Is Feeding Your Cat A Vegan Diet Compassionate?

By Madeleine Innocent
vegan cats

Many people are waking up to the tremendous cruelty that is metered out to farm animals. Which is a definite benevolent move to a more compassionate world. However, does feeding your cat a vegan diet come into this category?

Cats are carnivores

No-one disputes that cats are carnivores. However, maybe not everyone appreciates that cats are obligate carnivores. In other words, they absolutely MUST have animal protein.

There aren’t too many obligate carnivores in the world. I think the polar bear is the only other mammal in that category. There are in other categories - birds, reptiles, insects, spiders.

If cats are carnivores, and I include all felines big or small, and obligate carnivores at that, then should we even consider feeding them a vegan diet?

Let’s look at the way cats are

All cats, except the lions, are lone hunters. They don’t have a pack to fall back on when they don’t feel like hunting, as dogs do.

They alone are responsible for their food. So their hunting skills need to be exceptional, if they want to survive. And cats are successful at surviving, even against the odds of human interference.

To have exceptional hunting skills, you need to be able to move stealthily, silently, to be light on your feet, to have all your senses alert to tiny changes aroud you. And doubtless a lot more we don’t yet understand or appreciate.

To move stealthily and silently, you need to have a light body, light in terms of weight.

As cats are obligate carnivores, they have no need for the complex liver that omnivores and herbivores need to digest plant foods. It’s an extra burden as it means a larger and heavier liver. So that part has been jestisoned.

Cats also have lighter bones than other animals the same size. Again, this is to reduce their weight to make them better hunters.

As cats don’t have the complex livers to digest plant food, then feeding them a vegan diet is going to have serious consequences for them.

Ailments in vegan cats 

Because feeding your cat a vegan diet is totally unsuitable for them, and they are unable to digest or assimilate it easily, they become chronically malnourished. The body does its best and it keeps them alive, but cracks start to appear in their health before too long. It’s inevitable when you’re malnourished.

It can start with minor issues such as an eye discharge or maybe an itch without an eruption. Then they worsen into more problems, such as painful urination and kidney stones or crystals. The slide continues into the typical chronic ailments cats suffer with - gum inflammation, kidney failure, cancers, auto-immune disorders.

These can all be reversed by changing the diet to a raw meat and bones diet, but that often needs guidance and support from a knowledgable practitioner.

When presented with an ailing cat, most people get veterinary advice. They gladly accept the drugs in the hope of improvement.

Not only is this hope in vain as it isn’t dealing with the cause, it’s just applying a band aid, Is this route the most compassionate, bearing in mind it was compassion that brought you here?

How are the drugs made? How are they tested?

Many drug ingredients come from animals. One of those that purport to help women with menopause symptoms is called premarin. Premarin is made by collecting urine from pregnant mares.

You might imagine, this isn’t easy. So the mares are tied up so they can’t move as that may dislodge the contraption under their belly that collects the urine. They're not allowed to lie down, which they need to do to get their REM sleep.

They can’t roam and graze as horses do.

When the foal is born, it’s normally killed. She’s not allowed to nurse or care for her foal. She is then impregnated again.

This is mild compared with some uses of animals in the name of medical/veterinary health.

All drugs are tested on animals. There is one test called the LD50 test. LD stands for lethal dose. 50 stands for 50%. In other words, the drug is given until 50% of the test subjects die.

Feeding your cat a vegan diet seems to be all about compassion for the farm animals. However, one needs to consider the whole picture - the health of the cat, the animals used in creating drugs and the animals used in testing the drugs.

A better way is to try to work with local farmers. Not only does this cut out the middle man, you can influence the farmer by discussing your views. Small farmers are normally very considerate of their animals. It’s the big corporations that couldn’t care less as long as they make a profit.

Topics on the table include freedom to move in enough space to allow their natural habits, whether the diet is natural, ie grazing, or synthetic, how far they have to travel to the abattoir, the ethics of the slaughtering, etc.

This may sound grizly, but it’s all important when looking at the whole picture from a compassionate view point.


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