Can cats eat vegan cat food for a long time?
The physiological structure and unique nutritional needs of cats have clearly proved that the cats in your family are all meat eaters (Obligcrte Carnivore).
But many people want cats to follow vegetarian diets because they are vegetarians.
In addition, in recent years, there have been more vegetarian feeds that claim to make cats healthier, and some claim to meet the specifications of the American Feed Administration (AAFCO). But these are only numerically qualified. Animal protein is very different from plant protein. Therefore, for cats, the biological value of plant protein is very low.
Because cats are all carnivorous animals, some nutrients, such as taurine, arginine, active vitamin A, etc., can only be obtained from meat. Although today’s commercially available cat foods contain synthetic taurine and other essential nutrients for cats, the body is very sensitive and can distinguish which ones are natural and which are artificial, and their absorption and utilization rates are different. In particular, in vegetarian cat food, most of the vitamins and minerals are either derived from plants or artificially synthesized. There are not many that can be absorbed and used by cats.
Some vegetarian parents may be unconvinced and feel that their cats have been eating vegetarian feed for more than a year, and their health is good in all aspects, so how to explain? Many vegetarian cats (especially in European and American countries) also have courtyards in their homes. They are likely to hunt small insects or even small animals as supplements when their parents do not find them, so they do not suffer from malnutrition. Furthermore, many symptoms of malnutrition may not appear until a few years later. When they do, parents or veterinarians may not immediately realize that they are caused by a vegetarian diet.
Another major problem with vegetarian feed is that it easily leads to lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). The pH value of the urine of normal cats should be maintained at a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5. However, if a cat consumes a lot of plant foods, its urine will be alkaline (pH>7.0), which can easily cause struvite in the cat’s bladder or urethra. Therefore, some vegetarian cat feed manufacturers specifically add acidulants such as methionine, sodium bisulfate and vitamin C. However, if you take these acidifiers for a long time, some cats’ urine will be overly acidified, and they are prone to Colcium Oxalate stones. This kind of stone is more difficult to solve than struvite stone. It cannot be melted by food or medicine and can only be removed by surgery. Male cats are particularly prone to urethral occlusion due to stones, which is not only painful, but also life-threatening if they cannot urinate within 24 hours.
I definitely don’t agree with projecting my own moral concepts and wishes on cats who have no choice. Therefore, I am opposed to giving cats a vegan diet, whether homemade or ready-made in the market. Every creature should follow a diet that suits its species, just as cattle and sheep should be vegan. Violating the laws of nature or physiological design will have counterproductive effects.