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Can cats thrive and be healthy on a vegan diet?

SummerRain

I dreamed that God would be forgiving.
Location
UK
I think that was a good article (in terms of reviewing the studies available)... but I don't really agree with the conclusion. If there isn't much evidence either way, I'd agree that it's not a "closed case" yet, but I wouldn't ever risk the health of my pet based on
It appears that many cats do quite fine on a vegan diet for much or all of their life.
I think lack of conclusive evidence is a good reason not to feed your cat a vegan diet. Unless there is conclusive evidence that my pet can thrive completely based on a vegan diet, I wont feed it to them.

If you take on a pet IMO it's your responsibility to make sure it thrives (as much as you can) and if that involves things you're not willing to do (i.e. feed meat) then consider a different pet.
 

Scorpius

The Lizard Queen
Pardon the very non-vegan pun . . . but I think we're beating a dead horse here.

I'm not a veterinarian or a feline nutrition expert (though I have worked in the veterinary field for over eight years FWIW), but I still stand by my belief that I think it is cruel and unhealthy to subject a cat to a vegan diet. There are a multitude of health conditions that cats can suffer from as a direct result of a poor diet, like fatal urinary blockages, as mentioned in the Skeptical Vegan article.

Get a dog ( . . . or a chinchilla, or an iguana!) if you want a healthy vegan pet!
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
Indian Summer, I am very disappointed that you would continue to promote this in any way. As a (presumably) ethical vegan, it is, at the least, irresponsible to promote something that endangers the health of animals.

Actually, disappointment is much too mild a word for my reaction to this thread.
 

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
Indian Summer, I am very disappointed that you would continue to promote this in any way. As a (presumably) ethical vegan, it is, at the least, irresponsible to promote something that endangers the health of animals.

Actually, disappointment is much too mild a word for my reaction to this thread.
I'm first and foremost promoting discussion of a topic that is relevant to many people in the veg*n community. I feel that encouraging discussion of relevant topics is one of my duties to the forum. I haven't made up my mind on the issue, but I try to read up on the various links that have been posted here, and whatever else I can find.

The idea is that through informed discussion we can arrive at some kind of conclusion based on knowledge, evidence, deduction, logic, science. Emotions probably won't contribute much that is useful.
 

Wolfie

World Class Member
No, cats can't be vegan.

And I'd never, ever take any advice from the Vegepet people on what to feed a cat or dog. They knew about a potential problem with Vegedog years ago and did nothing about it until getting called on it. Sure it's been a long time but I'd never trust them again.

I'm not saying dogs can't be vegan, though I am not convinced it's the optimal diet for a dog. But even if I did make my current dogs vegan, we wouldn't go the Vegedog route. Never again.
 
M

Moll Flanders

Guest
If you take on a pet IMO it's your responsibility to make sure it thrives (as much as you can) and if that involves things you're not willing to do (i.e. feed meat) then consider a different pet.
I agree with this.

This is anecdotal but I've only seen one cat who was fed a vegan diet and she looked extremely thin. I've known other vegans who were considering feeding their cats vegan food but I don't know how well it worked out.

Personally, I did try to supplement my cat's normal meat based food with some vegan cat food for a time but they refused to eat it after a while so I didn't persevere. I don't like buying meat for my cats but it's something I have to accept if I want to have cats as companions.
 

Amy SF

Dweller in nature
I've read that if you feed a cat a vegan diet, you also have to give them a taurine supplement as it only occurs naturally in meat, and without it, cats can go blind. I have no idea what, if any, other kinds of supplements would be needed.
 

Scorpius

The Lizard Queen
The idea is that through informed discussion we can arrive at some kind of conclusion based on knowledge, evidence, deduction, logic, science. Emotions probably won't contribute much that is useful.

As I mentioned before (emotions aside :D ), cats are at high risk of developing lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), diabetes, and organ failure as a result of poor diet. A few years back, my cat Milo was eating a crummy brand of commercial cat food and ended up with a urinary blockage. After being treated in the hospital with a urinary catheter followed by two weeks of antibiotics, changing his diet to a different brand was all it took to keep potentially fatal blockages from reoccurring. It just goes to show how important a role proper diet plays in both treating acute problems and managing chronic illnesses in cats. That's the main reason why I would not mess with my cat's diet.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
I'm first and foremost promoting discussion of a topic that is relevant to many people in the veg*n community. I feel that encouraging discussion of relevant topics is one of my duties to the forum. I haven't made up my mind on the issue, but I try to read up on the various links that have been posted here, and whatever else I can find.

The idea is that through informed discussion we can arrive at some kind of conclusion based on knowledge, evidence, deduction, logic, science. Emotions probably won't contribute much that is useful.
I'm copying a pasting what I posted in the other thread you started on the same subject:

Obligate Carnivores' Nutritional Requirements

Cats are obligate carnivores and are very different from dogs-and people-in their nutritional needs. What does it mean to be an obligate carnivore? It means that cats are strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements. In their natural habitat, cats are hunters that consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates. Cats also require more than a dozen nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. These nutrients are the building blocks of various structural body tissues; are essential for chemical reactions (metabolism, catabolism); transport substances into, around, and out of the body; supply energy for growth and maintenance; and provide palatability.

The important thing to remember about nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals, is that your cat needs the correct amount-but no more. It is possible to have "too much of a good thing" when it comes to vitamins and minerals; the use of supplements not only is unnecessary but also can be potentially dangerous to your pet's health. A key point to remember is that cats are neither small dogs nor people. Because of cats' unique metabolism, what might be good for you might be detrimental to your cat. A high-quality cat food assures an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals in your cat's diet; supplements should never be added without a veterinarian's approval.

