The Flaming Vegan

A Vegan and Vegetarian Blogging Extravaganza

Is Veganism Compatible With Pet Ownership?
Facebook Tweet Google+ Pinterest Email More Sharing Options

Is Veganism Compatible With Pet Ownership?

As the huge animal-lover that I am, I could not be without a pet. The picture here is of my cat Tiggy (an 8-year-old tabby female), veryphotogenic, I am sure you will agree! However I know that some vegans believethat we should not keep animals as pets as it restricts their freedom. I can't see any problem with it, as long as they are in a good home (after all, I presume the main precept of veganism is to prevent animal exploitation and suffering, as much as possible. A pet in a good home has a much better life than an animal in the wild!)

My main concern with keeping a cat is that since she is a naturally a carnivorous animal, I have to feed her meat. I feed her ordinary, non-vegan cat food, which is the only meat or animal product which I am still buying. This still gives me a bad conscience sometimes, as by buying this, even though it is not for myself, I am still supporting the meat industry, which naturally I find abhorrent! Ideally I would like to feed my cat on vegan cat food (I gather that there are some good brands available these days) but that poses certain problems. Firstly, I am on a tight budget and the vegan cat food is more expensive and I would have to order it specially online. There is also no guarantee that my cat would eat it anyway, as she is very fussy (like so many cats!) So I could end up wasting my already limited money.

The other main problem is that I don't know if cats can live healthily on a vegan diet. I have heard mixed reports about this. Cats apparently need an amino acid called taurine in their diet, which they get from normal catfood. I believe that the vegan catfood is supplemented with taurine though, but I don't know the long-term effects on cats of a vegan diet. It may be quite a big risk for me to take at present, since if she started getting ill I could not afford a lot of vet's bills. She does actually have a partly vegan diet: she has AmiPet plant-based cat biscuits, which were kindly given to me by a vegan friend. I know she will not eat purely dry food though. I hope in time to try her on the other vegan "catmeat", when my financial situation improves somewhat! I do find keeping a carnivorous pet like a cat or dog is quite a moral dilemma if you are a vegan.

