Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

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 these days feature a blend of vegetables, fruits, and meat in an attempt to provide cats with “everything” they need in one meal. You may even find a few grains and rice mixed in. Unfortunately, this isn’t what cats need.

You may be wondering if cats are omnivores. The answer to that question is simple. No, they aren’t. Cats are bonafide carnivores. Unlike other carnivores who can live on fruits and veggies, cats need meat to be healthy. Cats are considered obligate carnivores. This means they must consume other animals to survive.

Let’s learn more about your carnivorous cat and why they aren’t omnivores. This will help you 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, on the other hand, eat both plants and animals. Their teeth move side to side, which allows 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
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

Cats Are Obligate Carnivores

You may be curious about the term obligate carnivore. These 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. In captivity, it can be more difficult for cats to get the protein and other nutrition they need due to the cat foods we often feed them. Luckily, 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 food. There could be 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 this isn’t the reason, it does seem to be the one that makes the most sense.

Many cat food companies also claim 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 of them do offer fish and meat versions to allow your cat the opportunity to taste real meat when they eat.

Cute kitten eating dry cat food
Featured Image Image Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky, Shutterstock


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 they eat foods with meat included, we can help out 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

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets