Why there are no healthy vego cats out there
As a vet I see and hear a lot of opinions on how to care for animals. I hear from breeders, owners, lecturers, food reps and veterinary specialist among others. Often there is no ‘Best Way’ and what works in one situation or for one animal, might not work for an other. Rarely though, there are some instances where the answer is black and white and one of those is that cats need meat!
Its doesn’t have to be fresh meat and it doesn't have to be all meat but they need meat. This isn’t because they are picky (they can be) and it’s not because it’s cheaper (it isn’t), it’s because of some interesting metabolic quirks that make them special and different to dogs and humans.
Why they need meat
Cats lack the ability to make certain nutrients that are essential to their health. These include retinol, taurine, and arachidonic acid. These nutrients are prevalent in meat and are in the correct ratios for use in the body. Plant based proteins, such as soy, are poorly digested by cats and lack some of the essential amino-acids that cats need as preformed molecules.
Humans and dogs have a more complex gastrointestinal tract than cats. They have a large bowel that is full of symbiotic bacteria that break down plant material into nutrient forms that can be used. On the other hand, since their natural food (meat and organs) are easily digested, cats have a relatively short digestive tracts and instead they mainly use protein as an energy source.