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Vegan Cats

Posted by tinako on January 24, 2010

I think most vegans feed their cats regular commercial cat food.  I do.  We just sort of accept that if we decide to have a cat, that is what cats eat.  But it bothers me that, while human veganism is often discussed reasonably, most discussions about feline veganism, even among vegans, involve verbal frothing at the mouth.  Reason and logic seem to fly out the window.

Maybe this negativity is justified, but so much of it seems to be circular in reasoning.  The number one reason given against vegan cat food is that (all together now) “cats are obligate carnivores.”  All that means is “they have to eat meat.”  So: they have to eat meat because they have to eat meat.  I wish we could ban that pat phrase from discussions and move on to some actual facts, such as who decided that and what it’s based on.

It’s probably primarily based on the fact that cats naturally eat nothing but meat in the wild.  Grass is just for digestion.  OK, but that does not automatically prove that they would not be healthier on an “unnatural,” vegan diet.  We vegans hear that same argument when cavemen are dragged into discussions.  Who cares what cavemen ate?  Luckily studies prove that well-planned veganism is very healthy for humans, so we humans don’t have to put up with that reasoning.

In addition, pet cats do not live like they would in the wild – they are inside sleeping in fuzzy beds and gazing at the fish tank, not stalking prey in the snow.  And most commercial cat food is a conglomeration of the worst parts of the most ill-treated animals – beyond the misery involved, which is outside the scope of a discussion on whether vegan food is healthier, this flesh is so beat up it’s not allowed for human consumption.  But people get apoplectic at the thought of someone substituting a thoughtful plant-based diet for that factory crap, because it’s not “natural.”  Blech!

We’re getting to better arguments when people start talking about nutrients.  But the nutrients that we know about are all available in plant or synthetic form.

I think the best arguments will point out that there seem to be some formulation problems with some of the commercial vegan cat foods.  The two I know of, Evolution and Vegepet, were found in a test to be nutritionally inadequate.  One producer denied this and another fixed it.  Wikipedia seems to have a reasonable discussion about this topic.  It’s not clear to me why vegan cat food manufacturers can’t solve these formulation problems and prove it, so we can all move on.

It turns out that thousands of cats eat this cat food, and I was unable to find a single complaint where someone who actually fed their cat these foods felt it made them sick.  Google “Evolution Diet cat complaint” or “sick” and you will find nothing.  Same for HAINA.  The BBB has two complaints against Evolution Diet, both regarding shipping issues.  I couldn’t find any BBB record of the Vegepet manufacturer, HAINA.

But not everybody posts their negative response where Google can find it.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau said that she felt her cats did better on meat cat food, I believe because one of them became ill on vegan cat food.  The Evolution Diet web site says that male cats may have trouble and should perhaps not be fully vegan.  They recommend a urine test to check the pH.  We as pet owners have to weigh all this information ourselves.

But none of these arguments supports the conclusion that cats cannot be vegan – that is, that no non-meat food invented ever (as in the future) could be healthy for cats.  I am not sure how anyone can prove that argument.  The best the nay-sayers can reasonably try to prove is that there is no suitable commercial vegan cat food right now, and that it is not currently known how healthy vegan cat food can be prepared.

Ella

Here’s my experience.  I decided to put my 15 yo cat on a 75% vegan diet (Evolution dry) because she was diagnosed with liver cancer.  The vet said there was nothing they could do, and I wanted to see if cutting her animal protein would help.  She was given 3-12 months to live 3 months ago.  She looks better than ever.  Her fur, which had turned brownish over the summer, is starting to come in black again.  Fur turning orange like that can either be a result of more licking (due to allergies, etc. – she wasn’t doing that), or due to severe protein deficiency, which can be caused by kidney or liver failure or intestinal disease.

She has two of those, because she also has kidney failure, 15 months now.  Because we were replacing her Rx kidney diet with non-Rx vegan food, my vet and I have carefully monitored her renal figures, which have improved slightly since the change.  (FYI her treatment for 12 months has been 150 ml Sub-Q fluid 3x per week, and 1 month of Fosamax 1x per week (experimental therapy decided on 2 months ago, but not begun until after renal panel showed improvement on 50% vegan diet alone).  Neither of these treatments bothers her much).

I sprinkle brewer’s yeast on the vegan cat food, and I can’t pry her face out of the bowl.  And you would never know she was sick – she is alert, sleek, plays with my kids, eats and drinks well.  This is one reason I am so determined – her quality of life is absolutely worth maintaining.

