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mattbrowne's avatar

What should vegans feed their domestic cats to ensure they adhere to their ethical standards?

Asked by mattbrowne (31719points) October 18th, 2009

I’ve heard that the ideal cat food is a mixture of about 50% proteins, 40% fats and 10% carbohydrates. Is it healthy for the cat if all the protein comes from plants like soybeans? If yes, will cats actually eat it or do they refuse? If they refuse, will vegans try to prevent their cats from catching mice? What are good ethical guidelines? Might lacto-ovo vegetarian cats be a good compromise? What is your view on the topic?

From Wikipedia: Vegetarian or vegan cat food has been available for many years, and is targeted primarily at vegan and vegetarian pet owners. While a small percentage of owners choose such a diet based on its perceived health benefits, the majority do so due to ethical concerns. Cats are obligate carnivores and require nutrients (including arginine, taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and niacin) found in meat sources that cannot be obtained in sufficient amount in plant sources. According to the National Research Council, “unsupplemented vegetarian diets can result in harmful deficiencies of certain essential amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins.” Vegetarian pet food companies attempt to correct these deficiencies by supplementing their products with synthetically produced nutrients.

Organizations that advocate vegan or vegetarian diets for people have split opinions regarding vegetarian or vegan cat food. The International Vegetarian Union, the Vegan Society and Peta are some of the organizations that support a vegan or vegetarian diet for cats. On the other hand, the Vegetarian Society suggests people “consider carefully” and that many cats will not adjust to a vegetarian diet.

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43 Answers

syz's avatar

Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot survive long term on a non meat diet.

Inflicting your own standards on an animal that has evolved to survive by eating meat is immoral, cruel, and just plain stupid.

DarkScribe's avatar

No, they are carnivores. If you can’t feed them properly, then you shouldn’t have them.

Do you have something against cats because God doesn’t like them? (The cat is the only common domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible. Maybe God is allergic to them?)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

That would be foolish and abusive to force a vegan diet upon a creature that is a carnivore.

Cartman's avatar

Vegan cat food – I don’t feel it

fucked up

PretentiousArtist's avatar

If I had a cat, I wouldn’t force it to eat vegan food.
That is just ridiculous and unnatural. Veganism is my own personal choice and I’m not going to force it down on anyone

poisonedantidote's avatar

meat, otherwise the cat will surely die and thus a vegan would have directly harmed an animal.

markyy's avatar

A vegan should not push their beliefs onto an innocent animal. If they can’t handle feeding their cat what it would require in nature, they shouldn’t get a cat in the first place. There are plenty of pets that don’t eat meat.

One of the main reasons to become a vegan is because all animals should be free, is a domesticated cat any different? Does a cat not deserve to be free as well?

Cartman's avatar


JLeslie's avatar

My sister is vegan, but feeds her cats meat.

Cartman's avatar


mattbrowne's avatar

Well, I’m not a vegetarian and neither is our family cat. She gets standard cat food. This question is not about our cat. It’s about an ethical dilemma and I’m curious what Flutherites think about it. I stumbled upon the Wikipedia cat food article and its section on vegetarian and vegan cat food. At first I couldn’t believe that it’s actually available in shops.

The related question of course is how much of a carnivore is a human being. But I guess there’s plenty of discussions about that. To me as we are omnivores we are in part carnivores.

syz's avatar

Sorry, I should have said “Inflicting one’s own standards”. I hadn’t actually assumed that you were making an argument ‘for’ ”.

mattbrowne's avatar

@poisonedantidote – If the cat will surely die as you say, why is vegan cat food legal? What about animal protection laws in this case?

Cartman's avatar

I’m with @markyy and @SYZ. Vegans are all for the animals and animals rights right? Forcing an animal to adopt a diet that is contrary to their nature and “ethical standards” (do cats have them?) seems counter productive. It’s either the cat that suffers of the mouse sort of. Cat-and-mouse-game

laureth's avatar

Do cats have ethical standards?

hartford3's avatar

A true vegan would have plants for pets. Huh?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Cartman – Well, from their point of view people slaughter pigs and cows and some of this meat ends up as canned pet food.

mattbrowne's avatar

@laureth – No, but vegans do.

Cartman's avatar

@mattbrowne so would organic mice be ok? Keeping it real nature ‘n stuff.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Cartman – Alright, I mentioned that we’ve got a cat. Now despite all the wonderful canned food she gets, she’s very active catching mice and birds as well, even the occasional butterfly which really upsets my wife. Most of the mice are shrew mice and our cat doesn’t like to eat them for whatever reason. She prefers field mice. Now quite often the shrew mice are still alive when our cat brings them into my wife’s study. Well, it’s her way of saying thank you. I get all the canned food, so you get the shrew mice. Of course my wife doesn’t appreciate mice running around in her study and it’s almost impossible to catch them. But sometimes the mouse freezes with fright and when still intact my wife rescues and returns it to our garden. Well, when this happens our cat is not amused.

