Are Cats Omnivores? Every Important Detail You Need To Know Now

Last Updated on:

June 12, 2022

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Are cats omnivores and the simple answer to this question is No. But I would insist that you read the entire article to find out why!

Every time we get a new cat or kitten into our house, the first thing I do is Google “What’s a cats diet” and take it from there.

The truth is, there are so many different types of diets, and they all have their pros and cons.

As a medical student and having done extensive research on this subject, I am sharing my thoughts with you in this blog post. 

I am going to cover topics such as the distinctions between omnivores as well as carnivores.

The dietary requirements of pet cats in the realm of vegan food and the knowledge to help you select the most suitable diet for your cat.

Are you in? 

So, let's get started.

Which Animals Are Considered to be Omnivores?

As per the biological definition, omnivores are those that can thrive on meals based on both animals as well as plants. [1]

Humans are omnivores in every sense of the word.

Animals like bears are also omnivores that means they can consume a wide variety of foods.

Consumption and synthesis of nutrition from animal as well as plant based food sources has evolved over a period of time. 

This can be observed in our teeth, as well as in our body’s digestive system.

The molars of an omnivore are larger and flatter than those of a carnivore, allowing it to grind and digest plant foods more effectively.

Omnivores also have very sharp teeth, which allow them to shred flesh with relative ease. 

By producing amylase substances in their saliva, it is aiding most omnivores in the digestion of carbohydrates by breaking them down more quickly.

In the absence of the salivary amylase, the pancreas should work exceedingly hard to make appropriate amylase to disintegrate the carbohydrate sources in the meal. 

On the other hand, strict carnivores lack the ability to break down plant components as herbivores since they do not have salivary amylase, which is produced by the salivary glands.

Furthermore, carnivores have razor-sharp serrated teeth that cut through flesh like sharp blades, as well as a wide jaw that allows them to digest large quantities of meat at a single time.

In addition, they have a big acidic stomach that can quickly process meat and allow for faster digestion through a shorter intestinal tract.

On the other hand, omnivores have a smaller stomach hence lacks this quality.

Also, omnivores have an intestinal tract that is longer in length that allows for the breakdown of greater quantities of vegetables. 

Are Cats Omnivores Or Carnivores?

Are cats omnivores

No, your feline friend are carnivores, not omnivores as is the case with dogs.

Cats are obligate carnivore, which means that they eat only meat.

However, these days they have been accustomed to consuming commercial cat foods that are high on plant protein.

As a result, certain essential nutrients, lean protein, and vitamins they require are obtained through natural means, such as plants. 

This rising trend for vegetarian cat food may indeed prove to be beneficial.

Is it possible for cats to survive on a vegetarian diet?

The answer to the question is, it depends.

In order to better understand this aspect, let's discuss the specific health and balanced food needs of your cat.

What Are The Essential Healthy & Balanced Cat Diet Requirements?

A cat's nutritional needs are quite different from those of dogs and humans.

Hence, it is important for your cat’s diet to include all the vitamins and minerals that are necessary to keep them healthy and happy.

Everything from their digestion, to their teeth and tails is made to work in harmony with a diet based on meat. 

It even includes the proteins and essential nutrients that their digestive systems can make and produce on their own.

Some proteins, carbs, and nutrients are regarded as essential, which means that they must be received through diet, whilst others are considered non-essential, which means that they may not be provided via diet. 

Your cat's ability to synthesise these nutrients by decomposing or processing other nutrients in the body gives them a competitive advantage over other animals.

Let's look at the essential nutrients required for your cat. 

Taurine Amino Acid

Taurine and arachidonic acid has an important role in the metabolism of your cat.

Taurine is a naturally occurring sulfur-containing amino acid.

A sufficient supply of taurine is required for your cat to maintain healthy heart and eyes.

It is also required for the production of bile that assists in the digestion of fats and proteins.

The natural source of taurine is meat such as chicken, fish, and eggs.

In order to consume taurine while following a vegetarian diet, it is necessary to consume synthetic taurine.

In order to defend the vegan diet, the vast majority of additional essential amino acids may be supplied from plant sources.

For instance, Arginine is abundant in meat, however, it can be supplied in tiny amounts from plant sources such as legumes and grains.

It is possible that the nutrients and their digestibility may differ depending on the source. 

However, a balanced diet of plant materials can cater to your cat's nutritional requirements for various proteins and essential nutrients.

Omega Fatty Acids

It is vital for both animals and humans  to consume omega fatty acids as it is an essential fat for the body.

It is necessary to consume fats to maintain regular physiological processes such as muscle growth and development, hormone generation, and cell cycle progression. 

The bulk of these fatty acids can be derived from plants that are rich in antioxidants.

Omega fatty acids can be found in a variety of plants, including sunflower, flaxseed, as well as canola oil etc. 

However, there is a problem.

All plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids do not provide the essential fatty acids required.

Some are best obtained by the consumption of fish or through fish oils, while others can obtained through the consumption of plant and plant oils.

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is a good example. [2]

Cats can process DHA from a fatty acid known as Alpha-Linolenic Acid or ALA, which is abundant in plants and can be obtained from them.

However, only around 20% of the ALA eaten by the cat can be converted into DHA effectively.

This suggests that dietary supplements will continue to be necessary for your cat. 

Despite the fact that this omega fatty acid is mostly derived from seafood and certain types of fish oils however, it can also be obtained in traces in few species of marine fungus and algae. 