When I asked for help at message boards three months ago, trying to find phosphorus levels in different vegan foods, I got so much negativity, even though I deliberately never mentioned I was vegan myself, since that had nothing to do with my decision.  People literally told me I’d be torturing my dying cat.  They were incredibly mean at a very difficult time, calling me selfish, that I was doing this for me, to try to drag out her death.  I know she’s not going to live forever, but why wouldn’t I want to try to help my cat?

It’s way too early to make any kind of claims, but so far so good.  The owner of Evolution Diet (who I freely admit seems kind of flaky – but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong or lying) told me that he has had many cats at his shelter with exactly my cat’s issues (kidney failure and cancer) live healthy for many years on his cat food.  I based my decision on The China Study, but it was nice to hear his experience.

I’m not pushing vegan cat food, I just think there should be more reason and less venom in the discussion.  There don’t seem to be studies, actual science-based information, on vegan cat food.  We are left to try to find information for ourselves in a very hostile environment.

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38 Responses to “Vegan Cats”

  1. garysmith said

    That there is not much science on this is perplexing. I wish the manufactures of these foods would commission some independent research to determine whether their products are healthy (maybe they have and choose not to release the findings). Have you noticed that when there is no science on a certain dietary matter people simply act as if there is – inventing arguments that aren’t based on evidence and advocating their opinions religiously. T’is very annoying.

  2. Ay said

    I never gave a second thought on the fact(or the statement),”cats are obligate carnivores”. Giving my cat vegan food was just never occurred. But as you said in the article, indoor cats live completely different life style, they don’t have to go after small animals to feed them. It kind of makes sense that they “may” be suitable for different diet than they are used to. I would love to know the update on your cat condition&well being with Evolution diet. Bookmarked your site. Thank you very much.

  3. Olga said

    This is a vegan site with a forum on problems with evolution cat food. It’s great because it all vegans who have put their cats on this diet, so no angry omnivores yelling.
    http://www.veganrepresent.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6748&highlight=Evolution cat
    I had my kitty on Ami cat for 5 months and she loved it. But am not able to afford more Ami cat so am feeding her wellness meat kibble for now. My friend has vegan cats and they are doing great. But so many cats have problems that I don’t want to risk her health. Nor can I afford any serious health problems for her. Hope u find the sit helpful.

    • tinako said

      Thanks, Olga. That is a really interesting thread, and I would encourage anyone considering vegan cat food to consider those experiences. It is nice to read reasonable people discussing the issue reasonably. I think if I read that before I started with my cat and didn’t have the cancer issue, I would be pretty nervous. It does seem like the majority of cats do well (they just don’t get the press time) but it also sounds like Evolution might be as flaky as they seem from their own web site.

      Interesting about the cancer cat with “one month to live” who is “still” (2003) going strong, even after being taken off Evolution. I would like to know more about that.

      The thread is mostly over 5 years old. I wonder what has been happening since.

  4. Niki said

    Hey Tinako, interesting post, and great to hear your kitty is doing well!

    I used to think feeding cats a vegan diet was insane and, in a way, was enforcing your beliefs onto your pet.

    However, this reason for feeding your pet vegan made sense to me – your cat would never, in the wild, hunt down a cow/sheep/pig. He would never eat canned, processed food. And that aside, purchasing traditional meat-based petfood supports the nasty business of industrial agriculture, which, if your cat was wild, he would also not be supporting. There is nothing natural about your standard catfood, and vegans don’t put their money into industrial agriculture.

    • tinako said

      Yes, I can see both sides myself – my cat is not vegan, I am. But the more I think of it, the more uncomfortable I am with conventional commercial food, which creates a market for the most mistreated animals. I don’t usually buy into so-called “humane meat,” but supporting the worst practices is pretty revolting.

      To be clear, as strong as my vegan values are, this decision was all about the cancer.

      It was my exact hope in posting these thoughts that people would give the idea a fresh look. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. tinako said

    Mini-update. My cat’s labs are still fine but she has been losing weight for some time. She was overweight and does not look bad yet, but I want the weight loss to stop. While she would eat the Evolution dry with nutritional yeast on it, alone it was clearly not her favorite food. I read about Ami cat food, and while I couldn’t find a lot of info on it, pet owners were saying their cats really liked it. I ordered some and Ella does like it much better. She is definitely eating more food, so hopefully at her next appt in 6 weeks she will have stopped losing.

    This is the only place I found selling it in the U.S.: http://store.veganessentials.com/ami-cat-vegan-cat-food-p2246.aspx

  6. tinako said

    Another mini-update. Ella LOVES the Ami cat food, and gained a little weight back at her last checkup. So yay for that. While she has stopped the minor table begging she did while on Evolution, I think her coat might not be as shiny and smooth recently. But then, she is a pretty sick cat, so it’s hard to blame that on Ami. If I had cancer and kidney failure, my hair might not look so great either.

