Cats cannot be vegans
January is the time of year when our minds turn to healthier living and good resolutions.
If you are one of those who is taking up a new exercise programme, or giving up meat for the sake of the planet – congratulations! I salute you, and support your endeavour.
However, please don’t get carried away and think that your cat should follow suit.
Whereas people, and even our dogs can forgo meat, as long as we provide a carefully balanced diet of vegetable origin, cats have a completely different metabolism.
It is literally true that if you deprive a cat of meat, it will become unwell and die. This is because evolution has honed these little hunters into obligate carnivores.
Cats have very specific requirements for amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins in a form that can only be found in meat. People and dogs have retained the ability to convert or activate some of these essential nutrients from a vegetable source. But cats have lost that ability, and cannot survive on a vegetarian or vegan option.
It is essential that cats are fed a good quality meat based commercial or home prepared pet food. Many cats enjoy a meat or fish based treat, and I often recommend certain ideas when they are unwell to get their appetites going.
However, it is also vital to be aware that raw liver is not a suitable long term diet for cats on its own. Weirdly, cats love it, innocently unaware that it is not at all a balanced diet. They become deficient in vitamin A, which is often fatal.
So, please avoid raw liver. Cook it before use, and only offer it as part of a diet that contains many other sources of goodness. And avoid processed meats such as ham, which can contain very high salt contents. Again, it’s delicious to a cat, but not good for their little hearts or kidneys.
And remember, If you are a passionate vegetarian, and it offends you to provide meat to any member of your household, then you might find that a rabbit or guinea pig is your best pet option. But it would be cruel to ask your cat to join in veganuary!