Another important nutrient with respect to overall health is water. Water helps regulate body temperature, digest food, eliminate waste, lubricate tissue, and allow salt and other electrolytes to pass through the body. You should provide your cat with clean, fresh water at all times.

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_resources/brochure_feedingcat.cfm

A few sites to get you started on learning about the importance of minimizing carbohydrates to maintain urinary tract health and minimize the risks of death from urinary tract blockage, kidney disease, chronic UTI's, etc:
http://caturinary.com/articles/Cat_Urinary_Tract-Food.htm
http://www.catinfo.org/?link=urinarytracthealth
http://www.allthebestpetcare.com/urinary-problems-in-cats/


This link is a starting point to valuable information about the effects of grain in cat food and carbohydrates specifically in the development of feline diabetes (just follow the links from the site):
http://www.yourdiabeticcat.com/


And remember, these discussions aren't even about a vegan diet, they're about diets which contain grains and other carbohydrates. When you start basing an obligate carnivore's entire diet on food that are harmful to him even in smaller measures, you are exponentially increasing the health risks. Also, urinary tract issues and diabetes aren't the only health issues associated with feeding grains and other carbs to obligate carnivores, but it should give you a start on educating yourself.

One thread on this subject might be considered to be an attempt to inform yourself about a subject about which you yourself (in the other thread) admitted you know nothing. A second thread, in such short order, looks like an attempt to drive up traffic on your site at the expense of the health of cats. Yes, I tend to be emotional about people who further their own interests at the expense of the health of other animals, especially if such people profess themselves to be ethical vegans.

I've read that if you feed a cat a vegan diet, you also have to give them a taurine supplement as it only occurs naturally in meat, and without it, cats can go blind. I have no idea what, if any, other kinds of supplements would be needed.
The primary danger of a lack of/insufficient taurine is heart health. Cats who lack sufficient taurine in their diets die of heart failure and other heart related issues at a relatively young age. Cats get taurine from eating the hearts and other organ meat of prey. Commercial cat food is also supplemented with taurine, because it breaks down during cooking/processing.
 

Pirate

Addicted Poster
Location
United Kingdom
I'd never feed my cats a vegan diet. Humans have a choice about whether they eat meat or not, they can be healthy either way. But with cats, it's not proven to be healthy and it's not their choice so no thanks.
 

CrazyCatLady

World Class Member
I wouldn't feed my cat a vegan diet.
Interesting to think though that if everyone went veggie that our carnivorous companion animals would either have to hunt for themselves or we wouldn't have them anymore. Unless any of us could afford this test tube meat! Xxx
 

Clueless Git

Plant powered
Yes, I tend to be emotional about people who further their own interests at the expense of the health of other animals, especially if such people profess themselves to be ethical vegans.
People who keep obligate carnivores pets are not furthering their own interests at the expense of the lives of other animals?

You have a very nasty habit of making spitefull assumptions about other peoples intentions/motivations/etc and propogating your assumptions as if they were fact.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
People who keep obligate carnivores pets are not furthering their own interests at the expense of the lives of other animals?

You have a very nasty habit of making spitefull assumptions about other peoples intentions/motivations/etc and propogating your assumptions as if they were fact.
Careful, your faux Buddhist façade seems to be slipping.

You might have a point about people who "keep" obligate carnivores, if any of us were breeding, or advocating breeding, or doing anything other than taking care of already existing homeless animals. Unfortunately for your sense of self important moral superiority, that's not the case.
 
I just found a vegan cats group on Facebook, they have close to 800 members. I can't tell you how much this horrifies me. Those poor kitties. :(
 

Trinity

YES!
Location
Glastonbury
I am a cat lover (and have been a vegan myself for 20 years). I dearly dearly wanted to share my space with cats, yet I couldn't get my head around having meat in the house. So, I didn't have cats for years and years, because I felt it would be really unfair on the cats if I couldn't feed them right. And for a long time I just knew I wouldn't be able to, so I was catless. Then one day a rabbit bounced into our house (literally) looking for a home. This was really exciting. We let him have the free run of the house (he was terrified of going outside). He was totally vegan. Ideal for someone who doesn't want to feed meat to an animal.

But my love for cats never went away. So - after about 15 years of not having responsibility for a cat, I decided that I could feed another animal meat. So we opened our space up for a fellow cat, trying to give her the most ethical meat options I can find. She's a big fan of fish.

I am a die-hard vegan, I really am... but I couldn't give my cat vegan food as a staple. Now if she wants to eat the odd chickpea that I've dropped on the floor... and a dear friend recently gave me a batch of vegan cat food (so I slip a few into her kibbles) - that's fine. But she eats meat everyday and is really happy with that. If she's not happy with her food (like she gets really fussy and if it's not the right batch of fish or fowl etc) then she goes out and hunts for herself or starts telling me.

The other thing is hunting. I've come to terms with the fact that it is natural for her and I actually don't mind, as long as she eats it (and preferably not in the house).

We did have to have words about her not bringing small animals in the house and getting blood all over the place though! I am not into her killing animals if she's not going to eat them. A little animal communication seemed to sort that one out though.
 

Clueless Git

Plant powered
erm......??? next time I am thinking of getting a pet crocodile..... that's helpful.
That post of mine was the result of a medical emergency, Trinity.

Whilst pondering if there is one single sentence that can explain, in a universaly understandable way, how 'obligate carnivore' and 'vegan diet' are mutualy exclusive conditions my brain began to implode.
 
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