    However… while her creatine level continued to drop a little (the vet said this is the most important indicator for her kidney health), her phosphorus, which had been pretty stable since she was diagnosed over a year ago, came up suddenly. We can feed her a paste to bind to phosphorus, but unfortunately it is meant for humans, tastes like mint, and cats hate it so much it can put them off their food. So I suggested I back off a bit on the Ami. I had finished off her K/D (kidney diet) dry Rx food and not replaced it so she was getting all Ami, with maybe one can of K/D per week. I’m not sure whether it was the switch from Evolution to Ami or ending the K/D dry that has affected her phosphorus. So I will go back to maybe 3:1 Ami to K/D dry for the next month. If her next test still isn’t good I could go as low as 1:1 and still, according to my calculations, keep her animal protein at 10% of calories (for her cancer).

    She’s still active and happy seven months into a 3-12 month prognosis – I wonder if her cancer is growing.

    • tinako said

      You can now buy a tasteless powder to bind to phosphorus, but you have to sprinkle it on their food a few times a day, which sounds like a pain, so I’ve solved the problem by adjusting her food instead. Anyway, it’s Aluminum Hydroxide and you get it from ThrivingPets.com. You don’t need a prescription but definitely work with your vet.

      • tinako said

        (Update that we did end up using this and it wasn’t so bad and definitely helped her chemistry for the last few months. We normally fed her dry, which did not work with the powder, but for this we mixed the powder in with a teaspoon of canned a few times a day, which she certainly didn’t mind.)

  7. Ashleigh said

    Hi Tinako,
    I am considering switching my cats to a vegan diet as well. One of my “babies” is pretty overweight while the other is pretty slim. It has been a struggle to balance the two extremes. I am most concerned with the extra weight of my heavier cat. He had a serious surgery three years ago that resulted in removing his “man part” after three unsuccessful attempts to remove urinary blockage. At the time, we were living in a home that had developed toxic mold- my fiance and I both became sick as well. We feel his problem was rooted with the toxins combined with his weight and thus inability to filter them efficiently. Anyway, I love him soooo much and want him to live as long as possible. He is 6 years old now. I just began “Green Mush” from the VitaMineral Green Company. I mix it into his Organix cat food and he loves it. What is your take on vegan wet food? What happened with you darling that was diagnosed with cancer?

    • tinako said

      Ella is still doing fine at 10 months into her 3-12 month prognosis. She is still losing weight slowly, which I would rather was not happening, but other than that she is active and happy and passing all her tests. The only thing I notice different about her is that, while she is clearly very content, she used to be a very loud purrer and now I seldom hear her purr.

      As I mentioned, I’m now mixing it half and half with her Rx kidney diet food, since 90% Ami caused her phosphorus to creep up. After a month at half-and-half it went back where it should be. I may bump the Ami ratio up a little bit; I want to push the edge here to give her as much vegan as I can to keep her liver healthy without hurting her kidneys – it’s a balance.

      Sorry, the only thing I know about wet vegan food is that my cat didn’t like Evolution’s very much. Or their dry. She likes Ami a lot, but I don’t think they make a wet.

      Because my cat’s renal failure brings her to the vet every couple months for a test, I am very comfortable feeding her vegan cat food. Healthier cats who would otherwise only go once a year may need closer monitoring than they would otherwise get. As I mention in my post, I think theoretically a vegan diet could be fine, but I’m not convinced the manufacturing has caught up with the theory.

  8. pradtf said

    tinako, i found your post to be well-thought out and presented as is your blog. you may be interested in this:

    http://www.30bananasaday.com/group/30badinternetoutreachguerrillas/forum/topics/veg-pets-dogs-and-cats?xg_source=activity

    as well as various discussions along these lines on the 30bad forum. if you can’t find them, you are welcome to contact me and i’ll dig some of them up.

    we have fed several veg cats for several years. they eat mostly hoana products though we give a bit of evolution kibble too (though i’m questioning the ‘manufacturing’ vs the ‘theory’ on them too).

    in friendship,
    prad

    • tinako said

      Thanks, Prad.

      Funny how no one, including Peta, seems to have heard of Ami. (http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/Vegetarian-Cats-and-Dogs.aspx)

      It’s too bad the one article about a vegan cat (mainstream press – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5148172/The-UKs-only-vegetarian-cat.html) had so many predictable disclaimers about how impossible this cat’s diet was, that old “obligate carnivores” chestnut. It was illogical in an article about a cat that is obviously not. I can understand that they didn’t want people to see the article as cat-feeding advice, but they could have said that while acknowledging that perhaps we don’t know everything about what cats need to eat, the obvious conclusion from the facts of that case.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve had good results with vegan cat food. My Ella is still doing fine at 12 months into her 3-12 month prognosis. Her vet is amazed and the secretaries tell me she’s a celebrity there.

