Seriously? Giving Your Cat A Vegan Diet?

April 02, 2018

Seriously? Giving Your Cat A Vegan Diet?

(And Other Mistakes People Make When Feeding A Cat)

 

Most of us will admit that we are not eating a properly balanced diet. We tend to eat too much sugar by gulping large amounts of cola, consuming a lot of salt if we think that our food is not salty enough and munching on junk foods pretty much every time we have the chance. Sometimes we eat too little, sometimes too much, sometimes none at all. With all this bad eating habits one can expect an issue with their body sooner or later (Diabetes, High blood pressure, kidney stones, heart issues and so on). So if we always do this, is it not surprising that we are possibly doing this to our cats too?

So, what's wrong with what we are doing and why? (that also goes with you and not just your cat). Our feline buddies can't just tell you that he has an anemia or a stage 4 liver cancer, not with words though. Sometimes we don't know what we have done wrong until kitty's mouth is frothing and body's twitching.

Feeling guilty now? anyway, we can till fix that, it's never too late..yet. I have compiled some of the most important things around to help you avoid this dire situation (I know, it's gonna break your soul seeing your pet cat suffer) and help keep your feline friend fit, happy, and well-nourished. 

A perfect balance of nutrition is needed to ensure that your cat is always healthy

Probably the most common mistake people make when feeding cats is overfeeding which eventually lead to obesity. Looking at your plump kitty may look cute (I doubt it, I like my pet cat fit and active) but behind that pudgy appearance, your cat might hiding different health issues, just like we humans have. These diseases include diabetes, arthritis, bladder/urinary tract infection, liver disease, asthma, and the dreaded one, heart failure. There is a possibility that they might also suffer from something similar to that very human condition, metabolic syndrome.

It’s not necessary that we’re intentionally giving our cats more food than they need. Of course, you need to take into consideration that the amount of food you provide to them will also depends on their lifestyle, that means you can't feed the same amount of food an active breed of cat who is always on the move to an indoor cat who laze around and pretty much sleep all the time, for their nutrition needs are much lower (since they pretty much do nothing), so it's easy to overfed them.

So how much food does your cat need? well, feeding a cat isn’t overly complicated, but it is based on many variables, including the cat’s weight and age, whether you’re feeding wet or dry food, the cat’s activity level, and whether or not she is pregnant or nursing. The brand of food you’re feeding also makes a difference. A dense, high quality dry cat food will contain more nutrients by weight than a low-quality food, and thus require smaller portions to deliver the same amount of nutrition.

Many cat owners allow their cats free access to dry food, supplemented by canned food once or twice a day. A dry-food-only diet is not necessarily a bad pet diet if you’re feeding high quality food, but it does require that you encourage your cat to drink a lot more water to compensate for what she’s not getting in canned food. In terms of calories, daily recommendations range between 24 to 35 calories a day per pound, to keep cats at a normal, healthy weight.

One of the biggest mistakes cat owners would do is feeding their pet can dry food all the time. As most of us may not know, today's domestic cats evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors Egypt and Cyprus back in the ancient times, a heritage that even after thousands of years of domestication and living with us humans, is still there imbedded in their genes and even today, you can still see it in their grace, hunting prowess, and of course, low water consumption.

“We know that a cat’s sensitivity to thirst is blunted compared to a dog,” Says Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, a California veterinarian focused on feline medicine and nutrition, and creator of CatInfo.org.. “They don't voluntarily drink water like a dog would.” And because cats naturally produce highly concentrated urine (that smells horrendous and hideously offensive) “we're setting them up for urinary tract problems when their diet is low in liquids.”

“When cats present with urinary tract problems, the recommendation is to get them on a water-rich diet,” Pierson says. “However, why are we closing the barn door after the horse is a mile down the road? Why not practice preventive nutrition by feeding them [moisture-rich] canned food before they end up with urinary tract problems?”

