A stray kitten of about 2 months old came to my door steps two days back, it was looking sick as well as weak , I have adopted it. He seemed to be having an issue of indigestion when it arrived and I did feed him milk. I got him checked with one local vet and I got the medication for the indigestion. The vet told that the cat needs Non Veg food which happens to be strictly not allowed in my house.

Being this is a house rule, and I'd like to explore my options; what health risks are involved in feeding him a vegetarian diet? Does the reward outweigh the risk? And if I choose to feed a vegetarian diet, is there a specific mix that would be MOST healthy for this kitten, being 2 months old?

  • 1
    Welcome to Pets! We've already discussed this very thing - cats are carnivores, they need meat to be healthy. See this question and it's answers for more information:pets.stackexchange.com/questions/1601/…
    – Ash
    Jul 29 '17 at 16:40
  • @Ash Didn't come up in my search. Apologies
    – MaNyYaCk
    Jul 29 '17 at 16:56

Cats unlike dogs are obligate carnivores. Dogs and cats diet vastly differs. Dogs are with humans for 40,000 years and have evolved to become omnivore. They can get their sufficient nutrition from plant food. However, it is not the same in case of cats. Cats can thrive only on pure non-veg food.

In the site Vegetarian diet for dogs and cats

Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, makes this analogy: “Trying to feed a cat a vegan diet would be like me feeding my horses meat. You’re taking a whole species of animal and trying to force it to eat something that it isn’t designed to handle.”

“For cats, it’s really inappropriate. It goes against their physiology and isn’t something I would recommend at all," says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cats given vegetarian or vegan diet has the following nutritional defficiencies:

  • Vitamins A and D: Dogs and cats cannot make vitamin D in their skin, so it needs to be in their diet. And the vitamin D needs to be D3, which comes from animal sources, not D2, which comes from plant-based sources. “People and dogs can use D2 to some extent, but cats really need D3,” Heinze says.
  • Taurine: Dogs can make taurine if provided the right building blocks through dietary protein. Cats cannot make their own taurine at all, so it is regarded as an essential amino acid in this species and must be present in adequate amounts in the diet. Both species can suffer taurine deficiencies.

Further it is given:

  1. Never feed vegetarian or vegan diets to kittens or to cats you plan to breed.
  2. Only consider or feed commercial diets that have gone through feeding trials and meets the requirements for AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) compliance.
  3. Consult with a veterinary nutritionist who can analyze your commercial or homemade vegetarian pet diet and make recommendations for additional health safeguards.

Can dogs and cats be vegetarians

Cats are much more complicated than dogs: they are “obligate carnivores”. The feline anatomy and metabolism have evolved specifically for processing meals derived from small prey. While their anatomy and digestive system can adapt (cats can eat and digest plant-based food), there are critical aspects of their metabolism that have an absolute need for nutrients that are only commonly found in meat.

As given in the site When Pets Don't Get Enough of The Right Kind of Protein

Obligate + carnivore = cats must eat meat to survive. This is because the protein in animal tissue has a complete amino acid profile. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Plant proteins do NOT contain all the amino acids critical for the health of obligate carnivores, and unlike humans who have the physiological ability to turn plant proteins into the missing pieces needed for a complete amino acid profile, cats don’t have that capacity.

Remember: It’s not just the amount of protein that’s important – it’s also the source (for carnivores it should be animal vs. plant-based) and bioavailability (fresh, unprocessed, preferably raw muscle and organ meat is ideal for healthy cats and dogs).

Cats aren’t designed to eat carbohydrates, and in fact, their bodies don’t produce the enzymes required to digest carbs.

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