      Thanks for stopping by – Tina

  9. Brendon said

    You haven’t mention Veganpet Cat and Dog Food so I thought I would.
    Veganpet Cat and Dog Food is the ONLY vegan pet food on the market that has met (and passed in some areas) AAFCO and NRA standards.
    It’s all human grade; mostly organic and as of this week comes in dry AND canned versions.
    I’ve linked the facebook page above which has most of the information on the food there including the producers website.
    My cat is on the food and has been since I got him at 8 weeks and I know many other cat and dog owners who feed this to their cat.
    Look into it!
    =)

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Veganpet-Cat-Dog-Food/103166903071452

    • tinako said

      Thanks, Brendon. Great to hear your pets are doing well on vegan.

      Because I seem to have finally worked out the maximum ratio of Ami Vegan to K/D Rx Kidney dry food to keep her phosphorus in check, I need to stick with what I’ve got, give Ella a break from monthly blood draws, but thanks so much for the tip. I seem to get a lot of visitors here so hopefully it will help people. Funny how there doesn’t seem to be a really comprehensive list of vegan cat food.

      Update: Ella is almost 14 months into her 3-12 month prognosis and looks great. I asked the vet how we would know what was going on with her liver cancer and she said it probably would not show up on any tests until it was quite advanced. It was caught Oct ’09 on an unrelated ultrasound and I was half-expecting they would be doing another this time so we could have a peek but they didn’t need to. But the vet is surprised she is doing so well.

      She had a routine annual urine test which showed an infection, common with kidney cats, so after 4 weeks of antibiotics she had gained half a pound, which is huge for her. Her vet thinks her gradual weight loss might have been related to a long-term infection. She never looked too skinny though, she looks good.

      Feeding details for those with a similar problem (kidney + cancer): As I said her phosphorus is now good after months of fiddling to find the highest ratio of vegan she could have (it’s 2 Ami to 1 K/D, with 3:1 being too much; she also gets about 1/2 can of K/D wet per week to help with the SubQ injections). By my calculations she is getting up to 7% of her calories from animal protein (2 parts vegan has 0% animal protein, 1 part k/d has 20% mystery protein*: 1/3 of 20% = 6.66%), whereas Dr. Campbell’s rats stopped their cancer at 10%. So she is well within there and I feel pretty good about that.

      (* mystery protein – 20% calories from protein figure calculated from K/D website and an online protein calculator I found for diabetic cats. But I can’t tell how much of the K/D’s protein is from animals vs. plants)

  10. tinako said

    Our good kitty Ella died two weeks ago: https://expandingcircle.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/goodbye-ella/

  11. Colette said

    Tinako, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I ran across your thread as I began to look into a vegan diet for my two cats. I got these two in March, after losing my darling Cammy to kidney disease in February of this year. Your efforts on behalf of Ella were generous indeed, and I am so happy that this lovely cat had you to care for her through the end of her life.

  12. Sydney James Farnell said

    Cats are obligate carnivores so they eat meat is a circular argument? How about this? Cats have evolved as obligate carnivores. Their digestive systems are designed for eating meat. Humans evolved eating meat and fruit, then switched to grains, dairy, vegetables, fruit and meat. Our digestive systems are unspecialized, so we can basically eat whatever we want. Not true for cats. You keep talking about cats on vegan diets getting kidney disease from lack of protein. Do you know where cats get their protein? Meat. And yet you say that a vegan diet is healthy for cats.

    • tinako said

      I don’t recall asserting that a vegan diet is healthy for cats. My comments are that I wish there were more reasonable arguments. Yours is a much better argument than the typical one: it seems reasonable that switching from carnivore to vegan is very likely different than from omnivore to vegan. But still it is not proof that it can’t be done, just that it is likely not as easy.

      I also don’t see where I ever said that cats on vegan diets get kidney disease due to lack of protein. I have no real idea what causes kidney disease. I’m not sure if you’re referring to kidney failure, which in my cat was long before I switched her to half vegan. She was on regular food when that happened. Or perhaps you’re wondering about my juggling meat vs. vegan food for my cat once she had both cancer and kidney failure – that was because the meat food was special prescription low-phosphorus food, and I’m not aware of any low-phosphorus vegan food. I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be made. It had nothing to do with her needing meat – I would have put her on all vegan if I could have found a suitable prescription vegan food. Or maybe you mean kidney stones, problems which some pet owners have reported with some brands, Evolution being the only one I know of. I think that had to do with pH, and it would make sense since animal protein is more acidic than plant protein. This is not lack of protein but its pH, and I never made the connection you suggest, since I really don’t know.

