Veganism has become super popular in many places in our world. The health benefits gained from a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains are embraced by health-conscious humans. Ethically, eating a plant-based diet helps protect animals from slaughter. Humans are omnivores and can thrive without meat in their diets, but what about cats? Is their such thing as Vegan Cats?
In this article we discuss the benefits and the flaws of a vegan diet for cats and we review 4 Vegan Cat Food products.
4 Vegan Cat Foods Review Summary
|Product||Customer Average Rating||Features||Price AMAZON||Price CHEWY|
|Evolution Diet Vegan Wet Cat Food||4.2 STARS||Complies AAFCO|
Protein 8% (low)
#1 Potato/sweet potato
|Evolution Diet Vegan Dry Cat Food||3.9 STARS||Complies AAFCO|
All age cats
|Wysong Vegan Dry Cat Food||4.3 STARS||#1 rice/corn/soy|
|Ami Vegan Dry Cat Food||4.7 STARS||#1 Corn|
High Protein 33%
Suit Hypoallergenic cat
Dogs Can be Vegan… What About Cats?
Before looking at the positives of a vegan diet for cats, we will look at some arguments against a plant based diet for cats.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre (APCC) says that while it is possible, though challenging, to keep dogs healthy on a vegan diet, a vegan diet is not appropriate for cats at all.
Unlike dogs and other omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they get all their nutrition by consuming other animals.
Cats have a higher protein requirement than many other animals. They get key nutrients from meat- nutrients that they cannot sufficiently obtain from a plant-based diet.
A Cat’s Evolution
There are numerous reasons why cats do not do well on a vegan diet. Essentially though it all boils down to the fact that they have not evolved to eat plants. Feeding a cat, a plant-based diet is like feeding a sheep a meat-based diet—their digestive system is not designed to handle it, and they will not likely thrive on it.
Nutrients Cats Get from Meat
“A mouse a day keeps the animal doctor away!”
When a cat eats a small animal, she will consume meat, bone, feathers, scales, organs and all. In doing so she digests essential nutrients including taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B12 and amino acids derived from meat. She also easily digests fats.
Without a steady supply of these nutrients, cats can suffer from liver and heart problems, not to mention skin irritation, eye problems and hearing loss.
Diet Plays a Roll in PH
Cats on a vegan diet can develop abnormally high PH (alkaline) urine due to the more alkaline pH of plant proteins when compared to the acidic pH of meat-based foods which felines have evolved to eat.
When the urine becomes too alkaline, there is an increased risk of formation of bladder crystals (or stones), leading to urinary problems.
Vegan cats would need to have pet food with a lower PH. This can be achieved with plant-based ingredients.
Can Cats Be Converted to a Vegan Diet?
The problem with forcing your cat to be vegan is that such a diet fails to provide the amino acids required for correct feline health. Also they are too high in carbohydrates, which cats have not evolved to easily assimilate. (check out low-carb cat food reviews)
Supplementing a cat’s vegan diet with the essential nutrients it generally gets from meat is not a simple solution. These powder-based supplements incorporated into cat food may not be as easily absorbed by cats’ bodies as eating meat.
Some pet nutritionists argue that domestic cats have been eating processed foods for many years now and have gradually transformed to better accept foods with less meat and are much higher in carbohydrates– derived from grains and vegetables.
Cats may adjust to such partial meat diets, but would vegan cats thrive on a diet with no meat at all? Let’s delve deeper…
Some Experts Say Cats Can Go Vegan!
There are those who strongly disagree with the argument that cats cannot be vegan.
Vegan Cat Diet Scientific Studies
A growing number of studies have indicated that cats maintained on vegan diets may be healthy, and indeed may experience a range of health benefits. Vegan cats also experience a range of health problems, but these problems are just as prevalent in felines maintained on meat-based diets.
Cat owners should be aware that studies have also demonstrated health problems in cats maintained on various meat-based diets.
The Problematic Pet Food Industry
Evolution Pet Food started in 1989 by Eric Weisman – a human physician and veterinarian with an interest in being kind, preserving all animal life and nutrition. From his research and study of animals, he came to realize that the flesh-based pet food industry was problematic and that its products are the cause of many illnesses.
Cancer has been the leading cause of death in canines and now becoming the leading cause of death in felines.
Weisman claims that many mainstream pet foods contain steroids, diseased tissue, and antibiotics harmful to pets. Meat by-products, not fit for humans, and artery-clogging animal fats are common ingredients in commercial cat foods.
Vegan Cat Food by ‘Evolution Pet Foods’
Evolution Diet, makers of completely vegetarian foods for cats and other pets, says that their meatless cat food formulas that they have been manufacturing for 15 years, are healthy and nutritious, and if anything, have extended the lives of many cats, even reversing chronic health problems.
Evolution Pet Food have many loyal customers, claiming to have happy and long-living pets who look forward to their meals. The company has taken great care in the formulation of their vegan cat food to ensure the nutritional needs of cats are met.
Evolution Diet Vegan Wet Cat Food is a premium plant-based food that minimizes the environmental footprint.