Cartman's avatar

“Most of the mice are shrew mice and our cat doesn’t like to eat them for whatever reason. She prefers field mice.”
A chacun son goût a varied diet, that’s supposed to be good.

Seems like a, typical, cool cat.

MissAusten's avatar

@mattbrowne Have you read “Tribe of Tiger?” It’s an interesting book about cat behavior. Your story about the live mice running around the house reminded me of it.

Vegan cat food is, IMO, completely ridiculous. Is there also vegan dog food on the market? Sometimes people don’t think beyond, “Hey, vegan cat food! If it wasn’t good for the cat, it wouldn’t be available, so this must be fine. Now Fluffy can be vegan like me!” Sort of like the vegan parents whose baby died of malnutrition when they kept it on a diet consisting solely of soy milk. All milk is not created equal. All cat food is not created equal. I feel like I’m not making much sense so I am going to have some coffee.

laureth's avatar

There is vegan dog food. We bought some by accident once. Dog didn’t like it until we dribbled some people food (like meat scraps) on it.

Turns out that just like with vegan/vegetarian people food, a little meat makes dog food better tasting too! ;)

sferik's avatar

If someone is a vegan because they believe that animals are endowed with the same unalienable rights as humans (“among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”), then it seems hypocritical to hold animals captive as pets (in the same way that human slavery was hypocritical for America’s founders).

If someone is a vegan for any other reason (health, allergy to meat, distaste for meat, self-control) then I don’t see why they’d have an ethical dilemma feeding meat to their pet.

Cf. Do pro-life vegetarians eat eggs?

forestGeek's avatar

Being a vegetarian for 12 years, vegan for 2, and having cats & dogs at times during, I strongly believe forcing a cat or dog to be vegan is just plain jackass. I agree with others here that if someone is willing to do this, they shouldn’t have captive animals period.

Now with that said, vegetarian dog food does exist, and we had to feed one of our dogs this due to his allergies. He could eat a little bit of meat without issues, so he did get some occasionally.

cyn's avatar

@wildpotato I was going to suggest Tofu!

LostInParadise's avatar

Do you think Venus flytraps are carnivorous for ethical reasons?

Kraigmo's avatar

Nobody has the moral or whatever right to change a cat’s diet to conform to a strict human diet. Cats deserve the healthiest cat food there is. And such cat food contains meat.

Vegans mostly agree with me on this, I bet. Only the 1% freaks among them would impose their standards on an animal who has different health requirements. I’m guessing here, but I bet I’m right. it’s 1% or less of them who’d do that. Most of them, though self-righteous in attitude, live very ethical lives, and that includes treating animals fairly, as well as not legislating against other humans, except on animal issues.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I just want to say that I’ve never met a vegan who wouldn’t feed their animal meat. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I completely agree with @Kraigmo – vegans like that are few and far between.

My sister is vegan and she would never even consider not feeding her cat meat.

markyy's avatar

Come on now, you guys are taking all the fun out of this question :P For me personally this was one of those ‘what if’ questions, not a ‘why do people still do this’ kind of question. But yes I do agree vegan’s got the short end of the stick in this thread and don’t really deserve that.

mattbrowne's avatar

@MissAusten – Not yet. Many thanks for the reading tip! I agree with @hartford3 that orthodox vegans should not keep carnivore pets. I’m really surprise that vegan cat food is legal. Yes, there seems to be vegan dog food as well as @laureth already mentioned.

mattbrowne's avatar

Venus flytraps are carnivore because of evolutionary reasons.

@markyy – Yes, what if questions are one of my favorites. Because vegan cat food is available in shops it makes sense to discuss the ethical implications and I would expect that even most vegans would consider vegan cat food unethical refusing to buy those products.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I feed my cats cat food. It’s what’s healthy for them. They’re carnivores and i’ll not feed them meat substitutes just because i’m vegetarian (or vegan if i ever do become one).
It still bothers me that i know the cruel and inhumane ways fish and other meats are most likely obtained for cat food as well, but i’m not going to jeopardise my kitties’ health. If i can find an affordable cat tuna that harvests it’s meat according to high animal welfare standards, i will buy those if i can.

mattbrowne's avatar

@NaturallyMe – Welcome to Fluther !

Dutchess_III's avatar

@mattbrowne PSSST!! It’s our own Jelly B!!!

NaturallyMe's avatar

@mattbrowne – Thanx Matt! :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

He wouldn’t have said that if you knew who you were!!! :}~

NaturallyMe's avatar


mattbrowne's avatar

Wow. I didn’t know. And I won’t tell anyone ;-)

Hey, South Africa hosted one of the greatest soccer world cups ever. Super!

NaturallyMe's avatar

@mattbrowne – :D I heard that it went quite well. Not a bad accomplishment for SA i think. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What I do love about this question is this intense feeling of irony I get from reading people’s feelings about animal cruelty (in the form of feeding a cat a plant-based diet) all the while they participate in systems (like the meat and dairy industries) whose crimes against animals are unthinkable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wouldn’t feed my cat anything that I wouldn’t eat. Ya’ll up for dinner? We’re having Meow Mix with home made gravy!

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