      This is my whole point, we don’t know. I think I’m pretty clear that I’m not pushing a vegan diet for cats. Maybe it’s terrible for them. But I don’t see any evidence of it, either logical or clinical. Some cats seem to do really well on it. If it’s bad for them, every one of them, by carnivore definition, as many people claim, how are those healthy cats explained?

      You say cats get their protein from meat. In the wild yes, but I presume you know that there is protein in plants. I don’t mean to be insulting, I’m just not clear from your last few sentences that you know that. Vegan cat food has protein.

  13. Sandra said

    I’ve been feeding my cat Vegecat by Hoana for a few months now. She’s just turned 15. I started by buying a can of veggie only cat food to see if she’d even go for it. To my great surprise she devoured it. So I bought the ingredients from Hoana… VegeCat and VegeYeast, and Prozyme Plus, and now I make her food using one of their recipes… and I add a little of the canned veg cat food or baby food. She’s really quite eager to eat her food. However, I have noticed that her weight has definitely gone down. She’s seems happy, still purring and happily stretching… but her back leg area is starting to concern me… weight wise. So I’m thinking of doing a split of canned non-vegan food with her vegan food… and see if a) she’s interested and b) it helps with her weight.

    Great blog by the way… nice to hear what others have tried and how it’s worked or not worked for them.

    And I am very sorry for the loss of your dear Ella.

  14. Lani said

    I am vegan, and my three cats and one dog have been vegan their whole lives. My 10 year old cat is like a 3 year old, the vet is always completely astounded by her excellent health. I am a nutritionist, and FYI humans are frugivores, not omnivores and certainly NOT carnivores. A living being needs nutrients, and does not care how it gets them. That’s why a vegan diet, when ensuring those nutrients are available, is just as successful as a dead carcass diet for a cat, or indeed any living being. Best of luck!

    • Daryl Denning said

      So glad to find this site. Our 16-year-old gal Sweetie was diagnosed with kidney disease over 5 years ago. The vet said she had kidney failure “big time”. They kept her a couple days at the vet office to administer a fluid drip. We have since been doing sub-q fluids at home, switching from twice a week of 3 units to three times a week at approx. 2 1/4 units. This way she is getting more regular fluids and a little more of them over the course of a week. Sweetie has been on KD dry food the entire time. Until several weeks ago when I started adding Ami vegan cat food. Shortly after doing so, Sweetie went to the vet for a 3-month lab work update. Her values were in the normal range for the first time!! I still worry about the sodium and phosphorous and have not been able to get good info about all this. But so far, so good. I will probably try to follow Tinako’s 2 parts Ami to 1 part KD. I also keep thinking we should add just a bit of canned KD. Sweetie’s appetite is a bit erratic, but has been before we added Ami. She seems to like it as well as KD. We have started adding a couple dental diet pieces to her AM meal, too. We do more than that with our other 4 cats, who get some commercial cat food still, but more a mix of Ami and dental diet, as we have increased these over the last several months. They all seem fine and have good appetites. Sweetie is due for another kidney disease lab check in July and I am eager to see the results. She was diagnosed a few months ago with high blood pressure as well and is on med for that. We caught it quickly when her one eye dilation was suddenly an issue, along with her quick change in behavior (finding a new place to rest and looking forlorn/not well). We warm Sweetie’s fluids in the sink with hot water and use a smaller 20-gauge needle that takes a little longer to complete the sub-qs, but we think it is more comfortable for her than the larger needle the vet started when this kidney disease was diagnosed at Easter time in 2007. Many, many thanks to Tinako and all who look for facts about feline health and diet, and who strive to achieve maximum compassion for all, restraining the strong impulse to “impose” veganism on any one, person or companion animal. Let us hope that science and nutrition studies address such concerns so we are not “experimenting” too much with the health of our beloved pets. But with such trial efforts, we at least have some basis for conversation and hopefully, progress in expanding compassionate dietary ways.

      • Paula F said

        Hi Darryl and fellow vegans — A prominent AR activist said in an interview that she feeds her cat Ami cat food and the cat is doing well so far. I have decided to open my mind about vegan cat food and this is my first foray on the computer about it. I came across your post above. That is quite a testimonial about your Sweetie going back to normal values. How is Sweetie doing, and your other cats?

