Black cat eating from bowl

Can cats be vegan?

The short answer is no, cats can’t be vegetarian or vegan. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need meat in their diet.

With the rise in plant-based diets in the UK, many have started to consider altering their pet’s diet too. This can be for numerous reasons, such as environment, health or ethical reasons.

However, owners must be aware of the risks involved before thinking about feeding their pet a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Why do cats need meat?

Caroline Reay - Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross wearing Blue Cross uniform
This advice has been approved by our Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross

The problem here is that cats requires a much higher level of protein than dogs and humans, and their ability to digest and use carbohydrates is much lower. Additionally, taurine, an amino acid, which are the building blocks of protein, is an essential part of a cat’s diet. Taurine can only be found in animal-based proteins and it’s really important for their eyesight, growth and immune system.

This means that cats need to eat meat to get important nutrients that aren’t available in vegetables. Cats can become very ill if given a plant-based diet.

Your cat needs a proper nutritionally balanced diet throughout their life. Pre-existing conditions, such as heart and kidney disease, will often need a special diet recommended by a vet and a vegan or vegetarian diet can make matters worse.

If you are still considering feeding your cat a vegan diet, please speak to your vet beforehand.

— Page last updated 17/09/2020

Did you find this helpful?

We provide free pet advice as every pet deserves to be well looked after. We treated around 35,000 sick injured and homeless pets last year. We're so glad we've been able to help these pets who are unable to help themselves, but there are thousands of sick and lonely pets still in need, so we need to ask for a small favour.

All of our work is funded entirely through donations. People like you are essential to our work. If everyone who benefits from our articles is able to give a little back, we can reach thousands more pets. For as little as £1 you can make a difference - do you have one minute? Thank you.