- Contains no GMO with all ingredients being organic.
- The 100% plant-based formula complies with AAFCO regulatory requirements
- Formulated for all ages of cats.
- The main ingredients are potato, sweet potato, brown rice, oats and a mix of vegetables.
- The product has L-Carnitine and Taurine Amino-acids, essential for cat health.
- Full spectrum of minerals and vitamins.
- Available in 12 or 24 can packs with a choice of three different recipes.
- Only 8% protein.
A solution to the low protein in Evolution’s Vegan wet cat food is to supplement with extra protein. There are many plant-based protein supplement products available. This pea protein isolate by ‘Naked Pea’ is value for money; alternatively, for a non GMO organic supplement, try ‘Aspen Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder’.
Alternatively, mix Evolution vegan wet food with their vegan dry food which has a much higher level of protein.
Evolution Vegan Dry Cat Food is formulated for cat’s maximum health. It is a balanced and complete 100% plant-based dry food formula. The company has ensured there are adequate levels of Taurine. Taurine is essential for heart health, eyesight and a healthy skin and coat (see more on Taurine below).
- Complies with AAFCO nutritional profiles.
- Grain, gluten free and GMO free.
- High protein (30%)
- Suitable for adult cats, kittens, lactating mothers and seniors.
- Adequate levels of Taurine.
- No animal ingredients, chemicals, preservatives or mold inhibitors.
- Recipe includes all vitamins and minerals for balanced cat nutrition.
- Recognized and awarded international producer of vegan pet food with over 30 years on the market.
- Reading through customer reviews it seems the food causes stomach upsets with a small number of cats.
“Cat Food Advisor has reviewed additional Vegan Cat Food products at the end of this article.”
What Are the Essential Elements Needed By Cats That Are Available in Meat?
Taurine is an amino acid essential for cats. It is the building block of protein and can only be found in animal sources such as milk, meat, and eggs. It is not found in plants. Taurine can be synthesized within people and dogs, but cats are unable to do this. They need to get it directly from an animal product. Vegan cats will often develop a deficiency of taurine.
Cats with taurine deficiency can develop heart problems. This is where the heart muscle becomes very thin and weak, preventing blood from pumping and supplying oxygen to their bodies. This is a fatal disease if not corrected early. A lack of adequate taurine can also cause serious eye problems in cats. Leading to blindness.
Cats require a diet high in protein. An adult cat required 35-40% protein in their food. Plants do not have high enough levels of high-quality, highly digestible (cat digestive systems) protein to meet a cat’s dietary needs.
Cats are not good at assimilating copious carbohydrates. They do not derive much energy from them, and a carbohydrate-rich diet is not suitable for cats. They require calorie dense options that meat provides.
What to Do- Vegan Cat or Carnivore Cat?
The vegan cats debate is a contentious one among pet owners and veterinarians and is one not likely to go away anytime soon. The best approach may well be to give some of the non-meat supplements and foods a try. You may need to adjust if you notice skin, digestive, or other health problems. Try a different brand or recipe, and if necessary, go back to feeding the previous diet.
Cats instinctively seem to know what it best for them. When a cat refuses to eat the food presented to them, then it likely indicates the cat food is not right for them.
There are many cat products on the market. If you truly want your cat to have a vegan diet, we suggest you give Evolution Vegan Cat Food a try or look into Harbingers of a New Age which makes “Vegecat” kibble and supplements that provide cats with nutrients otherwise only found in meat.
Alternatively, there are many commercial dry cat foods and canned cat foods that have less meat in their recipes. Check out the product reviews on our site. We have pointed out the features and flaws of each to help cat owners with making the best choices for their pets.
Additional Vegan Cat Food Products Reviewed
Wysong’s dry food’s main ingredient is brown rice, corn and soybeans. The Cat Food Advisor Team would rate the Evolution product (reviewed earlier in article) as superior as it has potato, sweet potato as the main ingredient, rather than rice and corn.
- High levels and comprehensive spectrum of Micronutrients including prebiotics, probiotics, enzymes, Omega-3S, and antioxidants.
- Protein at 26% is reasonable.
- No wheat fillers.
- No artificial additives.
- No animal ingredients
- Some customer reviews feel the product is not a complete food and needs to be mixed with a meat-based cat food to give cats complete and balanced nutrition.
Ami vegan dry cat food’s main ingredient is corn with potato as its second. The percentage of protein is the highest we have seen with Vegan cat foods at 33%. There looks to be many cat owners writing positive reviews about Ami Vegan feline food. In our view, this product ticks more boxes when compared to the other options for vegan dry food.
- Balanced formula
- Small Kibble size for easy eating.
- Sufficient Taurine Amino Acids included in recipe.
- Fortified with range of minerals, vitamins and other amino acids
- Happy customers with a 4.7 stars rating.
- Used by vets as a hypoallergenic food for cats with food intolerances.
- High protein levels compared to other Vegan cat foods at 33%.
- Mid-range price.
- An Italian product sold in the USA- supply has not been reliable.
- Corn as the first ingredient as apposed to vegetables