        I have 4 cats, two senior and two youngsters. My senior female definitely has early stage k/d, and my senior male I think is heading for it — throwing up white foam. All my cats are on wet commercial food only, and I add alot of water, which they like. The kd cats will eat the kd food reluctantly, alot of it goes to waste. I don’t agree with the vet that low protein is the way to go anyway. Certainly phosphorus is a culprit so I choose from Dr. Lisa Pierson’s chart the lowest phosphorus, sodium, and carb foods. Surprise’s bloodwork did improve on the last bloodwork.

        I have just emailed Ami asking about phosphorus content and anything else they can tell me about vegan cat food in terms of kidney disease and also diabetes.

        Thank you, need to do a bit of reading up on the subject. Though apparently there are no studies. I believe Dr. Armaiti May, a veterinarian out in L.A., and vegan herself, is trying to do studies.

  15. Prof said

    I have read the comments for many, many years on how dogs and particularly cats cannot be vegans. I have known many people who insist that humans cannot truly be vegan as well. Before I mention my own feline I will respond briefly to the comments that seem to pervade the Internet (and elsewhere) globally.

    As a vegan of almost 20 years myself, I have found my health go from poor to outstanding. I am knocking on 50 and feel 25. I mention this because of the number one comment I always get upon someone discovering I am Vegan (like its a curse or something). “How do you get your protein”?! Pound for pound many plant foods provide higher quality, non-system clogging protein than flesh ever could. Why do i mention this? Nutrition is nutrition. Whatever the source. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. all would agree at least on this. There is clean sources and dirty sources. ALL animal sources of ‘food’ are by their nature unclean sources of nutrition, filled with nasty fats and hormones that are very destructive to the consuming being. If an animal needs X grams of protein and X grams of amino acids, etc., then what is the difference where it comes from? Would it not be better from a source that is not polluted with excess hormones, fats and does not rot when you leave it out?

    Now about my feline. He is a handsome Brazilian short-hair. Large (not fat), healthy and looks and acts like a 1 year old cat. His coat, skin and teeth are excellent. Being a pure-bred he is tweaky in many ways, especially with his diet. With little research I have deduced his nutritional needs and fulfill them completely. It was not as hard as one would think. Yes he is Vegan and has been for 9 years. I have noticed as well the disposition of Vegan animals is much more agreeable than flesh fed animals as well. Far less aggressive and more loving.

    Kudos and best wishes to the well being of Sweetie mentioned above.

  16. If you’d like to hear the research about whether cats can be vegan whilst you’re doing the housework,you might like to listen to Cats: Can they be vegan?, an episode of The Vegan Option internet radio show.

    I talked to three vets who know something about the topic but haven’t reached the same conclusion. One of them is Lorelei Wakefield, the only person to publish peer-reviewed research on the health of vegan cats.

    Thanks,

    Ian

  17. tinako said

    We adopted another cat, Finn, a few months after Ella died. I’ve been feeding him half Ami and half regular (Blue Buffalo) for almost two years now. He’s done so well I consider giving him 100% Ami.

    I contacted Ami to see if their food was GMO and they did not respond, so that concerns me.

  18. Lisa said

    “It’s probably primarily based on the fact that cats naturally eat nothing but meat in the wild. Grass is just for digestion. OK, but that does not automatically prove that they would not be healthier on an “unnatural,” vegan diet. We vegans hear that same argument when cavemen are dragged into discussions. Who cares what cavemen ate? Luckily studies prove that well-planned veganism is very healthy for humans, so we humans don’t have to put up with that reasoning.”

    How about the fact that their intestines are shorter and they don’t chew their food as much as cows do, so the veggies are NOT DIGESTED? How about the fact that they cannot synthesize many enzymes from plant sources?
    Some of the reasons:
    http://www.essentialvegetarian.com/2007/07/08/7-reasons-why-your-cat-cannot-be-vegetarian/

    “Maybe it’s terrible for them. But I don’t see any evidence of it, either logical or clinical. ”

    As to logical – just look at cat anatomy like their smaller stomach size and their inability to obtain nutrients from plant sources. Is it enough of a logical reason for you? As to clinical – do you have studies to say that this is safe? If not, do you think it’s ethical to EXPERIMENT on your cat? Is experimenting on your cat ethical?

    http://www.messybeast.com/veggiecat.htm

    Sure, some cats would do fine IN SPITE OF your diet, sure, there are plenty of people who smoke, drink heavily, eat hamburgers and live long. I am sure you can create a great diet for humans with corrugated cardboard and a lot of vitamins and minerals added. I am also sure that some people would do just great on this diet. Would you want a diet like this? For cats veggies is like a corrugated cardboard for us – it’s a FILLER. They cannot digest it, they cannot get nutrients from it. What would you told to the parents who fed their kid corrugated cardboard with all the vitamins and nutrients in synthetic form mixed in?

