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Can Cats Be Vegan?

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Can Cats Be Vegan?

A couple of months ago, while we were minding our own business, a furry little someone wandered out of the wilderness and showed up on our doorstep… literally.

Scrawny, scruffy, cute beyond belief, yearning for affection, and obviously fighting for her survival, this little kitten was lucky to have found us before she died of starvation.

Our New Zealand center is surrounded by Department of Conservation land, and just down the road is a picnic spot that the locals call “The Reserve.” The Reserve is well-known for being a spot where unwanted cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are dropped off and left to fend for themselves, and this is not the first time a furry friend has arrived at our haven on his or her last legs.

Our only permanent nonhuman resident of Shangri-La wandered in out of the bush 12 years ago, a dog called Kisses who had clearly been abandoned and was suffering from the results of horrific physical abuse. After over a decade of rehabilitation, she still has her quirks, but Kisses is an example of how love can heal the wounds caused by even extreme abuse. She used to cower in the corner when a person simply approached, apparently in anticipation of the violent blows she was sure would follow. To this day, she still barks like crazy at tall men in hoods, especially if they’re carrying something that looks in any way threatening.

But this little kitten had not been physically abused just left to starve like a piece of living garbage. It never ceases to amaze us how people can be so cruel and heartless toward living beings who have so much love to give, if we are only willing to show them our kindness. But then again, in a world where the majority of people think nothing of sinking their teeth into the limbs of a lamb or the ribs of a piglet, we shouldn’t be surprised.

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Read more: Animal Rights, Cats, Diet & Nutrition, Pet Health, Pets

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Angel Flinn

Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World a non-profit educational organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition.

1051 comments

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5:32AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

I'm wondering if your vegan fanaticism isn't on the brink of insanity, because there is no way a cat can live healthily on a vegan diet, nor would it ever choose to if it had a voice to speak for itself. But of course the vegan agenda is more important again than the welfare of omnivores and carnivores - cats are carnivores. Stuff like this is why I put most vegans into the same box as fundamentalist religious fanatics, as do most thinking people I know.

4:33AM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Again, Dan, I gave you KUDOS for rescuing your cats. However, feeding them a vegan diet is not filling their needs. BTW, I would agree that a blind cat might have a real problem trying to hunt. Now, about what your cats are lacking? Try animal protein in the form of MEAT (from real animals) in the way of beef, chicken, fish, poultry, and soy based "fake" protein simply does not fill their needs. Even vegan cat foods "fortified" with taurine is insufficient.

You ask what we (Marilyn and myself) suggest you do with your cats? I think the answer is pretty simple. You are an adult, hopefully able to make "intelligent" choices for yourself, but you are forcing YOUR dietary choices on those cats. That is not helping them. If you truly care about them, yes, by all means continue to care for them but PLEASE get an appropriate food for them. Different cats will choose different foods........some refuse to eat kibble, period. Some (including two of mine) wouldn't touch the highest quality kibble on the market, but would go outside to the garage and eat cheaper varieties that I feed my outside cats. MOST cats will eat canned or moist foods, but those are usually not the best nutritionally. Just give them something with REAL meat, as few grains as possible, and no SOY.

9:41AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

dan....good quality cat food is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of obligate carnivores. They don't have to be outdoors eating mice, rats and other diseased animals or trying to catch tuna in urban puddles. Good quality cat food is made to fulfill their needs.

Cats don't do well with carbs, they need protein, and lots of it.
Supplements are not ever fully absorbed, so your carb-loaded vegan cat food is inadequate.
Yes, I have studied cat nutrition for over 25 years because I have cats and want them to be at their best. My rescue cats all have special needs and require special diets. I've had to learn to separate the truth from fiction in regard to feline nutrition.

You are not feeding your cats the diet that nature intended.

9:22AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Marilyn, you might want to start reading my posts properly if you want to complain about them. You got a lot of things confused here.

1. Nature-approved diet: in nature cats eat rodents, birds and insects, not kibble (vegan or otherwise)
2. Nothing to do with arguments against veganism: you were the one who brought this up by insisting that no one is vegan
3. Victim act: really??
4.Inflict your philosophy: you are doing this to farm animals
5. Keeping it hostage: my back door is open all day long - they choose to stay indoors
6. Forcing it to eat an unnatural diet for its species - all house cats do this (see above)
7. You are inflicting a slow painful death on those cats: they were dying street cats when I found them (2 were blind and could not hunt; 1 had typhoid and was not eating; all were severely underweight)
8. On the diet for 2 years: It has been more than that - 2 years is the life of a feral cat so even if they had been healthy when I found them, they would be dead if I had left them on the street.
9. Doing fine: They are playful and loving; my vet seems to think that they are fine.
10. Suffer and die of malnutrition and organ failure: Are you an expert on cat nutrition? Please tell me what nutrients are missing from their diet.

