Are Vegetarian Diets Safe for Cats?
Though cats are unable to convert the beta-carotene in plants into vitamin A, they can from Vegepet supplements, according to Harbingers. "The vitamin A that we use is the synthetic acetate form is easily assimilated," Peden said.
Research into whether cats can thrive on vegetarian diets has been contradictory.
A 2006 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study found that all the cats fed a vegetarian diet had adequate Vitamin B12 concentrations, and most had adequate taurine levels.
And yet another study published in the journal two years earlier found that both Vegecat KibbleMix and another vegetarian pet food had multiple nutritional inadequacies, particularly taurine.
Harbingers attributed the test results to manufacturing error during mixing as well as to an inaccurate nutrient profile of a food yeast, and corrected the problem.
"We've never had a recurrence of that incident, which most likely only affected 14 pounds of supplement, caused by operator error," Peden said.
The oldest vegetarian organization in the world, The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, advises caution when feeding dogs a vegetarian diet, and downright warns against feeding vegetarian diets to cats.
The high fiber content of vegetarian cat food can be filling but not adequately nutritious, the society says. The polyunsaturated fatty acids in the vegetable oils can cause a vitamin E deficiency related illness, as well, it says.
"Consider carefully before changing your cat to a vegetarian diet, says The Vegetarian Society. "Cats require certain nutrients that cannot be obtained in sufficient amounts from plants."
When it comes to feeding pets -- especially cats -- a vegetarian diet, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration puts it more plainly: "They simply are not intended to eat only plants."
Would you consider feeding your cat a vegetarian diet? Tell us below!
5 years ago
I'm sorry, while I'm a vegetarian, I think it's completely wrong to feed your cat a vegetarian diet. Dogs you can do this with easier (although I wouldn't recommend it) than with cats. Just look at their teeth! Again, there's a very good reason why the "e" in PeTA is in lowercase! They're hypocrites!
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