The topic of veganism and cats is a controversial one. I will look at this from 2 perspectives: the science and personal experience. Let’s look at the facts instead of the ‘way things have always been’ because maybe they could be better.
First of all the term ‘Obligate Carnivore’ (see book with the same title written by Jed Gillen) is a good place to start. In my opinion he chose this title to attract more readers. If cats are obligate carnivores then they can’t be vegan right? ‘I knew it’, says the naïve reader. ‘Now I’ll read the book to confirm that cats must eat meat or die’. Smart marketing move Jed, and great book by the way.
Science: If cats really are Obligatory Carnivores then they must eat meat or die. That’s what the expression implies. Doesn’t it? I have two orange tabbies who have been vegan for about 3 years and are healthier than ever. It kind of contradicts the whole ‘obligate carnivore’ term don’t you think? But rather than discuss opinions, why don’t we look NOT at what the pet food industry is telling us but what the science reveals. Unfortunately due to billions of dollars of marketing by the dairy industry, some people actually still believe that (cow’s) ‘Milk, does a (human) body good.’ Could it be possible that the dairy industry wants us to buy dairy products and make billions of dollars? Is it possible that the dairy industry is not in a position to be giving us nutritional advice because of an obvious conflict of interest? It’s like a cigarette company telling us that smoking is good for us because it relieves stress but failing to tell us that it causes arterial sclerosis and lung cancer. Read my later post on “Dairy Consumption and Bone Density.”
It is not uncommon for members of society to have a tendency to be parrots; ie: they like to repeat what has always been said just because….well, it’s always been said. I was like that. I believed the misleading marketing that humans need cow’s milk to get their calcium and egg whites to get enough protein to build strong muscles. So, cat’s must eat meat or die; UNLESS, they can eat plants and thrive. How’s that for thinking outside of the box and making people angry because it doesn’t gel with what we’ve always been told and believed was the truth? What if we all took the time to care enough about our cat-children/feline family members to be open to some novel possibilities? I have personal experience with my cats and the reasons I switched them to a vegan diet were the following:
1)My cats were not thriving on a meat diet, so I had concerns about their health and wanted to look at their options.
2)The cruelty that cows, chickens, pigs and other ‘raised for food’ animals are subjected to is horrible. Anyone who doesn’t know this must have their eyes and ears closed or be severely deceived by corporate marketing. I suggest the tame, but educational documentary: Vegucated (available at the Vancouver Library on dvd).
3)The environmental impact of animal agriculture is polluting our planet with the pharmaceutical drugs that these animals are administered (80% of pharmaceutical drugs in the United States are given to farm animals) which end up in ‘our’ environment. The huge numbers of these artificially populated animals also create enough methane gas to account for more than 51% of our planet’s green house gasses which are causing global warming to wreak havoc on our planet. The tons of excrement and urine theses masses of animals produce are contaminated and these toxic substances get into our soil, water supply, the ocean, streams, lakes and the air we breathe. You can’t throw waste away, you can only throw it around, so it’s eventually going to come back to you in some way as the wind blows around our planet and the oceans mix with other oceans.
My male cat wasn’t thriving as a carnivore. He was eating raw meat (very expensive, I might add) because this is what I was told cats needed to be their healthiest. I was also told by the Pet Food store manager that this meat was of the highest quality. Despite these promises, on raw beef, chicken, turkey, buffalo and duck, my male cat experienced urethra blockages (medical term: struvite uroliths) at least once a year which is a very serious situation. This had reoccurred about 8 times. What else could I do, if he didn’t thrive on meat? I could try a vegetarian diet, but he didn’t like salmon very much or white fish, which is just as well considering how much mercury they contain.
My last resort was a Vegan Diet. First I researched and then I asked my cat’s vet. My vet is amazing, she’s homeopathic and very ‘outside of the box’ with her methodology. I love that she thinks for herself and is open minded. When the topic of veganism and cats came up, she knew of a DVM in California that had been known to have success and experience with vegan cats and dogs for decades. So she was contacted. I was amazed and relieved that this was a possibility. Her name is Dr. Armaiti May, D.V.M., C.V.A. She provides some articles on this topic at http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/vegan_cats
A little more on the science of cats and veganism can be found at a very informative website out of Toronto: www.vecado.ca See the article: VEGAN PETS 101 which explains: “Vegan Cats 101: nutrients, not ingredients is what really matters.” A comparison of two formulas of cat foods: Purina meat based food and Evolution vegan pet food.
For a 10% discount to first time buyers of Vegecat from the Vecado website – use discount code: “veganvalues“.
Check out the articles on Vecado.ca If you want the facts, this will give them to you. If you think your pet’s commercial food is of a better variety or quality of food than Purina, think again. Consider whether you were ‘marketed’ to or educated based on science. According to a two part mini documentary I saw: Loving our pets to death: Feeding, Can Pets be Vegan / What’s REALLY in Pet Food (Bite Size Vegan on YouTube), there is very little regulation in the production of pet food. This means marketing is deceptive and the actual ingredients in cat and dog food will shock you. If meat is considered not suitable for human consumption, guess what? It’s suitable for pet food despite the nice picture on the label stating that the contents are a Gourmet liver feast.
