Cats Can’t be Vegetarian – Here’s Why

cats need meat!

We love animals at Leo&Lucky’s (of course!) and understand why many people choose to be vegetarian or vegan for ethical, and/or health reasons.  Unfortunately, a vegetarian diet goes against nature for our feline friends. Meat-free diets are dangerous and unhealthy for cats, and here’s why.

Cats are obligate carnivores. Both wild and domestic, cats must eat meat and organs to meet their nutritional needs as the main component of their diet. Cats can eat small quantities of plant-based foods, but true carnivores simply aren’t designed to digest vegetable matter. Felines lack specific enzymes needed to use plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins, as plant-based proteins don’t contain all of the amino acids (building blocks of protein) required for the health of an obligate carnivore. Humans are omnivores, and have the physiological ability to turn plant proteins into the missing pieces needed for a complete amino acid profile, but true carnivores do not. Your cat needs a meat-based diet in order to stay healthy.

Cats require much more protein and certain animo acids found in animal tissue, such as taurine, in their diets than other animals. While other mammals use most of the protein they consume for growth and body maintenance, cats use it for that AND as their source of energy. Other species’ bodies can make adjustments to conserve amino acids to manage a deficit of protein intake, but a kitty’s body must continue to use protein even when they aren’t able to find any, or are sick or injured. This can make a lack of protein intake very dangerous for felines – causing serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and blindness.

Other reasons cats need meat:

  • Cats require vitamin A, which is naturally available only in animal tissue – cats lack the intestinal enzymes needed to convert beta-carotene in plants to the active form of vitamin A
  • Kitties must consume vitamin D (contained in livers and fatty tissues) because they can’t synthesize it through their skin
  • Cats need arachidonic acid, an Omega 6 fatty acid, from their diet

Bottom line, cats need meat and organ meat to be healthy and thrive. Many vets recommend rotating meats like chicken, beef, rabbit, and lamb from high-quality sources to reduce the risk of food intolerances down the road. We have a wide variety of dry, canned, raw, freeze-dried foods, treats, and supplements available in our store and freezers for your feline friends, and are happy to help you make a selection to please even the pickiest of palates. See you in store!

Nicole Apostle is the marketing director at Leo&Lucky's.

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