Healthy Snacks Delivered Monthly

Leave a Comment

  1. Carolyn
    Carolyn
    Veganara, sorry my knowledge is limited on the needs of a cat; however, it will be interesting to read the comments of others! Thanks for posting! Vote #3!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Thanks Carolyn. Yes, I am hoping one or two people will comment and may be able to advise me on this. I have heard that dogs really thrive on a vegan diet, if anything they are more healthy on that than on meat! I don't think the same applies to cats though.
      Log in to reply.
      1. Carolyn
        Carolyn
        Congrats Veganara for making Top Posts!
        Log in to reply.
      2. Dude
        Cats are obligatory carnivores. Therefore they have to have meat /Aminal protein in their diet. If you try to make your cat vegan you will kill it
        Log in to reply.
        1. Veganara
          Veganara
          Really Dude? Actually I have a good friend whose cat has been on a vegan diet for the past 3 years and is thriving on it! I have also heard similar reports from other vegan pet-owners. It has been a few years since I wrote this blog, so I have found out more in the interim. I am definitely coming round now more to vegan cat-food - my cat has it whenever I can afford it.
          Log in to reply.
  2. Lesley Dove
    Well she seemed fine on the Ami Cat when she was staying with us, so I am rather disappointed to hear that you gave up on that Maggie, especially when there are so many ppl who fed cats successfully without meat. I have just started looking over posts I'd not seen before on here and I thought you had been convinced to keep up the vegan food for Tiggy.
    Log in to reply.
  3. Lesley Dove
    I am not asking you to just take my word for it, Andrew Knight is a vet who has done his research into the issue of vegan cats http://www.vegepets.info/
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      I haven't completely given up on it Lesley, she does get vegan cat biscuits! I am also going to order some of the other food, and take a chance that she may not eat it. To be quite frank, with everything I have had to deal with since living here, the fact that my cat is still eating some meat has been the least of my problems! I have always intended to get her completely vegan if I can though, and now things are improving for me (fingers crossed!), hopefully I should be able to afford it. It's good to see you commenting on one of my posts here anyway! And thanks for the link to Vegepets, above.
      Log in to reply.
  4. reneek
    Cats are the most carnivorous mammals. As tough as it as vegans or vegetarians to feed them meat, you would be giving them an unhealthy and bad life if you didn't. You would literally be killing them if you fed them a vegan diet. The key is buying food from a eco-friendly brand - when it costs a little bit more, you should be comforted knowing that it is healthy for your cat. Don't sacrifice their health because you don't want to spend the money.
    Log in to reply.
  5. JenofLA
    JenofLA
    Veganara, I felt really compelled to weigh in on this issue. Although I understand your concern about supporting the meat industry, above that, as a responsible pet owner/caretaker, you must first and foremost consider the health and well-being of your pet. Cats are carnivores. If your cat were left on her own, she would most likely survive by hunting, not by eating grass, herbs, vegetables, etc. because meat is her natural food source. Although vegan food companies may say that you can have a healthy cat for the duration of its life serving it no meat, I would not trust this and I wouldn't want to test it out on my pet. It isn't natural for the cat. And ultimately, we must respect all animals for what they are, and if we choose to bring them into our homes, if they are truly, naturally carnivorous, it's not our place to change this. I would however, encourage you to do some research on the various brands available and select one that has a higher standard of ingredients than regular brands bought in the grocery. It may cost more, yes. But you will feel much better and more secure in what you are feeding your pet. If you do a web search for "cat food ratings" you'll find all kinds of sites that compare brands. Since you are in the UK I'm not sure what is available to you but I'm certain you will be able to find plenty of info to help you choose the best solution. I have both a dog and a cat and although my cat is on prescription food, so I don't have much choice in the matter, when we got our puppy, we researched literally for hours determining what food was best for her. I hope this helps.
    Log in to reply.
    1. reneek
      Jen- thank you for composing a better message than mine. I wrote mine in anger, and anger is not a way to get a message across. Thank you for relaying the complexities of this issue better than I did.
      Log in to reply.
      1. Lesley Dove
        This is simply speciesism, there is no vegan justification for putting one cat before the rights of many farmed animals. If your cat needs meat let him/her out to hunt a few small wild animals! Those animals will have had a wild and free existence before being killed by the cat and it is more in accordance with nature.
        Log in to reply.
        1. Veganara
          Veganara
          I have to say, I agree with you Lesley. As you say, if the cat needs meat, they will hunt mice, etc, or eat insects, I presume. I don't like that either, but the local wildlife won't have suffered like the farmed animals that are used to make commercial catfood. I know this is a big moral dilemma for vegans: my cat has a right to a healthy, happy life, but so do all the cows, pigs, etc, that are killed for human food, and then their by-products made into pet food. I sometimes think maybe I shouldn't have a cat at all, maybe I should re-home her: but then, if I did, her new owner would presumably still be feeding her meat, so it wouldn't make any practical difference! Whilst I appreciate the advice from people, at the end of the day she is my cat and I just have to do what I think best for her. I am exploring the options at present.
          Log in to reply.
          1. Lesley Dove
            Oh no I never thought you should rehome her, especially not after what you have gone through already to be able to keep her, being parted temporarily due to those heartless house mates! Unless she was rehomed to a vegan she would definitely be fed on more animal products than she gets from you anyway.
            Log in to reply.
  6. elliottkim
    It is a conundrum indeed! I still love my cats, and having been charged with their care, I will do my very best. I owe it to them. I see my cats as a conscious and ever-present reminder of my beliefs. All of my past and present cats love plain raw tofu. I guess that's how I justify having cats. My vet told me it's OK to feed them bits of tuna or other meat on occasion, but stick to purpose-made cat food for the majority of their nutrition.
    Log in to reply.
  7. Foxallweek
    There is a key misunderstanding prevalent in the discussion surrounding meat-based vs plant-based diets for domestic house cats. The fact that cats are 'obligate carnivores' means that their bodies are unable to synthesize certain amino acids and vitamins from their food. They need to eat food that already contains these nutrients. When foraging in the wild, that means they must eat meat. As pets in our homes, however, cats can be fed plant-based diets that have been formulated to contain these required amino acids and vitamins: taurine, methionine, cysteine, arginine, lysine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A, B vitamins, L-carnitine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, potassium, sodium, chlorine, iodine, vitamins C, D, E pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin, choline, and linoleic acid. Fun fact: most meat-based pet foods are also supplemented with additional taurine because the natural taurine in the meat is lost in the rendering process. The biggest challenge in feeding cats a vegan diet is the increased risk of urinary tract issues, particularly in male cats, due to alkalization of the urine. This can be avoided with careful monitoring of your pets water intake and the inclusion of supplements in their diet to balance urinary pH. Commercial meat-based diets can also have this impact on your pet. Attention should be paid to your cat's health, regardless of what you choose to feed them. Don't believe everything you read out there. There is a ton of misinformation flying around, and the stigma and strong feelings that this contentious subject engenders create a heavy haze that's hard to see through. Do your research, and lots of it, and then do what you think is best.
    Log in to reply.
  8. Connolly47
    Do not even think about feeding your cat or dog a vegan diet. They were designed by evolution to only eat meat. You will be harming the animal to deny them this. They will not, nor will humans, get proper nutrition from any foods that are mostly fortified and not from a true source. If you disagree with buying meat for a carnivorous animal then you should not have pets. True vegans stay uninvolved with all animals.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      I am sure a lot of vegans would disagree with that Connolly47, and I am guessing that you are not one. Many vegans rescue animals and give them good homes which they need, when they have been bred and abandoned by heartless humans (non-vegans, usually). We act out of compassion and do what we feel causes the least harm to all. There are generally no completely 100% perfect solutions - it is about damage limitation to a large extent.
      Log in to reply.

Explore

Connect with The Flaming Vegan

Sign Up to Vote!

10 second sign-up with Facebook or Google

Already a member? Log in to vote.