VEGETARIAN CATS: IS IT POSSIBLE OR ADVISABLE?
The idea of vegetarian cats is much like an oxymoron. After all, unlike dogs, cats are known as obligate carnivores or that their wild diet is almost entirely composed of meat.
This distinction is of grave importance when making the decision about whether cats can survive, and more importantly, thrive on a vegetarian diet. As an obligate carnivore, it means that a cat's body is anatomically and biologically designed to consume meat. For example:
- A cat's intestinal tract is significantly shorter that a dog or humans. This is for the sole purpose of moving food through the body quickly: a necessity for an animal eating almost exclusively meat.
- A cat's body produces highly acidic stomach acids in order to break down the meat more efficiently.
- A cat's teeth are very pointed and sharp, ideal for puncturing and tearing meat.
- Cats cannot self produce many of the enzymes necessary to convert different fatty acids and vitamins into something usable for them.
- Cats must also have taurine. The prolonged lack of taurine, which is found naturally in meat sources, can cause a cat to become progressively and irreversibly blind. Taurine is not found in plant vegetation at all, and while synthetic forms have been created, this is still not the best choice for a natural carnivore.
It is simply a fact that a cat would never choose to be a vegetarian. In the wild, a cat would spend its days primarily sleeping and hunting, like all of the world's big cats still do. Cats consume all of their kill, and any ingested vegetation comes from the prey animal's stomach contents.
Cats will, on occasion, eat bits of grasses and green vegetation, but this roughage is meant to primarily assist in the removal of hair balls by vomiting.
With the advent of some synthetic products, there are a number of people attempting to create vegetarian cats. This is a reversal on nature, and in the long run, it is likely to harm these pets. Not enough scientific evidence has been conducted into the long term effects of synthetics in the use of cat diets.
Most of the debate is ethically based. If you are a vegetarian, how can you feed your cat meat? This is a tough moral argument, but it must also be viewed from the naturalist point of view. What would your cat choose to do, if allowed? No cat will choose to gnaw a carrot over a hunk of meat.
Science over decades has already demonstrated that many cats do not fare well on grain based diets and suffer from poor skin, allergies, and other ailments. To remove all trace of meat from the diet and only be grains and vegetables cannot be a better health situation for cats.
As much as some of us might not like it, making vegetarian cats is just not a naturally sound decision.
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