Friday, April 1, 2016

What I know - Why feeding a cat vegetarian/vegan food is no joke


I wanted to blog about this earlier in the week, but with April Fools day coming I thought this was a much more appropriate day to talk about this topic because I really wish I was kidding that there are people out there that choose to force a meat-free diet on a cat.


I have devoted a good number of posts about raw feeding and why I think it is a good idea and why I have such a problem with commercial pet foods. Fortunately, there are many more websites out there explaining the benefits of feeding raw, and how to go about it so I don't want to get into that here.


What I do want to talk about is how some companies try to confuse and obfuscate the consumer when it comes to feeding our cats.  They seem todismiss the absolute truth that cats are obligate carnivores and are designed to obtain everything they need from their prey - which they eat raw. When left to their own devices (without human interference) cats do not gravitate towards the plants that most pet food companies include in their diets. Pet food companies (which I will refer to as BPF from now on) tell consumers that adding things like fruit and veg in their diets is healthy. They count on the fact that humans know these foods are healthy because they are healthy for humans; because we are omnivores and are able to extract the nutrients locked away within those foods. Cats can not.


I have also seen first hand the health improvements raw food provides and had many more secondary accounts as well.

But that is not what this post is about.

Recently a BPF company introduced a new line of vegetarian (it contains egg) food for cats and dogs that claim it is a complete and balanced diet.
A canine and feline dinner of fresh potatoes, carrots, peas, blueberries, and cranberries from the market place with brown rice makes a flavorful and complete dinner. A healthy choice for pets susceptible to food allergies.
The outcry from cat lovers who understand that cats are obligate carnivores and that feeding them a vegetarian diet is a very bad idea. Especially since they contacted a number of cat bloggers hoping that we would pass along the information about this new diet which they were touting as an excellent option for weight loss.

Feeding your cat a diet high in plant matter will cause a cat to be malnourished


Because cats can not efficiently extract the nutrients in plants, feeding them a vegetarian or vegan diet means they will only get a portion of the nutrients you are feeding them. As a result, the cat will be malnourished and will beg for more and more food hoping to satiate their need. Cats who are commercial 'weight loss' diets often beg for food, because the food is higher in fiber hoping to keep the cat full longer, but that is not how it works in an obligate carnivore.

So why would anyone do this? The answer honestly confuses me. People I have run into that choose to feed their cats inappropriately usually do so because they have chosen to eat vegan themselves. I am guessing they take so much pride in the fact that they are not killing animals or being cruel to them to survive, that they feel the need to force that lifestyle on those around them forgetting that feeding a species something they aren't designed to eat is cruel.

I believe in the fact that cats need meat so strongly that I even refuse to feed a particular brand of cat food that only has plants on their label despite the fact they have a great deal of animal-based ingredients in it.


I really hate that now there are, at least, three brands of BPF that make veg/vegan cat food. These foods should come with huge warnings at the very least, much like tobacco products do. Some small part of me concedes that since people are going to feed their cats a vegan diet no matter what logic you throw at them, at least, there is a product out there that claims that the cat will get the nutrients they need and hopefully people will turn to them instead of feeding them on their own which is far more dangerous.

If it were up to me, these products would not be on the market. Sadly it is not up to me, but since this is my little corner of the internet, I get to stand on my soap box and say these foods are wrong. 

I will gladly talk about feline nutrition with anyone who wants to talk about it. I will help you research and learn about what is appropriate within the confines of what you are able or willing to do. I can point you in the direction of resources that aren't in the pocket of BPF.

The more we talk about this the better. You never know who might be listening.

23 comments:

  1. My human and I can only shake our heads at the foolishness and cruelty of anyone who tries to feed their cats vegetarian cat food. It's so wrong.

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  2. Hoomins can be really strange. This is just another example.

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  3. The misguided irresponsibility of feeding your cat vegetarian or vegan makes me sad, but the companies that want to cash in on it instead of educate make me angry.

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  4. This is insanity! How can anyone with any intellect think a vegan lifestyle is good for a cat?!
    I am not against raw diets yet at this time have switched from commercial food to homemade using U-Stew for Cats supplement with ground beef, turkey, and chicken alternated. I do have a question- my mancat who is 14 is in the early stages of CKD and has hyperthyroidism. He is on meds for the hyperthyroidism and my vet prescribed a low protein kidney friendly canned and dry food. I want to feed him the homemade and he wants it like my healthy younger female, but am afraid I am doing him harm in the long run since it is just meat mixed with the supplement powder U-Stew. Is there a way I can feed him this differently perhaps by adding rice to lower the protein level? Does it really make a difference when compared to this vet pushed food? In the long run I know it's better for him to eat than not want to eat the tasteless vet prescribed food, but if it is truly best for his health even over a homemade diet then of course I will provide it. U-Stew is the easiest homemade option I have found for my situation which needs accommodation due to my physical limitation. What is your suggestion as to what to give him homemade wise? I have tried raw but he will not eat it, having been raised on commercial pet food since he showed up semi-feral 13 years ago.