9:06AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Diane, what makes you think that my cats don't get their nutritional needs met by the food I give them? Do you know what is in vegan kibble or are you just assuming it is not good enough? Are you trained in cat nutrition? I consulted two vets (one vegan, one not) regarding the ingredients in the vegan food and both were happy that it would provide the necessary nutrition. My brother-in-law (a meat eater) recently did an in-depth study of my cats' eating habits and food for his pet nutrition course and declared the food acceptable. I don't claim to know about pet nutrition, so I go to the experts. Are you one?

You chose not to answer my question about what to do with my cats? Do you want to take them? No one else does. If I bring them to a shelter, either they will be put to sleep, or they get adopted and 8 other cats will be put to sleep in their place. Do you honestly think this is preferable to them living as vegan? Or should I have left them to die on the street?

You also seem to have ignored the part about commercial food companies performing tests on animals.

9:01AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Dan, when it comes to feeding animals a nature-approved diet....it has nothing to do with arguments against veganism....so drop the victim act.

You can eat waxed cardboard if that's your choice...and I don't care what you eat, but you have no right to inflict your philosophy on an obligate carnivore by keeping it hostage in your home and forcing it to eat an unnatural diet for its species.

You are inflicting a slow painful death on those cats....sure they've been on the diet for 2 years....doing fine???? I doubt it. You are killing them slowly...and it could take another year or 2 for the damage you inflict to take their lives, but it will be YOUR fault when they suffer and die of malnutrition and organ failure.

8:48AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Marilyn, just because I don't live in a vegan world, doesn't mean I shouldn't try. I don't live in a world that is free from child abuse, but I don't go around raping children. I am well aware of all the death and suffering in this world and I do my best to not be a part of it.

Of course your last rant had nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I imagine it is difficult to come up with good arguments against veganism.

3:30AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

I stand by what I said, Dan. I commend you for wanting to SAVE stray cats, but if you are not willing to provide them with what they need as a species, then why do so? I'd love to save all the racoons I see splattered all over the roads this time of year, but I'm realistic enough to know I can't meet their needs. I'd love to take in all the wildlife that I know will perish because of predators, but again, I am realistic enough to know I can't meet THEIR needs, either.

Maybe you can keep those cats alive for awhile, but without animal protein in the way of MEAT or fish or poultry (real stuff, not fake SOY stuff), they will not be healthy. They may lay in your lap and purr because they are warm and you're giving them more than they had in an alley, but is that enough? You think you're being kind, but you're only fooling yourself.

4:31PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Dan, no one is vegan. Not even you.
NO ONE who lives in the modern world. If you live in a cave in the jungle and weave your clothing from grasses and have NOTHING like medicine or processed food or a computer etc....then maybe you could be vegan.

Clearly that is not the case and you are responsible for the deaths of millions of critters every year....killed in fields where your gmo soy is growing...killed by pesticides and fungicides...killed in the warehouses where your processed meals are manufactured....killed by the transport that gets your food from the factory to the market.
Killed by the builders who built your home and furniture etc... killed so you could wear blue jeans....etc

One would think that someone who professes to be SO compassionate, would have the respect for animals to feed them what nature dictates for their own health and welfare.

Shame on you....you're committing animal abuse and should re-home those cats you rescued only so you could kill them slowly and painfully by feeding them an unnatural diet
and depriving them of the protein they NEED to live.
SHAME SHAME SHAME on you for your selfishness and inability to put their welfare before your idealistic fallacies.

1:14PM PDT on Jun 10, 2014

Marylin, I didn't breed or buy these cats - they were half dead strays when I found them so they are definitely happier to be alive with me than dead on the street.

Yes, cats can catch fish, but I only mentioned tuna which live in salt water and weigh between 2kg and 600kg (rather heavy and inaccessible for most cats).

You seem to have missed my points about cats being outdoors and going to the vet. My cats choose to remain indoors, but there are plenty of stray cats that are permanently outdoors - these cats live off rodents, birds and insects. I most certainly would bring my pets to a vet if they were sick. I was simply pointing out that saying it is not natural to feed a cat vegan food is not a good enough argument - neither feeding a cat beef or tuna, nor bringing a cat to a vet are natural, but most people consider those acceptable.

As for my philosophy, as a vegan, I believe ALL animals deserve life. If I can save a cat's life without hurting anyone, why would I choose to do otherwise? Your philosophy is obviously that cats deserve life more than other animals if you are willing to rescue cats but kill farm animals. If you cannot see the blatant speciesim in that, you clearly don't want to understand how a vegan diet can be a cruelty free solution to cat rescue.

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