Cats are designed to get their water from their food, Pierson says. Although mice, a cat's normal food, are about 70% water, and canned food about 78%, dry food is between 5%-10% water (that is surprisingly low). That's why “canned food does a much better job of keeping your cat well-hydrated,” Pierson tells WebMD. “ There are also an added benefit to this, it doesn't just hydrate them aside from water, think of canned food as hosing down your cat's bladder several times a day.” Sometimes cats prefer wet cat food (usually in cans) over dry cat food (in bags), for it imitates the consistency and texture of the food that they naturally eat.

Speaking of hydration, clearly water is vital, not just for them, but it is essential to pretty much all living things. water accounts for 60% to 70% of an adult cat’s body weight, say ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) experts. A serious water deficiency can have critical repercussions for pets, causing severe dehydration that may lead to hypovolemic shock (when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen circulating to the body's organs) in rare cases or even death.

Although wet foods can greatly helps in meeting your feline friend’s water needs, cats should also have several sources of fresh water available through the house, say the pros. “Pay attention to where the cat likes to be so that there's water there, you can simply put pet water dispenser on those locations so that your cat can just rehydrate there and not go somewhere else to drink,” Case suggests. “And be aware that some cats (especially older cats that were adopted from shelters or feral turned into indoor cats) prefer running water; others can detect the taste of chlorine in tap water so you might want to buy bottled water for them.”

Here’s a tasty tip to help encourage your cat to drink more, offered in The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats:

  • Locate a couple leaves of fresh catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and crush the leaves under the water, crushing it thoroughly for best effects, and leave it near their cat scratch post or scratching cat pad, you can find good ones at https://activefelinesolutions.com.au/.
  • Sit back and watch susceptible kitties ‘go wild and high’
  • Capture the scene on video and post it on Youtube
  • Profit

What are those strangely wiggly white segments near your cat's butt that looks like tiny rice grains? Did kitty just went outside and accidentally took a nap on an Asian restaurant's dumpster?

No! silly you, those segments belong to a tapeworm that’s taken residence in your cat’s small intestine. Invasion by the Cestoda tapeworm results in a medical condition that is referred to as cestodiasis. The tapeworm species can include Taenia, Dipylidium Caninum, Echinococcus, and Mesocestoides. Treatment to destroy tapeworms is a critical step in preventing transmission to humans (typically children), and for averting damage to the cat's body. When treated promptly, prognosis is positive.

Never ever attempt to treat your pet yourself for your cat should be treated for the specific type of worms he has. A dewormer that eradicates tapeworms, for example, will not kill roundworms. And some over-the-counter deworming medications can be harmful. After your vet has accurately diagnosed the type of parasite your pet has, he or she will then prescribe the best course of treatment, which may include an oral deworming agent.

But some still cat owners believe the best home remedy to eradicate these squirmy parasites is fresh, pungent garlic or onion added to kitty’s chow.“This is one of the biggest misconceptions around,” Bartges tells WebMD. “There is no proof that garlic prevents any parasitic infestation, including intestinal worms or fleas.” On top of that, if given in too high of a dose, garlic can destroy a cat’s red blood cells. Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are in the Allium family, and are poisonous to cats and even dogs if the dose is right. Garlic is considered to be about five times as toxic as onions for cats and dogs.

Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days. While minute amounts of these foods in some pets may be safe, ingesting large quantites can be very toxic.

So why garlic to the rescue? “I believe the origin of this is that people thought garlic prevents fleas,” Case says. “But feeding your cat garlic doesn't prevent fleas or prevent tapeworms.” In any case, it’s important to bring your cat to a veterinarian, who can confirm the presence of worms and probably prescribe an oral deworming medication (it depends if it really is a tapeworm or a roundworm). Avoid self-diagnosis or you could end up doing more harm than good with the wrong medication., since worms are not always visible or identifiable.

Homemade food for cats (and dogs) is on the rise, say the pros. It is important to realize however that homemade does not always mean healthy. “A mistake that I often see well-meaning people make is the feeding of unbalanced homemade diets,” Pierson says.