    GET A RABBIT. They are cute and they eat carrots.

    • tinako said

      Wow, you’re really angry. Why? Why are you so worked up about what some people feed their cats, if their cats do fine on it?

      We got another cat after Ella died (as described, from preexisting conditions which were probably improved by the diet), and this second cat is super healthy on half vegan for two years now. And this isn’t carrot chunks he has to chew – the two foods look almost identical, the only difference is light brown bits vs. dark brown bits, per package directions you feed the same amounts, and he vastly prefers the taste of the vegan, though the non-vegan is Blue, an excellent brand I believe. If I gave my cat this food and he got diarrhea and howled from hunger and clawed at the door to catch mice, I would not feed it to him. But he’s not.

      My cat is not suffering. My vet is happy. Why are you so angry?

      Per your “sources,” the first one ignores that synthetic versions of the nutrients cats need such as Taurine are available and included in these foods; and it has the untruth that B-12 is present only in animal products. B-12 is created by bacteria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12). It is found in soil, for instance. It is accurate to say B-12 is *usually* only found in animal products since we wash the B-12 off our veggies. B-12 can easily be made by those bacteria without animals involved, and this is done all the time. Who wrote this? Qualifications? Evidence?

      Your second “source” is a source-less opinion piece, exactly what my page is trying to counteract. I believe Sarah Hartwell is a Communications Coordinator and Grant Writer at Fox Valley Humane Assoc. She has a BA in Journalism. She may be very nice and doubtless cares deeply about animals, but this is not a source, any more than my page is. Here is her conclusion:

      “Sadly, some misguided individuals still insist on feeding vegetarian or vegan diets to their cats. Although the diets are now formulated to contain necessary nutrients, it remains an unnatural diet for a cat. While laboratory analysis may consider that a supplemented vegetarian diet meets the cat’s nutritional needs, lab analysis is different from how a cat’s digestive system and metabolism work to extract nutrients from a foodstuff. A vegetarian-based diet may cause problems for the feline gut because its enzymes are specific to a carnivorous diet. It is cruel and unethical for a human, adapted to an omnivorous diet, to impose their dietary beliefs on a pet.”

      So, lab analysis says that the food meets their needs, but it MAY be different within the cat, therefore it IS cruel and unethical. Her conclusion is fallacious.

      Maybe vegan cats are a bad idea, but you have not convinced me. What would convince me is not theorizing, but evidence. People are feeding their cats this stuff. Is it actually, measurably hurting them? In some cases, perhaps the answer is yes. If so, how can we improve the food?

      • Lisa said

        Nutritional deficiencies may take longer than 2 years to show symptoms and by then it may well be too late. Could some cats survive on this diet – sure, there are many humans who drink heavily, smoke and live to a 100. The problem is you don’t know in advance if your cat is going to be lucky, and by the time you’ll figure it out, it’ll be too late. You say that as long as some cats survive on it, it’s great. What about those who don’t?

        I am angry because I find you hypocritical. You say you care for animals, yet you impose your beliefs on an obligate carnivore and feeding it a vegetable matter that he can’t digest as well as a bunch of artificial nutrients. A human equivalent of the same diet would be a crushed cardboard plus all of the essential vitamins. Is this a good diet? Don’t you think there should be evidence that it’s safe first? You ask me for the evidence that it’s harmful, do you have any evidence that it’s safe? Unless you have it you are engaging in home animal experimentation.

        The first of my sources is a vet who happens to be vegetarian. You want more sources. This is from a vet who talks about the guy who produces Evolution cat food, notice the description of the cat state, there is many interesting comments as well, quite a few from vets:
        http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2011/06/mr-eric-weisman-promoter-of-evolution-diet-finally-prosecuted/

        Also, we don’t even know for sure that these diets actually as balanced as they claim to be. The second source is a study from American Veterinary Association that found two popular vegan food deficient in many nutrients, you can look it up, it included Evolution and vegecat:
        J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Dec 1;225(11):1670-5.
        Nutritional adequacy of two vegan diets for cats.
        Gray CM, Sellon RK, Freeman LM.

        How about you show qualifications of your sources? Better yet, do you have a single study that actually showed that these foods are even nutritionally complete?

      • tinako said

        Hello,
        you return to the comparison of smoking and cardboard. But your example assumes that cats who would do well on this diet must be outliers, like those rare smokers or theoretical cardboard-eaters who live to 100. A study (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco) says at least half of lifelong smokers die early as a result of smoking. If your comparison were apt, many, many cats would be becoming ill, and the internet would be full of complaints. Where are they? Some of the comments above point out problems with Evolution. Evolution seems to be a problem for some cats, and that is why I avoid it now. And if there were a significant population of people eating cardboard and vitamins for years and no complaints of people becoming sick, an open mind would wonder whether it was a harmful diet or not.

        I am beginning to think you did not read my original post, since I included the Evolution/Vege-pets issue you reference. I’m not going to repeat what I said. Eric Weisman is clearly a flake, as discussion towards the beginning of the comments above shows. His food seems to make some cats sick and should probably be off the market. So this is a much better source, definitely what I’m looking for, and very important for those considering these diets to know, but I covered this issue above, concluding that this doesn’t prove that any and all vegan cat foods now or ever will be inadequate. I doubt there is any way to prove that. Your argument shuts down the attempt to find out.

        I would love to see evidence that this diet is safe first, but who is going to do that? Everyone assumes it is not, based on theory. I can understand that obligate carnivore theory. It seems reasonable. I would not have been first in line to go against it. But I’m not.

        Regarding studies showing whether these foods are nutritionally complete, my first thought was that all cat food passes the AAFCO standards, but actually I’m not sure. That is an important point, thank you, and I have contacted the manufacturer to ask.

        You give the credentials for your first source, but still no evidence. I’m guessing most vets think cats shouldn’t eat vegan – mine did – she counseled against it, but my cat was dying anyway so she agreed. If asked at the time she would probably have written up something like this. Now she has seen two cats doing well on it. I’m not sure what she would write now.

        I think you have the idea that I am forcing my cat on a weird diet because I’m a militant vegan. I began feeding my earlier cat vegan food not for animal rights reasons at all, but because she was dying and I wanted to see if a thoughtful vegan diet would help. It probably did – her blood tests improved immediately and her coat, which had been turning from black to orangey-brown, gradually returned to glossy black. My vet and I saw no evidence that the vegan diet hurt her. You would not have known she had (preexisting) cancer and kidney failure until her last week. The vet said she died of cancer.

        We disagree on whether this could be a healthy diet for cats. That does not make me a hypocrite. I care about my cat and I feed my cat what I believe is healthy food. That is consistent with my values.

        We all take risks in life, which we weight against benefits. Driving can be dangerous – does that make us suicidal or homicidal to drive? Should I not feed my cat a food which many others have fed their cats for many years? Where are all the complaints from actual pet owners? The only complaints I hear are theories from people who don’t feed their cats this food. My choice to feed my cat vegan food that many others use without a problem seems like a small risk with large possible rewards to his health. You disagree, but that does not make me an uncaring pet owner.

    • tinako said

      A representative of Ami responded to me: “Amì pet food meets AAFCO standards.”

  19. tinako said

    “In 2006, the first study of the health of a population of long-term vegetarian cats was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most of the cats were fed a commercially-available vegan diet, though 35% were allowed outdoors. The study consisted of telephone questionnaires of the caregivers of 32 cats, and analysis of blood samples from some of them. The blood samples were tested for taurine and cobalamin deficiencies. Cobalamin levels were normal in all cats. Taurine levels were low in 3 out of 17 cats tested, but not low enough to be considered deficient. 97% of the caregivers perceived their cats to be healthy, including those with low taurine levels.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_food#Vegetarian_or_vegan_food

    Here is the study: http://www.vegepets.info/resources/Publications/Veg-cats-Wakefield-et-al-JAVMA-2006.pdf

    In case you’re wondering about the 3% who didn’t think their veg cats were healthy, 4% of owners feeding conventional food were in the same category.

  20. tinako said

    Here is a study from 1992 referenced in the study above, which shows a problem with veg diets of that time low in potassium: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1359869
    Now this is the sort of thing I’m looking for, actual problems with actual cats fed vegan food. Unfortunately I can’t tell what they were eating – what was on the market 21 years ago? One would hope that this straightforward problem has been fixed by now, but I don’t notice potassium listed as a specific ingredient on my bag of Ami cat food. It could very well be built into one of the food ingredients. I’m asking the manufacturer.

    • tinako said

      A representative from Ami vegan cat food responded to me: “Amì pet food meets AAFCO standards. For sure our food includes potassium as all nutrients our pets need, in fact it is a complete and balaced formula.”

  21. I also found great hostility in the cat groups to alternative approaches, specifically the use of energy healing which has created some amazing results for my cat. I still feel utterly confused about how I could do vegan for my cats with the options available. My cat wouldn’t eat the “homemade” version of Vegepet and I think phosphorus would be too high with the wheat flour. Better options are very much needed.

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