This morning I received an email from a friend asking “I have a question for you that I was thinking about yesterday. What do vegans feed their cats and dogs?”
This subject keeps on coming up and I’ve addressed it so many times I thought I’d write a blog post on it.
Here is the reply I sent:
Vegan cat and dog food! There are no nutrients that any any human, cat or dog needs that cannot be sourced from plants. None. Dogs are true biological omnivores (humans are cultural not biological omnivores) and cats are obligate carnivores.
What do these terms mean? Well an omnivore isn’t an just animal that can eat a mix of meat and plants, it’s an animal that can thrive on meat only or plants only. You can feed a dog nothing but meat and it’ll be fine (actually not optimally healthy but it’ll survive) or just plant based nutrients and it’ll do just fine. The same thing with a bear – another true omnivore. Humans however will quickly die if fed only meat (especially uncooked) but thrive on plant-only diets. This is because we are not biological omnivores like dogs and bears.
Cats are interesting because they are are obligate carnivores but that word obligate applies to their ability to procure food – not digest it. Most cats and dogs in the western world are already vegans (almost) – they eat dried pellet food made mostly from oats and soy – the cheaper brands have very little to no meat in them at all despite being labelled as “rabbit” or “chicken” or whatever. Usually bone meal (from the named animal) plus “rendered animal by-product” is added to the mix to give a meaty smell and flavour but no real meat is in there – it’s all bones and gristle and the parts that a cat probably wouldn’t eat anyway. These millions of cats and dogs never taste a piece of meat – they are eating hard, dry, crunchy pellets.
My dog Perris gets fed a mix of two dried vegan dog foods that are nutritionally complete plus vegan sausages which I cut up as treats for him. He also gets left-overs from my cooking which is always healthy.
I don’t have a cat but I know plenty of vegans with very healthy cats who are fed a nutritionally complete plant-based diet.
Hope this answers your question. If you’re interested in what defines a herbivore/omnivore/carnivore consider the disease atherosclerosis. This is the clogging of the arteries due to the intake of dietary cholesterol (only found in meat, eggs, fish and dairy and never in plants). Only herbivorous animals can ever contract this disease – goats, cows, horses, sheep, humans. You can feed a dog, a bear, a lion, a cat meat all day, everyday and it will never get atherosclerosis.
Coronary heart and artery disease caused by atherosclerosis is the number one killer of humans in the USA. Every American alive today has a one-in-two chance of premature death from this disease. We are clearly not omnivores!
In my opinion, and according to the definition of veganism as given by the Vegan Society (https://www.vegansociety.com/try-vegan/definition-veganism) vegans should not support the killing of any animal for pleasure or any-other non-essential purpose. If vegans believe that cats must be fed meat and cat ownership constitutes a pleasure then vegans should stop owning cats and keep rabbits or other animals that don’t require the suffering of other animals for their survival.