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    1. the reason 'they' feed low protein to cats with kidney issues is that in omnivores protein is harder to digest and produce more waste than plants. the opposite is true in an obligate carnivore. The quality of the protein is key, so you want animal protein, not plant protein. You also want to be aware of phosphorous - which you can get binders for to keep that lowered.
      http://www.catinfo.org/#Kidney_Failure
      http://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-kidney-disease-phosphorus-and-raw-diets

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    2. Is this the same for homemade cooked, not raw meat though? I will avoid beef with him and stick to poultry. Thank you for clearing that up, it is so confusing with the info we are fed by corporations out for profit and not the true health of our fur kids.
      My boy is a good drinker of water which I am lucky there. I will look in to seeing what the phosphorus content is in U-Stew and if it includes ground bone as a binder. I feel much better about his health and am saving a lot of money feeding him an all meat diet with supplements versus the prescription junk.

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  5. we are glad you stood up and said something....we may not feed raw, but mom would NEVER feed us vegetarian or vegan....

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  6. I remember years ago, watching one of those animal cop shows on Animal Planet, that a woman had fed her cats only rice and veggies because that's what she ate. One of the cats went blind due to lack of nutrients. It's long stuck with me as something NOT to do.

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  7. OH! Rene's comment above...I remember that show! I felt horrible for the cats, and for the woman who was obviously mentally impaired. I am vegan, as is The Hubby, but there ain't no way in HELL that I would NOT FEED MY CATS MEAT! I think there is a weird crossover problem with dog food, since dogs are omnivores, while cats are NOT! I would jump into the raw meat food in a heartbeat, but our vet has made it clear that with Chuck's heart problem, we could be playing Russian Roulette with his health. But I feed three other cats...

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  8. Thank you for the great post. This is just so weird and baffling! I am a vegetarian and would never THINK of feeding my cats a vegetarian diet.

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  9. It's so irresponsible for a company to even make this for cats much less market it to consumers. And for them to label it as a complete dinner is nothing less than fraud.

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  10. Our human is shaking her head at vegetarian based food for kitties. Not right at all.

    Emma and Buster

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  11. We wish vegan food for cats could be a joke, but sadly it is not. It is just dangerous for cats who are obligated carnivores. Such companies are irresponsible, and it makes us sad and very angry ! Purrs

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  12. We can't believe some pet food companies make vegan pet food. Even if they qualify it by saying it's only a supplement. There shouldn't be a vegetable supplement for cats. We want meat!

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  13. Well aspoken Connie! Vegan food for cats who are carnivores does NOT make sense.

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  14. It's an attempt to be politically correct, I suppose. Feeding a carnivore a meat-less diet is as useful as strapping a solar-panel to his back to give him energy, and a lot more dangerous. All people have to do is think of cats in nature; they don't rob Farmer McGregor's garden, they raid his hen-house.

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  15. That is sad that a pet food company is encouraging a vegetarian diet for cats.

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  16. Thank you so much for this post! You are right... you never know who might be listening and we have our paws crossed that many are! We were in the middle of the whole outcry directed at the company who contacted bloggers about promoting a vegetarian food for cats and were completely shocked and appalled at their irresponsibility. And sadly, even more disappointed in their lack of an appropriate response. For anyone listening or reading, we know first hand that Connie KNOWS HER STUFF! If she offers to help you understand how to best feed your cat, please take her up on it! You (and your cats) are in for a treat!

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  17. Thank you for this post. I had no idea there are companies pushing vegan on cats! I remember once when I tried something new because I was looking for a better food for my cat with chronic colitis, he got very sick and I thought he was becoming incontinent! He obviously was reacting to all those veggies they put in this supposed premium food for sensitive tummies. I eventually found something that worked wonders. While our cats don't eat raw, they do eat a high protein, high meat based grain free diet. My senior cat's colitis problem disappeared completely and he's doing well. No more stomach pains. So imagine what harm an all vegan diet can cause. I can't even fathom that someone thought this was a great idea for cats. It's absurd, even if promoted as a supplement only.

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  18. Great post! I remember reading some years ago about a celebrity, who was a vegetarian, "succeeding" in making her cat vegetarian. I think sometimes people apply their beliefs about food to their pets, not taking into account what that animal needs. I was vegetarian for a while and may go back. But my cats eat meat.

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  19. You're right on target, for sure. This is totally unconscionable and irresponsible. :(

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  20. No doubt it' s fantastic article on cat food. Cat owners and cat community should visit Cat blog to know about health issues of cats, cat food and nutrition. I prefer purrfect cat diet.

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