Synthetic Nutrients

As some elements can't be obtained from plants and plant oils, how can a plant based raw diet provide vital nutritional requirements for your feline companion? 

Here's where the usage of synthetic nutrients can be extremely beneficial.

A synthetic ingredient is often used in the pet food industry.

In most cases, it is required for a properly processed pet diet such as frozen food or canned foods.

These are regarded as complete and nutritionally balanced meals. 

In most circumstances, synthetic nutrients deliver comparable quantities of nutrients to their food or natural counterparts.

However, this is where things get a little complicated.

After being processed and digested, some man-made nutrients, despite appearing to be similar to their diet counterparts, in theory, may not be exactly the same as their food counterparts.

When it comes to synthetic nutrients, there are several considerations to be kept in mind.

Many processed vitamins, proteins, and minerals are obtained from industrial by-products, such as petroleum.

However, they are regarded safe by the medical community and government agencies.

In addition to metals such as lead, this group is also likely to contain carcinogenic preservatives such as BHT or BHA.

There are a number of synthetic nutrients obtained from regions with problematic ingredients and food safety requirements.

Many man-made nutritional supplements do not identify where the ingredients in their products are acquired from.

Dietary vitamins, animal protein, and minerals may be more easily digested and absorbed than those obtained via supplements.

They are more digestible as a result of the fact that they are coupled with organic components that promote digestion, such as bioflavonoids as well as terpenes.

Natural amino acids can be more physiologically accessible than amino acids synthesised in a lab, although it's possible that synthetic amino acids are less so.

As in the scenario of taurine, which may only be gotten naturally through the consumption of meat, a processed alternative for the original product is not a satisfactory substitute.

Is It Possible For Cats To Completely Eat A Plant Based Diet?

are cats omnivores?

Yes, but it takes time and patience. A cat's digestive system is not designed to handle a plant based diet.

You will have to slowly introduce them to it.

Some people claim that it takes about 4 weeks for their cat to adjust to a plant based diet.

I believe that most cats do not like the taste of vegetables and fruits.

There are a few exceptions though, such as the Russian Blue cat.

According to AAFCO, it is possible to meet the essential nutrient requirements for cats by giving exclusive plant-based components and processed nutrients. [3]

After comparing and contrasting the nutritional profiles of both plant as well as meat-based diets, we find a great deal in common. 

According to the researchers, there isn't much of a nutritional difference between meat-based and plant-based formulas. 

They both us synthetic ingredients. 

However, the meat based business draws negative implications as its operations includes the killing of animals as well as the generation of greenhouse gases.

This makes a convincing case, however I decided to take a different approach and see how it played out. 

The comparison indicated that plant-based diets can be comprehensive and balanced in the similar way that some pet foods based on meats are.

But I did discover one big problem in the study that was on the quality of food that was utilised.

In terms of nutritional value, the diet based on meat that was used for comparison was only average at best.

The big part of the nutritional thesis relies on offering the most suitable balance of all the natural food components in order to deliver the highest level of nutrition possible to your specific feline companions.

While we do not commonly encounter vegetarian or vegan diets that meet our essential nutritional requirements for cats, we do see many low-cost diets such as meats that fall short of our expectations as well. 

In conclusion, the food you feed your cat should be healthy and nutritious.

It should be low in salt, sugar, and preservatives and high in fiber.

It should also be low in carbohydrates and calories.

The Key Takeaway

Keeping the dietary requirement in mind, feeding a vegan diet to your cat may sound like an uncommon opinion. 

If the food has all nutritional requirement with proper natural and man-made ingredients, any gap that may occur, can be full filled by an animal products based diet. 

But you may think, are they equal in every way?

Although I believe the answer is no, it is simply not the question one needs to answer.

I had come to see if cats could be omnivorous, and till now, I am not disappointed.

Despite the fact that we are aware that pet cats are not omnivores, we have determined that a vegan diet can somewhat cater to their fundamental nutritional requirements.

Feeding your cat with a plant-based diet is purely your choice. 

If you desire to incorporate a plant-based diet routine into your pet cat's diet plan, I would recommend consulting with your veterinarian first before choosing any product.

Most of the cat food manufacturers devote a significant amount of time and effort in integrating the nutrients in their formulations.

However, this may not hold true for every product or cat food recipe you find on the internet.

The consumption of an unbalanced diet can have significant long-term implications.

Neither meat-based nor plant-based cat foods are exempted from this in any way.

Check out the product details of your pet cat food to ascertain the ingredients. 

Also, ensure keeping an eye on your cat's health on a regular basis.

Depending on the cat, it's likely that some will thrive on a plant-based diet while others will only survive on a meat-based diet.

Keep in mind that your cat's health and well-being are the most important considerations so make choices that will allow them to live a long and prosperous life.


What is an obligate carnivore?

These animals must meet their bodies’ nutritional needs by consuming other animals. 

What is the difference between an Omnivore and a carnivore?

Omnivores eat both plants and animals while carnivores survive only on meat. 

What Are Cat Food Products?

Most cat foods sitting on shelves these days feature a blend of vegetables, fruits, and meat in an attempt to provide cats with “everything” they need in one meal.

Are Cats Omnivores?

No, they aren’t.

About the author 

Sara Amanda

I am a cat lover and have been a writer for years. I have created many articles on nutrition and diet, as well as written about cat hygiene. I am of the opinion that cat nutrition is one of the most important aspect for any pet owner. I like researching on this subject and sharing my views with the community.

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