegetarian diet for cats include a lower incidence of cancer and healthier internal organs. The plant sources may also ensure a strong immune system, which will protect the cat from numerous possible diseases.

Vegetarian diet is linked to frequent lower urinary tract infections, as the diet influences the acidity of the urine. Vegetarian cats may be more lethargic and can experience muscle problems.

If you opt for vegetarian food, you need to make a careful selection of the cat food for your pet. There are vegetarian meals for cats that don’t have adequate amounts of necessary nutrients. Talk to your vet about the contents of your cat’s food and monitor your pet's health, at least during the first year of a vegetarian diet.

If your cat can't adjust to a vegetarian diet, you should put his health first.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals does