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Can Cats Be Vegan?

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The cats who we have cared for have eaten mashed tofu, garbanzo beans, seaweed, squash, some grains, seitan, etc. topped with nutritional yeast, oil, and a dash of salt (for flavor), and supplemented with nutrients designed for vegan cats (read below). This little feline also ate regular helpings of a dry kibble called ‘VeganPet‘, which is produced in Australia and available in New Zealand.

The website veganpet.co.nz has lots of information about the specific nutritional requirements of cats, and how to meet these requirements without the use of animal products. When we have taken care of cats, we have used feline supplements such as “Vege-cat”, as well as various fortified vegan cat food products.

Many vegan cat caregivers have reported greater success with changing the diet gradually, by introducing small amounts of vegan food into the animal-based meals, and increasing it a little at a time until the meals are fully vegan. This allows the cat’s digestive system to adjust, rather than going into shock, which can happen with too much plant-food all at once. There is a digestive enzyme marketed by Harbingers of a New Age that seems to be helpful, especially for the transitional period. The same company also markets other animal care products, including something called Vegecat phi™, which helps to prevent urinary tract infections.

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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.

1040 comments

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9:07AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

"Enclosures don't really count as being outdoors since the cat is kept confined to the enclosure....but they still end up with parasites that can make them pretty sick....and most people with outdoor cats don't bother to treat their fleas or worms, and the cats suffer"........on the contrary, Marilyn..........unless it's inside a house, condo,apartment, or similar house, it's outside. A fenced yard is the same thing as "just a yard" only includes a fence. Unless you are only referring to outside cats that never come inside, most people who keep cats as companions do let their cats outside at some point in time, even if just for a few minutes WITH them while working in the yard, etc. Yes, there are those who have cats that never venture outside and enjoy fresh air and get to feel real grass or use the flower beds as their personal "litter box" but they are the minority.

It's unfair and pretty judgmental to say that those cats owners don't treat them for fleas or worms or address other health issues. Why on earth would you assume (jump to conclusions) about that? It's sometimes actually the opposite scenario with a strictly inside cat never being "de-flea'd" or dewormed because the cat never goes outside so never is exposed to fleas, and no fleas, no worms is their assumption..

11:53AM PDT on Mar 11, 2014

You're right Diane, this article is about diet and not the pros and cons of letting cat outdoors.

In our area, we have coyotes, bobcats and javelina, and traffic on the highway....so it isn't the kind of area where cats are safe outdoors alone.
Enclosures don't really count as being outdoors since the cat is kept confined to the enclosure....but they still end up with parasites that can make them pretty sick....and most people with outdoor cats don't bother to treat their fleas or worms, and the cats suffer.

The bottom line is that indoor-only cats live twice as long, if not longer, than outdoor cats...that's not just my opinion.

Our 5 cats are all rescues with special needs and they're very happy not to go out. If we left the doors wide open, they wouldn't go out because they aren't interested.
Keeping them indoors allows me the opportunity to monitor their health efficiently and know when they're having a problem.

10:51PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

(cont)............He wanted OUT. Now, he's back outside, in the garage and comes and goes as he pleases. He'd be miserable if kept inside all the time, as evidenced by his behavior for just 2 days! He yowled, clawed, scratched and sprayed all over the spare bedroom! He is a very content and happy cat now that he's back in "his element". He comes to the back door daily to get "pats" and treats, then merrily goes off on his "route".


10:47PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Thanks, Marilyn for the added support there. However, there are two P.O.V.'s on allowing cats to go outside. I truly do not wish to argue the point about that, especially with you, in an article more about how cats should be fed..............this one is about feeding cats a vegan diet, which absolutely should not be done.

My opinion on allowing cats to go outside is that it all depends on one's surroundings/environment. If someone lives in a city, then absolutely, that would put the cat "at risk", but one can construct a "cat proof" environment for them in a back yard, albeit at some expense for materials and labor. My Mom had such an enclosure and my stepfather built it out of heavy poultry netting above the 6' solid cedar fencing that enclosed their back yard and then putting more that tipped inwards, thus preventing the cats from scaling it and going over. If one lives in a rural area such as where I am, and AGAIN, depending on the individual cats, it all depends. Some cats are quite content to remain indoors, while others (such as one of my two indoor felines) demands to be let out and will do everything possible to get there when it's her wish to get out. She was born outside (under a house) and she is not content to stay inside all the time. Her full brother is now also with me. He was neutered 2 weeks ago and had to be kept inside for a few days and he was NOT a happy cat. He wanted OUT. Now, he's back outside, in the garage and comes and goes as he plea

9:40AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Dan, as a cat rescuer and cat lover, I have to say that I'm very very sorry that you were permitted to have guardianship of any cats at all. The poor things will die an unnatural and miserable death in your care.
You say:
"Cats need nutrients, not ingredients,"
If that is what you REALLY think then you wouldn't feed a cat an unnatural vegan diet with added ingredients that cats DO NOT choose to eat!

Shame on you! Oh and btw....cats ARE able to catch fish ....if anyone is so cruel as to let them outdoors without supervision.
Cats have the ability to deal with the outside world about as well as a 2yr old child. So I must surmise that you would just put your 2yr old outside and let it fend for itself....and never take it to a doctor if it gets sick and just feed it an incomplete diet that is not naturally accurate because it pleases your philosophy.

How truly sad and pathetic.

7:23AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Dan N., the reason people get in an uproar about feeding cats a vegan diet is because nobody who knows much about cats and their nutritional needs would do such a thing! It borders animal abuse. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they MUST get protein from animal sources. Feeding a cat a vegan diet that consists of fake meat to which added chemicals have been injected may keep the cat alive, but not healthy or as OPTIMALLY healthy as they should be. You're only fooling yourself if you think you're feeding your cat properly on a vegan diet. It's also insulting to those of us who actually DO care for our feline charges to suggest that if we want them to live on a natural diet to not take them to a vet. What on earth is that about? What is the relevance? May I suggest you give your cat to someone prepared to feed it what it needs and get yourself a rat or a guinea pig.

1:04PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

It's funny how no one complains when they hear of cats being fed beef or tuna, but there is uproar when anyone mentions vegan cat food. Of course cats don't naturally munch away on lentils, but no cat in history has ever caught a tuna. Vegans love animals. For someone who values the life of a companion animal over the life of a farm animal, it must be hard to fathom that people who feed their cats on a vegan diet are treating all life equally. Cats need nutrients, not ingredients, and can thrive on a balanced vegan diet. Taurine, which is only found in animal products, is not present in meat based kibble either and needs to be added in. If you want your cats to lead a natural life, let them hunt their own rodents, birds and insects, and never bring them to the vet (so unnatural!). Personally, I will keep feeding my 8 rescue cats on the cruelty-free food they have been eating for years.

12:27AM PST on Nov 15, 2013

Most of my messages, in many cases long ones, are not being accepted. After clicking on "add comment", I receive an "invalid request" on a blank page.

If this message gets through, can someone help me?

12:23AM PST on Nov 15, 2013

Although I am a vegetarian and find it very distasteful to feed my cats meat, I know that their bodies and entire digestive system are designed as a carnivore. Humans are omnivores and although I believe we thrive better on plant-based diets, esp. with the conditions of our farm animals, today, we have the adaptations to exist on both.

I admire a vegan's choice of diet, and sometimes entire life-style, but believe this choice is not at all appropriate for a carnivore such as a cat that has high requirements for quality meat protein not plant protein (which unfortunately exists in too many commercial cat foods, esp. dry kibble, and even more so in so-called prescription junk, most often, in the form of cheap filler grains).

I am sure that there are plenty of loving vegans that would be caring parents for animals, but I think they would do better in having a pet friend that is either an omnivore or herbivore, if they cannot stomach feeding a cat what it needs to thrive, not just survive.

10:39PM PST on Nov 14, 2013

My kitties eat Royal Canin in the Morning, raw meat or chicken in the afternoon, and that's the way it's always gonna be!
Ah, they also like to hunt every insect or mouse that sets foot in their territory.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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