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Home > Cats > Are Cats Omnivores? Everything You Need to Know

Are Cats Omnivores? Everything You Need to Know

Cat eating chicken

If you take a stroll down the cat food aisle, you may get the wrong impression of cats. Most cat foods sitting on shelves feature a blend of vegetables, fruits, and meat in an attempt to provide cats with “everything” that they need in one meal. You may even find grains and rice mixed in. Unfortunately, this isn’t really what cats need.

You may be wondering if cats are omnivores. The answer to that question is simple: No, they aren’t. Cats are obligate carnivores. Unlike some other carnivores that can live on fruits and veggies, cats need meat to be healthy.

Read on to learn more about your carnivorous cat and why they aren’t an omnivore. This way, you can provide them with the best diet possible for better overall health.


What’s the Difference Between Omnivores and Carnivores?

Carnivores survive on meat. This means whether the animal is in the wild or captivity, meat is the main source of their diet. The mouth of a carnivore is designed to tear meat and crush bones, if need be. A cat’s jaw moves up and down, which makes it better suited for meat eating. Your cat’s short digestive tract is also designed for the life of a carnivore. Their gastric juices are more acidic, which makes them better equipped to deal with bacteria that may result from consuming meat.

Omnivores, however, eat both plants and animals. Their teeth move side to side, which enables them to chew greens more easily. It’s also common for omnivores to have less powerful jaws, considering they can sustain their diet with fruits and vegetables instead of mostly meat.

cat eating food from a bowl
Image Credit: Viktor Lugovskoy, Shutterstock

Cats Are Obligate Carnivores

You may be curious about the term obligate carnivore. Such animals must meet their bodies’ nutritional needs by consuming other animals. Cats are considered obligate carnivores. They require more protein than most other animals. This protein is found mostly in meat, not plants.

In the wild, cats easily meet their nutritional needs by catching small prey. It can be more difficult for pet cats to get the protein and other nutrition they need due to the cat foods we often feed them. Most cat food companies supplement a cat’s needs by adding nutrients to their foods. Luckily, most house cats don’t notice the difference.


Why Is Cat Food Not Completely Made of Meat?

You may be wondering why cat food companies include so many fruits and veggies in their cat foods. There are several reasons for this, but the most widely accepted one is the cost. It is much cheaper to add plants and fillers to cat food instead of straight protein. While most cat food companies claim that this isn’t the reason, it does seem to be the one that makes the most sense.

Many cat food companies also claim that these added veggies are good for a cat’s diet. While it may not be what you’d consider dangerous for cats to eat a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables, it does go against their nature. Luckily, wet cat food features more sources of protein. While a chicken isn’t something a cat would commonly kill in the wild, most cat food brands do offer fish and meat versions to give your cat the opportunity to taste real meat when they eat.

himalayan cat white eating hepper nom nom bowl

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In Conclusion

As you can see, cats are not omnivores. These feisty felines require meat to live. While we’ve brought cats into our homes, relieving them of the need to hunt prey to survive, we must remember their true nature. By ensuring that they eat foods with meat included, we can help our feline pals meet their nutritional goals without the need to supplement their diets. Keep this in mind when you’re browsing the cat food aisle in your favorite store.

Featured Image Credit: Mcability, Pixabay

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