Back to personal experience and observation of my cats as vegans; my male cat had NO urethra blockages on wet vegan food for over 2 years. This was such a relief. The one episode he had was after switching to a vegan kibble instead of wet food. It happened within days which is how I knew it was the new food. I have learned that dry food, even the meat variety, is known for causing urinary tract health problems in male cats. He’s back on wet food and doing fine again.
I like to know what the ingredients really are in the food fed to my cats so I prepare their food myself using a supplement called: VegeCat phi made by Compassion Circle in Las Vegas. For Canadians this can be purchased through the Vecado.ca website, link posted below. The VegeCat phi comes with 7 recipes such as: Chickpea plus, Rice seitan, and Oats plus. I use my own organic peas, rice, oats, etc… and then add the Vegecat for a nutritionally adequate, low magnesium, healthy food. One other ingredient that must be added to the recipe is VegeYeast which creates the right ph for cats which needs to be acidic enough for them.
Is it unnatural for a cat to eat oats, or peas? My cat loves frozen green peas as a treat. I have never seen a cat take down a cow, bite him in the jugular and then proceed to eat such cow. Cats are too small. I have seen a cat sit on top of a cow’s back because they were friends and the cat went for a free little ride around the field. Very cute. Therefore, I conclude that it is actually unnatural for cats to eat cows. Then there’s the whole topic of why is a cow’s flesh called ‘beef?’ It’s still a cow. Again, I see it as a type of marketing that is denying reality. Kind of makes one wonder what a dead human’s flesh would be called if it was thrown up on a grill and put into a bun. Who came up with the name hamburger? It’s dead cow flesh in a bun not a hamburger. And as the Peta sticker with the cute little chick picture says: “I am not a McNugget.”
Another reason I switched my cats to a vegan diet is for the animals. The pain, violence and suffering that goes on behind closed (barn) doors in animal farming is something that few of us will ever see unless you watch documentaries such as those posted by animal activist extraordinaire Emily Barwick www.BiteSizeVegan.com or see her YouTube channel with over 350 vegan videos. I highly recommend her video: “Pets and veganism”. As a vegan myself and animal lover, how could I support the killing of animals (cows) to feed other animals (cats)? It just didn’t make sense. For those of us who think that we shouldn’t be ‘forcing’ veganism on our cats and dogs…How many of you have offered your cat or dog a healthy balanced vegan diet? You can’t just give your cat a veggie burger, there needs to be balanced nutrition here.
Some of the health benefits that a vegan cat receives are:
1)Consuming food that does not contain the veterinarian medicines that were given to their food (ie: cow, chicken or pig) before it was slaughtered. According to an article by Maryn McKenna: www.Wired.com, 12/24/10, 80% of pharmaceutical drugs in the United States (28.8 million pounds) are given to animals each year. Why would any human or cat subject their body to those second hand toxic drugs?
2)Missing out on the steroids, hormones and pesticides that their food ate (ie: cows, chickens and pigs) are another health advantage. We are what we eat and even grass fed cows are likely eating grass that was sprayed with pesticides, grown in a field with contaminated soil, or has air and water pollution residues on it. What the heck is organic chicken anyways if the chicken ate non-organic food? Perhaps a marketing term? Animal muscles and fat are where pesticides and toxins become very concentrated. It’s healthier, ie: less toxic for us to eat plants rather than eat something else that ate the plants for us.
3)Cows are most definitely not fed organic food (heck hardly any humans eat organic produce) so if they are consuming GMO corn and soy laced with Roundup, so is the person/child/cat/dog that eats that cow. Since GMO foods have been made available to the public for more than 20 years now without most of us even knowing about them, we are all just guinea pigs. Time will tell, and it’s been long enough for the scary consequences to surface. If you love yourself, your children, cat and dog, why would you take a chance and follow a diet of animal products (cheese, chocolate, ice cream, chicken, beef or fish) which are the most concentrated sources of environmental and pharmaceutical contamination on our planet?
4)Lastly an article in the New York Times published December 24, 2010 “Farm Animals Get 80% of Antibiotics in US” is another reason to avoid feeding animals to my cat. According to the article, Scientists from the Department of Agriculture stated that the AIDS virus is more common in cattle than researchers had anticipated. How rare is it for a cow to even have an AIDS test considering how cost prohibitive this would be? Enough said, no meat will be eaten by my kitties. Oh and just in case you were concerned; the article is wrapped up with the statement: Al Strating, a director in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agriculture Department division said that the Government had no plans to quarantine such infected cattle. I don’t need Al’s input to know that eating animals is bad enough, but eating diseased animals is just sick. I won’t even go into the number of cows that have bovine leukemia.
Vegan cats can be as healthy as vegan humans if they eat a healthy balanced diet with minimally processed foods and as many organic ingredients as possible. It will also save animal lives and reduce global pollution. Why not give it a try? It may even reduce your future veterinarian bills for your family cat or dog.
So I’ve written a bit about the science and my personal experience with my cats. I may just write a second part to this post at a later date because there really is so much information to share.