Are Vegetarian Diets Safe for Cats?

By Gabrielle Jonas | Category: Care & Safety | 50 comments
Tags: care & safety, health & wellness, food & nutrition, cats, cat

Though most vegetarians feed their pets meat or fish without flinching, some vegetarians abhor the idea of their animals eating other animals.

"A vegetarian diet for your companion animal is ethically consistent with animal rights philosophy," says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Though forcing pets to live by their owners' philosophy is unprecedented in the 15,000 years humans have been caring for pets, some vegetarians want even their pets' nutritional supplements to be plant-based.

"If vegetarians can feed their animal a healthy diet that is vegetarian, they feel more comfortable," says Kathy Guillermo, vice president of laboratory investigations at PETA.

But at the heart of PETA's support of vegetarian pet diets is its objection to meat-based pet food companies conducting research on animals. Vegetarian pet food does not involve animal testing, Guillermo said. "PETA's primary concern regarding food for companion animals is the many currently available products which are needlessly tested on animals," she said.

But that very lack of testing is a sticking point with some veterinary experts, who argue that without such testing, the diets cannot be properly evaluated. Makers of vegetarian pet food should be willing to submit to the Association of American Feed Control Officials feeding trials for evaluation, they say.

Though vegetarian diets for dogs can be nutritionally complete, animal welfare advocates, and even some vegetarian groups, say feeding vegetarian diets to cats cannot be done correctly.

"At first, cats may appear to be doing satisfactorily on vegetarian or vegan diets," says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "But over time nutritional deficiencies may occur. When it comes to felines, it really is best to provide a diet that includes meat."

But James Peden, a leading proponent of vegetarian pet diets, and author of Vegetarian Cats & Dogs, says nutrients missing from vegetables can be added through dietary supplements -- his, for instance.

Peden's company, Harbingers of a New Age, sells Vegepet supplements. Their nutrients are derived from plants to compensate for the nutrients plants lack. Its Vegecat KibbleMix uses vegetarian sources for the essential nutrient taurine found in mollusks, as well as for the vitamin A and arachidonic acid found in liver and fish oils.

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Comments (43)

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Denise L.
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Denise L.
4 years ago

I'm sorry, while I'm a vegetarian, I think it's completely wrong to feed your cat a vegetarian diet. Dogs you can do this with easier (although I wouldn't recommend it) than with cats. Just look at their teeth! Again, there's a very good reason why the "e" in PeTA is in lowercase! They're hypocrites!

Good Point | Reply ›

Jillian
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Jillian
4 years ago

NO! next!

Good Point | Reply ›

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