It's fine to purchase homemade cat food,  as long as they are from reliable and popular source. Making your own cat food can be cost-effective and very healthy for your cat, but – and this is a BIG BUT, friends – only if you do it right: otherwise, it could potentially be life-threatening to your cat. and that is because when making cat food from scratch, some people fail to balance the meat with the correct amount of calcium, forgetting “that a cat would be eating both the meat and bones of their prey, which provides a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.”

Here are some things we get wrong if we aren’t fully informed before attempting to make cat food:

Not supplementing with taurine – even with raw food

Serious heart and eye conditions have appeared in cats fed diets containing insufficient taurine. Cats cannot synthesize enough taurine to meet their needs, so taurine needs to be added even to foods that naturally contain some taurine because it degrades so easily.

Not making sure the food contains these other critical nutrients…

There are a few other nutrients that a cat must have to ensure proper growth and avoid deficiencies, but that are not always in homemade cat food:

  • Niacin (B3) and thiamin (B1): These B’s are degraded by cooking, so any homemade food needs to have these added after any cooking or heating (attention anyone who warms raw food in the microwave!). Adult cats deprived of niacin will lose weight and could lead to death. Thiamin is also essential because a deficiency leads to blindness and neurological impairments such as seizures and heart-rate disorders.
  • Vitamin A (not beta carotene): Deficiencies in vitamin A lead to blindness. Cats can’t manufacture vitamin A and, unlike us, they can’t synthesize vitamin A from beta carotene. They must get it from their diet, but it’s not present in most foods. Vitamin A is found in liver and egg yolks, so if those are not part of your cat’s regular diet, they will need appropriate supplementation (not too much! see mistake #4).
  • Calcium: If you feed cats meat without a calcium supplement or bones (finely ground in), it can lead to a collapse or curvature of lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones; bone pain and fractures, as well as hyperparathyroidism.

Including ingredients cats shouldn’t eat

There is a lot of misinformation that circulate out there! Here are human foods that should NOT be added to cat food:

  • onions and garlic – cause hemolytic anemia in cats
  • tomatoes, chocolate, grapes and raisins – toxic to cats
  • raw egg whites – contain a protein called avidin that can bind to certain B vitamins and prevent their absorption
  • pasteurized milk – very difficult to digest because the lactase enzyme has been neutralized by pasteurization
  • grains or soy of any sort (wheat, rice, corn, oats, etc) – while several years ago it was common to recommend putting grains like rice in homemade cat food, and a lot of commercial cat food still includes them, we are now learning that grains are very hard for most cats to digest and may lead to digestive diseases in some cats

And last but not the least, going vegan on your pet cat. Ooh this topic just make my blood boil.

According to some vets, another up-and-coming mistake made when feeding cats is trying to make cats vegetarians or vegans.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat mainly meat and animal organs to thrive and their digestive system is not made to digest vegetables in any way or form. They need loads of protein and taurine, and do not digest carbs, which are present in great amounts in vegan protein sources.The amino acid taurine, for example, is found only in animal tissue. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart problems, blindness, and even death.

And what I would like to point out is that putting your cats on a vegan diet is, above all, the very same animal cruelty that vegans try to avoid. IT IS CRUEL to undernourish and supplement not just your pet cat, but all kinds of pets as well. As a responsible owner, it is your duty to properly take care of your pet, and that is to feed them properly and in a timely manner with the kind of food that is suitable for them. Don't push you food ideologies on them, just keep it on your own, and if your pet cat has the freedom to choose what they will eat, they will always go for meat, just like their ancestors originally eat, for their body is designed to get all the nutrients they need in order to live from meat (that includes fat, lean meat, organs, bones and even tendons and ligaments). It is sometimes much less cruel to not give them food that having them on a vegan diet.

I know people love their cats, just thinking of only what's best for them. But sometimes, we are doing more harm than good. What you need to do is do research, ask the pros (vets and breeders), and verify first from credible sources the information that you just knew. Visit also the article Cat Nutrition or finding a good book like The Well Cat Book: The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care Reissue Edition - Kindle Edition (AMAZON) for ideas on how to give your cat a healthy diet in that way, you can avoid putting your cat's life at risk.