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Is It Okay To Feed Your Cat a Vegetarian Diet?

 by danielle on 10 Jul 2014 |
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Vegetarians can sometimes be unhappy about feeding their cats meat due to their own dietary choices. Ethical concerns about the slaughter of animals for consumption may prompt them to ask: can my cat go meat free too?
The question is not a simple one to answer. Much controversy exists over whether or not cats can be safely fed a veggie diet. Their have been numerous concerns raised that in worrying for the welfare of animals used for consumption that the welfare of felines might be in fact compromised by enforced vegetarianism.

The fact is: cats are naturally carnivorous. Humans and dogs are omnivores, meaning their diet encompasses both meat and plant matter, and gives them greater flexibility in what they can be fed with consideration to the nutritional value of different 
food products. Cats on the other hand have evolved to be meat eaters, with the exception of the ingestion of grass (which is to improve digestive tract conditions not provide nutrients).

Nevertheless, there are vegan and vegetarian diets that are on the market for cats and are recommended by certain communities as a viable option. It may be possible, with extensive supplementation, for a cat to survive on these products – not all have been rigourously scientifically tested – however it is important to remember dangers can exist for cats who miss out on important elements that derive from meat.
Cats missing out on the required dose of taurine, niacin, arachidonic acid, vitamins A, B1 and B2 and protein can develop all sorts of ailments including but not limited to skin and coat issues, blood clotting disorders, immune systems failures, weight loss, interrupted growth, diarrhea and neurologic disorders.
A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association found in 2004 two vegan cat foods sold as complete diets as having significant deficiencies. 

Recently in Melbourne, a kitten almost died after being fed a diet of potatoes, milk, rice, and pasta. It was nursed back to health by the hospital with a treatment of intravenous fluids and a new food regime including meat products: a warning to be very careful of what you do and do not feed your cat. 
Critics of cat vegetarianism and veganism question why do owners insist on feeding their cat this type of diet, when many other vegetable loving animals can be brought home to join the family.
The subject is complex and the choice of your diet, regardless of which viewpoint you lean towards, should be carefully considered and based on extensive research and consultation with animal health professionals. 



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